TRAITS AND STORIES OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY
The Ned M'Keown Stories
by William Carleton
THE THREE TASKS.
SHANE FADH'S WEDDING.
LARRY M'FARLAND'S WAKE.
THE BATTLE OF THE FACTIONS.
It will naturally be expected, upon a new issue of works which may be said
to treat exclusively of a people who form such an important and
interesting portion of the empire as the Irish peasantry do, that the
author should endeavor to prepare the minds of his readers—especially
those of the English and Scotch—for understanding more clearly their
general character, habits of thought, and modes of feeling, as they exist
and are depicted in the subsequent volume. This is a task which the author
undertakes more for the sake of his country than himself; and he rejoices
that the demand for the present edition puts it in his power to aid in
removing many absurd prejudices which have existed for time immemorial
against his countrymen.
It is well known that the character of an Irishman has been hitherto
uniformly associated with the idea of something unusually ridiculous, and
that scarcely anything in the shape of language was supposed to proceed
from his lips, but an absurd congeries of brogue and blunder. The habit of
looking upon him in a ludicrous light has been so strongly impressed upon
the English mind, that no opportunity has ever been omitted of throwing
him into an attitude of gross and overcharged caricature, from which you
might as correctly estimate his intellectual strength and moral
proportions, as you would the size of a man from his evening shadow. From
the immortal bard of Avon down to the writers of the present day, neither
play nor farce has ever been presented to Englishmen, in which, when an
irishman is introduced, he is not drawn as a broad, grotesque blunderer,
every sentence he speaks involving a bull, and every act the result of
headlong folly, or cool but unstudied effrontery. I do not remember an
instance in which he acts upon the stage any other part than that of the
buffoon of the piece uttering language which, wherever it may have been
found, was at all events never heard in Ireland, unless upon the boards of
a theatre. As for the Captain O'Cutters, O'Blunders, and Dennis
Bulgrudderies, of the English stage, they never had existence except in
the imagination of those who were as ignorant of the Irish people as they
were of their language and feelings. Even Sheridan himself was forced to
pander to this erroneous estimate and distorted conception of our
character; for, after all, Sir Lucius O'Trigger was his Irishman but not
Ireland's Irishman. I know that several of my readers may remind me of Sir
Boyle Roche, whose bulls have become not only notorious, but proverbial.
It is well known now, however, and was when he made them, that they were
studied bulls, resorted to principally for the purpose of putting the
government and opposition sides of the Irish House of Commons into good
humor with each other, which they never failed to do—thereby, on
more occasions than one, probably, preventing the effusion of blood, and
the loss of life, among men who frequently decided even their political
differences by the sword or pistol.
That the Irish either were or are a people remarkable for making bulls or
blunders, is an imputation utterly unfounded, and in every sense untrue.
The source of this error on the part of our neighbors is, however, readily
traced. The language of our people has been for centuries, and is up to
the present day, in a transition state. The English tongue is gradually
superseding the Irish. In my own native place, for instance, there is not
by any means so much Irish spoken now, as there was about twenty or
five-and-twenty years ago. This fact, then, will easily account for the
ridicule which is, and I fear ever will be, unjustly heaped upon those who
are found to use a language which they do not properly understand. In the
early periods of communication between the countries, when they stood in a
hostile relation to each other, and even long afterwards, it was not
surprising that "the wild Irishman" who expressed himself with difficulty,
and often impressed the idiom of his own language upon one with which he
was not familiar, should incur, in the opinion of those who were strongly
prejudiced against him, the character of making the bulls and blunders
attributed to him. Such was the fact, and such the origin of this national
slander upon his intellect,—a slander which, like every other,
originates from the prejudice of those who were unacquainted with the
quickness and clearness of thought that in general characterizes the
language of our people. At this moment there is no man acquainted with the
inhabitants of the two countries, who does not know, that where the
English is vernacular in Ireland, it is spoken with far more purity, and
grammatical precision than is to be heard beyond the Channel. Those, then,
who are in the habit of defending what are termed our bulls, or of
apologizing for them, do us injustice; and Miss Edgeworth herself, when
writing an essay upon the subject, wrote an essay upon that which does
not, and never did exist. These observations, then, easily account for the
view of us which has always been taken in the dramatic portion of English
literature. There the Irishman was drawn in every instance as the object
of ridicule, and consequently of contempt; for it is incontrovertibly
true, that the man whom you laugh at you will soon despise.
In every point of view this was wrong, but principally in a political one.
At that time England and Englishmen knew very little of Ireland, and,
consequently, the principal opportunities afforded them of appreciating
our character were found on the stage. Of course, it was very natural that
the erroneous estimate of us which they formed there should influence them
everywhere else. We cannot sympathize with, and laugh at, the same object
at the same time; and if the Irishman found himself undeservedly the
object of coarse and unjust ridicule, it was not very unnatural that he
should requite it with a prejudice against the principles and feelings of
Englishmen, quite as strong as that which was entertained against himself.
Had this ridicule been confined to the stage, or directed at us in the
presence of those who had other and better opportunities of knowing us, it
would have been comparatively harmless. But this was not the case. It
passed from the stage into the recesses of private life, wrought itself
into the feelings until it became a prejudice, and the Irishman was
consequently looked upon, and treated, as being made up of absurdity and
cunning,—a compound of knave and fool, fit only to be punished for
his knavery, or laughed at for his folly. So far, therefore, that portion
of English literature which attempted to describe the language and habits
of Irishmen, was unconsciously creating an unfriendly feeling between the
two countries, a feeling which, I am happy to say, is fast disappearing,
and which only requires that we should have a full and fair acquaintance
with each other in order to be removed for ever.
At present, indeed, their mutual positions, civil, commercial, and
political, are very different from what they were half a century ago, or
even at a more recent period. The progress of science, and the astonishing
improvements in steam and machinery, have so completely removed the
obstructions which impeded their intercourse, that the two nations can now
scarcely be considered as divided. As a natural consequence, their
knowledge of each other has improved; and, as will always happen with
generous people, they begin to see that the one was neither knave or fool,
nor the other a churl or a boor. Thus has mutual respect arisen from
mutual intercourse, and those who hitherto approached each other with
distrust are beginning to perceive, that in spite of political or
religious prejudices, no matter how stimulated, the truthful experience of
life will in the event create nothing but good-will and confidence between
Other causes, however, led to this;—causes which in every state of
society exercise a quick and powerful influence over the minds of men:—I
allude to literature.
When the Irishman was made to stand forth as the butt of ridicule to his
neighbors, the first that undertook his vindication was Maria Edgeworth.
During her day, the works of no writer made a more forcible impression
upon the circles of fashionable life in England, if we except the touching
and inimitable Melodies of my countryman, Thomas Moore. After a lapse of
some years, these two were followed by many others, who stood forth as
lofty and powerful exponents of the national heart and intellect. Who can
forget the melancholy but indignant reclamations of John Banim,—the
dark and touching power of Gerald Griffin,—or the unrivalled wit and
irresistible drollery of Samuel Lover? Nor can I omit remarking, that
amidst the array of great talents to which I allude, the genius of our
female writers bore off, by the free award of public opinion, some of the
brightest wreaths of Irish literature. It would be difficult indeed, in
any country, to name three women who have done more in setting right the
character of Ireland and her people, whilst exhibiting at the same time
the manifestations of high genius, than Miss Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, and
Mrs. Hall. About the female creations ol the last-named lady, especially,
there is a touching charm, blending the graceful and the pensive, which
reminds us of a very general but peculiar style of Irish beauty, where the
lineaments of the face combine at once both the melancholy and the
mirthful in such a manner, that their harmony constitutes the unchangeable
but ever-varying tenderness of the expression.
That national works like these, at once so healthful and so true, produced
by those who knew the country, and exhibiting Irishmen not as the
blundering buffoons of the English stage, but as men capable of thinking
clearly and feeling deeply—that such works, I say, should enable a
generous people, as the English undoubtedly are, to divest themselves of
the prejudices which they had so long entertained against us, is both
natural and gratifying. Those who achieved this great object, or aided in
achieving it, have unquestionably rendered services of a most important
nature to both the countries, as well as to literature in general.
Yet, whilst the highly gifted individuals whom I have named succeeded in
making their countrymen respected, there was one circumstance which,
nothwithstanding every exhibition of their genius and love of country,
still remained as a reproach against our character as a nation. For nearly
a century we were completely at the mercy of our British neighbors, who
probably amused themselves at our expense with the greater license, and a
more assured sense of impunity, inasmuch as they knew that we were utterly
destitute of a national literature. Unfortunately the fact could not be
disputed. For the last half century, to come down as far as we can,
Ireland, to use a plain metaphor, instead of producing her native
intellect for home consumption, was forced to subsist upon the scanty
supplies which could be procured from the sister kingdom. This was a
reproach which added great strength to the general prejudice against us.
A nation may produce one man or ten men of eminence, but if they cannot
succeed in impressing their mind upon the spirit and intellect of their
own country, so as to create in her a taste for literature or science, no
matter how highly they may be appreciated by strangers, they have not
reached the exalted purposes of genius. To make this more plain I shall
extend the metaphor a little farther. During some of the years of Irish
famine, such were the unhappy circumstances of the country, that she was
exporting provisions of every description in most prodigal abundance,
which the generosity of England was sending back again for our support. So
was it with literature, our men and women of genius uniformly carried
their talents to the English market, whilst we labored at home under all
the dark privations of a literary famine.
In truth, until within the last ten or twelve years, an Irish author never
thought of publishing in his own country, and the consequence was that our
literary men followed the example of our great landlords; they became
absentees, and drained the country of its intellectual wealth precisely as
the others exhausted it of its rents.
Thus did Ireland stand in the singular anomaly of adding some of her most
distinguished names to the literature of Great Britain, whilst she herself
remained incapable of presenting anything to the world beyond a
school-book or a pamphlet; and even of the latter it is well-known that if
the subject of it were considered important, and its author a man of any
talent or station in society, it was certain to be published in London.
Precisely in this state was the country when the two first volumes of the
"Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry" were given to the public by
the house of Messrs. Gurry and Co., of Sackville Street. Before they
appeared, their author, in consequence of their originating from an Irish
press, entertained no expectation that they would be read, or excite any
interest whatever in either England or Scotland. He was not, however,
without a strong confidence that notwithstanding the wild and uncleared
state of his own country at the time, so far as native literature was
concerned, his two little pioneers would work their way with at least
moderate success. He felt conscious that everything depicted in them was
true, and that by those who were acquainted with the manners, and
language, and feelings of the people, they would sooner or later be
recognized as faithful delineations of Irish life. In this confidence the
event justified him; for not only were his volumes stamped with an
immediate popularity at home, where they could be best appreciated, but
awarded a very gratifying position in the literature of the day by the
unanimous and not less generous verdict of the English and Scotch critics.
Thus it was that the publication of two unpretending volumes, written by a
peasant's son, established an important and gratifying fact—that our
native country, if without a literature at the time, was at least capable
of appreciating, and willing to foster the humble exertions of such as
endeavored to create one. Nor was this all; for so far as resident authors
were concerned, it was now clearly established that an Irish writer could
be successful at home without the necessity of appearing under the name
and sanction of the great London or Edinburgh booksellers.
The rapid sale and success of the first series encouraged the author to
bring out a second, which he did, but with a different bookseller. The
spirit of publishing was now beginning to extend, and the talent of the
country to put itself in motion. The popularity of the second effort
surpassed that of the first, and the author had the gratification of
knowing that the generosity of public feeling and opinion accorded him a
still higher position than before, as did the critics of the day, without
a dissentient voice. Still, as in the case of his first effort, he saw
with honest pride that his own country and his countrymen placed the
highest value upon his works, because they best understood them.
About this time the literary taste of the metropolis began to feel the
first symptoms of life. As yet, however, they were very faint. Two or
three periodicals were attempted, and though of very considerable merit,
and conducted by able men, none of them, I believe, reached a year's
growth. The "Dublin Literary Gazette," the "National Magazine," the
"Dublin Monthly Magazine," and the "Dublin University Review," all
perished in their infancy—not, however, because they were unworthy
of success, but because Ireland was not then what she is now fast
becoming, a reading, and consequently a thinking, country. To every one of
these the author contributed, and he has the satisfaction of being able to
say that there has been no publication projected purely for the
advancement of literature in his own country, to which he has not given
the aid of his pen, such as it was, and this whether he received
remuneration or not. Indeed, the consciousness that the success of his
works had been the humble means of inciting others to similar exertion in
their own country, and of thus giving the first impulse to our literature,
is one which has on his part created an enthusiastic interest in it which
will only die with him.
Notwithstanding the failure of the periodicals just mentioned, it was
clear that the intellect of the country was beginning to feel its strength
and put forth its power. A national spirit that rose above the narrow
distinctions of creed and party began to form itself, and in the first
impulses of its early enthusiasm a periodical was established, which it is
only necessary to name—the "Dublin University Magazine"—a work
unsurpassed by any magazine of the day; and which, moreover, without ever
departing from its principles, has been as a bond of union for literary
men of every class, who have from time to time enriched its pages by their
contributions. It has been, and is, a neutral spot in a country where
party feeling runs so high, on which the Roman Catholic Priest and the
Protestant Parson, the Whig, the Tory, and the Radical, divested of their
respective prejudices, can meet in an amicable spirit. I mention these
things with great satisfaction, for it is surely a gratification to know
that literature, in a country which has been so much distracted as
Ireland, is progressing in a spirit of noble candor and generosity, which
is ere long likely to produce a most salutary effect among the educated
classes of all parties, and consequently among those whom they influence.
The number, ability, and importance of the works which have issued from
the Dublin press within the last eight or ten years, if they could be
enumerated here, would exhibit the rapid progress of the national mind,
and satisfy the reader that Ireland in a few years will be able to sustain
a native literature as lofty and generous, and beneficial to herself, as
any other country in the world can boast of.
This hasty sketch of its progress I felt myself called upon to give, in
order that our neighbors may know what we have done, and learn to respect
us accordingly; and, if the truth must be told, from a principle of honest
pride, arising from the position which our country holds, and is likely to
hold, as an intellectual nation.
Having disposed of this topic, I come now to one of not less importance as
being connected with the other,—the condition and character of the
peasantry of Ireland.
It maybe necessary, however, before entering upon this topic, to give my
readers some satisfactory assurance that the subject is one which I ought
well to understand, not only from my humble position in early life, and my
uninterrupted intercourse with the people as one of themselves, until I
had reached the age of twenty-two years, but from the fact of having
bestowed upon it my undivided and most earnest attention ever since I left
the dark mountains and green vales of my native Tyrone, and began to
examine human life and manners as a citizen of the world. As it is
admitted, also, that there exists no people whose character is so
anomalous as that of the Irish, and consequently so difficult to be
understood, especially by strangers, it becomes a still more appropriate
duty on my part to give to the public, proofs sufficiently valid, that I
come to a subject of such difficulty with unusual advantages on my side,
and that, consequently, my exhibitions of Irish peasant life, in its most
comprehensive sense, may be relied on as truthful and authentic. For this
purpose, it will be necessary that I should give a brief sketch of my own
youth, early station in society, and general education, as the son of an
honest, humble peasant.
My father, indeed, was a very humble man, but, in consequence of his
unaffected piety and stainless integrity of principle, he was held in high
esteem by all who knew him, no matter what their rank in life might be.
