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The Kiltartan History Book by Lady I. A. Gregory

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Seven Short Plays

Cuchulain of Muirthemne

Gods and Fighting Men

Poets and Dreamers

A Book of Saints and Wonders



The Ancient Times
Goban, the Builder
A Witty Wife
An Advice She Gave
Shortening the Road
The Goban's Secret
The Scotch Rogue
The Danes
The Battle of Clontarf
The English
The Queen of Breffny
King Henry VIII.
Her Death
The Trace of Cromwell
Cromwell's Law
Cromwell in Connacht
A Worse than Cromwell
The Battle of Aughrim
The Stuarts
Another Story
Patrick Sarsfield
Queen Anne
Carolan's Song
Denis Browne
The Union
Robert Emmet
O'Connell's Birth
The Tinker
A Present
His Strategy
The Man was Going to be Hanged
The Cup of the Sassanach
The Thousand Fishers
What the Old Women Saw
O'Connell's Hat
The Change He Made
The Man He Brought to Justice
The Binding
His Monument
A Praise Made for Daniel O'Connell by Old Women and They Begging
at the Door
Richard Shiel
The Tithe War
The Fight at Carrickshock
The Big Wind
The Famine
The Cholera
A Long Remembering
The Terry Alts
The '48 Time
A Thing Mitchell Said
The Fenian Rising
A Great Wonder
Another Wonder
Father Mathew
The War of the Crimea
The Buonapartes
The Zulu War
The Young Napoleon
Mr. Gladstone
Queen Victoria's Religion
Her Wisdom
War and Misery
The Present King
The Old Age Pension
Another Thought
A Prophecy




"As to the old history of Ireland, the first man ever died in Ireland
was Partholan, and he is buried, and his greyhound along with him, at
some place in Kerry. The Nemidians came after that and stopped for a
while, and then they all died of some disease. And then the Firbolgs
came, the best men that ever were in Ireland, and they had no law but
love, and there was never such peace and plenty in Ireland. What
religion had they? None at all. And there was a low-sized race came that
worked the land of Ireland a long time; they had their time like the
others. Many would tell you Grania slept under the cromlechs, but I
don't believe that, and she a king's daughter. And I don't believe she
was handsome either. If she was, why would she have run away? In the old
time the people had no envy, and they would be writing down the stories
and the songs for one another. But they are too venemous now to do that.
And as to the people in the towns, they don't care for such things now,
they are too corrupted with drink."


"The Goban was the master of sixteen trades. There was no beating him;
he had got the gift. He went one time to Quin Abbey when it was
building, looking for a job, and the men were going to their dinner, and
he had poor clothes, and they began to jibe at him, and the foreman said
'Make now a cat-and-nine-tails while we are at our dinner, if you are
any good.' And he took the chisel and cut it in the rough in the stone,
a cat with nine tails coming from it, and there it was complete when
they came out from their dinner. There was no beating him. He learned no
trade, but he was master of sixteen. That is the way, a man that has the
gift will get more out of his own brain than another will get through
learning. There is many a man without learning will get the better of a
college-bred man, and will have better words too. Those that make
inventions in these days have the gift, such a man now as Edison, with
all he has got out of electricity."


"The Goban Saor was a mason and a smith, and he could do all things, and
he was very witty. He was going from home one time and he said to the
wife 'If it is a daughter you have this time I'll kill you when I come
back'; for up to that time he had no sons, but only daughters. And it
was a daughter she had; but a neighbouring woman had a son at the same
time, and they made an exchange to save the life of the Goban's wife.
But when the boy began to grow up he had no wit, and the Goban knew by
that he was no son of his. That is the reason he wanted a witty wife
for him. So there came a girl to the house one day, and the Goban Saor
bade her look round at all that was in the room, and he said 'Do you
think a couple could get a living out of this?' 'They could not,' she
said. So he said she wouldn't do, and he sent her away. Another girl
came another day, and he bade her take notice of all that was in the
house, and he said 'Do you think could a couple knock a living out of
this?' 'They could if they stopped in it,' she said. So he said that
girl would do. Then he asked her could she bring a sheepskin to the
market and bring back the price of it, and the skin itself as well. She
said she could, and she went to the market, and there she pulled off the
wool and sold it and brought back the price and the skin as well. Then
he asked could she go to the market and not be dressed or undressed. And
she went having only one shoe and one stocking on her, so she was
neither dressed or undressed. Then he sent her to walk neither on the
road or off the road, and she walked on the path beside it. So he said
then she would do as a wife for his son."


"One time some great king or lord sent for the Goban to build a
_caislean_ for him, and the son's wife said to him before he went 'Be
always great with the women of the house, and always have a comrade
among them.' So when the Goban went there he coaxed one of the women the
same as if he was not married. And when the castle was near built, the
woman told him the lord was going to play him a trick, and to kill him
or shut him up when he had the castle made, the way he would not build
one for any-other lord that was as good. And as she said, the lord came
and bade the Goban to make a cat and two-tails, for no one could make
that but himself, and it was meaning to kill him on it he was. And the
Goban said he would do that when he had finished the castle, but he
could not finish it without some tool he had left at home. And they must
send the lord's son for it--- for he said it would not be given to any
other one. So the son was sent, and the Goban sent a message to the
daughter-in-law that the tool he was wanting was called 'When you open
it shut it.' And she was surprised, for there was no such tool in the
house; but she guessed by the message what she had to do, and there was
a big chest in the house and she set it open. 'Come now,' she said to
the young man,' look in the chest and find it for yourself.' And when he
looked in she gave him a push forward, and in he went, and she shut the
lid on him. She wrote a letter to the lord then, saying he would not get
his son back till he had sent her own two men, and they were sent back
to her."


"Himself and his son were walking the road together one day, and the
Goban said to the son 'Shorten the road for me.' So the son began to
walk fast, thinking that would do it, but the Goban sent him back home
when he didn't understand what to do. The next day they were walking
again, and the Goban said again to shorten the road for him, and this
time he began to run, and the Goban sent him home again. When he went in
and told the wife he was sent home the second time, she began to think,
and she said, 'When he bids you shorten the road, it is that he wants
you to be telling him stories.' For that is what the Goban meant, but it
took the daughter-in-law to understand it. And it is what I was saying
to that other woman, that if one of ourselves was making a journey, if
we had another along with us, it would not seem to be one half as long
as if we would be alone. And if that is so with us, it is much more with
a stranger, and so I went up the hill with you to shorten the road,
telling you that story."


"The Goban and his son were seven years building the castle, and they
never said a word all that time. And at the end of seven years the son
was at the top, and he said 'I hear a cow lowing.' And the Goban said
then 'Make all strong below you, for the work is done,' and they went
home. The Goban never told the secret of his building, and when he was
on the bed dying they wanted to get it from him, and they went in and
said 'Claregalway Castle is after falling in the night.' And the Goban
said 'How can that be when I put a stone in and a stone out and a stone
across.' So then they knew the way he built so well."


