Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland
The Evil Eye--The Touch--The Penalty
"Some friendly Teydmena, sorry to see my suffering plight, said to me: 'This is because thou hast been eye-struck--what! you do not understand 'eye-struck'? Certainly they have looked in your eyes, Khalil. We have lookers (God cut them off!) among us, that with their only (malignant) eye-glances may strike down a fowl flying; and you shall see the bird tumble in the air with loud shrieking kdk-kd-kd-kd-kd. Wellah their looking can blast a palm-tree so that you shall see it wither away. These are things well ascertained by many faithful witnesses.'"There is one visit I have always been a little remorseful about. It was in Mayo where I had gone to see the broken walls and grass-grown hearthstone that remain of the house where Raftery the poet was born. I was taken to see an old woman near, and the friend who was with me asked her about "Those." I could see she was unwilling to speak, and I would not press her, for there are some who fear to vex invisible hearers; so we talked of America where she had lived for a little while. But presently she said, "All I ever saw of them myself was one night when I was going home, and they were behind in the field watching me. I couldn't see them but I saw the lights they carried, two lights on the top of a sort of dark oak pole. So I watched them and they watched me, and when we were tired watching one another the lights all went into one blaze, and then they went away and it went out." She told also one or two of the traditional stories, of the man who had a hump put on him, and the woman "taken" and rescued by her husband, who she had directed to seize the horse she was riding with his left hand.
Then she gave a cry and took up her walking stick from the hearth, burned through, and in two pieces, though the fire had seemed to be but a smouldering heap of ashes. We were very sorry, but she said "Don't be sorry. It is well it was into it the harm went." I passed the house two or three hours afterwards; shutters and door were closed, and I felt that she was fretting for the stick that had been "America and back with me, and had walked every part of the world," and through the loss of which, it may be, she had "paid the penalty."
I told a neighbour about the doctor having attended a man on the mountains, and how after some time, he found that one of the children was sick also, but this had been hidden from him, because if one had to die they wanted it to be the child.
"That's natural," he said. "Let the child pay the penalty if it has to be paid. That's a thing that might happen easy enough."
I was told by M. McGarity:
There was a boy of the Cloonans I knew was at Killinane thatching Henniff's house. And a woman passed by, and she looked up at him, but she never said, "God bless the work." And Cloonan's mother was in the road to Gort and the woman met her and said, "Where did your son learn thatching?" And that day he had a great fall and was brought home hurt, and the mother went to Biddy Early. And she said, "Didn't a red-haired woman meet you one day going into Gort and ask where did your son learn thatching? And didn't she look up at him as she passed? It was then it was done." And she gave a bottle and he got well after a while  "
Some say the evil eye is in those who were baptized wrong, but I believe it's not that, but if, when a woman is carrying, some one that meets her says, "So you're in that way," and she says, "The devil a fear of me," as even a married woman might say for sport or not to let on, the devil gets possession of the child at that moment, and when it is born it has the evil eye.
There was a woman below in that village where I lived to my grief and my sorrow, and she used to be throwing the evil eye, but she is in the poorhouse now--Mrs. Boylan her name is. Four she threw it on, not children but big men, and they lost the walk and all, and died. Maybe she didn't know she had it, but it is no load to any one to say "God bless you." I faced her one time and told her it would be no load to her when she would see the man in the field, and the horses ploughing to say "God bless them," and she was vexed and she asked did I think she had the evil eye, and I said I did. So she began to scold and I left her. That was five years ago, and it is in the poor-house in Ballyvaughan she is this two years; but she can do no harm there because she has lost her sight.
Mrs. Nelly of Knockmogue:
There was a girl lived there near the gate got sick. And after waiting a long time and she getting no better the mother brought in a woman that lived in the bog beyond, that used to do cures. And when she saw the girl, she knew what it was, and that she had been overlooked. And she said, "Did you meet three men on the road one day, and didn't one of them, a dark one, speak to you and give no blessing?" And she said that was so. And she would have done a cure on her, but we had a very good priest at that time, Father Hayden, a curate, and he used to take a drop of liquor and so he had courage to do cures. And he said this was a business for him, and he cured her, and the mother gave him money for it.
It was by herbs that woman used to do cures, and whatever power she got in the gathering of them, she was able to tell what would happen. But she was in great danger all her life from gathering the herbs, for they don't like any one to be cured that they have put a touch on.
I can tell you what happened to two sons of mine. A woman that passed by them said, "You've often threatened me by night, and my curse is on you now." And the one answered her back but the other didn't. And after that they both took sick, but the one that didn't answer her was the worst. And they pined a long time. And I brought the one that was so bad over to Kilronan to the priest and he read over him. It was a lump in his mouth he had, that you could hardly put down a spoonful of milk, and there was a good doctor there and he sliced it, and he got well. But the priest often told me that but for what he did for him he would never have got well. For there's no doubt there's some in the world it's not well to talk with.
The time my son got the pain, he came in roaring and said he. got a stab in the knee. It was surely some evil thing that put it on him. There are some that have the evil eye, and that don't know it themselves. Father McEvilly told me that. He said a woman that was carrying, and that was not married, but that got married while she was carrying, she might put the evil eye on you, and not know it at all. And he said anyway it would be no great load to say "God bless you" to any one you might meet.
