Celts And Cymry

There every herd by sad experience knows,
How winged with fate their elf-shot arrows fly;
When the sick ewe her summer-food foregoes,
Or stretched on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie.
   Under the former of these appellations we include the inhabitants of Ireland, the Highlands of Scotland, and the Isle of Man; under the latter, the people of Wales and Brittany. It is, not, however, by any means meant to be asserted that there is in any of these places to be found a purely Celtic or Cymric population. The more powerful Gotho-German race has, every where that they have encountered them, beaten the Celts and Cymry, and intermingled with them, influencing their manners, language, and religion.
   Our knowledge of the original religion of this race is very limited, chiefly confined to what the Roman writers have transmitted to us, and the remaining poems of the Welsh bards. Its character appears to have been massive, simple, and sublime, and less given to personification than those of the more eastern nations. The wild and the plastic powers of nature never seem in it to have assumed the semblance of huge giants and ingenious dwarfs.
   Yet in the popular creed of all these tribes, we meet at the present day beings exactly corresponding to the Dwarfs and Fairies of the Gotho-German nations. Of these beings there is no mention in any works--such as the Welsh Poems, and Mabinogion, the Poems of Ossian, or the different irish poems and romances--which can by any possibility lay claim to an antiquity anterior to the conquests of the Northmen. Is it not then a reasonable supposition that the Picts, Saxons, and other sons of the North, brought with them their Dwarfs and Kobolds, and communicated the knowledge of, and belief in, them to their Celtic and Cymric subjects and neighbours? Proceeding on this theory, we have placed the Celts and Cymry next to and after the Gotho-German nations, though they are perhaps their precursors in Europe.


Like him, the Sprite,
Whom maids by night
Oft meet In glen that's haunted.
   We commence our survey of the lands of Celts and Cymry with Ireland, as being the first in point of importance, but still more as being the land of our birth. It is pleasing to us, now in the autumn of our life, to return in imagination to where we passed its spring--its most happy spring. As we read and meditate, its mountains and its vales, its verdant fields and lucid streams, objects on which we probably never again shall gaze, rise up in their primal freshness and beauty before us, and we are once more present, buoyant with youth, in the scenes where we first heard the fairy-legends of which we are now to treat. Even the forms of the individual peasants who are associated with them in our memory, rise as it were from their humble resting-places and appear before us, again awaking our sympathies; for, we will boldly assert it, the Irish peasantry, with all their faults, gain a faster hold on the affections than the peasantry of any other country. We speak, however, particularly of them as they were in our county and in our younger days; for we fear that they are somewhat changed, and not for the better. But our present business is with the Irish fairies rather than with the Irish people.
   The fairies of Ireland can hardly be said to differ in any respect from those of England and Scotland. Like them they are of diminutive size, rarely exceeding two feet in height; they live also in society, their ordinary abode being the interior of the mounds, called in Irish, Raths (Rahs), in English, Moats, the construction of which is, by the peasantry, ascribed to the Danes from whom, it might thence perhaps be inferred, the Irish got their fairies direct and not vid England. From these abodes they are at times seen to issue mounted on diminutive steeds, in order to take at night the diversion of the chase. Their usual attire is green with red caps.1 They are fond of music, but we do not in general hear much of their dancing, perhaps because on account of the infrequency of thunder, the fairy-rings are less numerous in Ireland than elsewhere. Though the fairies steal children and strike people with paralysis and other ailments (which is called being fairy-struck), and shoot their elf-arrows at the cattle, they are in general kind to those for whom they have contracted a liking, and often render them essential service in time of need. They can make themselves visible and invisible, and assume any forms they please. The pretty tiny conical mushrooms which grow so abundantly in Ireland are called Fairy-mushrooms; a kind of nice regularly-formed grass is named Fairy-flax, and the bells of the foxglove called in some places Fairy-bells, are also said to have some connexion with the Little People.
   The popular belief in Ireland also is, that the Fairies are a portion of the fallen angels, who, being less guilty than the rest, were not driven to hell, but were suffered to dwell on earth. They are supposed to be very uneasy respecting their condition after the final judgement.
   The only names by which they are known in those parts of Ireland in which the English language is spoken are, Fairies, the Good People, and the Gentry, these last terms being placatory, like the Greek Eumenides. When, for example, the peasant sees a cloud of dust sweeping along the road, he raises his hat and says, "God speed you, gentlemen!" for it is the popular belief that it is in these cloudy vehicles that the Good People journey from one place to another. The Irish language has several names for the fairies; all however are forms or derivations of the word Shia, the meaning of which seems to be Spirit. The most usual name employed by the Minister peasantry is Shifra; we are not acquainted with the fairy-belief and terminology of the inhabitants of Connemara and the other wilds of Connaught.2
   Most of the traits and legends of the Irish fairies are contained in the Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, compiled by Mr. Crofton Croker. As we ourselves aided in that work we must inform the reader that our contributions, both in text and notes, contain only Leinster ideas and traditions, for that was the only province with which we were acquainted. We must make the further confession, that some of the more poetic traits which MM. Grimm, in the Introduction to their translation of this work, give as characteristic of the Irish fairies, owe their origin to the fancy of the writers, who were, in many cases, more anxious to produce amusing tales than to transmit legends faithfully.