"One time he was on the road going to the town, and there was a Scotch
rogue on the road that was always trying what could he pick off others,
and he saw the Connemara man--that was the Goban--had a nice cravat, and
he thought he would get a hold of that. So he began talking with him,
and he was boasting of all the money he had, and the Goban said whatever
it was he had three times as much as it, and he with only thirty pounds
in the world. And the Scotch rogue thought he would get some of it from
him, and he said he would go to a house in the town, and he gave him
some food and some drink there, and the Goban said he would do the same
for him on the morrow. So then the Goban went out to three houses, and
in each of them he left ten pounds of his thirty pounds, and he told the
people in every house what they had to do, and that when he would strike
the table with his hat three times they would bring out the money. So
then he asked the Scotch rogue into the first house, and ordered every
sort of food and drink, ten pounds worth in all. And when they had used
all they could of it, he struck with his hat on the table, and the man
of the house brought out the ten pounds, and the Goban said 'Keep that
to pay what I owe you.' The second day he did the same thing in another
house. And in the third house they went to he ordered ten pounds worth
of food and drink in the same way. And when the time came to pay, he
struck the table with the hat, and there was the money in the hand of
the man of the house before them. 'That's a good little caubeen,' said
the Scotch rogue, 'when striking it on the table makes all that money
appear.' 'It is a wishing hat,' said the Goban; 'anything I wish for I
can get as long as I have that.' 'Would you sell it?' said the Scotch
rogue. 'I would not,' said the Goban. 'I have another at home, but I
wouldn't sell one or the other.' 'You may as well sell it, so long as
you have another at home,' said the Scotch rogue. 'What will you give
for it?' says the Goban. 'Will you give three hundred pounds for it?' 'I
will give that,' says the Scotch rogue, 'when it will bring me all the
wealth I wish for.' So he went out and brought the three hundred pound,
and gave it to the Goban, and he got the caubeen and went away with it,
and it not worth three halfpence. There was no beating the Goban.
Wherever he got it, he had got the gift."


"The reason of the wisps and the fires on Saint John's Eve is that one
time long ago the Danes came and took the country and conquered it, and
they put a soldier to mind every house through the whole country. And at
last the people made up their mind that on one night they would kill its
soldiers. So they did as they said, and there wasn't one left, and that
is why they light the wisps ever since. It was Brian Boroihme was the
first to light them. There was not much of an army left to the Danes
that time, for he made a great scatter of them. A great man he was, and
his own son was as good, that is Murrough. It was the wife brought him
to his end, Gormleith. She was for war, and he was all for peace. And he
got to be very pious, too pious, and old and she got tired of that."


"Clontarf was on the head of a game of chess. The generals of the Danes
were beaten at it, and they were vexed; and Cennedigh was killed on a
hill near Fermoy. He put the Holy Gospels in his breast as a protection,
but he was struck through them with a reeking dagger. It was Brodar,
that the Brodericks are descended from, that put a dagger through
Brian's heart, and he attending to his prayers. What the Danes left in
Ireland were hens and weasels. And when the cock crows in the morning
the country people will always say 'It is for Denmark they are crowing.
Crowing they are to be back in Denmark.'"


"It was a long time after that, the Pope encouraged King Henry to take
Ireland. It was for a protection he did it, Henry being of his own
religion, and he fearing the Druids or the Danes might invade Ireland."


"Dervorgilla was a red-haired woman, and it was she put the great curse
on Ireland, bringing in the English through MacMurrough, that she went
to from O'Rourke. It was to Henry the Second MacMurrough went, and he
sent Strongbow, and they stopped in Ireland ever since. But who knows
but another race might be worse, such as the Spaniards that were
scattered along the whole coast of Connacht at the time of the Armada.
And the laws are good enough. I heard it said the English will be dug
out of their graves one day for the sake of their law. As to
Dervorgilla, she was not brought away by force, she went to MacMurrough
herself. For there are men in the world that have a coaxing way, and
sometimes women are weak."


"Henry the Eighth was crying and roaring and leaping out of the bed for
three days and nights before his death. And he died cursing his
children, and he that had eight millions when he came to the Throne,
coining leather money at the end."


"Queen Elizabeth was awful. Beyond everything she was. When she came to
the turn she dyed her hair red, and whatever man she had to do with, she
sent him to the block in the morning, that he would be able to tell
nothing. She had an awful temper. She would throw a knife from the table
at the waiting ladies, and if anything vexed her she would maybe work
upon the floor. A thousand dresses she left after her. Very
superstitious she was. Sure after her death they found a card, the ace
of hearts, nailed to her chair under the seat. She thought she would
never die while she had it there. And she bought a bracelet from an old
woman out in Wales that was over a hundred years. It was superstition
made her do that, and they found it after her death tied about her


"It was a town called Calais brought her to her death, and she lay
chained on the floor three days and three nights. The Archbishop was
trying to urge her to eat, but she said 'You would not ask me to do it
if you knew the way I am,' for nobody could see the chains. After her
death they waked her for six days in Whitehall, and there were six
ladies sitting beside the body every night. Three coffins were about
it, the one nearest the body of lead, and then a wooden one, and a
leaden one on the outside. And every night there came from them a great
bellow. And the last night there came a bellow that broke the three
coffins open, and tore the velvet, and there came out a stench that
killed the most of the ladies and a million of the people of London with
the plague. Queen Victoria was more honourable than that. It would be
hard to beat Queen Elizabeth."


"I'll tell you now about the trace of Cromwell. There was a young lady
was married to a gentleman, and she died with her first baby, and she
was brought away into a forth by the fairies, the good people, as I
suppose. She used to be sitting on the side of it combing her hair, and
three times her husband saw her there, but he had not the courage to go
and to bring her away. But there was a man of the name of Howley living
near the forth, and he went out with his gun one day and he saw her
beside the forth, and he brought her away to his house, and a young baby
sprang between them at the end of a year. One day the husband was out
shooting and he came in upon Howley's land, and when young Howley heard
the shooting he rose up and went out and he bade the gentleman to stop,
for this was his land. So he stopped, and he said he was weary and
thirsty, and he asked could he rest in the house. So young Howley said
as long as he asked pardon he had leave to use what he liked. So he came
in the house and he sat at the table, and he put his two eyes through
the young lady. 'If I didn't see her dead and buried,' he said, 'I'd say
that to be my own wife.' 'Oh!' said she, 'so I am your wife, and you are
badly worthy of me, and you have the worst courage ever I knew, that you
would not come and bring me away out of the forth as young Howley had
the courage to bring me,' she said. So then he asked young Howley would
he give him back his wife. 'I will give her,' he said, 'but you never
will get the child.' So the child was reared, and when he was grown he
went travelling up to Dublin. And he was at a hunt, and he lost the top
of his boot, and he went into a shoemaker's shop and he gave him half a
sovereign for nothing but to put the tip on the boot, for he saw he was
poor and had a big family. And more than that, when he was going away he
took out three sovereigns and gave them to the blacksmith, and he looked
at one of the little chaps, and he said 'That one will be in command of
the whole of England.' 'Oh, that cannot be,' said the blacksmith, 'where
I am poor and have not the means to do anything for him.' 'It will be as
I tell you,' said he, 'and write me out now a docket,' he said, 'that
if ever that youngster will come to command Ireland, he will give me a
free leg.' So the docket was made out, and he brought it away with him.
And sure enough, the shoemaker's son listed, and was put at the head of
soldiers, and got the command of England, and came with his soldiers to
put down Ireland. And Howley saw them coming and he tied his
handkerchief to the top of his stick, and when Cromwell saw that, he
halted the army, 'For there is some poor man in distress,' he said. Then
Howley showed him the docket his father had written. 'I will do some
good thing for you on account of that,' said Cromwell; 'and go now to
the top of that high cliff,' he said, 'and I'll give as much land as you
can see from it.' And so he did give it to him. It was no wonder Howley
to have known the shoemaker's son would be in command and all would
happen him, because of his mother that got knowledge in the years she
was in the forth. That is the trace of Cromwell. I heard it at a wake,
and I would believe it, and if I had time to put my mind to it, and if I
was not on the road from Loughrea to Ballyvaughan, I could give you the
foundations of it better."