The priests can do cures if they like, but those that have stock don't like to be doing it, Father Folan won't do it, but Father McEvilly would.
One time my brother got a great pain, and my father sent me to Father Gallagher, to ask could he cure and read the Mass of the Holy Ghost over him. But when I asked him he called out, "I won't do that, I won't read for any one. He was afraid to go as far as that for fear it might fall on his stock, that he had a great deal of.
Do you think the drohuil is not in other places besides Aran? My mother told me herself that she was out at a dance one evening, and there was a fine young man there and he dancing till be had them all tired; and a woman that was sitting there said "He can do what he likes with his legs," and at that instant he fell dead. My mother told me that herself, and she heard the woman say it, and so did many others that were there.
There's none can do cures well in this island like Biddy Early used to do. I want to know of some good man or woman in that line to go to, for that little girl of my own got a touch last week. Coming home from Mass she was, and she felt a pain in her knee, and it ran down to the foot and up again, and since then the feet are swelled, you might see them.
And about here they all believe in the faeries--and I hear them say--but I don't give much heed to it-that Mrs. Hehir the butcher's sister that died last week--but I don't know much about it. But anyhow she was married three years, and had a child every year, and this time she died. And when the coffin was leaving the house, the young baby began to scream, and to go into convulsions, for all the world as if it was put on the fire.
Another says about this same woman--Mrs. Hehir:
It's overlooked she was when she went out for a walk with a scholar from the seminary that is going to be a priest, and she without a shawl over her head. It's then she was overlooked; they seeing what a fine handsome woman she was, she was took away to be nurse to themselves.
A great pity it was about Mrs. Helhr and she leaving three young orphans. But sure they do be saying a great big black bird flew into the house and around about the kitchen-and it was the next day the sickness took her.
Mrs. Hehirs was a difficult case to diagnose, and I could not give it a name. At the end she was flushed and delirious; and when one of the women attending her said, "She looks so well you wouldn't think it was herself that was in it at all," I knew what was in their minds. Afterwards I was told that the day the illness began she had been churning, and a strange woman came in and said, "Give me a bold of the staff and I'll do a bit of the churning for you." But she refused and the woman said, "It's the last time you'll have the chance of refusing anyone that asks you" and went out, and she was not see again, then or afterwards.
There's one thing should never be done, and that's to say "That's a fine woman," or such a thing and not to say "God bless her." I never believed that till a man that lives in the next holding to my own told me what happened to a springer he had. She was as fine a creature as ever you seen, and one day a friend of his came in to see him, and when he was going away, "That's a grand cow," says he, but he didn't say "God bless it." Well, the owner of the cow went into the house and he sat down by the fire and lit a pipe, and when he had the pipe smoked out he came out again, and there she was lying down and not able to stir. So he remembered what happened and he went after his friend, and found him in a neighbour's house. And he brought him back with him, and made him go into the field and say, "God bless it," and spit on the cow. And with that she got up and walked away as well as before.
They can only take a child or a horse or such things through the eye of a sinner. If his eye falls on it, and he speaks to praise it and doesn't say "God bless it," they can bring it away then. But if you say it yourself in your heart, it will do as well.
There was a man lived about a mile beyond Spiddal, and he was one day at a play, and he was the best at the hurling and the throwing and every game. And a woman of the crowd called out to him, "You're the straightest man that's in it." And twice after that a man that was beside him and that heard that said, saw him pass by with his coat on before sunrise. And on the fifth day after that he was dead.
He left four or five sons and some of them went to America and the eldest of them married and was living in the place with his wife. And he was going to Galway for a fair, and his wife was away with her father and mother on the road to Galway and she bid him to come early, that she'd have some commands for him to do. So it was before sunrise when he set out, and he was going over a little side road through the fields, and he came -on the biggest fair he ever saw, and the most people in it. And they made a way for him to pass through and a man with a big coat and a tall hat came out from them and said, "Do you know me?" And he said, "Are you my father?" And the man said, "I am, and but for me you'd be sorry for coming here, but I saved you, but don't be coming out so early in the morning again." And he said, "It was a year ago that Jimmy went to America. And that was time enough." And then he said, "And it was you that drove your sister away, and gave her no fortune." And that was true enough.
One time there was two brothers standing in a gap in that field you're looking at. And a woman passed by, I wouldn't like to tell you her name, for we should speak no evil of her and she's dead now,-the Lord have mercy on her. And when she passed they heard her say in Irish, "The devil take you," but whether she knew they were there or not, I don't know. And the elder of the brothers called out, "The devil take yourself as well." But the younger one said nothing. And that night the younger one took sick, and through the night he was calling out and talking as if to people in the room. And the next day the mother went to a woman that gathered herbs, the mother of the woman that does cures by them now, and told her all that happened.
And she took a rag of an old red coat, and went down to the last village, and into the house of the woman that had put it, the evil eye, on him. And she sat there and was talking with her, and watched until she made a spit on the floor, and then she gathered it up on the rag and came to the sick man in the bed and rubbed him with it, and he got well on the minute.