When the state of education in Ireland during his youth and that of my
mother is considered, it will not be a matter of surprise that what they
did receive was very limited. It would be difficult, however, if not
impossible, to find two persons in their lowly station so highly and
singularly gifted. My father possessed a memory not merely great or
surprising, but absolutely astonishing. He could repeat nearly the whole
of the Old and New Testament by heart, and was, besides, a living index to
almost every chapter and verse you might wish to find in it. In all other
respects, too, his memory was equally amazing. My native place is a spot
rife with old legends, tales, traditions, customs, and superstitions; so
that in my early youth, even beyond the walls of my own humble roof, they
met me in every direction. It was at home, however, and from my father's
lips in particular, that they were perpetually sounding in my ears. In
fact, his memory was a perfect storehouse, and a rich one, of all that the
social antiquary, the man of letters, the poet, or the musician, would
consider valuable. As a teller of old tales, legends, and historical
anecdotes he was unrivalled, and his stock of them was inexhaustible. He
spoke the Irish and English languages with nearly equal fluency. With all
kinds of charms, old ranns, or poems, old prophecies, religious
superstitions, tales of pilgrims, miracles, and pilgrimages, anecdotes of
blessed priests and friars, revelations from ghosts and fairies, was he
thoroughly acquainted. And so strongly were all these impressed upon my
mind, by frequent repetition on his part, and the indescribable delight
they gave me on mine, that I have hardly ever since heard, during a
tolerably enlarged intercourse with Irish society, both educated and
uneducated, with the antiquary, the scholar, or the humble senachie—any
single tradition, usage, or legend, that, as far as I can at present
recollect, was perfectly new to me or unheard before, in some similar or
cognate dress. This is certainly saying much; but I believe I may assert
with confidence that I could produce, in attestation of its truth, the
dairies of Petrie, Sir W. Betham, Ferguson, and O'Donovan, the most
distinguished antiquaries, both of social usages and otherwise, that ever
Ireland produced. What rendered this, besides, of such peculiar advantage
to me in after life, as a literary man, was, that I heard them as often in
the Irish language as in the English, if not oftener, in circumstance
which enabled me in my writings to transfer the genius, the idiomatic
peculiarity and conversational spirit of the one language into the other,
precisely as the people themselves do in their dialogue, whenever the
heart or imagination happens to be moved by the darker or better passions.
Having thus stated faithfully, without adding or diminishing, a portion,
and a portion only, of what I owe to one parent, I cannot overlook the
debt of gratitude which is due to the memory of the other.
My mother, whose name was Kelly—Mary Kelly—possessed the
sweetest and most exquisite of human voices. In her early life, I have
often been told by those who had heard her sing, that any previous
intimation of her presence at a wake, dance, or other festive occasion,
was sure to attract crowds of persons, many from a distance of several
miles, in order to hear from her lips the touching old airs of their
country. No sooner was it known that she would attend any such meeting,
than the fact spread throughout the neighborhood like wild-fire, and the
people flocked from all parts to hear her, just as the fashionable world
do now, when the name of some eminent songstress is announced in the
papers; with this difference, that upon such occasions the voice of the
one falls only upon the ear, whilst that of the other sinks deeply into
the heart. She was not so well acquainted with the English tongue as my
father, although she spoke it with sufficient ease for all the purposes of
life; and for this reason, among others, she generally gave the old Irish
versions of the songs in question, rather than the English ones. This,
however, as I said, was not her sole motive. In the first place, she had
several old songs, which at that time,—I believe, too, I may add at
this,—had never been translated; and I very much fear that some
valuable ones, both as to words and airs, have perished with her. Her
family were all imbued with a poetical spirit, and some of her immediate
ancestors composed in the Irish tongue several fine old songs, in the same
manner as Carolan did; that is, some in praise of a patron or a friend,
and others to celebrate rustic beauties, that have long since been
sleeping in the dust. For this reason she had many old compositions that
were almost peculiar to our family, which I am afraid could not now be
procured at all, and are consequently lost. I think her uncle, and I
believe her grandfather, were the authors of several Irish poems and
songs, because I know that some of them she sang, and others she only
Independently of this, she had a prejudice against singing the Irish airs
to English words; an old custom of the country was thereby invaded, and an
association disturbed which habit had rendered dear to her. I remember on
one occasion, when she was asked to sing the English version of that
touching melody, "The Red-haired Man's Wife," she replied, "I will sing it
for you; but the English words and the air are like a quarrelling man and
wife: the Irish melts into the tune, but the English doesn't," an
expression scarcely less remarkable for its beauty than its truth. She
spoke the words in Irish.
This gift of singing with such sweetness and power the old sacred songs
and airs of Ireland, was not the only one for which she was remarkable.
Perhaps there never lived a human being capable of giving the Irish cry,
or Keene, with such exquisite effect, or of pouring into its wild notes a
spirit of such irresistible pathos and sorrow. I have often been present
when she has "raised the keene" over the corpse of some relative or
neighbor, and my readers may judge of the melancholy charm which
accompanied this expression of her sympathy, when I assure them that the
general clamor of violent grief was gradually diminished, from admiration,
until it became ultimately hushed, and no voice was heard but her own—wailing
in sorrowful but solitary beauty. This pause, it is true, was never long,
for however great the admiration might be which she excited, the hearts of
those who heard her soon melted, and even strangers were often forced to
confess her influence by the tears which she caused them to shed for those
whose deaths could, otherwise, in no other way have affected them. I am
the youngest, I believe, of fourteen children, and of course could never
have heard her until age and the struggles of life had robbed her voice of
its sweetness. I heard enough, however, from her blessed lips, to set my
heart to an almost painful perception of that spirit which steeps these
fine old songs in a tenderness which no other music possesses. Many a
time, of a winter night, when seated at her spinning-wheel, singing the Trougha,
or Shuil agra, or some other old "song of sorrow," have I, then
little more than a child, gone over to her, and with a broken voice and
eyes charged with tears, whispered, "Mother dear, don't sing that song, it
makes me sorrowful;" she then usually stopped, and sung some one which I
liked better because it affected me less. At this day I am in possession
of Irish airs, which none of our best antiquaries in Irish music have
heard, except through me, and of which neither they nor I myself know the
Such, gentle reader, were my humble parents, under whose untaught, but
natural genius, setting all other advantages aside, it is not to be
wondered at that my heart should have been so completely moulded into that
spirit and, those feelings which characterize my country and her children.
These, however, were my domestic advantages; but I now come to others,
which arose from my position in life as the son of a man who was one of
the people. My father, at the farthest point to which my memory goes back,
lived in a townland called Prillisk, in the parish of Clogher, and county
of Tyrone; and I only remember living there in a cottage. From that the
family removed to a place called Tonagh, or, more familiarly, Towney,
about an English mile from Prillisk. It was here I first went to school to
a Connaught-man named Pat Frayne, who, however, remained there only for a
very short period in the neighborhood. Such was the neglected state of
education at that time, that for a year or two afterwards there was no
school sufficiently near to which I could be sent. At length it was
ascertained that a master, another Connaught-man by the way, named
O'Beirne, had opened a school—a hedge-school of course—at
Pindramore. To this I was sent, along with my brother John, the youngest
of the family next to myself. I continued with him for about a year and a
half, when who should return to our neighborhood but Pat Frayne, the
redoubtable prototype of Mat Kavanagh in "The Hedge School." O'Beirne, it
is true, was an excellent specimen of the hedge-schoolmaster, but nothing
at all to be compared to Frayne. About the period I write of, there was no
other description of school to which any one could be sent, and the
consequence was, that rich and poor (I speak of the peasantry), Protestant
and Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist, boys and girls, were all
congregated under the same roof, to the amount of from a hundred to a
hundred and fifty, or two hundred. In this school I remained for about a
year or two, when our family removed to a place called Nurchasy, the
property of the Rev. Dr. Story, of Corick. Of us, however, he neither
could nor did know anything, for we were under-tenants, our immediate
landlord being no less a person than Hugh Traynor, then so famous for the
distillation, sub rosa, of exquisite mountain dew, and to whom the reader
will find allusions made in that capacity more than once in the following
volume. Nurchasy was within about half a mile of Findramore, to which
school, under O'Beirne, I was again sent. Here I continued, until a
classical teacher came to a place called Tulnavert, now the property of
John Birney, Esq., of Lisburn, to whom I had the pleasure of dedicating
the two first volumes of my "Traits and Stories." This tyrannical
blockhead, whose name I do not choose to mention, instead of being allowed
to teach classics, ought to have been put into a strait-waistcoat or the
stocks, and either whipped once in every twenty-four hours, or kept in a
madhouse until the day of his death. He had been a student in Maynooth,
where he became deranged, and was, of course, sent home to his friends,
with whom he recovered sufficiently to become cruel and hypocritical, to
an extent which I have never yet seen equalled. Whenever the son of a rich
man committed an offence, he would grind his teeth and growl like a tiger,
but in no single instance had he the moral courage or sense of justice to
correct him. On the contrary, he uniformly "nursed his wrath to keep it
warm," until the son of a poor man transgressed, and on his unfortunate
body he was sure to wreak signal vengeance for the stupidity or misconduct
of the wealthy blockhead. This was his system, and my readers may form
some opinion of the low ebb at which knowledge and moral feeling were at
the time, when I assure them, that not one of the humbler boys durst make
a complaint against the scoundrel at home, unless under the certainty of
being well flogged for their pains. A hedge-schoolmaster was then held in
such respect and veneration, that no matter how cruel or profligate he
might be, his person and character, unless in some extraordinary case of
cruelty, resulting in death or mutilation, were looked upon as free from
all moral or legal responsibility. This certainly was not the fault of the
people, but of those laws, which, by making education a crime, generated
ignorance, and then punished it for violating them.
For the present it is enough to say, that a most interesting child, a
niece of my own, lost her life by the severity of Pat Frayne, the
Connaught-man. In a fit of passion he caught the poor girl by the ear,
which he nearly plucked out of her head. The violence of the act broke
some of the internal muscles or tendons,—suppuration and
subsequently inflammation, first of the adjoining Parts and afterwards of
the brain, took place, and the fine intelligent little creature was laid
in a premature grave, because the ignorance of the people justified a
pedantic hedge-schoolmaster in the exercise of irresponsible cruelty.
Frayne was never prosecuted, neither was the classical despot, who by the
way sits for the picture of the fellow in whose school, and at whose
hands, the Poor Scholar receives the tyrannical and heartless treatment
mentioned in that tale. Many a time the cruelty exercised towards that
unhappy boy, whose name was Qum, has wrung my heart and brought the
involuntary tears to my eyes,—tears which I was forced to conceal,
being very well assured from experience, that any sympathy of mine, if
noticed, would be certain to procure me or any other friend of his, an
ample participation in his punishment. He was, in truth, the scape-goat of
the school, and it makes my blood boil, even whilst I write, to think how
the poor friendless lad, far removed from either father or mother, was
kicked, and cuffed, and beaten on the naked head, with a kind of stick
between a horse-rod and a cudgel, until his poor face got pale, and he was
forced to totter over to a seat in order to prevent himself from fainting
or falling in consequence of severe pain.
At length, however, the inhuman villain began to find, when it was too
late, that his ferocity, in spite of the terror which it occasioned, was
soon likely to empty his school. He now became as fawning and slavish as
he had before been insolent and savage; but the wealthy farmers of the
neighborhood, having now full cognizance of his conduct, made common cause
with the poorer men whose children were so shamefully treated, and the
result was, that in about six weeks they forced him to leave that part of
the country for want of scholars, having been literally groaned out of it
by the curses and indignation of all who knew him.
Here then was I once more at a loss for a school, and I must add, in no
disposition at all to renew my acquaintance with literature. Our family
had again removed from Nurchasy, to a place up nearer the mountains,
called Springtown, on the northern side of the parish. I was now about
fourteen, and began to feel a keen relish for all the sports and
amusements of the country, into which I entered with a spirit of youth and
enthusiasm rarely equalled. For about two years I attended no school, but
it was during this period that I received, notwithstanding, the best part
of my education. Our farm in Springtown was about sixteen or eighteen
acres, and I occasionally assisted the family in working at it, but never
regularly, for I was not called upon to do so, nor would I have been
permitted even had I wished it. It was about six months after our removal
to Springtown, that an incident in my early life occurred which gave rise
to one of the most popular tales perhaps, with the exception of "The
Miser," that I have written—that is "The Poor Scholar." There being
now no classical school within eighteen or twenty miles of Springtown, it
was suggested to our family by a nephew of the parish priest, then a young
man of six or eight and twenty, that, under the circumstances, it would be
a prudent step on their part to prepare an outfit, and send me up to
Munster as a poor scholar, to complete my education. Pat Frayne, who by
the way had been a poor scholar himself, had advised the same thing
before, and as the name does not involve disgrace I felt no reluctance in
going, especially as the priest's nephew, who proposed it, had made up his
mind on accompanying me for a similar purpose. Indeed, the poor scholars
who go to Munster are indebted for nothing but their bed and board, which
they receive kindly and hospitably from the parents of the scholars. The
masters are generally paid their full terms by these pitiable beings, but
this rule, like all others, of course, has its exceptions. At all events,
my outfit was got ready, and on a beautiful morning in the month of May I
separated from my family to go in quest of education. There was no
collection, however, in my case, as mentioned in the tale; as my own
family supplied the funds supposed to be necessary. I have been present,
however, at more than one collection made for similar purposes, and heard
a good-natured sermon not very much differing from that given in the
The priest's nephew, on the day we were to start, suddenly changed his
mind, and I consequently had to undertake the journey alone, which I did
with a heavy heart. The farther I got from home, the more my spirits sank,
or in the beautiful image of Goldsmith,
"I dragged at each remove a lengthening chain."
I travelled as far as the town of Granard, and during the journey, it is
scarcely necessary to say, that the almost parental tenderness and
hospitality which I received on my way could not be adequately described.
The reader will find an attempt at it in the story. The parting from home
and my adventures on the road are real.
Having reached Granard my courage began to fail, and my family at home,
now that I had departed from them, began also to feel something like
remorse for having permitted one so young and inexperienced as I then was,
to go abroad alone upon the world. My mother's sorrow, especially, was
deep, and her cry was, "Oh, why did I let my boy go? maybe I will never
see him again!"
At this time, as the reader may be aware from my parental education, there
was not a being alive more thoroughly imbued with superstition; and,
whether for good or ill, at all events that superstition returned me to my
family. On reaching Granard, I felt, of course, fatigued, and soon went to
bed, where I slept soundly. It was not, however, a dreamless sleep: I
thought I was going along a strange path to some particular place, and
that a mad bull met me on the road, and pursued me with such speed and
fury that I awoke in a state of singular terror. That was sufficient; my
mind had been already wavering, and the dream determined me. The next
morning after breakfast I bent my steps homewards, and, as it happened, my
return took a weighty load of bitter grief from the heart of my mother and
family. The house I stopped at in Granard was a kind of small inn, kept by
a man whose name was Peter Grehan. Such were the incidents which gave rise
to the tale of "The Poor Scholar."