"I'll tell you about Cromwell and the White Friars. There was a White
Friar at that time was known to have knowledge, and Cromwell sent word
to him to come see him. It was of a Saturday he did that, of an Easter
Saturday, but the Friar never came. On the Sunday Cromwell sent for him
again, and he didn't come. And on the Monday he sent for him the third
time, and he did come. 'Why is it you did not come to me when I sent
before?' said Cromwell. 'I'll tell you that,' said the White Friar. 'I
didn't come on Saturday,' he said, 'because your passion was on you. And
I didn't come on the Sunday,' he said, 'because your passion was not
gone down enough, and I thought you would not give me my steps. But I
came to-day,' he said, 'because your passion is cool.' When Cromwell
heard his answer, 'That is true,' he said, 'and tell me how long my law
will last in Ireland.' 'It will last,' says the White Friar, 'till
yesterday will come (that was Easter Sunday) the same day as our Lady
Day.' Cromwell was satisfied then, and he gave him a free leg, and he
went away. And so that law did last till now, and it's well it did, for
without that law in the country you wouldn't be safe walking the road
having so much as the price of a pint of porter in your pocket."


"Cromwell cleared the road before him. If any great man stood against
him he would pull down his castle the same as he pulled down that
castle of your own, Ballinamantane, that is down the road. He never got
more than two hours sleep or three, or at the most four, but starting up
fearing his life would be peppered. There was a word he sounded out to
the Catholics, 'To hell or Connacht,' and the reason he did that was
that Connacht was burned bare, and he that thought to pass the winter
there would get no lodging at all. Himself and his men travelled it, and
they never met with anything that had human breath put in it by God till
they came to Breffny, and they saw smoke from a chimney, and they
surrounded the house and went into it. And what they saw was a skeleton
over the fire roasting, and the people of the house picking flesh off it
with the bits of a hook. And when they saw that, they left them there.
It was a Clare man that burned Connacht so bare; he was worse than
Cromwell, and he made a great slaughter in the house of God at Clonmel.
The people have it against his family yet, and against the whole County
of Clare."


"Cromwell was very bad, but the drink is worse. For a good many that
Cromwell killed should go to heaven, but those that are drunken never
see heaven. And as to drink, a man that takes the first glass is as
quiet and as merry as a pet lamb; and after the second glass he is as
knacky as a monkey; and after the third glass he is as ready for battle
as a lion; and after the fourth glass he is like a swine as he is. 'I am
thirsty' [IRISH: Ta Tart Orm], that was one of our Lord's seven words on
the Cross, where he was dry. And a man far off would have given him
drink; but there was a drunkard at the foot of the Cross, and he
prevented him."


"That was a great slaughter at Aughrim. St. Ruth wanted to do all
himself, he being a foreigner. He gave no plan of the battle to
Sarsfield, but a written command to stop where he was, and Sarsfield
knew no more than yourself or myself in the evening before it happened.
It was Colonel Merell's wife bade him not go to the battle, where she
knew it would go bad with him through a dream. But he said that meant
that he would be crowned, and he went out and was killed. That is what
the poem says:

If Caesar listened to Calpurnia's dream
He had not been by Pompey's statue slain.

All great men gave attention to dreams, though the Church is against
them now. It is written in Scripture that Joseph gave attention to his
dream. But Colonel Merell did not, and so he went to his death. Aughrim
would have been won if it wasn't for the drink. There was too much of it
given to the Irish soldiers that day--drink and spies and traitors.
The English never won a battle in Ireland in fair fight, but getting
spies and setting the people against one another. I saw where Aughrim
was fought, and I turned aside from the road to see the tree where St
Ruth was killed. The half of it is gone like snuff. That was spies too,
a Colonel's daughter that told the English in what place St. Ruth would
be washing himself at six o'clock in the morning. And it was there he
was shot by one O'Donnell, an Englishman. He shot him from six miles
off. The Danes were dancing in the raths around Aughrim the night after
the battle. Their ancestors were driven out of Ireland before; and they
were glad when they saw those that had put them out put out themselves,
and every one of them skivered."



"As to the Stuarts, there are no songs about them and no praises in the
West, whatever there may be in the South. Why would there, and they
running away and leaving the country the way they did? And what good did
they ever do it? James the Second was a coward. Why didn't he go into
the thick of the battle like the Prince of Orange? He stopped on a hill
three miles away, and rode off to Dublin, bringing the best of his
troops with him. There was a lady walking in the street at Dublin when
he got there, and he told her the battle was lost, and she said 'Faith
you made good haste; you made no delay on the road.' So he said no more
after that. The people liked James well enough before he ran; they
didn't like him after that."


"Seumus Salach, Dirty James, it is he brought all down. At the time of
the battle there was one of his men said, 'I have my eye cocked, and all
the nations will be done away with,' and he pointing his cannon. 'Oh!'
said James, 'Don't make a widow of my daughter.' If he didn't say that,
the English would have been beat. It was a very poor thing for him to


"Sarsfield was a great general the time he turned the shoes on his
horse. The English it was were pursuing him, and he got off and changed
the shoes the way when they saw the tracks they would think he went
another road. That was a great plan. He got to Limerick then, and he
killed thousands of the English. He was a great general."


"The Georges were fair; they left all to the Government; but Anne was
very bad and a tyrant. She tyrannised over the Irish. She died
broken-hearted with all the bad things that were going on about her. For
Queen Anne was very wicked; oh, very wicked, indeed!"