   The Legend of Knockshegowna (Hill of the Fairy-calf) the first given in that work, relates how the fairies used to torment the cattle and herdsmen for intruding on one of their favourite places of resort which was on this hill. The fairy-queen, it says, having failed in her attempts to daunt a drunken piper who had undertaken the charge of the cattle, at last turned herself into a calf and, with the piper on her back, jumped over the Shannon, ten miles off, and back again. Pleased with his courage, she agreed to abandon the hill for the future.
   The Legend of Knock-Grafton tells how a little hunchback, while sitting to rest at nightfall at the side of a Rath or Moat, heard the fairies within singing over and over again, DaLuan, Da Mart! (i.e.,Monday, Tuesday!) and added, weary with the monotony, Agus da Cadin! (i.e., and Wednesday!) The fairies were so delighted with this addition to their song that they brought him into the Moat, entertained him, and finally freed him from the incumbrance of his hump.
   Another hunchback hearing the story went to the Moat to try if he could meet with the same good fortune. He heard the fairies singing the amended version of the song, and, anxious to contribute, without waiting for a pause or attending to the rhythm or melody, he added Agus da Hena! (i.e., and Friday.) His reward was, being carried into the Moat, and having his predecessor's hump placed on his back in addition to his own.3
   In the story named the Priest's Supper, a fisherman at the request of the fairies, asks a priest who had stopt at his house, whether they would be saved or not at the last day. The priest desired him to tell them to come themselves and put the question to him, but this they declined doing, and the question remained undecided.
   The next three stories are of changelings. The Young Piper, one of our own contributions, will be found in the Appendix. The Changeling has nothing peculiar in it; but the Brewery of Eggshells is one which we find in many places, even in Brittany and Auvergne. In the present version, the mother puts down eggshells to boil, and to the enquiry of the changeling she tells him that she is brewing them, and clapping his hands he says, "Well! I'm fifteen hundred years in the world, and I never saw a brewery of eggshells before!"
   In the Capture of Bridget Purcel, a girl is struck with a little switch between the shoulders, by something in the form of a little child that came suddenly behind her, and she pined away and died.
   The Legend of Bottle Hill gives the origin of that name, which was as follows. A poor man was driving his only cow to Cork to sell her. As he was going over that bill he was suddenly joined by a strange-looking little old man with a pale withered face and red eyes, to whom he was eventually induced to give his cow in exchange for a bottle, and both cow and purchaser then disappeared. When the poor man came home he followed the directions of the stranger, and spreading a cloth on the table, and placing the bottle on the ground, he said, "Bottle, do your duty!" and immediately two little beings rose out of it, and having covered the table with food in gold and silver dishes, went down again into the bottle and vanished. By selling these he got a good deal of money and became rich for one in his station. The secret of his bottle however transpired, and his landlord induced him to sell it to him. But his prosperity vanished with it, and he was again reduced to one cow, and obliged to drive her to Cork for sale. As he journeyed over the same hill he met the same old man, and sold him the cow for another bottle. Having made the usual preparations, he laid it on the ground and said, "Bottle, do your duty!" but instead of the tiny little lads with their gold and silver dishes, there jumped up out of it two huge fellows with cudgels, who fell to belabouring the whole family. When they had done and were gone back into the bottle, the owner of it, without saying a word, put it under his coat and went to his landlord, who happened to have a great deal of company with him, and sent in word that he was come with another bottle to sell. He was at once admitted, the bottle did its duty, and the men with cudgels laid about them on all present, and never ceased till the original wealth-giving bottle was restored. He now grew richer than ever, and his son married his landlord's daughter, but when the old man and his wife died, the servants, it is recorded, fighting at their wake, broke the two bottles.4
   The Confessions of Tom Bourke, as it contains a faithful transcript of the words and ideas of that personage, is perhaps the most valuable portion of the work. From this we learn that in Munster the fairies are, like the people themselves, divided into factions. Thus we are told that, on the occasion of the death of Bourke's mother, the two parties fought for three continuous nights, to decide whether she should be buried with her own or her husband's people (i.e. family). Bourke also had sat for hours looking at two parties of the Good People playing at the popular game of hurling, in a meadow at the opposite side of the river, with their coats and waistcoats off, and white handkerchiefs on the heads of one, and red on these of the other party.
   A man whom Tom knew was returning one evening from a fair, a little elevated of course, when he met a berrin (i.e. funeral), which he joined, as is the custom; but, to his surprise, there was no one there that he knew except one man, and he had been dead for some years. When the berrin was over, they gathered round a piper, and began to dance in the churchyard. Davy longed to be among them, and the man that he knew came up to him, and bid him take out a partner, but on no account to give her the usual kiss. He accordingly took out the purtiest girl in the ring, and danced a jig with her, to the admiration of the whole company; but at the end he forgot the warning, and complied with the custom of kissing one's partner. All at once everything vanished; and when Davy awoke next morning, he found himself lying among the tombstones.
   Another man, also a little in liquor, was returning one night from a berrin. The moon was shining bright, and from the other side of the river came the sounds of merriment, and the notes of a bagpipe. Taking off his shoes and stockings, he waded across the river, and there he found a great crowd of people dancing on the Inch [an island, coast, bank of sea or river] on the, other side. He mingled with them without being observed, and he longed to join in the dance; for he had no mean opinion of his own skill. He did so, but found that it was not to be compared to theirs, they were so light and agile. He was going away quite in despair, when a little old man, who was looking on with marks of displeasure in his face, came up to him, and telling him he was his friend, and his father's friend, bade him go into the ring and call for a lilt. He complied, and all were amazed at his dancing; he then got a table and danced on it, and finally he span round and round on a trencher. When he had done, they wanted him to dance again; but he refused with a great oath, and instantly he found himself lying on the Inch with only a white cow grazing beside him. On going home, he got a shivering and a fever. He was for many days out of his mind, and recovered slowly; but ever after he had great skill in fairy matters. The dancers, it turned out, had belonged to a different faction, and the old man who gave him his skill to that to which he himself was attached.