It was hardly ever that woman would say "God bless the work" as she passed, and there were some would leave the work and come out on the road and hold her by the shoulder till she'd say it.
A Man on the Boat:
There are many can put on the drohuil. I knew a child in our village and a neighbour came in and said, "That's a fine child"; and no sooner was he gone than the child got a fit. So they brought him back and made him spit on the child and it got well after. Those that have that power, I believe it's born with them, and it's said they can do it on their own children as well as on ours.
There was a boy called Faherty, nephew to Faherty that keeps the licensed house, and he was a great one for all games, and at every pattern, and whenever anything was going on. And one time he went over to Kilronan where they had some sports, and it the 24th of June. And they were throwing the weight, and he took it up and he threw it farther than the police or any that were there; and the second time he did the same thing. And when he was going to throw it the third time, his uncle came to him and said "It's best for you to leave it now; you have enough done." But he wouldn't mind him, and threw it the third time, and farther than they all.
And the next year at that time on the 24th of June, he was stretched on his bed, and he died. And some one was talking about the day he did so much at Kilronan, and the father said:
"I remember him coming into the house after that, and he put up his arm on the dresser as if there was something ailed him." And the boy spoke from his bed and said, "You ought to have said 'God bless you' then. If my mother had been living then she'd have said it, and I wouldn't be lying here now."
There were two other fine young men died in the same year, and one night after, the three of them appeared to a sick man, Jamsie Power, on the south island, and talked with him. But they didn't stay long because, they said, they had to go on to the coast of Clare.
My own first-born child wasn't spared. He was born in February and all the neighbours said they never saw so fine a child. And one night towards the end of March, I was in the bed, and the child on my arm between me and the wall, sleeping warm and well, and the wife was settling things about the house. And when she got into bed, she wanted to take the child, and I said, "Don't stir him, where he's so warm and so well"; but she took him in her own arm. And in the morning be was dead. And up to the time he was buried, you'd say he wasn't dead at all, so fresh and so full in the face he looked.
There was a neighbour about the same time had a child and it was in the bed with them, but it was sick. And one night he was sure he heard some one say outside the house, "It's time he should be stretched out to me." So he got up and opened the window, and he threw a vessel of dirty water over whatever was outside, and he heard no more, and his child got well and grew up strong.
An Island Woman:
And there's some people the fishermen wouldn't pass when they are going to the boats, but would turn back again if they'd meet them. One day two boys of mine, Michael and Danny, were down on the rocks, bream-fishing with lines, and I had a job of washing with the wife of the head coastguard. But when it came to one o'clock something came over me, and I thought the boys might have got the hunger, and I went to Mrs. Patterson and said I must leave work for that day, and I 'vent and bought a three-halfpenny loaf and brought it down to where they were fishing, and when I got there I saw that Michael the younger one was limping, and I said, "It must be from the hunger you're not able to walk." "Oh, no," he said, "but it's a pain I got in my heel, and I can't put it to the ground." And when we got home he went into his bed, and he didn't leave it for three months. And one day I said to him, "What was it happened you, did you meet any one on the road that day that said anything to you?" And he said, "I did, I met a woman of the village and she said, 'It's good to be you and to have a fine basket of bream,' and she said no more than that, and that very minute the pain came on my heel. But I won't tell you her name, for fear there'd be a row." But I made him tell me, and I promised never to say a word to her and I never did; but he's not the first she did that to.
An Old Man with a Basket:
They can put the drohuil here and I suppose in all parts, and you should watch not to let any one meet you unless they would say, "God bless you," and spit.
There was a woman in this island lost her walk for a year and a half, till they went to Galway to a woman that throws the cups, and she bid them go into the next house where there was a black man living, and give him tobacco to be smoking, and take up the spit and rub his leg. And she got well after that.
There was another man in that island besides that neighbour of mine that would give the drohuil-the evil eye. Tom Griffith his name was. There was one Flanagan came back from Clare one day with three bonifs he bought there. And Griffith came out as he passed and said, "No better bonifs than those ever came into the island." And when Flanagan came home, there was a little hill in the front of his house and two of them fell down against it on their side. And when Mrs. Flanagan came out to see the bonifs, there was only one of them living before her.
There's a man in this island now puts the evil eye-the drohuil. It's about four years since I heard of him doing it last There was a nice young woman he passed and he said, "You' re the best walker in Aran." And that day she got a pain in her leg and she took to her bed, and there she lay for six months, and then she sent for him, and he was made-with respects to you-to throw a spit on her. And after that she got well and got up again. And there was a child died about the same time, and the friends said it was he did it. Ned Buckley is his name. Devil a foot he ever goes to a wedding or such like; they wouldn't ask him, they'd be afraid of him. But he goes to Mass-at least he did in his bloom-but he's an old man now. Does the priest know about him? It's not likely he does. There's no one would like to go and make an attack on him like that. And anyway the priests don't like any one to speak to them of such things, they'd sooner not hear about them.