"Carolan that could play the fiddle and the harp used to be going about
with Cahil-a-Corba, that was a tambourine man. But they got tired of one
another and parted, and Carolan went to the house of the King of Mayo,
and he stopped there, and the King asked him to stop for his lifetime.
There came a grand visitor one time, and when he heard Carolan singing
and playing and his fine pleasant talk, he asked him to go with him on a
visit to Dublin. So Carolan went, and he promised the King of Mayo he
would come back at the end of a month. But when he was at the
gentleman's house he liked it so well that he stopped a year with him,
and it wasn't till the Christmas he came back to Mayo. And when he got
there the doors were shut, and the King was at his dinner, and Queen
Mary and the three daughters, and he could see them through the windows.
But when the King saw him he said he would not let him in. He was vexed
with him and angry he had broken his promise and his oath. So Carolan
began to give out a song he had made about the King of Mayo and all his
family, and he brought Queen Mary into it and the three daughters. Then
the Queen asked leave of the King to bring him in, because he made so
good a song, but the King would not give in to it. Then Carolan began to
draw down the King of Mayo's father and his grandfather into the song.
And Queen Mary asked again for forgiveness for him, and the King gave
it that time because of the song that had in it the old times, and the
old generations went through him. But as to Cahil-a-Corba, he went to
another gentleman's house and he stopped too long in it and was driven
out. But he came back, having changed his form, that the gentleman did
not know him, and he let him in again, and then he was forgiven."


"In the year '98 there were the Yeomanry that were the worst of all. The
time Father Murphy was killed there was one of them greased his boots in
his heart. There was one of them was called Micky the Devil in Irish; he
never went out without the pitchcap and the triangle, and any rebel he
would meet he would put gunpowder in his hair and set a light to it. The
North Cork Militia were the worst; there are places in Ireland where you
would not get a drink of water if they knew you came from Cork. And it
was the very same, the North Cork, that went of their own free will to
the Boer war, volunteered, asked to go that is. They had the same sting
in them always. A great many of them were left dead in that war, and a
great many better men than themselves. There was one battle in that war
there was no quarter given, the same as Aughrim; and the English would
kill the wounded that would be left upon the field of battle. There is
no Christianity in war."


"There is a tree near Denis Browne's house that used to be used for
hanging men in the time of '98, he being a great man in that time, and
High Sheriff of Mayo, and it is likely the gentlemen were afeared, and
that there was bad work at nights. But one night Denis Browne was lying
in his bed, and the Lord put it in his mind that there might be false
information given against some that were innocent. So he went out and he
brought out one of his horses into the lawn before the house, and he
shot it dead and left it there. In the morning one of the butlers came
up to him and said, 'Did you see that one of your horses was shot in the
night?' 'How would I see that?' says he, 'and I not rose up or dressed?'
So when he went out they showed him the horse, and he bade the men to
bury it, and it wasn't two hours after before two of them came to him.
'We can tell you who it was shot the horse,' they said. 'It was such a
one and such a one in the village, that were often heard to speak bad of
you. And besides that,' they said, 'we saw them shooting it ourselves.'
So the two that gave that false witness were the last two Denis Browne
ever hung. He rose out of it after, and washed his hands of it all. And
his big house is turned into a convent, and the tree is growing there
yet. It is in the time of '98 that happened, a hundred years ago."


"As to the Union, it was bought with titles. Look at the Binghams and
the rest, they went to bed nothing, and rose up lords in the morning.
The day it was passed Lady Castlereagh was in the House of Parliament,
and she turned three colours, and she said to her husband, 'You have
passed your treaty, but you have sold your country.' He went and cut his
throat after that. And it is what I heard from the old people, there was
no priest in Ireland but voted for it, the way they would get better
rights, for it was only among poor persons they were going at that time.
And it was but at the time of the Parliament leaving College Green they
began to wear the Soutane that they wear now. Up to that it was a
bodycoat they wore and knee-breeches. It was their vote sent the
Parliament to England, and when there is a row between them or that the
people are vexed with the priest, you will hear them saying in the house
in Irish 'Bad luck on them, it was they brought misfortune to Ireland.'
They wore the Soutane ever since that time."


"The Government had people bribed to swear against Robert Emmet, and the
same men said after, they never saw him till he was in the dock. He
might have got away but for his attention to that woman. She went away
after with a sea captain. There are some say she gave information.
Curran's daughter she was. But I don't know. He made one request, his
letters that she wrote to him in the gaol not to be meddled with, but
the Government opened them and took the presents she sent in them, and
whatever was best of them they kept for themselves. He made the greatest
speech from the dock ever was made, and Lord Norbury on the bench,
checking and clogging him all the time. Ten hours he was in the dock,
and they gave him no more than one dish of water all that time; and they
executed him in a hurry, saying it was an attack they feared on the
prison. There is no one knows where is his grave."


"O'Connell was a grand man, and whatever cause he took in hand, it was
as good as won. But what wonder? He was the gift of God. His father was
a rich man, and one day he was out walking he took notice of a house
that was being built. Well, a week later he passed by the same place,
and he saw the walls of the house were no higher than before. So he
asked the reason, and he was told it was a priest that was building it,
and he hadn't the money to go on with. So a few days after he went to
the priest's house and he asked was that true, and the priest said it
was. 'Would you pay back the money to the man that would lend it to
you?' says O'Connell. 'I would,' says the priest. So with that O'Connell
gave him the money that was wanting--L50--for it was a very grand house.
Well, after some time the priest came to O'Connell's house, and he found
only the wife at home, so says he, 'I have some money that himself lent
me.' But he had never told the wife of what he had done, so she knew
nothing about it, and says she, 'Don't be troubling yourself about it,
he'll bestow it on you.' 'Well,' says the priest, I'll go away now and
I'll come back again.' So when O'Connell came, the wife told him all
that had happened, and how a priest had come saying he owed him money,
and how she had said he would bestow it on him. 'Well,' says O'Connell,
'if you said I would bestow it, I will bestow it.' And so he did. Then
the priest said, 'Have you any children?' 'Ne'er a child,' said
O'Connell. 'Well you will have one,' said he. And that day nine months
their young son was born. So what wonder if he was inspired, being, as
he was, the Gift of God."

[Illustration: O'CONNELL]


"O'Connell was a great man. I never saw him, but I heard of his name.
One time I saw his picture in a paper, where they were giving out meal,
where Mrs. Gaynor's is and I kissed the picture of him. They were
laughing at me for doing that, but I had heard of his good name. There
was some poor man, a tinker, asked help of him one time in Dublin, and
he said, 'I will put you in a place where you will get some good thing.'
So he brought him to a lodging in a very grand house and put him in it.
And in the morning he began to make saucepans, and he was making them
there, and the shopkeeper that owned the house was mad at him to be
doing that, and making saucepans in so grand a house, and he wanted to
get him out of it, and he gave him a good sum of money to go out. He
went back and told that to O'Connell, and O'Connell said, 'Didn't I tell
you I would put you in the way to get some good thing?'"


"There was a gentleman sent him a present one time, and he bade a little
lad to bring it to him. Shut up in a box it was, and he bade the boy to
give it to himself, and not to open the box. So the little lad brought
it to O'Connell to give it to him. 'Let you open it yourself,' says
O'Connell. So he opened it, and whatever was in it blew up and made an
end of the boy, and it would have been the same with O'Connell if he had
opened it."