   In these genuine confessions it is very remarkable that the Good People are never represented as of a diminutive size; while in every story that we ever heard of them in Leinster, they were of pygmy stature. The following account of their mode of entering houses in Ulster gives them dimensions approaching to those of Titania's 'small elves.'
   A Fairy, the most agile, we may suppose, of the party, is selected, who contrives to get up to the keyhole of the door, carrying with him a piece of thread or twine. With this he descends on the inside, where he fastens it firmly to the floor, or some part of the furniture. Those without then 'haul taut and belay,' and when it is fast they prepare to march along this their perilous Es-Sirat, leading to the paradise of pantry or parlour, in this order. First steps up the Fairy-piper, and in measured pace pursues his adventurous route, playing might and main an invigorating elfin-march, or other spirit- stirring air; then one by one the rest of the train mount the cord and follow his steps. Like the old Romans, in their triumphal processions, they pass beneath the lofty arch of the keyhole, and move down along the other side. Lightly, one by one, they then jump down on the floor, to hold their revels or accomplish their thefts.
   We have never heard of any being, in the parts of Ireland with which we are acquainted, answering to the Boggart, Brownie, or Nis. A farmer's family still, we believe, living in the county of Wicklow, used to assert that in their grandfather's time they never had any trouble about washing up plates and dishes; for they had only to leave them collected in a certain part of the house for the Good People, who would come in and wash and clean them, and in the morning everything would be clean and in its proper place.
   Yet in the county of Cork it would seem that the Cluricaun, of which we shall presently speak, used to enact the part of Nis or Boggart. Mr. Croker tells a story of a little being which he calls a Cluricaun, that haunted the cellar of a Mr. Macarthy, and in a note on this tale he gives the contents of a letter informing him of another ycleped Little Wildbean, that haunted the house of a Quaker gentleman named Harris, and which is precisely the Nis or Boggart. This Wildbean, who kept to the cellar, would, if one of the servants through negligence left the beer-barrel running, wedge himself into the cock and stop it, till some one came to turn it. His dinner used to be left for him in the cellar, and the cook having, one Friday, left him nothing but part of a herring and some cold potatoes, she was at midnight dragged out of her bed, and down the cellar-stairs, and so much bruised that she kept her bed for three weeks. In order at last to get rid of him, Mr. Harris resolved to remove, being told that if he went beyond a running stream the Cluricaun could not follow him. The last cart, filled with empty barrels and such like, was just moving off, when from the bung-hole of one of them Wildbean cried out, "Here, master! here we go all together!" "What!" said Mr. Harris, "dost thou go also?" "Yes, to be sure, master. Here we go, all together!" "In that case, friend," replied Mr. Harris, "let the carts be unloaded; we are just as well where we are." It is added, that "Mr. Harris died soon after, but it is said the Cluricaun still haunts the Harris family."
   In another of these Fairy Legends, Teigue of the Lee, who haunted the house of a Mr. Pratt, in the county of Cork, bears a strong resemblance to the Hinzelmann of Germany. To the story, which is exceedingly well told by a member of the society of Friends, now no more, also the narrator of the Legend of Bottle-hill, Mr. Croker has in his notes added some curious particulars.
   A being named the Fear Dearg (i.e. Red Man) is also known in Munster. A tale named The Lucky Guest, which Mr. Croker gives as taken down verbatim from the mouth of the narrator by Mr. M'Clise, the artist, gives the fullest account of this being. A girl related that, when she was quite a child, one night, during a storm of wind and rain; a knocking was heard at the door of her father's cabin, and a voice like that of a feeble old man craving admission. On the door's being opened, there came in a little old man, about two feet and a half high, with a red sugar-loaf hat and a long scarlet coat, reaching down nearly to the ground, his hair was long and grey, and his face yellow and wrinkled. He went over to the fire (which the family had quitted in their fear), sat down and dried his clothes, and began smoking a pipe which he found there. The family went to bed, and in the morning he was gone. In about a month after he began to come regularly every night about eleven o'clock. The signal which he gave was thrusting a hairy arm through a hole in the door, which was then opened, and the family retired to bed, leaving him the room to himself. If they did not open the door, some accident was sure to happen next day to themselves or their cattle. On the whole, however, his visits brought good luck, and the family prospered, till the landlord put them out of their farm, and they never saw the Fear Dearg more.

   As far as our knowledge extends, there is no being in the Irish rivers answering to the Nix or Kelpie; but on the sea coast the people believe in beings of the same kind as the Mermen and Mermaids. The Irish name is Merrow, and legends are told of them similar to those of other countries. Thus the Lady of Gollerus resembles the Mermaid-wife and others which we have already related. Instead, however, of an entire dress, it is a kind of cap, named Cohuleen Driuth, without which she cannot return to her subaqueous abode. Other legends tell of matrimonial unions formed by mortals with these sea--ladies, from which some families in the south claim a descent. The Lord of Dunkerron, so beautifully told in verse by Mr. Croker, relates the unfortunate termination of a marine amour of one of the O'Sullivan family. The Soul-cages alone contains the adventures of a Mermnan.