There was one of my brothers overlooked, no doubt at all about that. He was the best rower of a canoe that ever was, and there was a match at Kinvara today and he won it, and there was a match at Ballyvaughan tomorrow and he was in it, and the foam was as high as mountains, that the hooker could hardly stand, and he won there. And when he was come to the pier and the people all running to carry him in their arms, the way the jockey is carried after a race, he was ruz up his own height off the ground, and no one could see what did it.
He was wrong in the head after that, and he would sit by the hearth without speaking. My mother that would be out binding the wheat would say to me now and again "There he is coming across to us, and she put it on me to think it, but I could see nothing, for it is not everyone can see those things. Then she would ask the father when we went in, did he stir from the fireside, and when he said he never stirred she knew it was his shadow she saw and that he had not long to live, and it was not long till he was gone.
There was a man comming along the road from Gort to Garryland one night, and he had a drop taken, and before him on the road he saw a pig walking. And having a drop in, he gave a shout and made a kick at it and bid it get out of that.
And from the time he got home, his arm had swelled from the shoulder to be as big as a bag, and he couldn't use his hand with the pain in it. And his wife brought him after a few days to a woman that used to do cures at Rahasane.
And on the road all she could do would hardly keep him from lying down to sleep on the grass. And when they got to the woman, she knew all that happened, and says she: "It's well for you that your wife didn't let you fall asleep on the grass, for if you had done that but for an instant, you'd be a gone man."
There was a woman lived near Ballinasloe and she had two children, and they both died, one after the other. And when the third was born, she consulted an old woman, and she said to watch the cradle all day where it was standing by the side of the fire. And so she did, and she saw a sort of a shadow come into it, and give the child a touch. And she came in, and drove it away. And the second day the same thing happened, and she was afraid that the third time the child would go, the same as the others. So she went to the old woman again, and she bid her take down the hanger from the chimney, and the tongs and the waistcoat of the child's father and to lay them across the cradle, with a few drops of water from a blessed well. So she did all this and laid these three things in the cradle, but she saw the shadow or whatever it was come again, and she ran in and drove it away.
But when she told the old woman she said "You need trouble yourself no more about it being touched or not, for no harm will come to it if you keep those three things on it for twelve days." So she did that, and reared eight children after, and never lost one.
An Old Woman from Kinvara:
Did I know any one was taken? My own brother was, and no mistake about it. It was one day he was out following two horses with the plough, and it was about five o'clock, for a gentleman was passing when he got the touch, and one of his tenants asked him the time, and he said five o'clock. And what way it came I don't know, but he fell twice on the stones--God bless the hearers and the place I'm telling it in. And at ten o'clock the next morning he was dead in his bed. Young he was, not twenty year, and nothing ailed him when he went out, but the place he was ploughing in that day was a bad pass. Sure and certain I am it's by them he was taken. I used often to hear crying in the field after, but I never saw him again.
A Connemara Woman:
There was a boy going to America, and when he was going he said to the girl next door "Wherever I am, when you are married I'll come back to the wedding"; and not long after he went to America he died. And when the girl was married and all the friends and neighbours in the house, he appeared in the room, but no one saw him but his comrade he used to have here, and the girl's brother saw him too, but no one else. And the comrade followed him and went close to him and said, "Is it you indeed?" And he said, "It is, and from America I came tonight." And he asked, "How long did that journey take?" and he said, "Three quarters of an hour," and then he went away. And the comrade was never the better of it, or he got the touch or the other called him, very true friends as they were, and he soon died. But the girl is now middle-aged and is living in that house we are just after passing and is married to one Kelly.
Whether all that die go among them I can't say, but it is said they can take no one without the touch of a Christian hand, or the want of a blessing from a Christian that would be noticing them.
A North Galway Woman:
There are many young women taken in childbirth. I lost a Sister of my own in that way.
There's a place in the river at Newtown where there's stepping-stones in the middle you can get over by, and one day she was crossing, and there in the middle of the river, and she standing on a stone, she felt a blow on the face. And she looked round to see who gave it and there was no one there, so then she knew what had happened, and she came to the mother's house, and she carrying at the time. I was a little slip at that time, with my books in my hand coming from school, and I ran in and said to my mother, "Here's Biddy coming," and she said, "What would bring her at this time of day?" But she came in and sat down on a chair and she opened the whole story, and my mother said to quiet her, "It was only a pain in the ear you got, and you thought it was a blow." And she said, "I never got a blow that hurted me like that." And the next day, and every day after that, the ear would swell a little in the afternoon, and then she began to eat nothing, and five minutes after her baby was born she died. And my mother used to watch for her for three or four years after, thinking she'd come back, but she never did.
There was a forth near our house in Meath, and when I was a baby a woman was carrying me in her arms, and she walked down the four steps that led into it, and there was a nice garden around it, and she slipped and fell, and my cheek struck against one of the steps-you can see the mark yet that I got there. And the woman told my mother and said, "It's a wonder the child wasn't taken altogether then and there."