I was now growing up fast, and began to feel a boyish ambition of
associating with, those who were older and bigger than myself. Although
miserably deficient in education—for I had been well beaten but
never taught—yet I was looked upon as a prodigy of knowledge; and I
can assure the reader that I took very good care not to dispel that
agreeable delusion. Indeed, at this time, I was as great a young literary
coxcomb as ever lived, my vanity being high and inflated exactly in
proportion to my ignorance, which was also of the purest water. This
vanity, however, resulted as much from my position and circumstances as
from any strong disposition to be vain on my part. It was generated by the
ignorance of the people, and their extreme veneration for any thing in the
shape of superior knowledge. In fact, they insisted that I knew every
earthly subject, because I had been a couple of years at Latin, and was
designed for a priest. It was useless to undeceive men who would not be
convinced, so I accordingly gave them, as they say, "the length of their
tether;" nay, to such, purpose did I ply them with proofs of it, that my
conversation soon became as fine a specimen of pedantic bombast as ever
was uttered. Not a word under six feet could come out of my lips, even of
English; but as the best English, after all, is but commonplace, I
peppered them with vile Latin, and an occasional verse in Greek, from St.
John's Gospel, which I translated for them into a wrong meaning, with an
air of lofty superiority that made them turn up their eyes with wonder. I
was then, however, but one of a class which still exists, and will
continue to do so until a better informed generation shall prevent those
who compose it from swaggering about in all the pompous pride of young
impostors, who boast of knowing "the seven languages." The reader will
find an illustration of this in the sketch of "Denis O'Shaughnessy going
In the meantime, I was unconsciously but rapidly preparing myself for a
position in Irish literature, which I little dreamt I should ever occupy.
I now mingled in the sports and pastimes of the people, until indulgence
in them became the predominant passion of mv youth. Throwing the stone,
wrestling, leaping, foot-ball, and every other description of athletic
exercise filled up the measure of my early happiness. I attended every
wake, dance, fair, and merry-making in the neighborhood, and became so
celebrated for dancing hornpipes, jigs, and reels, that I was soon without
a rival in the parish.
This kind of life, though very delightful to a boy of my years, was not,
however, quite satisfactory, as it afforded me no ultimate prospect, and
the death of my father had occasioned the circumstances of the family to
decline. I heard, about this time, that a distant relative of mine, a
highly respectable priest, had opened a classical school near Glasslough,
in the county of Monaghan. To him I accordingly went, mentioned our
affinity, and had my claims allowed. I attended his school with
intermission for about two years, at the expiration of which period I once
more returned to our family, who were then very much reduced.
I was now about nineteen, strong, active, and could leap two-and-twenty
feet on a dead level; but though thoroughly acquainted with Irish life
among my own class, I was as ignorant of the world as a child. Ever since
my boyhood, in consequence of the legends which I had heard from my
father, about the far-famed Lough-derg, or St. Patrick's Purgatory, I felt
my imagination fired with a romantic curiosity to perform a station at
that celebrated place. I accordingly did so, and the description of that
most penal performance, some years afterwards, not only constituted my
debut in literature, but was also the means of preventing me from being a
pleasant, strong-bodied parish priest at this day; indeed, it was the
cause of changing the whole destiny of my subsequent life.
"The Loughderg Pilgrim" is given in the present edition, and may be relied
on, not so much as an ordinary narrative, as a perfect transcript of what
takes place during the stations which are held there in the summer months.
Having returned from this, I knew not exactly how to dispose of myself. On
one thing I was determined—never to enter the Church;—but this
resolution I kept faithfully to myself. I had nothing for it now but to
forget my sacerdotal prospects, which, as I have said, had already been
renounced, or to sink down as many others like me had done, into a mere
tiller of the earth,—a character in Ireland far more unpopular than
that which the Scotch call "a sticket minister!"
It was about this period, that chance first threw the inimitable
Adventures of the renowned Gil Bias across my path. During my whole life I
had been an insatiable reader of such sixpenny romances and history-books
as the hedge-schools afforded. Many a time have I given up my meals rather
than lose one minute from the interest excited by the story I was
perusing. Having read Gil Bias, however, I felt an irrepressible
passion for adventure, which nothing could divert; in fact, I was as much
the creature of the impulse it excited, as the ship is of the helmsman, or
the steam-engine of the principle that guides it.
Stimulated by this romantic love of adventure, I left my native place, and
directed my steps to the parish of Killanny, in the county of Louth, the
Catholic clergyman of which was a nephew of our own Parish Priest, brother
to him who proposed going to Munster with me, and an old school-fellow of
my own, though probably twenty years my senior. This man's residence was
within a quarter or half a mile's distance of the celebrated Wild-goose
Lodge, in which, some six months before, a whole family, consisting of, I
believe, eight persons, men, women, and children, had been, from motives
of personal vengeance, consumed to ashes. I stopped with him for a
fortnight, and succeeded in procuring a tuition in the house of a wealthy
farmer named Piers Murphy, near Corcreagh. This, however, was a tame life,
and a hard one, so I resolved once more to give up a miserable salary and
my board, for the fortunate chances which an ardent temperament and a
strong imagination perpetually suggested to me as likely to be evolved out
of the vicissitudes of life. Urged on, therefore, by a spirit of romance,
I resolved to precipitate myself on the Irish Metropolis, which I
accordingly entered with two shillings and ninepence in my pocket; an
utter stranger, of course friendless; ignorant of the world, without aim
or object, but not without a certain strong feeling of vague and shapeless
ambition, for the truth was I had not yet begun to think, and,
consequently, looked upon life less as a reality than a vision.
Thus have I, as a faithful, but I fear a dull guide, conducted my reader
from the lowly cottage in Prillisk, where I first drew my breath, along
those tangled walks and green lanes which are familiar to the foot of the
peasant alone, until I enter upon the highways of the world, and strike
into one of its greatest and most crowded thoroughfares—the
Metropolis. Whether this brief sketch of my early and humble life, my
education, my sports, my hopes and struggles, be calculated to excite any
particular interest, I know not; I can only assure my reader that the
details, so far as they go, are scrupulously correct and authentic, and
that they never would have been obtruded upon him, were it not from an
anxiety to satisfy him that in undertaking to describe the Irish peasantry
as they are, I approach the difficult task with advantages of knowing
them, which perhaps few Irish writers ever possessed; and this is the only
merit which I claim.
A few words now upon the moral and physical condition of the people may
not be unsuitable before I close, especially for the sake of those who may
wish to acquire a knowledge of their general character, previous to their
perusal of the following volume. This task, it is true, is not one of such
difficulty now as it was some years ago. Much light has been thrown on the
Irish character, not only by the great names I have already enumerated,
but by some equally high which I have omitted. On this subject it would be
impossible to overlook the names of Lever, Maxwell, or Otway, or to forget
the mellow hearth-light and chimney-corner tone, the happy dialogue and
legendary truth which characterize the exquisite fairy legends of Crofton
Croker. Much of the difficulty of the task, I say, has been removed by
these writers, but there remains enough still behind to justify me in
giving a short dissertation upon the habits and feelings of my countrymen.
Of those whose physical state has been and is so deplorably wretched, it
may not be supposed that the tone of morals can be either high or pure;
and yet if we consider the circumstance in which he has been for such a
lengthened period placed, it is undeniable that the Irishman is a
remarkably moral man. Let us suppose, for instance, that in England and
Scotland the great body of the people had for a couple or three centuries
never received an adequate or proper education: in that case, let us ask
what the moral aspect of society in either country would be to-day? But
this is not merely the thing to be considered. The Irishman was not only
not educated, but actually punished for attempting to acquire knowledge in
the first place, and in the second, punished also for the ignorance
created by its absence. In other words, the penal laws rendered education
criminal, and then caused the unhappy people to suffer for the crimes
which proper knowledge would have prevented them from, committing. It was
just like depriving a man of his sight, and afterwards causing him to be
punished for stumbling. It is beyond all question, that from the time of
the wars of Elizabeth and the introduction of the Reformation, until very
recently, there was no fixed system of wholesome education in the country.
The people, possessed of strong political and religious prejudices, were
left in a state of physical destitution and moral ignorance, such as were
calculated to produce ten times the amount of crime which was committed.
Is it any wonder, then, that in such a condition, social errors and
dangerous theories should be generated, and that neglect, and poverty, and
ignorance combined should give to the country a character for turbulence
and outrage? The same causes will produce the same effects in any country,
and were it not that the standard of personal and domestic comfort was so
low in Ireland, there is no doubt that the historian would have a much
darker catalogue of crime to record than he has. The Irishman, in fact,
was mute and patient under circumstances which would have driven the
better fed and more comfortable Englishman into open outrage and contempt
of all authority. God forbid that I for a moment should become the
apologist of crime, much less the crimes of my countrymen! but it is
beyond all question that the principles upon which the country was
governed have been such as to leave down to the present day many of their
evil consequences behind them. The penal code, to be sure, is now
abolished, but so are not many of its political effects among the people.
Its consequences have not yet departed from the country, nor has the
hereditary hatred of the laws, which unconsciously descended from father
to son, ceased to regulate their conduct and opinions. Thousands of them
are ignorant that ever such a thing as a penal code existed; yet the
feeling against law survives, although the source from which it has been
transmitted may be forgotten. This will easily account for much of the
political violence and crime which moments of great excitement produce
among us; nor need we feel surprised that this state of things should be
continued, to the manifest injury of the people themselves, by the baneful
effects of agitation.
The period, therefore, for putting the character of our country fairly
upon, its trial has not yet arrived; although we are willing to take the
Irishman as we find him; nor would we shrink even at the present moment
from comparing him with any of his neighbors. His political sins and their
consequences were left him as an heirloom, and result from a state of
things which he himself did not occasion. Setting these aside, where is
the man to be found in any country who has carried with him through all
his privations and penalties so many of the best virtues of our nature? In
other countries the man who commits a great crime is always a great
criminal, and the whole heart is hardened and debased, but it is not so in
Ireland. The agrarian and political outrage is often perpetrated by men
who possess the best virtues of humanity, and whose hearts as individuals
actually abhor the crime. The moral standard here is no doubt dreadfully
erroneous, and until a correct and Christian one, emanating from a better
system of education, shall be substituted for it, it will, with a people
who so think and feel, be impossible utterly to prevent the occurrence of
these great evils. We must wait for thirty or forty years, that is, until
the rising or perhaps the subsequent generation shall be educated out of
these wild and destructive prejudices, before we can fully estimate the
degree of excellence to which our national character may arrive. In my own
youth, and I am now only forty-four years, I do not remember a single
school under the immediate superintendence of either priest or parson, and
that in a parish the extent of which is, I dare say, ten miles by eight.
The instruction of the children was altogether a matter in which no clergy
of any creed took an interest. This was left altogether to hedge
schoolmasters, a class of men who, with few exceptions, bestowed such an
education upon the people as is sufficient almost, in the absence of all
other causes, to account for much of the agrarian violence and erroneous
principles which regulate their movements and feelings on that and similar
subjects. For further information on this matter the reader is referred to
the "Hedge School."
With respect to these darker shades of the Irish character, I feel that,
consistently with that love of truth and impartiality which has guided,
and I trust ever shall guide, my pen, I could not pass them over without
further notice. I know that it is a very questionable defence to say that
some, if not principally all, of their crimes originate in agrarian or
political vengeance. Indeed, I believe that, so far from this circumstance
being looked upon as a defence, it ought to be considered as an
aggravation of the guilt; inasmuch as it is, beyond all doubt, at least a
far more manly thing to inflict an injury upon an enemy face to face, and
under the influence of immediate resentment, than to crouch like a
cowardly assassin behind a hedge and coolly murder him without one
moment's preparation, or any means whatsoever of defence. This is a
description of crime which no man with one generous drop of blood in his
veins can think of without shame and indignation. Unhappily, however, for
the security of human life, every crime of the kind results more from the
dark tyranny of these secret confederacies, by which the lower classes are
organized, than from any natural appetite for shedding blood.
Individually, the Irish loathe murder as much as any people in the world;
but in the circumstances before us, it often happens that the Irishman is
not a free agent—very far from it: on the contrary, he is frequently
made the instrument of a system, to which he must become either an
obedient slave or a victim.
Even here, however, although nothing can or ought to be said to palliate
the cowardly and unmanly crime of assassination, yet something can
certainly be advanced to account for the state of feeling by which, from
time to time, and by frequent occurrence, it came to be so habitual among
the people, that by familiarity it became stripped of its criminality and
Now it is idle, and it would be dishonest, to deny the fact, that the
lower Irish, until a comparatively recent period, were treated with apathy
and gross neglect by the only class to whom they could or ought to look up
for sympathy or protection. The conferring of the elective franchise upon
the forty-shilling freeholders, or in other words upon paupers, added to
the absence of proper education, or the means of acquiring it, generated,
by the fraudulent subdivision of small holdings, by bribery, perjury, and
corruption, a state of moral feeling among the poorer classes which could
not but be productive of much crime. And yet, notwithstanding this
shameful prostitution of their morals and comfort, for the purposes of
political ambition or personal aggrandizement, they were in general a
peaceable and enduring people; and it was only when some act of
unjustifiable severity, or oppression in the person of a middleman, agent,
or hardhearted landlord, drove them houseless upon the world, that they
fell back upon the darker crimes of which I am speaking. But what, I ask,
could be expected from such a state of things? And who generated it? It is
not, indeed, to be wondered at that a set of men, who so completely
neglected their duties as the old landlords of Ireland did, should have
the very weapons turned against themselves which their own moral
profligacy first put into the hands of those whom they corrupted. Up to
this day the peasantry are charged with indifference to the obligation of
an oath, and in those who still have anything to do in elections, I fear
with too much truth. But then let us inquire who first trained and
familiarized them to it? Why, the old landlords of Ireland; and now their
descendants, and such of themselves as survive, may behold, in the crimes
which disgrace the country, the disastrous effects of a bad system created
by their forefathers or themselves.
In the meantime, I have no doubt that by the removal of the causes which
produced this deplorable state of things, their disastrous effects will
also soon disappear. That the present landlords of Ireland are, with the
ordinary number of exceptions, a very different class of men from those
who have gone before them, is a fact which will ultimately tell for the
peace and prosperity of the country. Let the ignorance of the people, or
rather the positive bad knowledge with which, as to a sense of civil
duties, their minds are filled, be removed, and replaced with principles
of a higher and more Christian tendency. Let the Irish landlords consider
the interests of their tenantry as their own, and there is little doubt
that with the aids of science, agricultural improvement, and the
advantages of superior machinery, the Irish will become a prosperous,
contented, and great people.
It is not just to the general character of our people, however, to speak
of these crimes as national; for, in fact, they are not so. If Tipperary
and some of the adjoining parts of Munster were blotted out of the moral
map of the country, we would stand as a nation in a far higher position
than that which we occupy in the opinion of our neighbors. This is a
distinction which in justice to us ought to be made, for it is surely
unfair to charge the whole kingdom with the crimes which disgrace only a
single county of it, together with a few adjacent districts—allowing,
of course, for some melancholy exceptions in other parts.