   The Irish Pooka5 is plainly the English Pouke, Puck, and would seem, like it, to denote an evil spirit. The notions respecting it are very vague. A boy in the mountains near Killarney told Mr. Croker that "old people used to say that the Pookas were very numerous in the times long ago. They were wicked-minded, black-looking, bad things, that would come in the form of wild colts, with chains hanging about them. They did great hurt to benighted travellers." Here we plainly have the English Puck; but it is remarkable that the boy should speak of Pookas in the plural number. In Leinster, it was always the, not a Pooka, that we heard named. When the blackberries begin to decay, and the seeds to appear, the children are told not to eat them any longer, as the Pooh has dirtied on them.
   The celebrated fall of the Liffey, near Ballymore Eustace, is named Pool-a-Phooka, or The Pooka's Hole. Near Macroom, in the county of Cork, are the ruins of a castle built on a rock, named Carrig-a-Phooka, or The Pooka's Rock. There is an old castle not far from Dublin, called Puck's Castle, and a townland in the county of Kildare is named Puckstown. The common expression play the Puck is the same as play the deuce, play the Devil.
   The most remarkable of the Fairy-tribe in Ireland, and one which is peculiar to the country, is the Leprechaun.6 This is a being in the form of an old man, dressed as he is described in one of the following tales. He is by profession a maker of brogues; he resorts in general only to secret and retired places, where he is discovered by the sounds which he makes hammering his brogues. He is rich, like curmudgeons of his sort, and it is only by the most violent threats of doing him some bodily harm, that be can be made to show the place where his treasure lies; but if the person who has caught him can be induced (a thing that always happens, by the way) to take his eyes off him, he vanishes and with him the prospect of wealth. The only instance of more than one Leprechaun being seen at a time is that which occurs in one of the following tales, which was related by an old woman, to the writer's sister and early companion, now no more.
   Yet the Leprechaun, though, as we said, peculiar to Ireland, seems indebted to England, at least, for his name. In Irish, as we have seen, he is called Lobaircin, and it would not be easy to write the English Lubberkin more accurately with Irish letters and Irish sounds. Leprechaun is evidently a corruption of that word. In the time of Elizabeth and James, the word Lubrican was used in England to indicate some kind of spirit. Thus Drayton gives as a part of Nymphidia's invocation of Proserpina:
By the mandrake's dreadful groans;
By the Lubrican's sad moans;
By the noise of dead men's bones
In charnelhouse rattling.
   That this was the Leprechaun is, we think, clear; for in the Honest Whore of Decker and Middleton, the following words are used of an lrish footman:
As for your Irish Lubrican, that spirit
Whom by preposterous charms thy lust has raised.
Part II, i. 1.7
   We thus have the Leprechaun as a well-known Irish fairy, though his character was not understood, in the sixteenth century.
   The two following tales we ourselves beard from the peasantry of Kildare in our boyhood:

Clever Tom And The Leprechaun

   Oliver Tom Fwich-(i.e. Fitz)pathrick, as people used to call him, was the eldest son o' a comfortable farmer, who lived nigh hand to Morristown-Lattin, not far from the Liftey. Tom. was jist turned o' nine-an'-twinty, whin he met wid the follyin' advinthur, an' he was as cliver, clane, tight, good-lukin' a boy as any in the whole county Kildare. One fine day in harvist (it was a holiday) Tom was takin' a ramble by himsilf thro' the land, an' wint sauntherin' along the sunny side uv a hidge, an' thinkin' in himsilf, whare id be the grate harm if people, instid uv idlin' an' goin' about doin' nothin' at all, war to shake out the hay, an' bind and stook th' oats that was lyin' an the ledge, 'specially as the weather was raither brokm uv late, whin all uv a suddint he h'ard a clackin' sort o' n'ise jist a little way fornint him, in the hidge. "Dear me," said Tom, "but isn't it now raaly suiprisin' to hear the stonechatters singin' so late in the saison." So Tom stole an, goin' on the tips o' his toes to thry iv he cud git a sight o' what was makin' the n'ise, to see iv he was right in his guess. The n'ise stopt; but as Tom hiked sharp thro' the bushes, what did he see in a neuk o' the hidge but a brown pitcher that might hould about a gallon an' a haff o' liquor; an' bye and bye he seen a little wee deeny dawny bit iv an ould man, wid a little motty iv a cocked hat stuck an the top iv his head, an' a deeshy daushy leather apron hangin' down afore him, an' he pulled out a little wooden stool, an' stud up upon it, and dipped a little piggen into the pitcher, an' tuk out the full av it, an' put it beside the stool, an' thin sot down undher the pitcher, an' begun to work at put' a heelpiece an a bit iv a brogue jist fittin' fur himself.
   "Well, by the powers!" said Tom to himsilf, "I aften hard tell o' the Leprechauns, an', to tell God's thruth, I nivir rightly believed in thim, but here 'a won o' thim in right airnest; if I go knowin'ly to work, I 'm a med man. They say a body must nivir take their eyes aff o' thim, or they'll escape."