One day I was out digging in the field for my brothers, and there was a sort of a half-ditch between the oats and the potatoes, and I was digging it down, and of a sudden a sleep came on me and I lay down. And I suppose I had been asleep about twenty minutes when I was waked with a hard clout on the face. And I thought it was one of my brothers and I called out, "You have no right to give me a clout like that." But my brother was away down the field, and came when he heard me calling. And I felt a pain in my side as well, and I went into the house and didn't leave it for two months after with pleurisy, and the pain never left me till after I was married. I suppose I must have been on some way of theirs, or some place that belonged to them and that was known to be an enchanted place, and my father used often to see it lighted up with candles.
A Man Herding Sheep:
I'll tell you now what happened to a little one of my own. She was just five years. And the day I'm speaking of she was running to school down the path before me, as strong and as funny as the day she was born, and laughing and looking back at me. And that night she went to bed as well as ever she was. And at about eleven o'clock in the night she awoke and gave a great cry, and she said there was a great pain in her knee, and it was m no other part of her. And in the morning she had it yet, and her walk had gone, and I lifted her and brought her out into the street, and she couldn't walk one step if you were to give her the three isles of Aran. And she lived for two nights after that.
When the doctor came and I told him, he said it was the strangest case he ever heard of, and the schoolmistress said, "I thought if I'd brought that child to the hill beyond and threw her down into the sea it would do her no harm, she was that strong."
But if such things happen, it happened to her, and touched she was. It was not death, it was being took away.
An Old Woman in an Aran village:
I'll tell you what happened a son of my own that was so strong and so handsome and so good a dancer, he was mostly the pride of the island. And he was that educated that when he was twenty-six years, he could write a letter to the Queen. And one day a pain came in the thigh, and a little lump came mside it, and a hole in it that you could hardly put the point of a pin in,and it was always drawing. And he took to his bed and was there for eleven months. And every night when it would be twelve o'clock, he would begin to be singing and laughing and going on. And what the neighbours said was, that it was at that hour there was some other left in his place. I never went to any one or any witchcraft, for my husband wouldn't let me but left it to the will of God; and anyway at the end of the eleven months he died.
And his sister was in America, and the same thing came to her there, a little lump by the side of the face, and she came home to die. But she died quiet and was like any other in the night.
And a daughter-in-law of mine died after the second birth, and even the priest said it was not dead she was, he that was curate then. I was surprised the priest to say that, for they mostly won't give in to it, unless it's one that takes a drop of drink.
An Old Man in the Kitchen:
I had a son that it was mostly given in to in Aran to be the best singer to give out a couple of verses, so that he'd hardly go out of the house but some one would want to be bringing him into theirs. And he took sick of a sudden, with a pain in his shoulder. I went to the doctor and he says, "Does your wife take tea?" "She does when she can get it," says I, and he told me then to put the spout of the kettle to where the pain was. And after that he went to Galway Hospital, but he got no better there and a Sister of Mercy said to him at last, "I'm thinking by the look of you, your family at home is poor." "That's true enough," says he. Then says she: "It's best for you to stop here, and they'll be free from the cost of burying you." But he said he'd sooner go die at home, if he had but two days to live there. So he came back and he didn't last long. It's always the like of him that's taken, that are good for singing or dancing, or for any good thing at all. And young women are often taken in that way, both in the middle island and in this.
I'll tell you how I lost the first son I had. He was just three years old and as fine and as strong as any child you'd see. And one day my wife said she'd bring the child to her mother's house to stop the evening with her, for I was going out. And there was a neighbour of ours, a man that lived near us, and no one was the better of being spoken to by him. And as they were passing his house he came out, and he said, "That's the finest child that's in the island." And a woman that was passing at the same time stopped and said, "It was the smallest that ever
I saw the day it was born, God bless it." And the mother knew what she meant, and she wanted to say "God bless him," but it was like as if a hand took and held her throat, and choked her that she couldn't say the words. And when I came to the mother's house, and began to make fun with the child, I saw a round mark on the side of his head, the size of a crown piece. And I said to the wife, "Why would you beat the child in the head, why don't you get a little rod to beat him if he wants it?" And she said that she had never touched him at all.
And at that time I was very much given to playing cards, and that night I went out to a friend's house to play. And the wife before she went to bed broiled a bit of fish and put it on a plate with potatoes, and put it in a box in the room, for fear it might be touched by a cat or a rat or such like. But I was late coming in and didn't mind to eat it And the next night I was out again. And when we were playing cards we'd play first with tobacco and we'd go on to tea, and we'd end up with whiskey. And the next morning when the wife opened the box she laughed and she said "You didn't drink your tea when you were out last night, for I see you have your dinner eaten." And I said, "Why should you say that? I never touched it." And she held up the plate and showed me that the potatoes were taken off it; but the fish wasn't touched, for it was a bit of a herring and salty.
Well, the child was getting sick all the day, and I didn't go out that evening. And in the night we could hear the noise as if of scores of rats, going about the room. And every now and again I struck a light, but soon as the light was in it we'd hear nothing. But the noise would begin again as soon as it was dark, and sometimes it would seem as if they came up on the bed, and I could feel the weight of them on my chest as if they would smother me.
