The Little Weaver of Duleek Gate
by Samuel Lover
From “Legends and Stories of Ireland.”
There was a waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in
Duleek here, hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous
man he was. He had a wife, an’ av coorse,
they had childre, and small blame to them, so that the
poor little waiver was obleeged to work his fingers to
the bone a’most to get them the bit and the sup, and
the loom never standin’ still.
Well, it was one mornin’ that his wife called to him,
“Come here,” says she, “jewel, and ate your brekquest,
now that it’s ready.” But he never minded her, but wint
an workin’. “Arrah, lave off slavin’ yourself, my
darlin’, and ate your bit o’ brekquest while it is hot.”
“Lave me alone,” says he, “I’m busy with a pattern
here that is brakin’ my heart,” says the waiver; “and
antil I complate it and masther it intirely I won’t quit.”
“You’re as cross as two sticks this blessed morning,
Thady,” says the poor wife; “and it’s a heavy handful
I have of you when you are cruked in your temper;
but, stay there if you like, and let your stirabout grow
cowld, and not a one o’ me ‘ill ax you agin;” and with
that off she wint, and the waiver, sure enough, was
mighty crabbed, and the more the wife spoke to him the
worse he got, which, you know, is only nath’ral. Well,
he left the loom at last, and wint over to the stirabout
and what would you think, but whin he looked at it,
it was as black as a crow—for, you see, it was in the
heighth o’ summer, and the flies lit upon it to that degree
that the stirabout was fairly covered with them.
“Why, thin,” says the waiver, “would no place
sarve you but that? and is it spyling my brekquest yiz
are, you dirty bastes?” And with that, he lifted
his hand, and he made one great slam at the dish o’
stirabout, and killed no less than three score and tin
flies at the one blow, for he counted the carcases one by
one, and laid them out an a clane plate for to view them.
Well, he felt a powerful sperit risin’ in him, when he
seen the slaughter he done, at one blow; and not a
sthroke more work he’d do that day, but out he wint
and was fractious and impident to every one he met,
and was squarin’ up into their faces and sayin’, “Look
at that fist! that’s the fist that killed three score and tin
at one blow—Whoo!”
With that all the neighbours thought he was crack’d,
and the poor wife herself thought the same when he
kem home in the evenin’, afther spendin’ every rap he
had in dhrink, and swaggerin’ about the place, and
lookin’ at his hand every minit.
“Indeed, an’ your hand is very dirty, sure enough,
Thady, jewel,” says the poor wife. “You had betther
wash it, darlin’.”
“How dar’ you say dirty to the greatest hand in
Ireland?” says he, going to bate her.
“Well, it’s nat dirty,” says she.
“It is throwin away my time I have been all my life,”
says he, “livin’ with you at all, and stuck at a loom,
nothin’ but a poor waiver, when it is Saint George or the
Dhraggin I ought to be, which is two of the siven
champions of Christendom.”
“Well, suppose they christened him twice as much,”
says the wife, “sure, what’s that to uz?”
“Don’t put in your prate,” says he, “you ignorant
sthrap,” says he. “You’re vulgar, woman—you’re
vulgar—mighty vulgar; but I’ll have nothin’ more to
say to any dirty, snakin’ thrade again—sorra more
waivin’ I’ll do.”
“Oh, Thady, dear, and what’ll the children do then?”
“Let them go play marvels,” says he.
“That would be but poor feedin’ for them, Thady.”
“They shan’t want feedin’?” says he, “for it’s a
rich man I’ll be soon, and a great man, too.”
“Usha, but I’m glad to hear it, darlin’—though I
dunno how it’s to be, but I think you had betther go
to bed, Thady.”
“Don’t talk to me of any bed, but the bed o’ glory,
woman,” says he, lookin’ mortial grand. “I’ll sleep
with the brave yit,” says he.
“Indeed, an’ a brave sleep will do you a power o’
good, my darlin,” says she.
“And it’s I that will be a knight!” says he.
“All night, if you plaze, Thady,” says she.
“None o’ your coaxin’,” says he. “I’m detarmined
on it, and I’ll set off immediately, and be a knight arriant.”
“A what?” says she.
“A knight arriant, woman.”
“What’s that?” says she.
“A knight arriant is a rale gintleman,” says he;
“going round the world for sport, with a soord by his
side, takin’ whatever he plazes for himself; and that’s
a knight arriant,” says he.