Having now discussed, with, I think, sufficient candor and impartiality,
that portion of our national character which appears worst and weakest in
the eyes of our neighbors, and attempted to show that pre-existing
circumstances originating from an unwise policy had much to do in calling
into existence and shaping its evil impulses, I come now to a more
agreeable task—the consideration, of our social and domestic
virtues. And here it is where the Irishman immeasurably outstrips all
competitors. His hospitality is not only a habit but a principle; and
indeed of such a quick and generous temperament is he, that in ninety
cases out of a hundred the feeling precedes the reflection, which in
others prompts the virtue. To be a stranger and friendless, or suffering
hunger and thirst, is at any time a sufficient passport to his heart and
purse; but it is not merely the thing or virtue, but also his manner of
doing it, that constitutes the charm which runs through his conduct. There
is a natural politeness and sincerity in his manner which no man can
mistake; and it is a fact, the truth of which I have felt a thousand
times, that he will make you feel the acceptance of the favor of kindness
he bestows to be a compliment to himself rather than to you. The delicate
ingenuity with which he diminishes the nature or amount of his own
kindness, proves that he is no common man, either in heart or intellect;
and when all fails he will lie like Lucifer himself, and absolutely seduce
you into an acceptance of his hospitality or assistance. I speak now
exclusively of the peasantry. Certainly in domestic life there is no man
so exquisitely affectionate and humanized as the Irishman. The national
imagination is active and the national heart warm, and it follows very
naturally that he should be, and is, tender and strong in all his domestic
relations. Unlike the people of other nations, his grief is loud but
lasting, vehement but deep; and whilst its shadow has been chequered by
the laughter and mirth of a cheerful disposition, still in the moments of
seclusion, at his bedside prayer, or over the grave of those he loved, it
will put itself forth after half a life with a vivid power of recollection
which is sometimes almost beyond belief.
The Irish, however, are naturally a refined people; but by this I mean the
refinement which appreciates and cherishes whatever there is in nature, as
manifested through the influence of the softer arts of music and poetry.
The effect of music upon the Irish heart I ought to know well, and no man
need tell me that a barbarous or cruel people ever possessed national
music that was beautiful and pathetic. The music of any nation is the
manifestation of its general feeling, and not that which creates it;
although there is no doubt but the one when formed perpetuates and
reproduces the other. It is no wonder, then, that the domestic feelings of
the Irish should be so singularly affectionate and strong, when we
consider that they have been, in spite of every obstruction, kept under
the softening influence of music and poetry. This music and poetry, too,
essentially their own—and whether streaming of a summer through
their still glens, or poured forth at the winter hearth, still, by its
soft and melancholy spirit, stirring up a thousand tender associations
that must necessarily touch and improve the heart. And it is for this
reason that, that heart becomes so remarkably eloquent, if not poetical,
when moved by sorrow. Many a time I have seen a Keener commence her wail
over the corpse of a near relative, and by degrees she has risen from the
simple wail or cry to a high but mournful recitative, extemporized, under
the excitement of the moment, into sentiments that were highly figurative
and impressive. In this she was aided very much by the genius of the
language, which possesses the finest and most copious vocabulary in the
world for the expression of either sorrow or love.
It has been said that the Irish, notwithstanding a deep susceptibility of
sorrow, are a light-hearted people; and this is strictly true. What,
however, is the one fact but a natural consequence of the other? No man
for instance ever possessed a higher order of humor, whose temperament was
not naturally melancholy, and no country in the world more clearly
establishes that point than Ireland. Here the melancholy and mirth are not
simply in a proximate state, but frequently flash together, and again
separate so quickly, that the alternation or blending, as the case may be,
whilst it is felt by the spectators, yet stands beyond all known rules of
philosophy to solve it. Any one at all acquainted with Ireland, knows that
in no country is mirth lighter, or sorrow deeper, or the smile and the
tear seen more frequently on the face at the same moment. Their mirth,
however, is not levity, nor their sorrow gloom; and for this reason none
of those dreary and desponding reactions take place, which, as in France
especially, so frequently terminate in suicide.
The recreations of the Irish were very varied and some of them of a highly
intellectual cast. These latter, however, have altogether disappeared from
the country, or at all events are fast disappearing. The old Harper is now
hardly seen; the Senachie, where he exists, is but a dim and faded
representative of that very old Chronicler in his palmy days; and the
Prophecy-man unfortunately has survived the failure of his best and most
cherished predictions. The poor old Prophet's stock in trade is nearly
exhausted, and little now remains but the slaughter which is to take place
at the mill of Louth, when human blood, and the miller to have six fingers
and two thumbs on each hand, as a collateral prognostication of that
The amusement derived from these persons was undoubtedly of a very
imaginative character, and gives sufficient proof, that had the national
intellect been duly cultivated, it is difficult to say in what position as
a literary country Ireland might have stood at this day. At present the
national recreations, though still sufficiently varied and numerous are
neither so strongly marked nor diversified as formerly. Fun, or the love
of it, to be sure, is an essential principle in the Irish character; and
nothing that can happen, no matter how solemn or how sorrowful it may be,
is allowed to proceed without it. In Ireland the house of death is sure to
be the merriest one in the neighborhood; but here the mirth is kindly and
considerately introduced, from motives of sympathy—in other words,
for the alleviation of the mourners' sorrow. The same thing may be said of
its association with religion. Whoever has witnessed a Station in Ireland
made at some blessed lake or holy well, will understand this. At such
places it is quite usual to see young men and women devoutly
circumambulating the well or lake on their bare knees, with all the marks
of penitence and contrition strongly impressed upon their faces; whilst
again, after an hour or two, the same individuals may be found in a tent
dancing with ecstatic vehemence to the music of the bagpipe or fiddle.
All these things, however, will be found, I trust I may say faithfully
depicted in the following volume—together with many other important
features of our general character; which I would dwell on here, were it
not that they are detailed very fully in other parts of my works, and I do
not wish to deprive them of the force of novelty when they occur, nor to
appear heavy by repetition.
In conclusion, I have endeavored, with what success has been already
determined by the voice of my own country, to give a panorama of Irish
life among the people—comprising at one view all the strong points
of their general character—their loves, sorrows, superstitions,
piety, amusements, crimes, and virtues; and in doing this, I can say with
solemn truth that I painted them honestly, and without reference to the
existence of any particular creed or party.
Ned M'Keown's house stood exactly in an angle, formed by the cross-roads
of Kilrudden. It was a long, whitewashed building, well thatched and
furnished with the usual appurtenances of yard and offices. Like most
Irish houses of the better sort, it had two doors, one opening into a
garden that sloped down from the rear in a southern direction. The barn
was a continuation of the dwelling-house, and might be distinguished from
it by a darker shade of color, being only rough-cast. It was situated on a
small eminence, but, with respect to the general locality of the country,
in a delightful vale, which runs up, for twelve or fourteen miles, between
two ranges of dark, well-defined mountains, that give to the interjacent
country the form of a low inverted arch. This valley, which altogether,
allowing for the occasional breaks and intersections of hill-ranges,
extends upwards of thirty miles in length, is the celebrated valley of the
"Black Pig," so well known in the politico-traditional history of Ireland,
and the legends connected with the famous Beal Dearg.*
* The following extract, taken from a sketch by the author
called "The Irish Prophecy-man," contains a very appropriate
illustration of the above passage. "I have a little book
that contains a prophecy of the milk-white hind an' the
bloody panther, an' a foreboding of the slaughter there's to
be in the Valley of the Black Pig, as foretould by Beal
Derg, or the prophet wid the red mouth, who never was known
to speak but when he prophesied, or to prophesy but when he
"The Lord bless an' keep us!—an' why was he called the Man
with the Red Mouth, Barney?"
"I'll tell you that: first, bekase he always prophesied
about the slaughter an' fightin' that was to take place in
the time to come; an', secondly, bekase, while he spoke, the
red blood always trickled out of his mouth, as a proof that
what he foretould was true."
"Glory be to God! but that's wondherful all out. Well,
"Ay, an' Beal Deig, or the Red Mouth, is still livin'."
"Livin! why, is he a man of our own time?"
"Our own time! The Lord help you! It's more than a thousand
years since he made the prophecy. The case you see is this:
he an' the ten thousand witnesses are lyin' in an enchanted
sleep in one of the Montherlony mountains."
"An' how is that known, Barney?"
"It's known, Every night at a certain hour one of the
witnesses—an' they're all sogers, by the way—must come out
to look for the sign that's to come."
"An' what is that, Barney?"
"It's the fiery cross; an' when he sees one on aich of the
four mountains of the north, he's to know that the same
sign's abroad in all the other parts of the kingdom. Beal
Derg an' his men are then to waken up, an' by their aid the
Valley of the Black Pig is to be set free forever."
"An' what is the Black Pig, Barney?"
"The Prospitarian church, that stretches from Enniskillen to
Darry, an' back again from Darry to Enniskillen."
"Well, well, Barney, but prophecy is a strange thing, to be
sure! Only think of men livin' a thousand years!"
"Every night one of Beal Derg's men must go to the mouth of
the cave, which opens of itself, an' then look out for the
sign that's expected. He walks up to the top of the
mountain, an' turns to the four corners of the heavens, to
thry if he can see it; an' when he finds that he cannot, he
goes back to Beal Derg. who, afther the other touches him,
starts up and axis him, 'Is the time come?' He replies, 'No;
the man is, but the hour is not!' an' that instant
they're both asleep again. Now, you see, while the soger is
on the mountain top, the mouth of the cave is open, an' any
one may go in that might happen to see it. One man it
appears did, an' wishin' to know from curiosity whether the
sogers were dead or livin', he touched one of them wid his
hand, who started up an' axed him the same question, 'Is the
time come?' Very fortunately he said, 'No;' an' that minute
the soger was as sound in his trance as before."
"An', Barney, what did the soger mane when he said. 'The man
is, but the hour is not?'"
"What did he mane? I'll tell you that. The man is
Bonyparty, which manes, when put into proper explanation,
the right side; that is, the true cause. Larned men have
found that out."
That part of it where Ned M'Keown resided was peculiarly beautiful and
romantic. From the eminence on which the house stood, a sweep of the most
fertile meadowland stretched away to the foot of a series of intermingled
hills and vales, which bounded this extensive carpet towards the north.
Through these meadows ran a smooth river, called the Mullin-burn, which
wound its way through them with such tortuosity, that it was proverbial in
the neighborhood to say of any man remarkable for dishonesty, "He's as
crooked as the Mullin-burn," an epithet which was sometimes, although
unjustly, jocularly applied to Ned himself. This deep but narrow river had
its origin in the glens and ravines of a mountain which bounded the vale
in a south-eastern direction; and after sudden and heavy rains it tumbled
down with such violence and impetuosity over the crags and rock-ranges in
its way, and accumulated so amazingly, that on reaching the meadows it
inundated their surface, carrying away sheep, cows, and cocks of hay upon
its yellow flood. It also boiled and eddied, and roared with a hoarse sugh,
that was heard at a considerable distance.
On the north-west side ran a ridge of high hills, with the cloud-capped
peek of Knockmany rising in lofty eminence above them; these, as they
extended towards the south, became gradually deeper in their hue, until at
length they assumed the shape and form of heath-clad mountains, dark and
towering. The prospect on either range is highly pleasing, and capable of
being compared with any I have ever seen, in softness, variety, and that
serene lustre which reposes only on the surface of a country rich in the
beauty of fertility, and improved, by the hand of industry and taste.
Opposite Knockmany, at a distance of about four miles, on the
south-eastern side, rose the huge and dark outline of Cullimore, standing
out in gigantic relief against the clear blue of a summer sky, and
flinging down his frowning and haughty shadow almost to the firm-set base
of his lofty rival; or, in winter, wrapped in a mantle of clouds, and
crowned with unsullied snow, reposing in undisturbed tranquillity, whilst
the loud voice of storms howled around him.
To the northward, immediately behind Cullimore, lies Althadhawan, a deep,
craggy, precipitous glen, running up to its very base, and wooded with
oak, hazel, rowan-tree, and holly. This picturesque glen extends two or
three miles, until it melts into the softness of grove and meadow, in the
rich landscape below. Then, again, on the opposite side, is Lumford's
Glen, with its overhanging rocks, whose yawning depth and silver
waterfall, of two hundred feet, are at once finely and fearfully
contrasted with the elevated peak of Knockmany, rising into the clouds
From either side of these mountains may be seen six or eight country towns—the
beautiful grouping of hill and plain, lake, river, grove, and dell—the
reverend cathedral (of Clogher)—the white-washed cottage, and the
comfortable farm-house. To these may be added the wild upland and the
cultivated demesne, the green sheep-walk, the dark moor, the splendid
mansion, and ruined castle of former days. Delightful remembrance! Many a
day, both of sunshine and storm, have I, in the strength and pride of
happy youth, bounded, fleet as the mountain foe, over these blue hills!
Many an evening, as the yellow beams of the setting sun shot slantingly,
like rafters of gold, across the depth of this blessed and peaceful
valley, have I followed, in solitude, the impulses of a wild and wayward
fancy, and sought the quiet dell, or viewed the setting sun, as he
scattered his glorious and shining beams through the glowing foliage of
the trees, in the vista, where I stood; or wandered along the river whose
banks were fringed with the hanging willow, whilst I listened to the
thrush singing among the hazels that crowned the sloping green above me,
or watched the splashing otter, as he ventured from the dark angles and
intricacies of the upland glen, to seek his prey in the meadow-stream
during the favorable dusk of twilight. Many a time have I heard the simple
song of Roger M'Cann, coming from the top of brown Dunroe, mellowed, by
the stillness of the hour, to something far sweeter to the heart than all
that the labored pomp of musical art and science can effect; or the song
of Katty Roy, the beauty of the village, streaming across the
"Sweet as the shepherd's pipe upon the mountains."
Many a time, too, have I been gratified, in the same poetical hour, by the
sweet sound of honest Ned M'Keown's ungreased cartwheels, clacking, when
nature seemed to have fallen asleep after the day-stir and animation of
rural business—for Ned was sometimes a carman—on his return
from Dublin with a load of his own groceries, without as much money in his
pocket as would purchase oil wherewith to silence the sounds which the
friction produced—regaling his own ears the while, as well as the
music of the cart would permit his melody to be heard, with his favorite
tune of Cannie Soogah.*
* "The Jolly Pedlar,"—a fine old Irish air.
Honest, blustering, good-humored Ned was the indefatigable merchant of the
village; ever engaged in some ten or twenty pound speculation, the capital
of which he was sure to extort, perhaps for the twelfth time, from the
savings of Nancy's frugality, by the equivocal test of a month or six
weeks' consecutive sobriety, and which said speculation he never failed to
wind up by the total loss of the capital for Nancy, and the capital loss
of a broken head for himself. Ned had eternally some bargain on his hands:
at one time you might see him a yarn-merchant, planted in the next
market-town upon the upper step of Mr. Birney's hall-door, where the
yarn-market was held, surrounded by a crowd of eager country-women,
anxious to give Ned the preference, first, because he was a well-wisher;
secondly, because he hadn't his heart in the penny; and thirdly, because
he gave sixpence a spangle more than any other man in the market.
There might Ned be found; with his twenty pounds of hard silver jingling
in the bottom of a green bag, as a decoy to his customers, laughing loud
as he piled the yarn in and ostentatious heap, which in the pride of his
commercial sagacity, he had purchased at a dead loss. Again you might see
him at a horse-fair, cantering about on the back of some sleek but
broken-winded jade, with spavined legs, imposed on him as "a great bargain
entirely," by the superior cunning of some rustic sharper; or standing
over a hogshead of damaged flaxseed, in the purchase of which he shrewdly
suspected himself of having overreached the seller—by allowing him
for it a greater price than the prime seed of the market would have cost
tim. In short, Ned was never out of a speculation, and whatever he
undertook was sure to prove a complete failure. But he had one mode of
consolation, which consisted in sitting down with the fag-end of Nancy's
capital in his pocket, and drinking night and day with this neighbor and
that, whilst a shilling remained; and when he found himself at the end of
his tether, he was sure to fasten a quarrel on some friend or
acquaintance, and to get his head broken for his pains.