And in the morning I chanced to open the box where the dinner used to be put, and it as big a box as any in Aran, and when I opened it I saw it was all full of blood, up the sides and to the top, that you couldn't put your hand in without it getting bloody. I said nothing but shut the lid down again. But after, when I came into the house, I saw the wife rubbing at it with a thing they call flannel they got at Killinny, and I asked her what was she doing, and she said, "I'm cleaning the box, where it's full of blood." And after that I gave up the child and I had no more hope for its life. But if they had told me that about the neighbour speaking to him, I'd have gone over, and I'd have killed him with my stick, but I'd have made him come and spit on him. After that we didn't hear the noise the same again, but we heard like the sound of a clock all through the night and every night. And the child got a swelling under the feet, and he couldn't put a foot to the ground. But that made little difference to him, for he didn't hold out a week.
I lost another son after--but he died natural, there was nothing of that sort And I have one son remaining now, and one day he went to sleep out in a field and that's a bad thing to do. And the sister found him there, and when she woke him he couldn't get up hardly, or move his hand, and she had to help him to the house.
I know a gentleman too got the touch, one of the Butlers. It was on a day he made a great leap he got it. And he went to the bed and for three or four days he couldn't stir, and red marks came out over him shaped like a bow. And then I went for the priest and brought him to see him, and when he heard of the marks, "I'm as bad as that myself," he said, making fun; "for I'm after making a journey in a curragh." But when the clothes were stripped back and he saw his skin, "Oh, murder!" he said, and he put on his stole and got out a book. And he said, "Did you hear what I did to the man at lona? He went to the well with a tin can for water, and when he got to the well, a few yards away from it, it was spilled. And he went back and filled it again, and the second time at the well it was spilled, and he fell along with it, and he got a little cut in the fall, and he began to bleed, and all the people said as much blood as would be in three men came away from him. And they sent for me, and the minute I came the bleeding stopped, and he was all right again and the cut closed up."
And then he put his head down and what he read I don't know, but he hardly got to the turn of the road outside the house, when the boy stood up from the bed and asked for something to eat.
Another time I was drawing turf that came in the boats from Connemara to Kilronan pier. And of a sudden there came a swelling in my arm, and it was next day the size of an egg, and it turned black. And I couldn't lift the arm, and Healy the coastguard said to me to go to Doctor Lydon. And I said I would, but in the way I met with Father Jordan and I showed it to him. And he said; "What do you want with your Healy and your Lydons? Let me see it." And he pressed his hand on it two or three times like that, and the swelling began to go, and when I got home they were clearing weed on the shore, and I was able to go down and to give them a hand with it.
There was a cousin of my own used to feel some heavy thing coming on him in the bed in the night time. And he went to the friars at Esker to take it off of him, and they took it off. But Father Williams said, "If this is gone from you some other thing will be put on you." And sure enough it wasn't a twelvemonth after, he was carting planks and the horse fell, and the planks fell on his foot and broke it in two pieces. And after that again he got a fall, over some stones, and he died with throwing off blood.
I had a fall myself in Galway the other day that I couldn't move my arm to play the pipes if you gave me Ireland. And a man said to me-and they are very smart people in Galway-that two or three got a fall and a hurt in that same place. "There is places in the sea where there is drowning," he said, "and places on the land as well where there do be accidents, and no man can save himself from them, for it is the Will of God."
Some people call Mrs. Tobin "Biddy Early." She has done a good many cures. Her brother was away for a while and it was from him she got the knowledge. I believe that it's before sunrise that she gathers the herbs, anyway no one ever saw her gathering them . She has saved many a woman from being brought away when their child was born, by whatever she does. She told me herself that one night when she was going to the lodge gate to attend the woman there, three magpies came before her and began roaring into her mouth, to try to drive her back. Father Folan must know about her, but he is a dark man and says nothing, and anyway the priests know as much, and are as much in dread as any one else.
I wish I had sent for her for my own little boy. It's often he asked me to bring him to the friars at Loughrea. But he never would tell how or where he got the touch. It came like a lump in the back, and he got weaker and smaller till you could put him into a tin can, and he twenty years. Often I asked him about it, but he'd say nothing. I believe that they are afraid to tell or they would be worse treated. I asked him was it at the jumping, for they used to be jumping over a pole, and he said it was not, and that he never took a jump that was too much for him.
But some that saw his back said he had been beat. And when the Doctor came in to see him, he was lying on the bed, and he turned him over and looked at him and said, "If he had all Lady Gregory's estate he couldn't live a week." And sure enough within five days he died. And many of the neighbours said they never heard such a storm of wind as rose about the house that night. I never saw him since, and I went late and early, in the mill and down by the river. But it's maybe a hundred or two hundred miles he was brought away.
There is a priest now, a curate down in Cloughinore, is doing great cures. There is often silence between him and the parish priest, Father Rock, for he wouldn't like him to be doing them. There was a little chap went to bed one night as well as yourself, and in the morning he rose up with one of his ears as deaf as that he wouldn't hear you if he died. And the mother brought him to Father Dolan and he came out as well as ever he was. It was but a fortnight ago that happened, and I didn't hear did the misfortune fall on any of the stock.