"O'Connell was a grand man; the best within the walls of the world. He
never led anyone astray. Did you hear that one time he turned the shoes
on his horses? There were bad members following him. I cannot say who
they were, for I will not tell what I don't know. He got a smith to turn
the shoes, and when they came upon his track, he went east and they went
west. Parnell was no bad man, but Dan O'Connell's name went up higher in


"I saw O'Connell in Galway one time, and I couldn't get anear him. All
the nations of the world were gathered there to see him. There were a
great many he hung and a great many he got off from death, the dear man.
He went into a town one time, and into a hotel, and he asked for his
dinner. And he had a frieze dress, for he was very simple, and always a
clerk along with him. And when the dinner was served to him, 'Is there
no one here,' says he, 'to sit along with me; for it is seldom I ever
dined without company.' 'If you think myself good enough to sit with
you,' says the man of the hotel, 'I will do it.' So the two of them sat
to the dinner together, and O'Connell asked was there any news in the
town. 'There is,' says the hotel man, 'there is a man to be hung
to-morrow.' 'Oh, my!' says O'Connell, 'what was it he did to deserve
that?' 'Himself and another that had been out fowling,' says he, 'and
they came in here and they began to dispute, and the one of them killed
the other, and he will be hung to-morrow.' 'He will not,' says
O'Connell. 'I tell you he will,' says the other, 'for the Judge is come
to give the sentence.' Well, O'Connell kept to it that he would not, and
they made a bet, and the hotel man bet all he had on the man being hung.
In the morning O'Connell was in no hurry out of bed, and when the two of
them walked into the Court, the Judge was after giving the sentence, and
the man was to be hung. '_Maisead_,' says the judge when he saw
O'Connell, 'I wish you had been here a half an hour ago, where there is
a man going to be hung.' 'He is not,' says O'Connell. 'He is,' says the
judge. 'If he is,' says O'Connell, 'that one will never let anyone go
living out of his hotel, and he making money out of the hanging.' 'What
do you mean saying that?' says the judge. Then O'Connell took the
instrument out of his pocket where it was written down all the
hotel-keeper had put on the hanging. And when the judge saw that, he set
the man free, and he was not hanged."


"He was over in England one time, and he was brought to a party, and tea
was made ready and cups. And as they were sitting at the table, a
servant girl that was in it, and that was Irish, came to O'Connell and
she said, 'Do you understand Irish?' [IRISH: 'An tuigeann tu Gaedilge,
O'Connell?' 'Tuigim,'] says he, 'I understand it.' 'Have a care,' says
she, 'for there is in your cup what would poison the whole nation!' 'If
that is true, girl, you will get a good fortune,' said he. It was in
Irish they said all that, and the people that were in it had no ears.
Then O'Connell quenched the candle, and he changed his cup for the cup
of the man that was next him. And it was not long till the man fell
dead. They were always trying to kill O'Connell, because he was a good
man. The Sassanach it was were against him. Terrible wicked they were,
and God save us, I believe they are every bit as wicked yet!"


"O'Connell came to Galway one time, and he sent for all the trades to
come out with the sign of their trade in their hand, and he would see
which was the best. And there came ten hundred fishers, having all white
flannel clothes and black hats and white scarves about them, and he gave
the sway to them. It wasn't a year after that, the half of them were
lost, going through the fogs at Newfoundland, where they went for a
better way of living."


"The greatest thing I ever saw was O'Connell driving through Gort, very
plain, and an oiled cap on him, and having only one horse; and there was
no house in Gort without his picture in it." "O'Connell rode up Crow
Lane and to Church Street on a single horse, and he stopped there and
took a view of Gort." "I saw O'Connell after he left Gort going on the
road to Kinvara, and seven horses in the coach--they could not get in
the eighth. He stopped, and he was talking to Hickman that was with me.
Shiel was in the coach along with him."


"O'Connell wore his hat in the English House of Commons, what no man but
the King can do. He wore it for three days because he had a sore head,
and at the end of that they bade him put it off, and he said he would
not, where he had worn it three days."


"O'Connell was a great councillor. At that time if there was a Catholic,
no matter how high or great or learned he was, he could not get a place.
But if a Protestant came that was a blockhead and ignorant, the place
would be open to him. There was a revolution rising because of that, and
O'Connell brought it into the House of Commons and got it changed. He
was the greatest man ever was in Ireland. He was a very clever lawyer;
he would win every case, he would put it so strong and clear and clever.
If there were fifteen lawyers against him--five and ten--he would win it
against them all, whether the case was bad or good."


"Corly, that burned his house in Burren, was very bad, and it was
O'Connell brought him to the gallows. The only case O'Connell lost was
against the Macnamaras, and he told them he would be even with them, and
so when Corly, that was a friend of theirs, was brought up he kept his
word. There was no doubt about him burning the house, it was to
implicate the Hynes he did it, to lay it on them. There was a girl used
to go out milking at daybreak, and she awoke, and the moon was shining,
and she thought it was day, and got up and looked out, and she saw him
doing it."


"O'Connell was a great man, wide big arms he had. It was he left us the
cheap tea; to cheapen it he did, that was at that time a shilling for
one bare ounce. His heart is in Rome and his body in Glasnevin. A lovely
man, he would put you on your guard; he was for the country, he was all
for Ireland."


"There is a nice monument put up to O'Connell in Ennis, in a corner it
is of the middle of a street, and himself high up on it, holding a book.
It was a poor shoe-maker set that going. I saw him in Gort one time, a
coat of O'Connell's he had that he chanced in some place. Only for him
there would be no monument; it was he gathered money for it, and there
was none would refuse him."


"Dan O'Connell was the best man in the world, and a great man surely;
and there could not be better than what O'Connell was.

"It was from him I took the pledge and I a child, and kept it ever
after. He would give it to little lads and children, but not to any aged
person. Pilot trousers he had and a pilot coat, and a grey and white

"O'Connell was all for the poor. See what he did at Saint Patrick's
Island--he cast out every bad thing and every whole thing, to England
and to America and to every part. He fought it well for every whole

"A splendid monument there is to him in Ennis, and his fine top coat
upon him. A lovely man; you'd think he was alive and all, and he having
his hat in his hand. Everyone kneels down on the steps of it and says a
few prayers and walks away. It is as high as that tree below. If he was
in Ireland now the pension would go someway right.

"He was the best and the best to everyone; he got great sway in the town
of Gort, and in every other place.

"I suppose he has the same talk always; he is able to do for us now as
well as ever he was; surely his mercy and goodness are in the town of

"He did good in the world while he was alive; he was a great man surely;
there couldn't be better in this world I believe, or in the next world;
there couldn't be better all over the world.

"He used to go through all nations and to make a fight for the poor; he
gave them room to live, and used to fight for them too. There is no
doubt at all he did help them, he was well able to do it."