None of all this blustering, however, happened within the range of Nancy's
jurisdiction. Ned, indeed, might drink and sing, and swagger and fight—and
he contrived to do so; but notwithstanding all his apparent courage, there
was one eye which made him quail, and before which he never put on the
hector;—there was one, in whose presence the loudness of his song
would fall away into a very awkward and unmusical quaver, and under whose
glance his laughing face often changed to the visage of a man who is
disposed to anything but mirth.
The fact was this: Whenever Ned found that his speculation was gone a
shaughran, (*Gone astray) as he termed it, he fixed himself in some
favorite public house, from whence he seldom stirred while his money
lasted, except when dislodged by Nancy, who usually, upon learning where
he had taken cover, paid him an unceremonious visit, to which Ned's
indefensible delinquency gave the color of legitimate authority. Upon
these occasions, Nancy, accompanied by two sturdy "servant-boys," would
sally forth to the next market-town, for the purpose of bringing home
"graceless Ned," as she called him. And then you might see Ned between the
two servants, a few paces in advance of Nancy, having very much the
appearance of a man performing a pilgrimage to the gallows, or of a
deserter guarded back to his barrack, in order to become a target for the
muskets of his comrades. Ned's compulsory return always became a matter of
some notoriety; for Nancy's excursion in quest of the "graceless" was not
made without frequent denunciations of wrath against him, and many
melancholy apologies to the neighbors for entering upon the task of
personally securing him. By this means her enterprise was sure to get
wind, and a mob of the idle young men and barefooted urchins of the
village, with Bob M'Cann, "a three-quarter clift"* of a fellow—half
knave, half fool, was to be found, a little below the village, upon an
elevation of the road, that commanded a level stretch of half a mile or
so, in anxious expectation of the procession. No sooner had this arrived
at the point of observation, than the little squadron would fall rearward
of the principal group, for the purpose of extracting from Nancy a full
and particular account of the capture.
* This is equal to the proverb—"he wants a square," that
is, though knavish not thoroughly rational; in other words,
a combination of knave and fool. Bob, in consequence of his
accomplishments, was always a great favorite in the village.
Upon some odd occasions he was a ready and willing drudge at
everything, and as strong as a ditch. Give him only a good
fog-meal—which was merely a trifle, just what would serve
three men or so—give him, we say, a fog-meal of this kind,
about five times a day, with a liberal promise of more, and
never was there a Scotch Brownie who could get through so
much work. He knew no fatigue; frost and cold had no power
over him; wind, sleet, and hail he laughed at; rain! it
stretched his skin, he said, after a meal—and that, he
added, was a comfort. Notwithstanding all this, he was
neither more nor less than an impersonation of laziness,
craft, and gluttony. The truth is, that unless in the hope
of being gorged he would do nothing; and the only way to get
anything out of him was, never to let the gorge precede the
labor, but always, on the contrary, to follow it. Bob's
accomplishments were not only varied, but of a very elevated
order, and the means of holding him in high odor among us.
Great and wonderful, Heaven knows, did we look upon his
endowments to be. No man, wise or otherwise, could "hunt the
brock," alias the badger, within a hundred miles of Bob; for
when he covered his mouth with his two hands, and gave forth
the very sounds which the badger is said to utter, did we
not look upon him—Bob—with as much wonder and reverence as
we would have done upon the badger himself? Phup-um-phup—
phup-um-phup—phup-um—phup-um—phup-um-phup. Who but a
first-rate genius could accomplish this feat in such a
style? Bob could crow like a cock, bark like a dog, mew like
a cat, neigh like a horse, bray like an ass, or gobble like
a turkey-cock. Unquestionably, I have never heard him
equalled as an imitator of birds and beasts. Bob's crack
feat, however, was performing the Screw-pin Dance, of which
we have only this to say, that by whatsoever means he became
acquainted with it, it is precisely the same dance which is
said to have been exhibited by some strolling Moor before
the late Queen Caroline. It is, indeed, very strange, but no
less true, that many of the oriental customs are yet
prevalent in the remote and isolated parts of Ireland. Had
the late Mr. O'Brien, author of the Essay on Irish Round
Towers, seen Bob perform the dance I speak of, he would have
hailed him as a regular worshipper of Budh, and adduced his
performance as a living confirmation of his theory. Poor
Bob! he is gone the way of all fools, and all flesh.
"Indeed, childher, it's no wonder for yez to enquire! Where did I get him,
Dick?—musha, and where would I get him but in the ould place,
a-hagur; with the ould set: don't yez know that a dacent place or dacent
company wouldn't sarve Ned?—nobody but Shane Martin, and Jimmy
Tague, and the other blackguards."*
* The reader, here, is not to rely implicitly upon the
accuracy of Nancy's description of the persons alluded to.
It is true the men were certainly companions and intimate
acquaintances of Ned's, but not entitled to the epithet
which Nancy in her wrath bestowed upon them. Shane was a
rollicking fighting, drinking butcher, who cared not a fig!
whether he treated you to a drink or a drubbing, indeed, it
was at all times extremely difficult to say whether he was
likely to give you the drink first or the drubbing
afterwards, or vice versa. Sometimes he made the drubbing
the groundwork for the drink and quite as frequently the
drink the groundwork for the drubbing. Either one or other
you were sure to receive at his hands; but his general
practice was to give both. Shane, in fact, was a good-
humored fellow, well liked, and nobody's enemy but his own.
Jemmy Tague was a quiet man, who could fight his corner,
however, if necessary. Shane,was called Kittogue Shane, from
being left-handed. Both were butchers, and both, we believe,
alive and kicking at this day.
"And what will you do with him, Nancy?"
"Och! thin, Dick, avourneen, it's myself that's jist tired thinking of
that; at any rate, consamin' to the loose foot he'll get this blessed
month to come, Dick, agra!"
"Throth, Nancy," another mischievous monkey would exclaim, "if you hadn't
great patience entirely, you couldn't put up with such threatment, at all
"Why thin, God knows it's true for-you, Barney. D'ye hear that,
'graceless?' the very childhre making a laughing-stock and a may-game of
you!—but wait till we get under the roof, any how."
"Ned," a third would say, "isn't it a burning shame for you to break the
poor crathur's heart this a-way? Throth, but you ought to hould down your
head, sure enough—a dacent woman! that only for her you wouldn't
have a house over you, so you wouldn't."
"And throth, and the same house is going, Tim," Nancy would exclaim, "and
when it goes, let him see thin who'll do for him; let him thry if his
blackguards will stand to him, when he won't have poor foolish Nancy at
During these conversations, Ned would walk on between his two guards with
a dogged-looking and condemned face; Nancy behind him, with his own
cudgel, ready to administer an occasional bang whenever he attempted to
slacken his pace, or throw over his shoulder a growl of dissent or
On getting near home, the neighbors would occasionally pop out their
heads, with a smile of good-humored satire on their faces, which Nancy was
very capable of translating:
"Ay," she would say, addressing them, "I've caught him—here he is to
the fore. Indeed you may well laugh, Kitty Rafferty; not a one of myself
blames you for it.—Ah, ye mane crathur," aside to Ned, "if you had
the blood of a hen in you, you wouldn't have the neighbors braking their
hearts laughing at you in sich a way; and above all the people in the
world, them Rafferty's, that got the decree against us at the last
sessions, although I offered to pay within fifteen shillings of the differ—the
Having seen her hopeful charge safely deposited on the hob, Nancy would
throw her cloak into this corner, and her bonnet into that, with the air
of a woman absorbed by the consideration of some vexatious trial; she
would then sit down, and, lighting her doodeen, (* a short pipe) exclaim—
"Wurrah, wurrah! but it's me that's the heart-scalded crathur with that
man's four quarters! The Lord may help me and grant me patience with him,
any way!—to have my little honest, hard-earned penny spint among a
pack of vagabonds, that don't care if him and me wor both down the river,
so they could get their skinful of drink out of him! No matther, agra,
things can't long be this a-way; but what does Ned care?—give him
drink and fighting, and his blackguards about him, and that's his glory.
There now's the landlord coming down upon us for the rint; and unless he
takes the cows out of the byre, or the bed from anundher us, what in the
wide earth is there for him?"
The current of this lecture was never interrupted by a single observation
from Ned, who usually employed himself in silently playing with "Bunty;" a
little black cur, without a tail, and a great favorite with Nancy; or, if
he noticed anything out of its place in the house, he would arrange it
with great apparent care. In the meantime, Nancy's wrath generally
evaporated with the smoke of the pipe—a circumstance which Ned well
knew; for after she had sucked it until it emitted a shrill, bubbling
sound, like that from a reed, her brows, which wore at other times an
habitual frown, would gradually relax into a more benevolent expression—the
parenthetical curves on each side of her mouth, formed by the irascible
pursing of her lips, would become less marked—the dog or cat, or
whatever else came in her way, instead of being kicked aside, or pursued
in an underfit of digressional peevishness, would be put out of her path
with gentler force—so that it was, in such circumstances, a matter
of little difficulty to perceive that conciliation would soon be the order
of the day. Ned's conduct on these critical occasions was very prudent and
commendable: he still gave Nancy her own way; never "jawed back to her;"
but took shelter, as it were, under his own patience, until the storm had
passed, and the sun of her good humor began to shine out again. Nancy
herself, now softened by the fumes of her own pigtail, usually made the
first overtures to a compromise, but, without departing from the practice
and principles of higher negotiators; always in an indirect manner: as,
"Biddy, avourneen," speaking to her niece, "maybe that crathur," pointing!
to Ned, "ate nothing to-day; you had better, agra! get him the could bacon
that's in the cupboard, and warm for him, upon the greeshaugh, (* hot
embers) them yallow-legs (* a kind of potato) that's in the colindher;
though God he knows it's ill my common (* It's ill-becoming—or it
ill becomes me, to everlook his conduct)—but no matther, ahagur!
There's enough said, I'm thinking—give them to him."
On Ned seating himself to his bacon and potatoes, Nancy would light
another pipe, and plant herself on the opposite hob, putting some
interrogatory to him, in the way of business—always concerning a
third person, and still in a tone of dry ironical indifference: as—
"Did you see Jimmy Connolly on your travels?"
"Humph! Can you tell us if Andy Morrow sould his coult?"
"May be you have gumption enough to know what he got for him?"
"In troth, and it's more nor a poor body would get; but, anyway, Andy
Morrow desarves to get a good price; he's a man that takes care of his own
business, and minds nothing else. I wish that filly of ours was dockt; you
ought to spake to Jim M'Quade about her: it's time to make her up—you
know, we'll want to sell her for the rint."
This was an assertion, by the way, which Ned knew to have everything but
truth in it.
"Never heed the filly," Ned would reply, "I'll get Charley Lawdher (* A
blacksmith, and an honest man) to dock her—but it's not her I'm
thinking of: did you hear the news about the tobacky?"
"No; but I hope we won't be long go."
"Well, any how, we wor in luck to buy in them three last rowls."
"Eh?—in luck? death-alive, how, Ned?"
"Sure there was three ships of it lost last week, on their way from the
kingdom of Swuzerland, in the Aist Indians, where it grows: we can rise it
thruppence a-pound now."
"No, Ned! you're not in airnest?"
"Faith, Nancy, you may say I am; and as soon as Tom Loan comes home from
Dublin, he'll tell us all about it; and for that matther, maybe it may
rise sixpence a-pound; any how we'll gain a lob by it, I'm thinking."
"May I never stir, but that's luck! Well, Ned, you may thank me for that,
any way, or sorra rowl we'd have in the four corners of the house; and you
wanted to persuade me against buying them; but I knew betther—for
the tobacky's always sure to get a bit of a hitch at this time o' the
"Bedad, you can do it, Nancy: I'll say that for you—that is, and
give you your own way."
"Eh!—can't I, Ned? And, what waa betther, I bate down Pether M'Entee
three-ha'pence a-pound afther I bought them."
"Ha! ha! ha!—by my sannies, Nancy, as to market-making, they may all
throw their caps at you, you thief o' the world; you can do them nately!"
"Ha! ha! ha! Stop, Ned; don't drink that water—it's not from the
garden-well. I'll jist mix a sup of this last stuff we got from the
mountains, till you taste it: I think it's not worse nor the last—for
Hugh Traynor's * an ould hand at making it."
* Hugh, who, by the way, is still living, and, I am glad to
hear, in improved circumstances, was formerly in the habit
of making a drop of the right sort.
This was all Ned wanted: his point was now carried; but with respect to
the rising of the tobacco, the less that is said about it the bettor for
Having thus given the reader a slight sketch of Ned and Nancy, and of the
beautiful valley in which this worthy speculator had his residence, I
shall next proceed to introduce him to the village circle, which, during
the long winter nights, might be found in front of Ned's kitchen-fire of
blazing turf, whose light was given back in ruddy reflection from the
bright pewter plates, that were ranged upon the white and well-scoured
dresser in just and gradual order, from the small egg-plate to the large
and capacious dish, whereon, at Christmas and Easter, the substantial
round of corned beef used to rear itself so proudly over the more ignoble
joints at the lower end of the table.
Seated in this clear-obscure of domestic light—which, after all,
gives the heart a finer and more touching notion of enjoyment than the
glitter of the theatre or the blaze of the saloon—might be found
first, Andy Morrow,* the juryman of the quarter-sessions, sage and
important in the consciousness of legal knowledge, and somewhat
dictatorial withal in its application to such knotty points as arose out
of the subjects of their nocturnal debates. Secondly, Bob Gott, who filled
the foreign and military departments, and related the wonderful history of
the ghost which appeared to him on the night after the battle of
Bunker's-hill. To him succeeded Tom M'Roarkin, the little asthmatic
anecdotarian of half the country,—remarkable for chuckling at his
own stories. Then came old M'Kinny, poacher and horse-jockey; little,
squeaking, thin-faced Alick M'Kinley, a facetious farmer of substance; and
Shane Fadh, who handed down, traditions and fairy tales. Enthroned on one
hob sat Pat Frayne, the schoolmaster with the short arm, who read and
explained the newspaper for "old Square Colwell," and was looked upon as
premier to the aforesaid cabinet; Ned himself filled the opposite seat of
One night, a little before the Christmas holidays in the year 18—,
the personages just described were seated around Ned's fire, some with
their chirping pints of ale or porter, and others with their quantum of Hugh
Traynor, or mountain-dew, and all with good humor, and a strong
tendency to happiness, visible in their faces. The night was dark, close,
and misty; so dark, indeed, that, as Nancy said, "you could hardly see
your finger before you." Ned himself was full of fun, with a pint of
porter beside him, and a pipe in his mouth, just in his glory for the
night. Opposite to him was Pat Frayne, with an old newspaper on his knee,
which he had just perused for the edification of his audience; beside him
was, Nancy, busily employed in knitting a pair of sheep's-grey stockings
for Ned; the remaining personages formed a semicircular ring about the
hearth. Behind, on the kitchen-table sat Paddy Smith, the servant-man,
with three or four of the gorsoons of the village about him,
engaged in an under-plot of their own. On the other, a little removed from
the light, sat Ned's two nieces, Biddy and Bessy Connolly, former with
Atty Johnson's mouth within whisper-reach of her ear, and the latter
seated close to her professed admirer, Billy Fulton, her uncle's shopman.*
This group; was completely abstracted from the entertainment which was
going forward in the circle round the fire.
* Each pair have been since married, and live not more
happily than I wish them. Fulton still lives in Ned's house
at the Cross-roads.
"I wondher," said Andy Morrow, "what makes Joe M'Crea throw down that fine
ould castle of his, in Aughentain?"