But wherever there is a cure something will go, and what would a sheep or a heifer be beside a misfortune on a child?
There was a priest near Ennis, a woman I knew went to for a cure, and he wouldn't do it. "Tha me bocht," he said, "I am poor, but I will not do it." "I will pay you well," said the woman. "I will not do it," said he, "for my heart was killed two years ago with one I did. And it isn't money I'd ask of you if I did it," he said, "but to offer you my blessing and the blessing of God."
There was a woman down by the sea that had a very severe time when her baby was born, and they did not think she or the baby would live after. So the husband went and brought Father Rivers and he said, "Which would you sooner lose-the wife or the child--for one must go?" And the husband said, "If the wife is taken I might as well close the door." And then Father Rivers said, "She's going up and down like the swinging of a clock, but for all that I'll strive to keep her for you, but maybe you must lose two or more." So he read some prayers over her, and the next day the baby died, and a fine cow out in the field, but the woman recovered and is living still. But Father Rivers died within two years. They never live long when they do these cures, because that they say prayers that they ought not to say.
There's Father Heseltine of Killinan has lost his health and no person knows where he is. They say he's gone abroad because he did a cure on one of his sisters.
A young mare I lost. It was on the 15th August, something came on it in the field, and it did no good, and the son was tending it. And on St. Colman's Day he was taken with a weakness in the chapel that they had to bring him home, and he did not go fasting to the chapel. He got well, but the mare died. I didn't mind that, I knew something must go, and it was better the mare to go than the son.
There were many said, the mare not to have died there would be no chance for him. So I am well content, for whatever way we'll struggle we might get another mare. But a person to go, there is no one for you to get in his place.
A County Galway Magistrate:
That time I was laid up at Luke Manning's they sent for Father Heseltine to "read a gospel" over me. He said when he came in, "You'll lose something tonight." I heard him say this, but what he read over me I don't know, it seemed a sort of muttering. At all events I got well after it, and the next morning, a sheep was found dead.
My father was gardener here at Coole in the time of Mrs. Robert's grandfather. He was sick one time, and he thought to go to the friars at Esker for a cure, and he asked Mr. Gregory for the loan of a horse, and he bade him to take it. So he saddled and bridled the horse, and he set out one morning and went to the friars, and whatever they did they cured him, and he came back again. But in the morning the horse was found dead in the stable. I suppose whatever they took off him they put upon the horse. And when Mr. Gregory came out in the morning, "How is Pat?" he says to one of the men. "Pat is well," says he, "but the horse he brought with him is dead in the stable." "So long as Pat is well," said Mr. Gregory, "I wouldn't mind if five horses in the stable were dead."
There was a friar in Esker could do cures. Many I've seen brought to him tied in a cart, and able to walk home after. Father Callaghan he was. There was one man brought to him, wrong in his head he was, and he cured him and he gave him some sort of a Gospel rolled up, and bid him to put it about his neck, and never to take it off. Well, he went to America after that and was as well as another and got work, and sent home £10 one time to Father Callaghan he was that grateful to him.
But one day in America he was shaving, and whether he cut the string or that he took it off I don't know, but he laid the charm down on a table. And when he looked for it again, if he was to burn the house down he couldn't find it. And it all came back on him again, and he was as bad as he was before.
So the wife wrote home to Father Callaghan, and he sent out another thing of the same sort; and bid him wear it, and from the time he put it on, he got well again. A priest has the power to do cures, but if he does he can keep nothing, one thing will die after another.
Biddy Early could do the same thing, she had to cast the sickness on some other thing-it might be a dog or a goat or a bird.
Priests can do cures if they will, but they are afraid to do them because their stock will die, and because they are afraid of loss in the other world as well as in this. There's a neighbour of your own lost his milch cow the other day for a small one he did--Father MuIhall that is.
There was Father Rivers was called in to a woman that was bad, between Roxborough and Dunsandle. And he said to the father, "which would you sooner keep, the wife or the child?" And he said, "Sure I'd sooner have the wife than all of the world." So Father Rivers went in and cured her so that she got well, but he put whatever she had on the son, so that he grew up an idiot. Harmless he used to be, not doing much. Well, when he came to twenty years, the mother said, "Come outside into the field, and cut the eyes of a few stone of potatoes for me." But he took up the graip that was at the door and made at her to kill her. And she ran in and shut the door, and then he made for the window and broke it. And at that time Mr. Singleton from Ceramina was passing by, and he stopped and called some men and they took him and took the graip from him, and he was brought away to Ballinasbe Asylum, but he didn't live more than six months after. Waiting all that time he was to do his revenge, but hadn't the power to do it till the twenty years were up.
There is a man that is living strong and well in the village of LochIan and that has sixteen or seventeen children, and one time something came on him and he wore away till there was no more strength in him than in that thraneen. And there was an old woman used to be doing cures with herbs) and he sent for her, and she went out into the field and she picked two or three leaves of a plant she knew of. And as she was carrying it through the fields to the house she fell dead.