Well, sure enough he wint about among his neighbours
the next day, and he got an owld kittle from one, and a
saucepan from another, and he took them to the tailor,
and he sewed him up a shuit o’ tin clothes like any
knight arriant, and he borrowed a pot lid, and that he was
very particular about, bekase it was his shield, and he
went to a friend o’ his, a painter and glazier, and made
him paint an his shield in big letthers:—
“I’M THE MAN OF ALL MIN,
THAT KILL’D THREE SCORE AND TIN
AT A BLOW.”
“When the people sees that,” says the waiver to
himself, “the sorra one will dar for to come near me.”
And with that he towld the wife to scour out the small
iron pot for him, “for,” says he, “it will make an
illegent helmet;” and when it was done, he put it an
his head, and his wife said, “Oh, murther, Thady,
jewel; is it puttin’ a great, heavy, iron pot an your
head you are, by way iv a hat?”
“Sartinly,” says he, “for a knight arriant should
always have a weight on his brain.”
“But, Thady, dear,” says the wife, “there’s a hole
in it, and it can’t keep out the weather.”
“It will be the cooler,” says he, puttin’ it an him;
“besides, if I don’t like it, it is aisy to stop it with a
wisp o’ sthraw, or the like o’ that.”
“The three legs of it look mighty quare, stickin’
up,” says she.
“Every helmet has a spike stickin’ out o’ the top of
it,” says the waiver, “and if mine has three, it’s only
the grandher it is.”
“Well,” says the wife, getting bitter at last, “all I
can say is, it isn’t the first sheep’s head was dhress’d
“Your sarvint, ma’am,” says he; and off he set.
Well, he was in want of a horse, and so he wint to a
field hard by, where the miller’s horse was grazin’, that
used to carry the ground corn round the counthry.
“This is the identical horse for me,” says the waiver;
“he’s used to carryin’ flour and male, and what am I
but the flower o’ shovelry in a coat o’ mail; so that the
horse won’t be put out iv his way in the laste.”
So away galloped the waiver, and took the road to
Dublin, for he thought the best thing he could do was
to go to the King o’ Dublin (for Dublin was a great place
thin, and had a King iv its own). When he got
to the palace courtyard he let his horse graze about the
place, for the grass was growin’ out betune the
stones; everything was flourishin’ thin in Dublin,
you see. Well, the King was lookin’ out of his dhrawin’-room
windy, for divarshin, whin the waiver kem in;
but the waiver pretended not to see him, and he wint
over to the stone sate, undher the windy—for, you see,
there was stone sates all round about the place, for the
accommodation o’ the people—for the King was a dacent
obleeging man; well, as I said, the waiver wint over
and lay down an one o’ the seats, just undher the King’s
windy, and purtended to go asleep; but he took care
to turn out the front of his shield that had the letthers an
it. Well, my dear, with that the King calls out to one
of the lords of his coort that was standin’ behind him,
howldin’ up the skirt of his coat, accordin’ to rayson,
and, says he: “Look here,” says he, “what do you
think of a vagabone like that, comin’ undher my very
nose to sleep? It is thrue I’m a good king,” says he,
“and I ‘commodate the people by havin’ sates for them
to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and contimplation
of seein’ me here, lookin’ out a’ my dhrawin’-room
windy, for divarsion; but that is no rayson they are to
make a hotel o’ the place, and come and sleep here.
Who is it, at all?” says the King.
“Not a one o’ me knows, plaze your majesty.”
“I think he must be a furriner,” says the King,
“because his dhress is outlandish.”
“And doesn’t know manners, more betoken,” says
“I’ll go down and circumspect him myself,” says
the King; “folly me,” says he to the lord, wavin’
his hand at the same time in the most dignacious manner.
Down he wint accordingly, followed by the lord;
and when he wint over to where the waiver was lying,
sure the first thing he seen was his shield with the big
letthers an it, and with that, says he to the lord, “This
is the very man I want.”
“For what, plaze your majesty?” says the lord.
“To kill the vagabone dhraggin’, to be sure,” says
“Sure, do you think he could kill him,” says the
lord, “when all the stoutest knights in the land wasn’t
aiquil to it, but never kem back, and was ate up alive
by the cruel desaiver?”