"As to Shiel, he was small, dressed very neat, with knee-breeches and a
full vest and a long-skirted coat. He had a long nose, and was not much
to look at till he began to speak, and then you'd see genius coming out
from him. His voice was shrill, and that spoiled his speech sometimes,
when he would get excited, and would raise it at the end. But
O'Connell's voice you would hear a mile off, and it sounded as if it was
coming through honey,"


"And the Tithes, the tenth of the land that St. Patrick and his Bishops
had settled for their own use, it was to Protestants it was given. And
there would have been a revolution out of that, but it was done away
with, and it is the landlord has to pay it now. The Pope has a great
power that is beyond all. There is one day and one minute in the year
he has that power if it pleases him to use it. At that minute it runs
through all the world, and every priest goes on his knees and the Pope
himself is on his knees, and that request cannot be refused, because
they are the grand jury of the world before God. A man was talking to me
about the burying of the Tithes; up on the top of the Devil's Bit it
was, and if you looked around you could see nothing but the police. Then
the boys came riding up, and white rods in their hands, and they dug a
grave, and the Tithes, some image of them, was buried. It was a wrong
thing for one religion to be paying for the board of the clergy of
another religion."


"The Tithe War, that was the time of the fight at Carrickshock. A narrow
passage that was in it, and the people were holding it against the
police that came with the Proctor. There was a Captain defending the
Proctor that had been through the Battle of Waterloo, and it was the
Proctor they fired at, but the Captain fell dead, and fourteen police
were killed with him. But the people were beat after, and were brought
into court for the trial, and the counsel for the Crown was against
them, Dougherty. They were tried in batches, and every batch was
condemned, Dougherty speaking out the case against them. But O'Connell,
that was at that time at Cork Assizes, heard of it, and he came, and
when he got to the door the pony that brought him dropped dead. He came
in and he took refreshment--bread and milk--the same as I am after
taking now, and he looked up and he said 'That is no law.' Then the
judge agreed with him, and he got every one of them off after that; but
only for him they would swing. The Tithes were bad, a farmer to have
three stacks they's take the one of them. And that was the first time of
the hurling matches, to gather the people against the Tithes. But there
was hurling in the ancient times in Ireland, and out in Greece, and
playing at the ball, and that is what is called the Olympian Games."


"As to the Big Wind, I was on my elder sister's back going to a friend
beyond, and when I was coming back it was slacked away, and I was
wondering at the holes in the houses." "I was up to twelve year at the
time of the Big Wind that was in '39, and I was over at Roxborough with
my father that was clearing timber from the road, and your father came
out along the road, and he was wild seeing the trees and rocks whipped
up into the sky the way they were with the wind. But what was that to
the bitter time of the Famine that came after?"


"The Famine; there's a long telling in that, it is a thing will be
remembered always. That little graveyard above, at that time it was
filled full up of bodies; the Union had no way to buy coffins for them.
There would be a bag made, and the body put into it, that was all; and
the people dying without priest, or bishop, or anything at all. But over
in Connemara it was the dogs brought the bodies out of the houses, and
asked no leave."


"The cholera was worse again. It came from foreign, and it lasted a
couple of years, till God drove it out of the country. It is often I saw
a man ploughing the garden in the morning till dinner time, and before
evening he would be dead. It was as if on the wind it came, there was no
escape from it; on the wind, the same as it would come now and would
catch on to pigs. Sheds that would be made out in the haggards to put
the sick in, they would turn as black as your coat. There was no one
could go near them without he would have a glass of whiskey taken, and
he wouldn't like it then."


"The longest thing I remember is the time of the sickness, and my father
that was making four straw mats for four brothers that died, and that
couldn't afford coffins. The bodies were put in the mats and were tied
up in them. And the second thing I remember is the people digging in the
stubble after the oats and the wheat; to see would they meet a potato,
and sometimes they did, for God sent them there."


"The Terry Alts were a bad class; everything you had they'd take from
you. It was against herding they began to get the land, the same as at
the present time. And women they would take; a man maybe that hadn't a
perch of land would go to a rich farmer's house and bring away his
daughter. And I, supposing, to have some spite against you, I'd gather a
mob and do every bad thing to destroy you. That is the way they were, a
bad class and doing bad deeds."


"Thomas Davis was a great man where poetry is concerned, and a better
than Thomas Moore. All over Ireland his poetry is, and he would have
done other things but that he died young. That was the '48 time. The '48
men were foolish men; they thought to cope with the English Government.
They went to O'Connell to get from him all the money he had gathered,
for they had it in their head to use that to make a rise against
England. But when they asked O'Connell for it he told them there was
none of it left, not one penny. Buying estates for his children he used
it, and he said he spent it on a monastery. I don't know was he speaking
truth. Mahon made a great speech against him, and it preyed on
O'Connell, and he left the country and went away and died in some place
called Genoa. He was a very ambitious man, like Napoleon. He got
Emancipation; but where is the use of that? There's Judge O'Brien, Peter
the Packer, was calling out and trying to do away with trial by jury.
And he would not be in his office or in his billet if it wasn't for
O'Connell. They didn't do much after, where they didn't get the money
from O'Connell. And the night they joined under Smith O'Brien they
hadn't got their supper. A terrible cold night it was, no one could
stand against it. Some bishop came from Dublin, and he told them to go
home, for how could they reach with their pikes to the English soldiers
that had got muskets. The soldiers came, and there was some firing, and
they were all scattered. As to Smith O'Brien, there was ten thousand
pounds on his head, and he hid for a while. Then at the last he went
into the town of Clonmel, and there was a woman there in the street was
a huckster, and he bade her give him up to the Government, for she would
never earn money so easy. But for all she was worth she wouldn't do
that. So then he went and gave himself up, and he was sent to Australia,
and the property was given to his brother."


"Mitchell was kept in Clonmel gaol two years before he was sent to
Australia. He was a Protestant, and a very good man. He said in a
speech, where was the use of meetings and of talking? It was with the
point of their bayonet the English would have to be driven out of
Ireland. It was Mitchell said that."


"It was a man from America it came with. There was one Mackie was taken
in a publichouse in Cork, and there was a policeman killed in the
struggle. Judge O'Hagan was the judge when he was in the dock, and he
said, 'Mr. Mackie, I see you are a gentleman and an educated man; and
I'm sorry,' he said, 'that you did not read Irish history.' Mackie cried
when he heard that, for indeed it was all spies about him, and it was
they gave him up."


"The greatest wonder I ever saw was one time near Kinvara at a funeral,
there came a car along the road and a lady on it having a plaid cloak,
as was the fashion then, and a big hat, and she kept her head down and
never looked at the funeral at all. I wondered at her when I saw that,
and I said to my brother it was a strange thing a lady to be coming past
a funeral and not to look on at it at all. And who was on the car but
O'Gorman Mahon, escaping from the Government, and dressed up as a lady!
He drove to Father Arthur's house at Kinvara, and there was a boat
waiting, and a cousin of my own in it, to bring him out to a ship, and
so he made his escape."


"I saw Clerkenwell prison in London broken up in the time of the
Fenians, and every ship and steamer in the whole of the ocean stopped.
The prison was burned down, and all the prisoners consumed, and seven
doctors' shops along with it."