   Tom now stole an a little farther, wid his eye fixed an the little man jist as a cat does wid a mouse, or, as we read in books, the rattlesnake does wid the birds he wants to inchant. So, whin he got up quite close to him, "God bless your work, honest man," sez Tom. The little man raised up his head, an' "Thank you kindly," sez he. "I wundher you 'd be workin' an the holiday, " sez Tom. "That's my own business, an' none of your's," was the reply, short enough. "Well, may be, thin, you'd be civil enough to tell us, what you 'ye got in the pitcher there," sez Tom. "Aye, will I, wid pleasure," sez he: "it's good beer." "Beer!" sez Tom: "Blud an' turf man, whare did ye git it?" "Whare did l git it is it? why l med it to be shure; an' what do ye think I med it av?" "Divil a one o' me knows," sea Tom, "but av malt, I 'spose; what ilse?" "Tis there you 're out; I med it av haith." "Av haith! " sez Tom, burstin' out laughin'. "Shure you don't take me to be sich an omedhaun as to b'lieve that?" "Do as ye plase," sez he, "but what I tell ye is the raal thruth. Did ye nivir hear tell o' the Danes?" "To be shure I did," sea Tom, "warn't thim the chaps we gev such a lickin' whin they thought to take Derry frum huz?" "Hem," sez the little man dhryly, "is that all ye know about the matther?" "Well, but about thim Danes," sea Tom. "Why all th' about thim is," said he, "is that whin they war here they taught huz to make beer out o' the haith, an' the saicret 's in my family ivir sense." "Will ye giv a body a taste o' yer beer to thry?" sez Tom. "I 'll tell ye what it is, young man, it id be fitther fur ye to be lukin' afther yer father's propirty thi'n to be botherin' dacint, quite people wid yer foolish questions. There, now, while you 're idlin' away yer time here, there 's the cows hay' bruk into th' oats, an' are knockin' the corn all about."
   Tom was taken so by surprise wid this, that he was jist an the very point o' turnin' round, whin he recollicted himsilf. So, afeard that the like might happin agin, he med a grab at the Leprechaun, an' cotch him up in his hand, but in his hurry he ovirset the pitcher, and spilt all the beer, so that he couldn't git a taste uv it to tell what sort it was. He thin swore what he wouldn't do to him iv he didn't show him whare his money was. Tom luked so wicked, an' so bloody-minded, that the little man was quite frightened. "So," sez he, "come along wid me a couple o' fields aff an' I 'll show ye a crock o' gould." So they wint, an' Tom held the Leprechaun fast in his hand, an' nivir tuk his eyes frum aff uv him, though they had to crass hidges an' ditches, an' a cruked bit uv a bog (fur the Leprechaun seemed, out o' pure mischief, to pick out the hardest and most conthrairy way), till at last they come to a grate field all full o' balyawn buies,9 an' the Leprechaun pointed to a big bolyawn, an' sez he, "Dig undher that bolyawn, an' you 'II git a crock chuck full o' goulden guineas."
   Tom, in his hurry, had nivir minded the bringin' a fack10 wid him, so he thought to run home and fetch one, an' that he might know the place agin, he tuk aff one o' his red garthers, and tied it round the bolyawn. "I s'pose," sez the Leprechaun, very civilly, "ye 've no further occashin fur me?" "No," sez Tom, "ye may go away now, if ye like, and God speed ye, an' may good luck attind ye whareivir ye go." "Well, good bye to ye, Tom Fwichpathrick," sed the Leprechaun, "an' much good may do ye wid what ye 'II git."
   So Tom run fur the bare life, till he come home, an' got a fack, an' thin away wid him as hard as he could pilt back to the field o' bolyawns; but whin he got there, lo an' behould, not a bolyawn in the field, but had a red garther, the very idintical model o' his own, tied about it; an' as to diggin' up the whole field, that was all nonsinse, fur there was more nor twinty good Irish acres in it. So Tom come home agin wid his fack an his shouldher, a little cooler nor he wint; and many's the hearty curse he gev the Leprechaun ivry time he thought o' the nate turn he sarved him.11

The Leprechaun In The Garden

   There's a sort a' people that every body must have met wid sumtime or another. I mane thim people that purtinds not to b'lieve in things that in their hearts they do b'lieve in, an' are mortially afeard o' too. Now Failey12 Mooney was one o' these. Failey (iv any o' yez knew him) was a rollockin', rattlin', divil-may-care sort ov a chap like--but that 'a neither here nor there; he was always talkin' one nonsinse or another; an' among the rest o' his fooleries, he purtinded not to b'lieve in the fairies, the Leprechauns, an' the Poocas, an' he evin sumtimes had the impedince to purtind to doubt o' ghosts, that every body b'lieves in, at any rate. Yit sum people used to wink an' luk knowin' whin Failey was gostherin', fur it was obsarved that he was mighty shy o' crassin' the foord a' Ahnamoe afther nightfall; an' that whin onst he was ridin' past the ould church o' Tipper in the dark, tho' he'd got enough o' pottheen into him to make any man stout, he med the horse trot so that there was no keepin' up wid him, an' iv'ry now an' thin he'd throw a sharp luk-out ovir his lift shouldher.
   Well, one night there was a parcel o' the neighbours sittin' dhrinkin' an' talkin' at Larry Rielly's public-house, an' Failey was one o' the party. He was, as usual, gittin' an wid his nonsinse an' baldherdash about the fairies, an' swearin' that he didn't b'lieve there was any live things, barrin' min an' bastes, an' birds and fishes, an' sich like things as a body cud see, and he wint on talkin' in so profane a way o' the good people, that som o' the company grew timid an' begun to crass thimsilves, not knowin' what might happin', whin an ould woman called Mary Hogan wid a long blue cloak about her, that was sittin' in the chimbly corner smokin' her pipe widout takin' the laste share in the conversations tuk the pipe out o' her mouth, an' threw the ashes out o' it, an' spit in the fire, an' turnin' round, luked Failey straight in the face. "An' so you don't b'lieve there 's sich things as Leprechauns, don't ye?" sed she.