"I'm tould," said M'Roarkin, "that he expects money; for they say there's
a lot of it buried somewhere about the same building."
"Jist as much as there's in my wig," replied Shane Fadh, "and there's
ne'er a pocket to it yet. Why, bless your sowl, how could there be money
in it, whin the last man of the Grameses that owned it—I mane of the
ould stock, afore it went into Lord Mountjoy's hands—sould it out,
ran through the money, and died begging afther'? Did none of you ever hear
'—— —— —— —— Ould John Grame,
That swally'd the castle of Aughentain?'"
"That was long afore my time," said the poacher; "but I know that the
rabbit-burrow between that and Jack Appleden's garden will soon be run
"Your time!" responded Shane Fadh, with contempt; "ay, and your father's
afore you: my father doesn't remimber more nor seeing his funeral, and a
merry one it was; for my grandfather, and some of them that had a respect
for the family and his forbarers, if they hadn't it for himself, made up
as much money among them as berried him dacently any how,—ay, and
gave him a rousin' wake into the bargain, with lashins of whiskey, stout
beer, and ale; for in them times—God be with them every farmer
brewed his own ale and beer;—more betoken, that one pint of it was
worth a keg of this wash of yours, Ned."
"Wasn't it he that used to appear?" inquired M'Roarkin.
"Sure enough he did, Tom."
"Lord save us," said Nancy, "what could trouble him, I dunna?"
"Why," continued Shane Fadh, "some said one thing, and some another; but
the upshot of it was this: when the last of the Grameses sould the estate,
castle, and all, it seems he didn't resave all the purchase money; so,
afther he had spint what he got, he applied to the purchaser for the
remainder—him that the Mountjoy family bought it from; but it seems
he didn't draw up writings, or sell it according to law, so that the thief
o' the world baffled him from day to day, and wouldn't give him a penny—bekase
he knew, the blaggard, that the Square was then as poor as a church mouse,
and hadn't money enough to thry it at law with him; but the Square was
always a simple asy-going man. One day he went to this fellow, riding on
an ould garran, with a shoe loose—the only baste he had in the world—and
axed him, for God's sake, to give him of what he owed him, if it was ever
so little; 'for,' says he, 'I huve not as much money betune me and death
as will get a set of shoes for my horse.'"
"'Well,' says the nager, 'if-you're not able to keep your horse shod, I
would jist recommend you to sell him, and thin his shoes won't cost you
any thing,' says he.
"The ould Square went away with tears in his eyes,—for he loved the
poor brute, bekase they wor the two last branches of the ould stock."
"Why," inquired M'Kinley, in his small squeaking voice, "was the horse
related to the family?"
"I didn't say he was related to the fam——
"Get out, you shingaun!" (* Fairy-like, or connected to the
fairies) returned the old man, perceiving by the laugh that now went
round, the sly tendency of the question—"no, nor to your family
either, for he had nothing of the ass in him—eh? will you put that
in your pocket, my little skinadhre (* A thin, fleshless, stunted
person.)—ha! ha! ha!"
The laugh was now turned against M'Kinley.
Shane Fadh proceeded: "The ould Square, as I was tellin yez, cried to find
himself an' the poor baste so dissolute; but when he had gone a bit from
the fellow, he comes back to the vagabone—'Now,' says he, 'mind my
words—if you happen to live afther me, you need never expect a
night's pace; for I here make a serous an' solemn vow, that as long as my
property's in your possession, or in any of your seed, breed, or
gineration's, I'll never give over hauntin' you an' them, till you'll rue
to the back-bone your dishonesty an' chathery to me an' this poor baste,
that hasn't a shoe to his foot.'
"'Well,' says the nager, 'I'll take chance of that, any way.'"
"I'm tould, Shane," observed the poacher, "that the Square was a fine man
in his time, that wouldn't put up with sich treatment from anybody."
"Ay, but he was ould now," Shane replied, "and too wakely to fight.—A
fine man, Bill!—he was the finest man, 'cepting ould Square Storey,
that ever was in this counthry. I hard my granfather often say that he was
six feet four, and made in proportion—a handsome, black-a-vis'd man,
with great dark whiskers. Well! he spent money like sklates, and so he
died miserable—but had a merry birrel, as I said."
"But," inquired Nancy, "did he ever appear to the rogue that chated him?"
"Every night in the year, Nancy, exceptin' Sundays; and what was more, the
horse along with him—for he used to come ridin' at midnight upon the
same garran; and it was no matther what place or company the other 'ud be
in, the ould Square would come reglarly, and crave him for what he owed
"So it appears that horses have sowls," observed M'Roarkin,
philosophically, giving, at the same time, a cynical chuckle at the
sarcasm contained in his own conceit.
"Whether they have sowls or bodies," replied the narrator, "what I'm
tellin' you is truth; every night in the year the ould chap would come for
what was indue him; find as the two went along, the noise of the loose
shoe upon the horse would be hard rattlin', and seen knockin' the fire out
of the stones, by the neighbors and the thief that chated him, even before
the Square would appeal at all at all."
"Oh, wurrah!" exclaimed Nancy, shuddering with terror. "I wouldn't take
anything and be out now on the Drumfarrar road*, and nobody with me
*A lonely mountain-road, said to have been haunted. It is on
this road that the coffin scenes mentioned in the Party
fight and Funeral is laid.
"I think if you wor," said M'Kinley, "the light weights and short measures
would be comin' acrass your conscience."
"No, in troth, Alick, wouldn't they; but may be if you wor, the promise
you broke to Sally Mitchell might trouble you a bit: at any rate, I've a
prayer, and if I only repated it wanst, I mightn't be afeard of all the
divils in hell."
"Throth, but it's worth havin', Nancy: where did you get it?" asked
"Hould your wicked tongue, you thief of a heretic," said Nancy, laughing,
"when will you larn anything that's good? I got it from one that
wouldn't have it if it wasn't good—Darby M'Murt, the pilgrim,
since you must know."
"Whisht!" said Frayne: "upon my word, I blieve the old Square's comin' to
pay tis a visit; does any of yez hear a horse trottin' with a shoe loose?"
"I sartinly hear it," observed Andy Morrow.
"And I," said Ned himself.
There was now a general pause, and in the silence a horse, proceeding from
the moors in the direction of the house, was distinctly heard; and nothing
could be less problematical than that one of his shoes was loose.
"Boys, take care of yourselves," said Shane Fadh, "if the Square comes, he
won't be a pleasant customer—he was a terrible fellow in his day:
I'll hould goold to silver that he'll have the smell of brimstone about
"Nancy, where's your prayer now?" said M'Kinley, with a grin: "I think you
had betther out with it, and thry if it keeps this old brimstone Square on
the wrong side of the house."
"Behave yourself, Alick; it's a shame for you to be sich a hardened
crathur: upon my sannies, I blieve your afeard of neither God nor the
divil—the Lord purtect and guard us from the dirty baste!"
"You mane particklarly them that uses short measures and light weights,"
There was another pause, for the horseman was within a few perches of the
crossroads. At this moment an unusual gust of wind, accompanied by
torrents of rain, burst against the house with a violence that made its
ribs creak; and the stranger's horse, the shoe still clanking, was
distinctly heard to turn in from the road to Ned's door, where it stopped,
and the next moment a loud knocking intimated the horseman's intention to
enter. The company now looked at each other, as if uncertain what to do.
Nancy herself grew pale, and, in the agitation of the moment, forgot to
think of her protecting prayer. Biddy and Bessy Connolly started from the
settle on which they had been sitting with their sweethearts, and sprung
beside their uncle, on the hob. The stranger was still knocking with great
violence, yet there was no disposition among the company to admit him,
notwithstanding the severity of the night—blowing, as it really did,
a perfect hurricane. At length a sheet of lightning flashed through the
house, followed by an amazing loud clap of thunder; while, with a sudden
push from without, the door gave way, and in stalked a personage Whose
stature was at least six feet four, with dark eyes and complexion, and
coal-black whiskers of an enormous size, the very image of the Squire they
had been describing. He was dressed in a long black surtout, which him
appear even taller than he actually was, had a pair of heavy boots upon
and carried a tremendous whip, large enough to fell an ox. He was in a
rage on entering; and the heavy, dark, close-knit-brows, from beneath
which a pair of eyes, equally black, shot actual fire, whilst the
Turk-like whiskers, which curled themselves up, as it were, in sympathy
with his fury, joined to his towering height, gave him altogether, when we
consider the frame of mind in which he found the company, an appalling and
almost supernatural appearance.
"Confound you, for a knot of lazy scoundrels," exclaimed the stranger,
"why do you sit here so calmly, while any being craves admittance on such
a night as this? Here, you lubber in the corner, with a pipe in your
mouth, come and put up this horse of mine until the night settles."
"May the blessed mother purtect us!" exclaimed Nancy, in a whisper, to
Andy Morrow, "if I blieve he's a right thing!—would it be the ould
Square? Did you ever set your eyes upon sich a"—
"Will you bestir yourself, you boor, and' not keep my horse and saddle out
under such a torrent?" he cried, "otherwise I must only bring him into the
house, and then you may say for once that you've had the devil under your
"Paddy Smith, you lazy spalpeen," said Nancy, winking at Ned to have
nothing to do with the horse, "why don't you fly and put up the
gintleman's horse? And you, Atty, avourneen, jist go out with him, and
hould the candle while he's doin' it: be quick now, and I'll give you
glasses a-piece when you come in."
"Let them put him up quickly; but I say, you Caliban," added the stranger,
addressing Smith, "don't be rash about him except you can bear fire and
brimstone; get him, at all events, a good feed of oats. Poor Satan!" he
continued, patting the horse's head, which was now within the door,
"you've had a hard night of it, my poor Satan, as well as myself. That's
my dark spirit—my brave chuck, that fears neither man nor devil."
This language was by no means calculated to allay the suspicions of those
who were present, particularly of Nancy and her two nieces. Ned sat in
astonishment, with the pipe in his hand, which he had, in the surprise of
the moment, taken from his mouth, his eyes fixed upon the stranger, and
his mouth open. The latter noticed him, and stretching over the heads of
the circle, tapped him on the shoulder with his whip:—
"I have a few words to say to you, sir," he said.
"To me, your honor!" exclaimed Ned, without stirring, however.
"Yes," replied the other, "but you seem to be fastened to your seat: come
"By all manner of manes, sir," said Ned, starting up, and going over to
the dresser, against which the stranger stood.
When the latter had got him there, he very coolly walked up, and secured
Ned's comfortable seat on the hob, at the same time observing—
"You hadn't the manners to ask me to sit down; but I always make it a
point of conscience to take care of myself, landlord."
There was not a man about the fire who did not stand up, as if struck with
a sudden recollection, and offer him a seat.
"No," said he, "thank you, my good fellows, I am very well as it is: I
suppose, mistress, you are the landlady," addressing Nancy; "if you be,
I'll thank you to bring me a gill of your best whiskey,—your best,
mind. Let it be as strong as an evil spirit let loose, and as hot as fire;
for it can't be a jot too ardent such a night as this, for a being that
rides the devil."
Nancy started up instinctively, exclaiming, "Indeed, plase your honor's
reverence, I am the landlady, as you say, sir, sure enough; but, the Lawk
save and guard us! won't a gallon of raw whiskey be too much for one man
"A gallon! I only said a gill, my good hostess; bring me a gill—but
I forget—I believe you have no such measure in this country; bring
me a pint, then."
Nancy now went into the bar, whither she gave Ned a wink to follow her;
and truly was glad of an opportunity of escaping from the presence of the
visitor. When there, she ejaculated—
"May the holy Mother keep and guard us, Ned, but I'm afeard that's no
Christian crathur, at all at all! Arrah, Ned, aroon, would he be that ould
Square Grame, that Shane Fadh, maybe, angered, by spakin' of him?"
"Troth," said Ned, "myself doesn't know what he is; he bates any mortal I
"Well, hould agra! I have it: we'll see whether he'll drink this or not,
"Why, what's that you're doin'?" asked Ned.
"Jist," replied Nancy, "mixin' the smallest taste in the world of holy
wather with the whiskey, and if he drinks that, you know he can be nothing
* The efficacy of holy water in all Roman Catholic countries,
but especially in Ireland, is supposed to be very great. It
is kept in the house, or, in certain cases, about the
person, as a safeguard against evil spirits, fairies, or
sickness. It is also used to allay storms and quench
conflagrations; and when an Irishman or Irishwoman is about
to go a journey, commence labor or enter upon any other
important undertaking, the person is sure to be sprinkled
with holy water, under the hope that the journey or
undertaking will prosper.
Nancy, however, did not perceive that the trepidation of her hand was such
as to incapacitate her from making nice distinctions in the admixture. She
now brought the spirits to the stranger, who no sooner took a mouthful of
it, than he immediately stopped it on its passage, and fixing his eyes
earnestly on herself, squirted it into the fire, and the next moment the
whiskey was in a blaze that seemed likely to set the chimney in flames.
"Why, my honest hostess," he exclaimed, "do you give this to me for
whiskey? Confound me, but two-thirds of it is water; and I have no notion
to pay for water when I want spirits: have the goodness to exchange this,
and get me some better stuff, if you have it."
He again put the jug to his mouth, and having taken a little, swallowed
it:—"Why, I tell you, woman, you must have made some mistake;
one-half of it is water."
Now, Nancy, from the moment he refused to swallow the liquor, had been
lock-jawed; the fact was, she thought that the devil himself, or old
Squire Graham, had got under her roof; and she stood behind Ned, who was
nearly as terrified as herself, with her hands raised, her tongue clinging
to the roof of her mouth, and the perspiration falling from her pale face
in large drops. But as soon as she saw him swallow a portion of that
liquid, which she deemed beyond the deglutition of ghost or devil, she
instantly revived—her tongue resumed its accustomed office—her
courage, as well as her good-humor, returned, and she went up to him with
great confidence, saying,
"Why, then, your Reverence's honor, maybe I did make a bit of a mistake,
sir"—taking up the jug, and tasting its contents: "Hut! bad scran to
me, but I did, beggin' your honor's pardon; how-an-diver, I'll soon
rightify that, your Reverence."
So saying, she went and brought him a pint of the stoutest the house
afforded. The stranger drank a glass of it, and then ordered hot water and
"My honest friends here about the fire will have no objection to help me
with this; but, on second consideration, you had better get us another
quart, that as the night is cold, we may have a jorum at this pleasant
fire, that will do our hearts good; and this pretty girl here," addressing
Biddy, who really deserved the epithet, "will sit beside me, and give us a
It was surprising what an effect the punch even in perspective, had upon
the visual organs of the company; second-sight was rather its precursor
than its attendant; for, with intuitive penetration, they now discovered
various good qualities in his ghost-ship, that had hitherto been beyond
their ken; and those very personal properties, which before struck them
dumb with terror, already called forth their applause.
"What a fine man he is!" one would whisper, loud enough, however, to be
heard by the object of his panegyric.
"He is, indeed, and a rale gintleman," another would respond in the same
"Hut! he's none of your proud, stingy upsthart bodagahs*—none of
your beggarly half-sirs*," a third would remark: "he's the dacent thing
entirely—you see he hasn't his heart in a thrifle."
* A person vulgar, but rich, without any pretensions but
those of wealth to the character of a gentleman; a churl.
Half-sir; the same as above.