“Sure, don’t you see there,” says the king, pointin’
at the shield, “that he killed three score and tin at one
blow; and the man that done that, I think, is a match
So, with that, he wint over to the waiver and shuck
him by the shouldher for to wake him, and the waiver
rubbed his eyes as if just wakened, and the King says
to him, “God save you,” said he.
“God save you kindly,” says the waiver, purtendin’
he was quite unknownst who he was spakin’ to.
“Do you know who I am,” says the king, “that you
make so free, good man?”
“No, indeed,” says the waiver, “you have the
advantage o’ me.”
“To be sure, I have,” says the king, moighty high;
“sure, ain’t I the King o’ Dublin?” says he.
The waiver dhropped down on his two knees forninst
the King, and, says he, “I beg your pardon for the
liberty I tuk; plaze your holiness, I hope you’ll excuse
“No offince,” says the King; “get up, good man.
And what brings you here?” says he.
“I’m in want of work, plaze your riverence,” says
“Well, suppose I give you work?” says the king.
“I’ll be proud to sarve you, my lord,” says the
“Very well,” says the King. “You killed three
score and tin at one blow, I understan’,” says the King.
“Yis,” says the waiver; “that was the last thrifle
o’ work I done, and I’m afraid my hand ‘ill go out o’
practice if I don’t get some job to do at wanst.”
“You shall have a job immediately,” says the King.
“It is not three score and tin or any fine thing like that;
it is only a blaguard dhraggin that is disturbin’ the
counthry and ruinatin’ my tinanthry wid aitin’ their
powlthry, and I’m lost for want of eggs,” said the King.
“Och, thin, plaze your worship,” says the waiver,
“you look as yellow as if you swallowed twelve yolks
“Well, I want this dhraggin to be killed,” says the
King. “It will be no trouble in life to you; and I
am sorry that it isn’t betther worth your while, for he
isn’t worth fearin’ at all; only I must tell you that he
lives in the County Galway, in the middle of a bog,
and he has an advantage in that.”
“Oh, I don’t value it in the laste,” says the waiver,
“for the last three score and tin I killed was in a soft
“When will you undhertake the job, thin?” says
“Let me at him at wanst,” says the waiver.
“That’s what I like,” says the King, “you’re the very
man for my money,” says he.
“Talkin’ of money,” says the waiver, “by the same
token, I’ll want a thrifle o’ change from you for my
“As much as you plaze,” says the King; and with the
word he brought him into his closet, where there was an
owld stockin’ in an oak chest, bursting wid goolden
“Take as many as you plaze,” says the King; and
sure enough, my dear, the little waiver stuffed his tin
clothes as full as they could howld with them.
“Now I’m ready for the road,” says the waiver.
“Very well,” says the King; “but you must have a
fresh horse,” says he.
“With all my heart,” says the waiver, who thought
he might as well exchange the miller’s owld garron for
And maybe it’s wondherin’ you are that the waiver
would think of goin’ to fight the dhraggin afther what he
heerd about him, when he was purtendin’ to be asleep,
but he had no sich notion, all he intended was—to fob
the goold, and ride back again to Duleek with his gains
and a good horse. But, you see, cute as the waiver was,
the King was cuter still, for these high quality, you see,
is great desaivers; and so the horse the waiver was an
was learned on purpose; and sure, the minit he was
mounted, away powdhered the horse, and the sorra toe
he’d go but right down to Galway. Well, for four days
he was goin’ evermore, until at last the waiver seen a
crowd o’ people runnin’ as if owld Nick was at their
heels, and they shoutin’ a thousand murdhers, and
cryin’—“The dhraggin, the dhraggin!” and he couldn’t
stop the horse nor make him turn back, but away he
pelted right forninst the terrible baste that was comin’ up
to him; and there was the most nefaarious smell o’
sulphur, savin’ your presence, enough to knock you
down; and, faith, the waiver seen he had no time to
lose; and so threwn himself off the horse and made to
a three that was growin’ nigh-hand, and away he
clambered up into it as nimble as a cat; and not a minit
had he to spare, for the dhraggin kem up in a powerful
rage, and he devoured the horse body and bones, in
less than no time; and then began to sniffle and scent
about for the waiver, and at last he clapt his eye on him,
where he was, up in the three, and, says he, “You
might as well come down out o’ that,” says he, “for I’ll
have you as sure as eggs is mate.”