   Well, Failey luked rayther daunted, but howsumdivir he sed nothin'. "Why, thin, upon my throth, an' it well becomes the likes a' ye, an' that 's nothin' but a bit uv a gossoon, to take upon yer to purtind not to b'lieve what yer father, an' yer father's father, an' his father dare him, nivir med the laste doubt uv. But to make the matther short, seein' 's b'lievin' they say, an' I, that might be yer gran'mother, tell ye there is sich 'things as Leprechauns, an' what 'a more, that I mysilf sedn one o' thim,--there 'a fur ye, now!"
   All the people in the room luked quite surprised at this, an' crowded up to the fireplace to listen to her. Failey thried to laugh, but it wouldn't do, nobody minded him.
   "I remimber," sed she, "some time afther I married the honest man, that 's now dead and gone, it was by the same token jist a little afore I lay in o' my first child (an' that 'a many a long day ago), I was sittin', as I sed, out in our little bit a' a gardin, wid my knittin' in my hand, watchin' sum bees we had that war goin' to swarm. It was a fine sunshiny day about the middle o' June, an' the bees war hummin' and flyin' backwards an' forwards frum the hives, an' the birds war chirpin' an' hoppin' an the bushes, an' the buttherflies war flyin' about an' sittin' an the flowers, an' ev'ry thing smelt so fresh an' so sweet, an' I felt so happy, that I hardly knew whare I was. Well, all uv a suddint, I heard among sum rows of banes we had in a corner o' the gardin, a n'ise that wint tick tack tick tack, jist fur all the world as iv a brogue-maker was puttin' an the heel uv a pump. 'The Lord presarve us,' sed I to mysilf, 'what in the world can that be?' So I laid down my knittin', an' got up, an' stole ovir to the banes, an' nivir believe me iv I didn't see, sittin' right forenint me, in the very middle of thim, a bit of an ould man, not a quarther so big as a newborn child, wid a little' cocked hat an his head, an' a dudeen in his mouth, smokin' away; an' a plain, ould-fashioned, dhrab-coloured coat, wid big brass buttons upon it, an his back, an' a pair o' massy silver buckles in his shoes, that a'most covered his feet they war so big, an' be workin' away as hard as ivir he could, heelin' a little pair o' pumps. The instant minnit I clapt my two eyes upon him I knew him to be a Leprechaun, an' as I was stout an' foolhardy, sez I to him ' God save ye honist man! that 's hard work ye 're at this hot day.' He luked up in my face quite vexed like; so wid that I med a run at him an' cotch hould o' him in my hand, an' axed him whare was his purse o' money! 'Money?' sed he, 'money annagh! an' whare on airth id a poor little ould crathur like myself git money?' 'Come, come,' sed I, 'none o' yer thricks upon thravellers; doesn't every body know that Leprechauns, like ye, are all as rich as the dlvil himsilf.' So I pulled out a knife I'd in my pocket, an' put on as wicked a face as ivir I could (an' in throth, that was no aisy matther fur me thin, fur I was as comely an' good-humoured a lukin' girl as you'd see frum this to Ballitore)--an' swore by this and by that, if 'he didn't instantly gi' me his purse, or show me a pot o' goold, I'd cut the nose aft his face. Well, to be shure, the little man did luk so frightened at hearin' these words, that I a'most found it in my heart to pity the poor little crathur. 'Thin,' sed he, 'come wid me jist a couple o' fields aft, an' I'll show ye whare I keep my money.' So I wint, still houldin' him fast in my hand, an' keepin' my eyes fixed upon him, whin all o' a suddint I h'ard.a whiz-z behind me. 'There! there! cries he, 'there's yer bees all swarmin' an' goin' aff wid thimsilves like blazes.' I, like a fool as I was, turned my head round, an' whin I seen nothin' at all, an' luked back at the Leprechaun, an' found nothin' at all at all in my hand--fur whin l had the ill luck to take my eyes aff him, ye see, he slipped out o' my fingers jist as iv he was med o' fog or smoke, an' the sarra the fut he iver, come nigh my garden again."

The Three Leprechauns

   Mrs. L. having heard that Molly Toole, an old woman who held a few acres of land from Mr. L., had seen Leprechauns, resolved to visit her, and learn the truth from her own lips. Accordingly, one Sunday, after church, she made her appearance at Molly's residence, which was--no very common thing--extremely neat and comfortable. As she entered, every thing looked gay and cheerful. The sun shone bright in through the door on the earthen floor. Molly was seated at the far side of the fire in her arm-chair; her daughter Mary, the prettiest girl on the lands, was looking to the dinner that was boiling; and her son Mickey, a young man of about two-and-twenty, was standing lolling with his back against the dresser.
   The arrival of the mistress disturbed the stillness that had hitherto prevailed. Mary, who was a great favourite, hastened to the door to meet her, and shake hands with her. Molly herself had nearly got to the middle of the floor when the mistress met her, and Mickey modestly staid where he was till he should catch her attention. "O then, musha! but isn't it a glad sight for my ould eyes to see your own silf undher my roof? Mary, what ails you, girl? and why don't you go into the room and fetch out a good chair for the misthress to sit down upon and rest herself?" "Deed faith, mother, I 'm so glad I don't know what I 'm doin'. Sure you know I didn't see the misthress since she cum down afore."