"And so sign's on him," a fourth would add, with comic gravity, "he wasn't
bred to shabbiness, as you may know by his fine behavior and his big
When the punch was made, and the kitchen-table placed endwise towards the
fire, the stranger, finding himself very comfortable, inquired if he could
be accommodated with a bed and supper, to which Nancy replied in the
"Then, in that case," said he, "I will be your guest for the night."
Shane Fadh now took courage to repeat the story of old Squire Graham and
his horse with the loose shoe; informing the stranger, at the same time,
of the singular likeness which he bore to the subject of the story, both
in face and size, and dwelling upon the remarkable coincidence in the time
and manner of his approach.
"Tut, man!" said the stranger, "a far more extraordinary adventure
happened to one of my father's tenants, which, if none of you have any
objection, I will relate."
There was a buzz of approbation at this; and they all thanked his honor,
expressing the strongest desire to hear his story. He was just proceeding
to gratify them, when another rap came to the door, and, before any of the
inmates had time to open it, Father Ned Deleery and his curate made their
appearance, having been on their way home from a conference held in the
town of ——, eighteen miles from the scene of our present
It may be right here to inform the reader, that about two hundred yards
from Ned's home stood a place of Roman Catholic worship, called "the
Forth,"* from the resemblance it bore to the Forts or Baths,
so common in Ireland. It was a small green, perfectly circular, and about
twenty yards in diameter. Around it grew a row of old overspreading
hawthorns, whose branches formed a canopy that almost shaded it from sun
and storm. Its area was encompassed by tiers of seats, one raised above
another, and covered with the flowery grass. On these the congregation
used to sit—the young men chatting or ogling their sweethearts on
the opposite side; the old ones in little groups, discussing the politics
of the day, as retailed by Mick M'Caffry.** the politician; while, up near
the altar, hemmed in by a ring of old men and women, you might perceive a
voteen, repeating some new prayer or choice piece of devotion—or
some other, in a similar circle, perusing, in a loud voice. Dr.
Gallagher's Irish Sermons, Pastorini's History of the Christian Church, or
Columbkill's Prophecy—and, perhaps, a strolling pilgrim, the centre
of a third collection, singing the Dies irae, in Latin, or the
Hermit of Killarney, in English.
* This very beautiful but simple place of worship does not
now exist. On its site is now erected a Roman Catholic
** Mick was also a schoolmaster, and the most celebrated
village politician of his day. Every Sunday found him
engaged as in the text.
At the extremity of this little circle was a plain altar of wood, covered
with a little thatched shed, under which the priest celebrated mass; but
before the performance of this ceremony, a large multitude usually
assembled opposite Ned's shop-door, at the cross-roads. This crowd
consisted of such as wanted to buy tobacco, candles, soap, potash, and
such other groceries as the peasantry remote from market-towns require.
After mass, the public-house was filled to the door-posts, with those who
wished to get a sample of Nancy's Iska-behagh* and many a time has
little Father Ned himself, of a frosty day, after having performed mass
with a celerity highly agreeable to his auditory, come in to Nancy, nearly
frost-bitten, to get his breakfast, and a toothful of mountain dew to
drive the cold out of his stomach.
Usquebaugh—literally, "water of life."
The fact is, that Father Deleery made himself quite at home at Ned's
without any reference to Nancy's saving habits; the consequence was, that
her welcome to him was extremely sincere—"from the teeth out."
Father Ned saw perfectly through her assumed heartiness of manner, but
acted as if the contrary was the case; Nancy understood him also, and with
an intention of making up by complaisance for their niggardliness in other
respects, was a perfect honeycomb. This state of cross-purposes, however,
could not last long; neither did it. Father Ned never paid, and Nancy
never gave credit; so, at length, they came to an open rupture; she
threatened to process him for what he owed her, and he, in return,
threatened to remove the congregation from "The Forth" to Ballymagowan
bridge, where he intended to set up his nephew in the "public line," to
the ruin of Nancy's flourishing establishment.
"Father Ned," said Nancy, "I'm a hardworking, honest woman, and I don't
see why my substance is to be wasted by your Reverence when you won't pay
"And do you forget," Father Ned would reply, "that it's me that brings you
your custom? Don't you know that if I remove my flock to Ballymagowan,
you'll soon sing to another tune? so lay that to your heart."
"Troth, I know that whatever I get I'm obliged to pay for it; and I think
every man should do the same, Father Ned. You must get a hank of yarn from
me, and a bushel or two of oats from Ned, and your riglar dues along with
all; but, avourneen, it's yourself that won't pay a penny when you can
"Salvation to me, but you'd skin a flint!"
"Well, if I would, I pay my debts first."
"Yes, troth, do I."
"Why then that's more than you'll be able to do long, plase the fates."
"If all my customers wor like your Reverence, it is."
"I'll tell you what it is, Nancy, I often threatened to take the
congregation from 'The Forth,' and I'll do it—if I don't, may I
never sup sorrow!"
Big with such a threat, Father Ned retired. The apprehensions of Nancy on
this point, however, were more serious than she was willing to
acknowledge. This dispute took place a few days before the night in
Father Ned was a little man, with a red face, slender legs, and flat feet;
he was usually cased in a pair of ribbed minister's grey small-clothes,
with leggings of the same material. His coat, which was much too short,
rather resembled a jerkin, and gave him altogether an appearance very much
at variance with an idea of personal gravity or reverence. Over this dress
he wore in winter, a dark great-coat, with high collar, that buttoned
across his face, showing only the point, of his red nose; so that, when
riding or walking, his hat rested more upon the collar of his coat than
upon his head.
The curate was a tall, raw-boned young man, with high jutting cheek-bones,
low forehead, and close knees; to his shoulders, which were very high,
hung a pair of long bony arms, whose motions seemed rather the effect of
machinery than volition. His hair, which was a bad black, was cropped
close, and trimmed across his eye-brows, like that of a Methodist
preacher; the small-clothes he wore were of the same web which had
produced Father Ned's, and his body-coat was a dark blue, with black
buttons. Each wore a pair of gray woollen mittens.
"There, Pether," said Father Ned, as he entered, "hook my bridle along
with your own, as your hand is in—God save all here! Paddy Smith, ma
bouchal, put these horses in the stable, till we dry ourselves a bit—Father
Pether and I."
"Musha, but you're both welcome," said Nancy, wishing to wipe out the
effects of the last tift with Father Ned, by the assistance of the
stranger's punch; "will ye bounce, ye spalpeens, and let them to the fire?
Father Ned, you're dhreepin' with the rain; and, Father Pether, avourneen,
you're wet to the skin, too."
"Troth, and he is, Nancy, and a little bit farther, if you knew but all.
Mr. Morrow, how do you do, sir?—And—eh?—Who's this we've
got in the corner? A gintleman, boys, if cloth can make one! Mr. Morrow,
"Indeed, Father Ned, I hav'nt the pleasure of knowing the gintleman
"Well, no matter—come up, Pether. Sir, I have the honor of
introducing you to my curate and coadjutor, the Reverend Pether
M'Clatchaghan, and to myself, his excellent friend, but spiritual
superior, the Reverend Edward Deleery, Roman Catholic Rector of this
highly respectable and extensive parish; and I have further the pleasure,"
he continued, taking up Andy Morrow's Punch, "of drinking your very good
"And I have the honor," returned the stranger, rising up, and diving his
head among the flitches of bacon that hung in the chimney, "of introducing
you and the Rev. Mr. M'—M'—M'——"
"Clatchagan, sir," subjoined Father Ned.
"Peter M'Illclatchagan, to Mr. Longinus Polysyllabus Alexandrinus."
"By my word, sir, but it's a good and appropriate name, sure enough," said
Father Ned, surveying his enormous length; "success to me but you're an
Alexandrine from head to foot—non solum Longinus, sed Alexandrinus."
"You're wrong, sir, in the Latin," said Father Peter.
"Prove it, Peter—prove it."
"It should be non tantum, sir."
"By what rule Pether?"
"Why, sir, there's a phrase in Corderius's Colloquies that I could condimn
you from, if I had the book."
"Pether, you think you're a scholar, and, to do you justice, you're cute
enough sometimes; but, Pether, you didn't travel for it, as I did—nor
were you obliged to lep out of a college windy in Paris, at the time of
the French Revolution, for your larning, as I was: not you, man, you ate
the king's mutton comfortably at home in Maynooth, instead of travelling
like your betters."
"I appale to this gintleman," said Father Peter turning to the stranger.
"Are you a classical scholar, sir—that is, do you understand Latin?"
"What kind?" demanded the stranger dryly.
"If you have read Corderius's Colloquies, it will do," said Father Peter.
"No, sir," replied the other, "but I have read his commentator, Bardolphus,
who wrote a treatise upon the Nasus Rubricundus of the ancients."
"Well, sir, if you did, it's probable that you may be able to understand
our dispute, so"—
"Peter, I'm afeard you've got into the wrong box; for I say he's no
chicken that's read Nasus Rubricundus, I can tell you that; I had
my own trouble with it: but, at any rate, will you take your punch, man
alive, and don't bother us with your Latin?"
"I beg your pardon, Father Ned: I insist that. I'm right; and I'll
convince you that you're wrong, if God spares me to see Corderius
"Very well then, Pether, if you're to decide it to-morrow, let us have no
more of it tonight."
During this conversation between the two reverend worthies, the group
around the fire were utterly astonished at the erudition displayed in this
"Well, to be sure, larnin's a great thing, entirely," said M'Roarkin,
aside, to Shane Fadh.
"Ah, Tom, there's nothing like it: well, any way, it's wonderful what they
"Indeed it is, Shane—and in so short a time, too! Sure, it's not
more nor five or six years since Father Pether there used to be digging
praties on the one ridge with myself—by the same token, an excellent
spadesman he was—and now he knows more nor all the Protestant
parsons in the Diocy."
"Why, how could they know any thing, when they don't belong to the thrue
church?" said Shane.
"Thrue for you, Shane," replied M'Roaran; "I disremimbered that clincher."
This discourse ran parallel with the dispute between the two priests, but
in so low a tone as not to reach the ears of the classical champions, who
would have ill-brooked this eulogium upon Father Peter's agricultural
"Don't bother us, Pether, with your arguing to-night," said Father Ned,
"it's enough for you to be seven days in the week at your disputations.—Sir,
I drink to our better acquaintance."
"With all my heart, sir," replied the stranger.
"Father Ned," said Nancy, "the gintleman was going to tell us a sthrange
story, sir, and maybe your Reverence would wish to hear it, docthor?"
"Certainly, Nancy, we'll be very happy to hear any story the gintleman may
plase to tell us; but, Nancy, achora, before he begins, what if you'd just
fry a slice or two of that glorious flitch, hanging over his head, in the
corner?—that, and about six eggs, Nancy, and you'll have the
priest's blessing, gratis."
"Why, Father Ned, it's too fresh, entirely—sure it's not a week
"Sorra matter, Nancy dheelish, we'll take with all that—just try
your hand at a slice of it. I rode eighteen miles since I dined, and I
feel a craving, Nancy, a whacuum in my stomach, that's rather
"To be sure, Father Ned, you must get a slice, with all the veins in my
heart; but I thought maybe you wouldn't like it so fresh: but what on
earth will we do for eggs? for there's not an egg under the roof with me."
"Biddy, a hagur," said Father Ned, "just slip out to Molshy Johnson, and
tell her to send me six eggs for a rasher, by the same token that I heard
two or three hens cackling in the byre, as I was going to conference this
"Well, Docthor," said Pat Frayne, when Biddy had been gone some time, on
which embassy she delayed longer than the priest's judgment, influenced by
the cravings of his stomach, calculated to be necessary,—"Well,
Docthor, I often pity you, for fasting so long; I'm sure, I dunna how you
can stand it, at all, at all."
"Troth, and you may well wonder, Pat; but we have that to support us, that
you, or any one like you, know nothing about—inward support, Pat—inward
"Only for that, Father Ned," said Shane Fadh, "I suppose you could never
get through with it."
"Very right, Shane—very right: only for it, we never could do.—What
the dickens is keeping this girl with the eggs?—why she might be at
Mr. Morrow's, here, since. By the way, Mr. Morrow," he continued,
laughing, "you must come over to our church: you're a good neighbor, and a
worthy fellow, and it's a thousand pities you should be sent down."
"Why, Docthor," said Andy, "do you really believe I'll go downwards?"
"Ah, Mr. Morrow, don't ask me that question—out of the pale, you
know—out of the pale."
"Then you think, sir, there's no chance for me, at all?" said Andy,
"Not the laste, Andy, you must go this way," said Father Ned, striking the
floor with the butt end of his whip, and winking—"to the lower
raigons; and, upon my knowledge, to tell you the truth, I'm sorry for it,
for you're a worthy fellow."
"Ah, Docthor," said Ned, "it's a great thing entirely to be born of the
true church—one's always sure, then."
"Ay, ay; you may say that, Ned," returned the priest, "come or go what
will, a man's always safe at the long run, except he dies without his
clargy.—Shane, hand me the jug, if you please.—Where did you
get this stuff, Nancy?—faith, it's excellent."
"You forget, Father Ned, that that's a secret.——But here's
Biddy with the eggs, and now you'll have your rasher in no time."
When the two clergymen had discussed the rashers and eggs, and while the
happy group were making themselves intimately acquainted with a fresh jug
of punch, as it circulated round the table—
"Now, sir," said Father Ned to the stranger, "we'll hear your story with
the greatest satisfaction possible; but I think you might charge your
tumbler before you set to it."
When the stranger had complied with this last hint, "Well, gentlemen,"
said he, "as I am rather fatigued, will you excuse me for the position I
am about to occupy, which is simply to stretch myself along the hob here,
with my head upon the straw hassoch? and if you have no objection to that,
I will relate the story."
To this, of course, a general assent was given. When he was stretched
completely at his ease—
"Well, upon my veracity," observed Father Peter, "the gentleman's
"Yes, Pether," replied Father Ned, "but observe his position—Polysyllaba
cuncta supina, as Psorody says.—Arrah, salvation to me but
you're a dull man, afther all!—but we're interrupting the gentleman.
Sir, go on, if you please, with your story."
"Give me a few minutes," said he, "until I recollect the particulars."
He accordingly continued quiescent for two or three minutes more,
apparently arranging the materials of his intended narration, and then
commenced to gratify the eager expectations of his auditory, by emitting
those nasal enunciations which are the usual accompaniments of sleep!
"Why, bad luck to the morsel of 'im but's asleep," said Ned; "Lord pardon
me for swearin' in your Reverence's presence."
"That's certainly the language of a sleeping man," replied Father Ned,
"but there might have been a little more respect than all that snoring
comes to. Your health, boys."
The stranger had now wound up his nasal organ to a high pitch, after which
he commenced again with somewhat of a lower and finer tone.
"He's beginning a new paragraph," observed Father Peter with a smile at
"Not at all," said Father Ned, "he's turning the tune; don't you perceive
that he's snoring 'God save the King,' in the key of bass relievo?"
"I'm no judge of instrumental music, as you are," said the curate, "but I
think it's liker the 'Dead March of Saul,' than 'God save the King;'
however, if you be right, the gentleman certainly snores in a truly loyal
"That," said little M'Roarkin, "is liker the Swine's melody, or the
"The poor gintleman's tired," observed Nancy, "afther a hard day's
"I dare say he is," said Father Ned, in the sincere hospitality of his
country; "at all events, take care of him, Nancy, he's a stranger, and get
the best supper you can for him—he appears to be a truly respectable
and well-bred man."