“Sorra fut I’ll go down,” says the waiver.
“Sorra care I care,” says the dhraggin; “for you’re
as good as ready money in my pocket this minit, for
I’ll lie undher this three,” says he, “and sooner or later
you must fall to my share;” and sure enough he sot
down, and began to pick his teeth with his tail afther
a heavy brekquest he made that mornin’ (for he ate
a whole village, let alone the horse), and he got dhrowsy
at last, and fell asleep; but before he wint to sleep
he wound himself all round about the three, all as one
as a lady windin’ ribbon round her finger, so that the
waiver could not escape.
Well, as soon as the waiver knew he was dead asleep,
by the snorin’ of him—and every snore he let out of
him was like a clap o’ thunder—that minit the waiver
began to creep down the three, as cautious as a fox;
and he was very nigh hand the bottom when a thievin’
branch he was dipindin’ an bruck, and down he fell
right a top o’ the dhraggin; but, if he did, good luck
was an his side, for where should he fall but with his
two legs right acrass the dhraggin’s neck, and my jew’l,
he laid howlt o’ the baste’s ears, and there he kept his
grip, for the dhraggin wakened and endayvoured for to
bite him, but, you see, by rayson the waiver was behind
his ears he could not come at him, and, with that, he
endayvoured for to shake him off; but not a stir could
he stir the waiver; and though he shuk all the scales
an his body, he could not turn the scale agin the waiver.
“Och, this is too bad, intirely,” says the dhraggin;
“but if you won’t let go,” says he, “by the powers o’
wildfire, I’ll give you a ride that’ll astonish your siven
small senses, my boy”; and, with that, away he flew
like mad; and where do you think he did fly?—he flew
sthraight for Dublin. But the waiver, bein’ an his
neck, was a great disthress to him, and he would rather
have had him an inside passenger; but, anyway, he
flew till he kem slap up agin the palace o’ the king;
for, bein’ blind with the rage, he never seen it, and he
knocked his brains out—that is, the small trifle he had,
and down he fell spacheless. An’ you see, good luck
would have it, that the King o’ Dublin was looking
out iv his dhrawin’-room windy, for divarshin, that day
also, and whin he seen the waiver ridin’ an the fiery
dhraggin (for he was blazin’ like a tar barrel) he called
out to his coortyers to come and see the show.
“Here comes the knight arriant,” says the King,
“ridin’ the dhraggin that’s all a-fire, and if he gets into
the palace, yiz must be ready wid the fire ingines,”
says he, “for to put him out.”
But when they seen the dhraggin fall outside, they
all run downstairs and scampered into the palace yard
for to circumspect the curiosity; and by the time they
got down, the waiver had got off o’ the dhraggin’s
neck; and runnin’ up to the King, says he—
“Plaze, your holiness, I did not think myself worthy
of killin’ this facetious baste, so I brought him to yourself
for to do him the honour of decripitation by your own
royal five fingers. But I tamed him first, before I
allowed him the liberty for to dar’ to appear in your
royal prisince, and you’ll oblige me if you’ll just make
your mark with your own hand upon the onruly baste’s
neck.” And with that, the King, sure enough, dhrew
out his swoord and took the head aff the dirty brute,
as clane as a new pin.
Well, there was great rejoicin’ in the coort that the
dhraggin was killed; and says the King to the little
waiver, says he—
“You are a knight arriant as it is, and so it would
be no use for to knight you over agin; but I will make
you a lord,” says he “and as you are the first man I
ever heer’d tell of that rode a dhraggin, you shall be
called Lord Mount Dhraggin’,” says he.
“And where’s my estates, plaze your holiness?”
says the waiver, who always had a sharp look-out afther
the main chance.
“Oh, I didn’t forget that,” says the King. “It is
my royal pleasure to provide well for you, and for that
rayson I make you a present of all the dhraggins in the
world, and give you power over them from this out,”
“Is that all?” says the waiver.
“All!” says the king. “Why, you ongrateful
little vagabone, was the like ever given to any man
“I believe not, indeed,” says the waiver; “many
thanks to your majesty.”
“But that is not all I’ll do for you,” says the king,
“I’ll give you my daughter, too, in marriage,” says
Now, you see, that was nothin’ more than what was
promised the waiver in his first promise; for, by all
accounts, the King’s daughter was the greatest dhraggin
ever was seen.