"Father Mathew was a great man, plump and red in the face. There
couldn't be better than what he was. I knew one Kane in Gort he gave a
medal to, and he kept it seventy years. Kane was a great totaller, and
he wouldn't drink so much as water out of a glass, but out of a cup; the
glass might have been used for porter at some time. He lost the medal,
and was in a great way about it, but he found it five years after in a
dung-heap. A great totaller he was. Them that took the medal from Father
Mathew and that kept it, at their death they would be buried by men
dressed in white clothes."


"My husband was in the war of the Crimea. It is terrible the hardships
he went through, to be two months without going into a house, under the
snow in trenches. And no food to get, maybe a biscuit in the day. And
there was enough food there, he said, to feed all Ireland; but bad
management, they could not get it. Coffee they would be given, and they
would be cutting a green bramble to strive to make a fire to boil it.
The dead would be buried every morning; a big hole would be dug, and the
bodies thrown in, and lime upon them; and some of the bodies would be
living when they were buried. My husband used to try to revive them if
he saw there was life in them, but other lads wouldn't care--just to put
them down and have done. And they were allowed to take nothing--money,
gold watches, and the like, all thrown in the ground. Sure they did not
care much about such things, they might be lying in the same place
themselves to-morrow. But the soldiers would take the money sometimes
and put it in their stocking and tie the stocking below the ankle and
below the knee. But if the officer knew that, they would be
courtmartialed and punished. He got two medals--one from the English and
one from the Emperor of Turkey. Fighting for the Queen, and bad pay she
gave him. He never knew what was the war for, unless it might be for
diminishing the population. We saw in the paper a few years ago there
was a great deal of money collected for soldiers that had gone through
hardship in the war, and we wrote to the War Office asking some of it
for him. But they wrote back that there were so many young men crippled
in the Boer war there was nothing to be spared for the old. My husband
used to be saying the Queen cared nothing for the army, but that the
King, even before he was King, was better to it. But I'm thinking from
this out the King will get very few from Ireland for his army."

[Illustration: W.E. GLADSTONE]


"There was one of my brothers died at Lyons in France. He had a place in
Guinness's brewery, and earning L3 10s. a week, and it was the time
Garibaldi, you might have heard of, was out fighting. There came a ship
to Dublin from France, calling for soldiers, and he threw up his place,
and there were many others threw up their place, and they went off,
eleven hundred of them, in the French ship, to go fighting for their
religion, and a hundred of them never came back. When they landed in
France they were made much of and velvet carpets spread before them. But
the war was near over then, and when it had ended they were forgotten,
and nothing done for them, and he was in poverty at Lyons and died. It
was the nuns there wrote a letter in French telling that to my mother."
"And Napoleon the Third fought for the Pope in the time of Garibaldi. A
great many Irishmen went out at that time, and the half of them never
came back. I met with one of them that was in Russell's flour stores,
and he said he would never go out again if there were two hundred Popes.
Bad treatment they got--black bread, and the troops in the Vatican well
fed; and it wasn't long till Victor Emanuel's troops made a breach in
the wall."


"Napoleon the Third was not much. He died in England, and was buried in
a country church-yard much the same as Kiltartan. But Napoleon the First
was a great man; it was given out of him there never would be so great a
man again. But he hadn't much education, and his penmanship was bad.
Every great man gave in to superstition. He gave into it when he went to
ask the gipsy woman to divine, and she told him his fate. Through fire
and a rock she said that he would fall. I suppose the rock was St.
Helena, and the fire was the fire of Waterloo. Napoleon was the terror
of England, and he would have beat the English at Waterloo but for
treachery, the treachery of Grouchy. It was, maybe, not his fault he was
treacherous, he might be the same as Judas, that had his treachery
settled for him four thousand years before his birth. There was a curse
on Napoleon the Third because of what Napoleon the First had done
against the Church. He took Malta one time and landed there, and by
treachery with the knights he robbed a church that was on the shore, and
carried away the golden gates. In an ironclad he put them that was
belonging to the English, and they sank that very day, and were never
got up after, unless it might be by divers. And two Popes he brought
into exile. But he was the friend of Ireland, and when he was dying he
said that. His heart was smashed, he said, with all the ruling Princes
that went against him; and if he had made an attack on Ireland, he said,
instead of going to Moscow the time he did, he would have brought
England low. And the Prince Imperial was trapped. It was the English
brought him out to the war, and that made the nations go against him,
and it was an English officer led him into the trap the way he never
would come to the Throne."

[Illustration: LOUIS NAPOLEON]


"I was in the army the time of the Zulu war. Great hardship we got in it
and plenty of starvation. It was the Dutch called in the English to help
them against the Zulus, that were tricky rogues, and would do no work
but to be driving the cattle off the fields. A pound of raw flour we
would be given out at seven o'clock in the morning, and some would try
to make a cake, and some would put it in a pot with water and be
stirring it, and it might be eleven o'clock before you would get what
you could eat, and not a bit of meat maybe for two days."


"There was a young Napoleon there, the grandson of Napoleon the First,
that was a great man indeed. I was in the island where he was interred;
it is a grand place, and what is not natural in those parts, there are
two blackthorn bushes growing in it where you go into the place he was
buried. And as to that great Napoleon, the fear of him itself was enough
to kill people. If he was living till now it is hard to say what way
would the world be. It is likely there'd be no English left in it, and
it would be all France. The young Napoleon was at the Zulu war was as
fine a young man as you'd wish to lay an eye on; six feet four, and
shaped to match. As to his death, there was things might have been
brought to light, but the enquiry was stopped. There was seven of them
went out together, and he was found after, lying dead in the ground, and
his top coat spread over him. There came a shower of hailstones that
were as large as the top of your finger, and as square as diamonds, and
that would enter into your skull. They made out it was to save himself
from them that he lay down. But why didn't they lift him in the saddle
and bring him along with them? And the bullet was taken out of his head
was the same every bit as our bullets; and where would a Zulu get a
bullet like that? Very queer it was, and a great deal of talk about it,
and in my opinion he was done away with because the English saw the
grandfather in him, and thought he would do away with themselves in the
time to come. Sure if he spoke to one of them, he would begin to shake
before him, officers the same as men. We had often to be laughing seeing


"Parnell was a very good man, and a just man, and if he had lived to
now, Ireland would be different to what it is. The only thing ever could
be said against him was the influence he had with that woman. And how do
we know but that was a thing appointed for him by God? Parnell had a
back to him, but O'Connell stood alone. He fought a good war in the
House of Commons. Parnell did a great deal, getting the land. I often
heard he didn't die at all--it was very quick for him to go. I often
wondered there were no people smart enough to dig up the coffin and to
see what is in it, at night they could do that. No one knows in what
soil Robert Emmet was buried, but he was made an end of sure enough.
Parnell went through Gort one day, and he called it the fag-end of
Ireland, just as Lady Morgan called the North the Athens of Ireland."