   Mickey now caught Mrs. L.'s eye, and she asked him how he did. "By Gorra, bravely, ma'am, thank you," said be, giving himself a wriggle, while his two hands and the small of his back rested on the edge of the dresser.
   "Now, Mary, stir yourself alanna," said the old woman, "and get out the bread and butther. Sure you know the misthress can't but be hungry afther her walk."--" O, never mind it, Molly; it's too much trouble."--" Throuble, indeed! it 's as nice butther, ma'am, as iver you put a tooth in; and it was Mary herself that med it."--" O, then I must taste it."
   A nice half griddle of whole-meal bread and a print of fresh butter were now produced, and Molly helped the mistress with her own hands. As she was eating, Mary kept looking in her face, and at last said, "Ah then, mother, doesn't the misthress luk mighty well? Upon my faikins, ma'am, I never seen you luking half so handsome."--" Well! and why wouldn't she luk well? And niver will she luk betther nor be betther nor I wish her."--" Well, Molly, I think I may return the compliment, for Mary is prettier than ever; and as for yourself, I really believe it 's young again you're growing. "--" Why, God be thanked, ma'am, I 'm stout and hearty; and though I say it mysilf, there 'a not an ould woman in the county can stir about betther nor me, and I 'm up ivery mornin' at the peep of day, and rout them all up out of their beds. Don't I?" said she, looking at Mary.--" Faith, and sure you do, mother," replied Mickey; "and before the peep of day, too; for you have no marcy in you at all at all."--" Ah, in my young days," continued the old woman, "people woren't slugabeds; out airly, home late--that was the way wid thim."--" And usedn't people to see Leprechauns in thim days, mother?" said Mickey, laughing.--" Hould your tongue, you saucy cub, you," cried Molly; "what do you know about thim?"--" Leprechauns?"' said Mrs. L., gladly catching at the opportunity; "did people really, Molly, see Leprechauns in your young days? "--" Yes, indeed, ma'am; some people say they did," replied Molly, very composedly.--" O com' now, mother," cried Mickey, "don't think to be goin' it upon us that away; you know you seen thim one time yoursilf, and you hadn't the gumption in you to cotch thim, and git their crocks of gould from thim."--" Now, Molly, is that really true that you saw the Leprechauns?"--" 'Deed, and did I, ma'am; but this boy 's always laughin' at me about thim, and that makes me rather shy in talkin' o' thim"--" Well, Molly, I won't laugh at you; so, come, tell me how you saw them."
   "Well, ma'am, you see it was whin I was jist about the age of Mary, there. I was comin' home late one Monday evenin' from the market; for my aunt Kitty, God be marciful to her! would keep me to take a cup of tay. It was in the summer time, you see, ma'am, much about the middle of June, an' it was through the fields I come. Well, ma'am, as I was sayin', it was late in the evenin', that is, the sun was near goin' down, an' the light was straight in my eyes, an' I come along through the bog-meadow; for it was shortly afther I was married to him that 'a gone, an' we wor livin' in this very house you're in now; an' thin whin I come to the castle-field--the pathway you know, ma'am, goes right through the middle uv it--an' it was thin as fine a field of whate, jist shot out, as you'd wish to luk at; an' it was a purty sight to see it wavin' so beautifully wid every air of wind that was goin' over it, dancin' like to the music of a thrash, that was singin' down below in the hidge.13 Well, ma'am, I crasst over the style that 'a there yit, and wint along fair and aisy, till I was near about the middle o' the field, whin somethin' med me cast my. eyes to the ground, a little before me; an' thin I saw, as sure as I 'm sittin' here, no less nor three o' the Leprechauns, all bundled together like so miny tailyors, in the middle o' the path before me. They worn't hammerin' their pumps, nor makin' any kind, of n'ise whatever; but there they wor, the three little fellows, wid their cocked hats upon thim, an' their legs gothered up undher thim, workin' away at their thrade as hard as may be. If you wor only to see, ma'am, how fast their little ilbows wint as they pulled out their inds! Well, every one o' thim had his eye cocked upon me, an' their eyes wor as bright as the eye of a frog, an' I cudn't stir one step from the spot for the life o' me.. So I turned my head round, and prayed to the Lord in his marcy to deliver me from thim, and when I wint to luk at thim agin, ma'am, not a sight o' thim was to be seen: they wor gone like a dhrame. "--" But, Molly, why did you not catch them?"--" I was afeard, ma'am, that 'a the thruth uv it; but maybe I was as well widout thim. I niver h'ard tell of a Leprechaun yit that wasn't too many for any one that cotch him."--" Well, and Molly, do you think there are any Leprechauns now?"--" It 's my belief, ma'am, they're all gone out of the country, diver and dane, along wid the Fairies; for I niver hear tell o' thim now at all."
   Mrs. L. having now attained her object, after a little more talk with the good old woman, took her leave, attended by Mary, who would see her a piece of the way home. And Mary being asked what she thought of the Leprechauns, confessed her inability to give a decided opinion: her mother, she knew, was incapable of telling a lie, and yet she had her doubts if there ever were such things as Leprechauns.

   The following tale of a Cluricaun, related by the writer of the Legend of Bottle Hill, is of a peculiar character. We have never heard anything similar of a Leprechaun.