And his strength came back to him when the death fell on her and he was as well and as strong as ever he was. I will bring you three of those leaves if I have to walk two miles-three-cornered leaves they are (penny royal). No harm will come upon me, for I am nothing but an old hag. Before sunrise they must be picked, and the best day to do it is a Friday.
An Old Army Man:
I knew a man had charms for headache and for toothache and other things, and he did a great many cures, but all his own children began to die. So then he put away the charms, and made a promise not to do cures for others again; and after that he lost no more children.
Priests can do cures as well as Biddy Early did, and there was a man of the neighbours digging potatoes in that field beyond, and a woman passed by, and she never said anything. And presently the top of his fingers got burned off, and he called out with the pain, a blast he got from her as she passed. Often he'd come into this house, and crying out with the hurt of the pain. And at last he went to the priests at Esker, and they cured him, but they said, "Your own priests could have done the same for you." And when he came back there were two cows dead.
And the same thing when Carey's wife-that is a tenant of your own- was sick, they called in Father Gardiner and he cured her, and he told them to watch by her for two or three days. And then the priest went out to see the stabling, and Carey with him, for Carey had always a pair of good horses. And when they went into the stable, the horses were dead before them.
It was Flaherty gave his life for my sister that was his wife. When she fell sick he brought her to Biddy Early in the mountains beyond. And she cured her the first time. But she said, "If you bring her again, you'll pay the penalty." But when she fell sick again he brought her, but he stopped a mile from the house. But she knew it well, and told the wife where he was, and that time the horse died. But the third time she fell sick he went again, knowing full well he'd pay the penalty; and so he did and died. But she was cured; and married one O'Dea afterwards.
The priests know well about these things, but they won't let on to have seen them, and the people don't much like to be telling them about them. But there was Father Gallagher that did cures by means of them, and at last he got a touch himself, and was sent for a while to an asylum, and now he has promised to leave them alone. Fallen angels some say they are. I know a man that saw them hurling up there in Hanlon's field. Red caps they wore and looked very diminutive, but they were hurling away like Old Boots.
The way the bad luck came on Tom Hurley was when a cow fell sick on him and lay like dead. He had a right to leave it or to kill it; but the father-in-law cut a bit off the leg of it and it rose again, and they sold it for seven pounds at the fair of Tubber. But he had no luck since then, but lost four or five head of cattle, near all that he owned.
There was a man did a cure on his son that came from America sick. He didn't like to see him ailing, and one night he did the cure. But before sunrise the sight of one of his eyes was gone.
A Mountainy Man:
There's some people living about three miles from here on Slieve-Mor, and they came from the North at the time of the famine, and they can do cures, but they don't like to say much about it--for the people of the North all have it. Their names are natural, McManus, and Irwin and Taylor. There's one of them gave a cure for a man that was sick, and he grew better, but a calf died. And the son was going to him again, but the mother said: "Let him alone, let him die, or we'll lose all the stock"; for she'd sooner have the husband die than any other beast. So the son was out and he met the man, and he said, "It is to me you're coming?" And the son said it was, for he didn't like to tell about what his mother said or about the death of the calf. So the man got him a bottle, and said he'd come home with him, but when they were on the road they met some one that spoke of the death of the call. So when the man heard that, he was angry and he said, "If I knew that I wouldn't have helped you," and he broke the bottle against the wall. So the father died, and the wife kept the stock--a very unkind woman she was.
There was a woman of my village never put a shoe on her feet from the time of her birth till the time of her death. Doing a penance she said she was. And she never married and would never eat meat
As to cures, there's none can do them like the priests can, if they will. There was a woman I knew, and her little boy was sick and couldn't move. And she got the priest to come and do a cure on him, but no one knew what he did. And often he said to the woman: "You have a horse and a pony, and which do you value the most?" And she said she valued the pony the most. And next day the horse had died, but the little boy got well.
A Man of the Islands:
There's an old woman here now--there she is passing the road--that does cures with herbs. But last year she got a sore hand and she had to go to the hospital, and before she came back they took two fingers off her. And there's no luck about bone-setters either. There's one here on the island and a good many go to him. But he had but one son and he never did any good, and now he's gone away from him.
When Father Callan was a curate he did a cure for me one time for my cattle, and I gave him half a sovereign in his hand for it, in this road. It was the time I had so much trouble, and my brothers trying to rob me, and but for our landlord I wouldn't have kept the farm. And all my stock began to die. There was hardly a day I'd come out but I'd see maybe two or three sheep lying there in the field with froth at their mouths, and they turning black. The same thing was happening Tommy Hare's stock, and he went to Father Callan and he came to the house and read some sort of a Mass and took the sickness off them. So then I went to him myself, and he said he'd read a Mass m the chapel for me, and so he did. And the stock were all right from that time, and the day he came to see them and that I gave him the money, there ran a dog out of Roche's house and came behind the priest and gave him a bite in the leg, that he had to go to Dublin to cut it out. Why did the dog do it? He did it because he was mad when he saw the stock getting well. And weren't the Roches queer people that they wouldn't kill the dog when the priest wanted it, the way he'd be in no danger if the dog would go mad after?