"Gladstone had the name of being the greatest statesman of England, and
he wasn't much after all. At the time of his death he had it on his mind
that it was he threw the first stone at Parnell, and he confessed that,
and was very sorry for it. But sure there is no one can stand all
through. Look at Solomon that had ten hundred wives, and some of them
the finest of women, and that spent all the money laid up by Father
David. And Gladstone encouraged Garibaldi the time he attacked the
Vatican, and gave him arms, Parnell charged him with that one time in
the House of Commons, and said he had the documents, and he hadn't a
word to say. But he was sorry at Parnell's death, and what was the use
of that when they had his heart broke? Parnell did a great deal for the
Irish, and they didn't care after; they are the most displeasing people
God ever made, unless it might be the ancient Jews."


"Queen Victoria was loyal and true to the Pope; that is what I was told,
and so is Edward the Seventh loyal and true, but he has got something
contrary in his body. It is when she was a girl she put on clothes like
your own--lady's clothes--and she went to the Pope. Did she turn
Catholic? She'd be beheaded if she did; the Government would behead her;
it is the Government has power in England."


"As to the last Queen, we thought her bad when we had her, but now we
think her good. She was a hard woman, and she did nothing for Ireland in
the bad years; but I'll give you the reason she had for that. She had it
in her mind always to keep Ireland low, it being the place she mostly
got her soldiers. That might not be good for Ireland, but it was good
for her own benefit. The time the lads have not a bit to eat, that is
the time they will go soldiering."


"There was war and misery going on all through Victoria's reign. It was
the Boer war killed her, she being aged, and seeing all her men going
out, and able to do nothing. Ten to one they were against the Boers.
That is what killed her. It is a great tribute to the war it did that."


"The present King is very good. He is a gentleman very fond of visiting,
and well pleased with every class of people he will meet."


"The old age pension is very good, and as to taxes, them can't pay it
that hasn't it. It is since the Boer War there is coin sent back from
Africa every week that is dug from the goldpits out there. That is what
the English wanted the time they went to war; they want to close up the
minerals for themselves. If it wasn't for the war, that pension would
never be given to Ireland. They'd have been driven home by the Boers if
it wasn't for the Irish that were in the front of every battle. And the
Irish held out better too, they can starve better than the rest, there
is more bearing in them. It wasn't till all the Irish were killed that
the English took to bribing. Bribed Botha they did with a bag of gold.
For all the generals in England that are any good are Irish. Buller was
the last they had, and he died. They can find no good generals at all in
England, unless they might get them very young."


"It was old money was in the Treasury idle, and the King and Queen
getting old wanted to distribute it in the country it was taken from.
But some say it was money belonging to captains and big men that died in
the war and left no will after them. Anyway it is likely it will not
hold; and it is known that a great many of those that get it die very


"It is likely there will be a war at the end of the two thousand, that
was always foretold. And I hear the English are making ships that will
dive the same as diving ducks under the water. But as to the Irish
Americans, they would sweep the entire world; and England is afraid of
America, it being a neighbour."


I have given this book its name because it is at my own door, in the
Barony of Kiltartan, I have heard a great number of the stories from
beggars, pipers, travelling men, and such pleasant company. But others I
have heard in the Workhouse, or to the north of Galway Bay, in
Connemara, or on its southern coast, in Burren. I might, perhaps, better
have called the little book Myths in the Making.

A sociable people given to conversation and belief; no books in the
house, no history taught in the schools; it is likely that must have
been the way of it in old Greece, when the king of highly civilised
Crete was turned by tradition into a murderous tyrant owning a monster
and a labyrinth. It was the way of it in old France too, one thinks,
when Charlemagne's height grew to eight feet, and his years were counted
by centuries: "He is three hundred years old, and when will he weary of
war?" Anyhow, it has been the way of modern Ireland--the Ireland I
know--and when I hear myth turned into history, or history into myth, I
see in our stonebreakers and cattle drivers Greek husbandmen or ancient
vinedressers of the Loire.

I noticed some time ago, when listening to many legends of the Fianna,
that is about Finn, their leader, the most exaggerated of the tales have
gathered; and I believe the reason is that he, being the greatest of the
"Big Men," the heroic race, has been most often in the mouths of the
people. They have talked of him by their fire-sides for two thousand
years or so; at first earlier myths gathered around him, and then from
time to time any unusual feats of skill or cunning shown off on one or
another countryside, till many of the stories make him at the last
grotesque, little more than a clown. So in Bible History, while lesser
kings keep their dignity, great Solomon's wit is outwitted by the
riddles of some countryman; and Lucifer himself, known in Kiltartan as
"the proudest of the angels, thinking himself equal with God," has been
seen in Sligo rolling down a road in the form of the _Irish Times_. The
gods of ancient Ireland have not escaped. Mananaan, Son of the Sea,
Rider of the Horses of the Sea, was turned long ago into a juggler doing
tricks, and was hunted in the shape of a hare. Brigit, the "Fiery
Arrow," the nurse of poets, later a saint and the Foster-mother of
Christ, does her healing of the poor in the blessed wells of to-day as
"a very civil little fish, very pleasant, wagging its tail."

Giobniu, the divine smith of the old times, made a new sword and a new
spear for every one that was broken in the great battle between the gods
and the mis-shapen Fomor. "No spearpoint that is made by my hand," he
said, "will ever miss its mark; no man it touches will ever taste life
again." It was his father who, with a cast of a hatchet, could stop the
inflowing of the tide; and it was he himself whose ale gave lasting
youth: "No sickness or wasting ever comes on those who drink at
Giobniu's Feast." Later he became a saint, a master builder, builder of
a house "more shining than a garden; with its stars, with its sun, with
its moon." To-day he is known as the builder of the round towers of the
early Christian centuries, and of the square castles of the
Anglo-Normans. And the stories I have given of him, called as he now is,
"the Goban Saor," show that he has fallen still farther in legend from
his high origin.

As to O'Connell, perhaps because his name, like that of Finn and the
Goban, is much in the mouths of the people, there is something of the
absurd already coming into his legend. The stories of him show more than
any others how swiftly myths and traditions already in the air may
gather around a memory much loved and much spoken of. He died only sixty
years ago, and many who have seen and heard him are still living; and
yet he has already been given a miraculous birth, and the power of a
saint is on its way to him. I have charged my son, and should I live
till he comes to sensible years, I will charge my grandson, to keep
their ears open to the growth of legend about him who was once my
husband's friendly enemy, and afterwards his honoured friend.

I do not take the credit or the discredit of the opinions given by the
various speakers, nor do I go bail for the facts; I do but record what
is already in "the Book of the People." The history of England and
Ireland was shut out of the schools and it became a passion. As to why
it was shut out, well, I heard someone whisper "Eugene Aram hid the body
away, being no way anxious his scholars should get a sight of it." But
this also was said in the barony of Kiltartan.

The illustrations are drawn from some delft figures, ornaments in a
Kiltartan house.


COOLE PARK, _November_, 1909.

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