The Little Shoe

   "Now tell me, Molly," said Mr. Coote to Molly Cogan, as he met her on the road one day, close to one of the old gateways of Kilmallock, "did you ever hear of the Cluricaun?"--"Is it the Cluricaun? Why, thin, to be shure; aften an' aften. Many 'a the time I h'ard my father, rest his sowl! tell about 'em over and over agin."--" But did you ever see one, Molly--did you ever see one yourself?"--" Och! no, I niver seen one m my life; but my gran'father, that 's my father's, father, you know, he seen one, one time, an' cotch him too."-- " Caught him! Oh! Molly, tell me how was that."
   "'Why, thin, I 'll tell ye. My gran'father, you see, was out there above in the bog, dhrawin' home turf; an' the poor ould mare was tir't afther her day's work, an' the ould man wint out to the stable to look afther her, an' to see if she was aitin' her hay; an' whin he come to the stable door there, my dear, he h'ard sumthin' hammerin', hammerin', hammerin', jist for all the wurld like a shoemaker makin' a shoe, and whis'lin' all the time the purtiest chune he iver h'ard in his whole life afore. Well, my gran'father he thought it was the Cluricaun, an' he sed to himsilf, sez he, 'I'll ketch you, if I can, an' thin I 'II have money enough always.' So he opened the door very quitely, an' didn't make a taste o' n'ise in the wurld, an' luked all about, but the niver a bit o' the little man cud be see anywhare, but he h'ard his hammerin' and 'whis'lin', an' so he luked and luked, till at last he seen the little fellow; an' whare was he, do ye think, but in the girth undher the mare; an' there he was, wid his little bit ov an apron an him, an' his hammer in his hand, an' a little red night-cap an his head, an' be makin' a shoe; an' he was so busy wid us work, an' was hammerin' an' whis'lin' so loud, that he niver minded my gran'father, till be cotch him fast in his hand. 'Faix, I have ye now,' says he, an' I'll niver let ye go till I git yer purse--that 'a what I won't; so give it here at onst to me, now.' 'Stop, stop,' says the Cluricaun; 'stop, stop,' says he, 'till I get it for ye.' So my gran'father, like a fool, ye see, opened his hand a little, an' the little weeny chap jumped away laughin', an' he niver seen him any more, an' the divil a bit o' the purse did he git; only the Cluricaun left his little shoe that he was makin'. An' my gran'father was mad enough wid himself for lettin' him go; but he had the shoe all his life, an' my own mother tould me she aftin seen it, an' had it in her hand; an' 'twas the purtiest little shoe she ivir seen."--" An' did you see it yourself; Molly?"--" Oh! no, my dear, 'twas lost long afore I was born; but my mother tould me aftin an' aftin enough."


1. Mr. Croker says, that according to the Munster peasantry the ordinary attire of the Fairy is a black bat, green coat, white stockings, and red shoes.
2. We never heard a fairy-legend from any of the Connaught-men with whom we conversed in our boyhood. Their tales were all of Finn-mac-Cool and his heroes.
3. See Brittany, and Spain, in both of which the legend is more perfect; but it is impossible to say which is the original. Parnell's pleasing Fairy Tale is probably formed on this Irish version, yet it agrees more with the Breton legend.
4. This story may remind one of the Wonderful Lamp, and others. There Is something of the same kind in the Pentamerone.
5. It is a rule of the Irish language, that the initial consonant of an oblique case, or of a word in regimine, becomes aspirated; thus Pooka (nom.), na Phooka (gen.), mac son, a mhic (vic) my son.
6. In Irish lubárkin; the Ulster name is Logheryman, in Irish lucharman. For the Cork term Cluricaun, the Kerry Luricaun and the Tipperary Lurigadaun, we have found no equivalents in the Irish dictionaries. The short o in Irish, we may observe, is pronounced as in French and Spanish, i.e. as u in but, cut; ai nearly as a in fall. It may be added, on account of the following tales, that in Kildare and the adjoining counties the short English u, in but, cut, etc., is invariably pronounced as in pull, full, while this u is pronounced as that in but, cut.
7. In the place of the Witch of Edmonton usually quoted with this, Lubrick is plainly the Latin lubricus.
8. It will be observed that these, as well as the Young Piper in the Appendix are related in the character of a peasant. This was in accordance with a frame that was proposed for the Fairy Legends, but which proved too difficult of execution to be adopted.
9. Lit. Yellow-stick, the ragwort or ragweed, which grows to a great size in Ireland.
10. A kind of spade with but one step, used in Leinster.
11. All that is said in this legend about the beer is a pure fiction, for we never heard of a Leprechaun drinking or smoking. It is, however, a tradition of the peasantry, that the Danes used to make beer of the heath. It was a Protestant farmer in the county of Cavan, that showed such knowledge of the siege of Derry; the Catholic gardener who told us this story, knew far better. It is also the popular belief that the Danes keep up their claim on Ireland, and that a Danish father, when marrying his daughter, gives her a portion in Ireland.
12. i.e. Felix. On account of the Romish custom of naming after Saints, Felix, Thaddaeus, Terence, Augustine, etc., are common names among the peasantry.
13. In our Tales and Popular Fictions, p. 16, we noticed the coincidence between this and a passage in an Arabic author. We did not then recollect the following verses of Milton,

The willows and the hazle copses green
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
Lycidas, 42.
The simile of the moon among the stars in the same place, we have since found in the Nibelungen Lied (st. 285), and in some of our old poets, and Hammer says (Schirin i. note 7), that it occurs even to satiety in Oriental poetry. In like manner Camoens' simile of the mirror, mentioned in the same place, occurs in Poliziano's Stanze i. 64.