"I think," said M'Kinley, with a comical grin, "you might know that by his
high-flown manner of sleeping—he snores very politely, and like a
gentleman, all out."
"Well done, Alick," said the priest, laughing; "go home, boys, it's near
bed-time; Paddy, ma bouchal, are the horses ready?"
"They'll be at the door in a jiffy, your Reverence," said Paddy going out.
In the course of a few minutes, he returned, exclaiming, "Why, thin, is it
thinkin' to venthur out sich a night as it's comin' on yer Reverences
would be? and it plashin' as if it came out of methers! Sure the life
would be dhrownded out of both of ye, and yees might colch a faver into
"Sit down, gintlemen," said Ned; "sit down, Father Ned, you and Father
Pether—we'll have another tumbler; and, as it's my turn to tell a
story, I'll give yez something, amuse yez,—the best I can, and, you
all know, who can do more?"
"Very right, Ned; but let us see"—replied father Ned, putting his
head out of the door to ascertain what the night did; "come, pether, it's
good to be on the safe side of any house in such a storm; we must only
content ourselves until it gets fair. Now, Ned, go on with your story, and
let it be as pleasant as possible."
"Never fear, your Reverence," replied Ned—"here goes—and
healths a-piece to begin with."
THE THREE TASKS.
"Every person in the parish knows the purty knoll that rises above the
Routing Burn, some few miles from the renowned town of Knockimdowny,
which, as all the world must allow, wants only houses and inhabitants to
be as big a place as the great town of Dublin itself. At the foot of this
little hill, just under the shelter of a dacent pebble of a rock,
something above the bulk of half a dozen churches, one would be apt to see—if
they knew how to look sharp, otherwise they mightn't be able to make it
out from the gray rock above it, except by the smoke that ris from the
chimbley—Nancy Magennis's little cabin, snug and cosey with its
corrag* or ould man of branches, standing on the windy side of the door,
to keep away the blast. Upon my word, it was a dacent little residence in
its own way, and so was Nancy herself, for that matther; for, though a
poor widdy, she was very punctwell in paying for Jack's schooling,
as I often heard ould Terry M'Phaudeen say, who told me the story. Jack,
indeed, grew up a fine slip; and for hurling, foot-ball playing, and
lepping, hadn't his likes in the five quarters of the parish. It's he that
knew how to handle a spade and a raping-hook, and what was betther nor all
that, he was kind and tindher to his poor ould mother, and would let her
want for nothing. Before he'd go to his day's work in the morning, he'd be
sure to bring home from the clear-spring well that ran out of the other
side of the rock, a pitcher of water to serve her for the day; nor would
he forget to bring in a good creel of turf from the snug little peat-sack
that stood thatched with rushes before the door, and leave it in the
corner, beside the fire; so that she had nothing to do but put over her
hand, without rising off of her sate, and put down a sod when she wanted
*The Corrag is a roll of branches tied together when green
and used for the purposes mentioned the story. It is six
feet high, and much thicker than a sack, and is changed to
either side of the door according to the direction from
which the wind blows.
"Nancy, on her part, kept Jack very clane and comfortable; his linen,
though coorse, was always a good color, his working clothes tidily mended
at all times; and when he'd have occasion to put on his good coat to work
in for the first time, Nancy would sew on the fore-part of each sleeve a
stout patch of ould cloth, to keep them from being worn by the spade; so
that when she'd rip these off them every Saturday night, they would look
as new and fresh as if he hadn't been working in them at all, at all.
"Then when Jack came home in the winter nights, it would do your heart
good to see Nancy sitting at her wheel, singing, 'Stachan Varagah,'
or 'Peggy Na Laveen,' beside a purty clear fire, with a small pot
of murphys boiling on it for their supper, or laid up in a wooden
dish, comfortably covered with a clane praskeen on the well-swept
hearth-stone; whilst the quiet, dancing blaze might be seen blinking in
the nice earthen plates and dishes that stood over against the side-wall
of the house. Just before the fire you might see Jack's stool waiting for
him to come home; and on the other side, the brown cat washing her face
with her paws, or sitting beside the dog that lay asleep, quite happy and
continted, purring her song, and now and then looking over at Nancy, with
her eyes half-shut, as much as to say, 'Catch a happier pair nor we are,
Nancy, if you can.'
"Sitting quietly on the roost above the door, were Dicky the cock, and
half-a-dozen hens, that kept this honest pair in eggs and egg-milk
for the best part of the year, besides enabling Nancy to sell two or three
clutches of March-birds every season, to help to buy wool for Jack's
big-coat, and her own gray-beard gown and striped red and blue petticoat.
"To make a long story short—No two could be more comfortable,
considering every thing. But, indeed, Jack was always obsarved to have a
dacent ginteel turn with him; for he'd scorn to see a bad gown on his
mother, or a broken Sunday coat on himself; and instead of drinking his
little earning in a shebeen-house, and then eating his praties dry, he'd
take care to have something to kitchen* them; so that he was not only snug
and dacent of a Sunday, regarding wearables, but so well-fed and rosy,
that a point of a rush would take a drop of blood out of his cheek.** Then
he was the comeliest and best-looking young man in the parish, could tell
lots of droll stories, and sing scores of merry songs that would make you
split your sides with downright laughing; and when a wake or a dance would
happen to be in the neighborhood, maybe there wouldn't be many a sly look
from the purty girls for pleasant Jack Magennis!
* The straits to which the poor Irish are put for what is
termed kitchen—that is some liquid that enables them to
dilute and swallow the dry potato—are grievous to think of.
An Irishman in his miserable cabin will often feel glad to
have salt and water in which to dip it, but that alluded to
in the text is absolute comfort. Egg milk is made as
follows:—A measure of water is put down suited to the
number of the family; the poor woman then takes the proper
number of eggs, which she beats up, and, when the water is
boiling, pours it in, stirring it well for a couple of
minutes. It is then made, and handed round in wooden
noggins, every one salting for themselves. In color it
resembles milk, which accounts for its name.
Our readers must have heard of the old and well known luxury
of "potatoes and point," which, humorous as it is, scarcely
falls short of the truth. An Irish family, of the cabin
class, hangs up in the chimney a herring, or "small taste" of
bacon, and as the national imagination is said to be strong,
each individual points the potato he is going to eat at it,
upon the principle, I suppose, of crede et habes. It is
generally said that the act communicates the flavor of the
herring or bacon, as the case may be, to the potato; and
this is called "potatoes and point."
** This proverb, which is always used as above, but without
being confined in its application, to only one sex, is a
general one in Ireland. In delicacy and beauty I think it
"In this way lived Jack and his mother, as happy and continted as two
lords; except now and thin, that Jack would feel a little consarn for not
being able to lay past anything for the sorefoot,* or that might
enable him to think of marrying—for he was beginning to look about
him for a wife; and why not, to be sure? But he was prudent for all that,
and didn't wish to bring a wife and small family into poverty and hardship
without means to support them, as too many do.
* Accidents—future calamity—or old age.
"It was one fine, frosty, moonlight night—the sky was without a
cloud, and the stars all blinking that it would delight anybody's heart to
look at them, when Jack was crassing a bog that lay a few fields beyant
his own cabin. He was just crooning the 'Humors of Glynn' to
himself and thinking that it was a very hard case that he couldn't save
anything at all, at all, to help him to the wife, when, on coming down a
bank in the middle of the bog, he saw a dark-looking man leaning against a
clamp of turf, and a black dog, with a pipe of tobacky in his mouth,
sitting at his ase beside him, and he smoking as sober as a judge. Jack,
however, had a stout heart, bekase his conscience was clear, and, barring
being a little daunted, he wasn't very much afeard. 'Who is this coming
down towards us?' said the black-favored man, as he saw Jack approaching
them. 'It's Jack Magennis,' says the dog, making answer, and taking the
pipe out of his mouth with his right paw; and after puffing away the
smoke, and rubbing the end of it against his left leg, exactly as a
Christian (this day's Friday, the Lord stand betune us and harm) would do
against his sleeve, giving it at the same time to his comrade—'It's
Jack Magennis,' says the dog, 'honest Widow Magennis's dacent son.' 'The
very man,' says the other, back to him, 'that I'd wish to sarve out of a
thousand. Arrah, Jack Magennis, how is every tether-length of you?' says
the old fellow, putting the furrawn* on him—'and how is every
bone in your body, Jack, my darling? I'll hould a thousand guineas,' says
he, pointing to a great big bag that lay beside him, 'and that's only the
tenth part of what's in this bag, Jack, that you're just going to be in
luck to-night above all the nights in the year.'
* That frank, cordial manner of address which brings
strangers suddenly to intimacy.
"'And may worse never happen you, Jack, my bouchal,' says the dog, putting
in his tongue, then wagging his tail, and houlding out his paw to shake
hands with Jack.
"'Gintlemen,' says Jack, never minding to give the dog his hand, bekase he
heard it wasn't safe to touch the likes of him—'Gintlemen,' says he,
'ye're sitting far from the fire this frosty night.'
"'Why, that's true, Jack,' answers the ould fellow; 'but if we're sitting
far from the fire, we're sitting very near the makins of it, man alive.'
So, with this, he pulls the bag of goold over to him, that Jack might
know, by the jingle of the shiners, what was in it.
"'Jack,' says dark-face, 'there's some born with a silver ladle in their
mouth, and others with a wooden spoon; and if you'll just sit down on the
one end of this clamp with me, and take a hand at the five and ten,'
pulling out, as he spoke, a deck of cards, 'you may be a made man for the
remainder of your life.'
"'Sir,' says Jack, 'with submission, both yourself and this cur—I
mane,' says he, not wishing to give the dog offence, 'both yourself and
this dacint gintleman with the tail and claws upon him, have the advantage
of me, in respect of knowing my name; for, if I don't mistake,' says he,
putting his hand to his caubeen, 'I never had the pleasure of seeing
either of ye before.'
"'Never mind that,' says the dog, taking back the pipe from the other, and
clapping it in his mouth; 'we're both your well-wishers, anyhow, and it's
now your own fault if you're not a rich man.'
"Jack, by this time, was beginning to think that they might be afther
wishing to throw luck in his way; for he had often heard of men being made
up entirely by the fairies, till there was no end to their wealth.
"'Jack,' says the black man, 'you had better be led by us for this bout—upon
the honor of a gintleman we wish you well: however, if you don't choose to
take the ball at the right hop, another may; and you're welcome to toil
all your life, and die a beggar after.'
"'Upon my reputation, what he says is true, Jack,' says the dog, in his
turn, 'the lucky minute of your life is come: let it pass without doing
what them that wishes your mother's son well desire you, and you'll die in
"'And what am I to do,' says Jack, 'that's to make me so rich all of a
"'Why only to sit down, and take a game of cards with myself says
black-brow, 'that's all, and I'm sure its not much.'
"'And what is it to be for?' Jack inquires; 'for I have no money—tare-nation
to the rap itself's in my company.'
"'Well, you have yourself,' says the dog, putting up his fore-claw along
his nose, and winking at Jack; 'you have yourself, man—don't be
faint-hearted: he'll bet the contents of this bag;' and with that the ould
thief gave it another great big shake, to make the guineas jingle again.
'It's ten thousand guineas in hard goold; if he wins, you're to sarve him
for a year and a day; and if he loses, you're to have the bag.'
"'And the money that's in it?' says Jack, wishing, you see, to make a sure
"'Ev'ry penny,' answered the ould chap, 'if you win it;' and there's fifty
to one in your favor.'
"By this time the dog had gone into a great fit of laughing at Jack's
sharpness about the money. 'The money that's in it, Jack!' says he; and he
took the pipe out of his mouth, and laughed till he brought on a hard fit
of coughing. 'O, by this and by that says he, 'but that bates Bannagher!
And you're to get ev'ry penny, you thief o' the world, if you win it!' but
for all that he seemed to be laughing at something that Jack wasn't up to.
"At any rate, surely, they palavered Jack betune them until he sot down
and consinted. 'Well,' says he, scratching his head, 'why, worse nor lose
I can't, so here goes for one trial at the shiners, any how!'
"'Now,' says the obscure gintleman, just whin the first card was in his
hand, ready to be laid down, 'you're to sarve me for a year and a day, if
I win; and if I lose, you shall have all the money in the bag.'
"'Exactly,' said Jack, and, just as he said the word, he saw the dog
putting the pipe in his pocket, and turning his head away, for fraid Jack
would see him breaking his sides laughing. At last, when he got his face
sobered, he looks at Jack, and says, 'Surely, Jack, if you win, you must
get all the money in the bag; and, upon my reputation, you may build
castles in the air with it, you'll be so rich.'
"This plucked up Jack's courage a little, and to work they went; and how
could it end otherwise than Jack to lose betune two such knowing schamers
as they soon turned out to be? For, what do you think? but, as Jack was
beginning the game, the dog tips him a wink—laying his fore-claw
along his nose as before, as much as to say, 'Watch me, and you'll win'—turning
round, at the same time, and showing Jack a nate little looking-glass,
that was set in his oxther, in which Jack saw, dark as it was, the spots
of all the other fellow's cards, as he thought, so that he was cock-sure
of bating him. But they were a pair of downright knaves any how; for Jack,
by playing to the cards that he saw in the looking-glass, instead of to
them the other held in his hand, lost the game and the money. In short, he
saw that he was blarnied and chated by them both; and when the game was
up, he plainly tould them as much.
"'What?—you scoundrel!' says the black fellow, starting up and
catching him by the collar; 'dare you go for to impache my honor?'
"'Leather him, if he says a word,' says the dog, running over on his
hind-legs, and laying his shut paw upon Jack's nose. 'Say another word,
you rascal!' says he, 'and I'll down you;' with this, the ould fellow
gives him another shake.
"'I don't blame you so much,' says Jack to him; 'it was the looking-glass
that desaved me. That cur's nothing but a black leg!'
"'What looking-glass?—you knave you!' says dark-face, giving him a
"'Why, the one I saw under the dog's oxther,' replied Jack.
"'Under my oxther, you swindling rascal!' replied the dog, giving him a
pull by the other side of the collar; 'did ever any honest pair of
gintlemen hear the like?—but he only wants to break through the
agreement: so let us turn him at once into an ass, and then he'll break no
more bargains, nor strive to take in honest men and win their money. Me a
black-leg!' So the dark fellow drew his two hands over Jack's jaws, and in
a twinkling there was a pair of ass's ears growing up out of his head.
When Jack found this, he knew that he wasn't in good hands: so he thought
it best to get himself as well out of the scrape as possible.
"'Gintlemen, be aisy,' says he, 'and let us understand one another: I'm
very willing to sarve you for a year and a day; but I've one requist to
ax, and it's this: I've a helpless ould mother at home,—and if I go
with you now, she'll break her heart with grief first, and starve
afterwards. Now, if your honor will give me a year to work hard, and lay
in provision to support her while I'm away, I'll serve you with all the
veins of my heart—for a bargain's a bargain.'
"With this, the dog gave his companion a pluck by the skirt, and, after
some chat together that Jack didn't hear, they came back and said that
they would comply with his wishes that far: 'So, on to-morrow twelvemonth,
Jack,' says the dark fellow, 'the dog here will come to your mother's, and
if you follow him he'll bring you safe to my castle.'
"'Very well, your honor,' says Jack; 'but as dogs resemble one another so
much, how will I know him when he comes?'
"'Why,' answers the other, 'he'll have a green ribbon and a spy-glass
about his neck, and a pair of Wellington boots on his hind legs.'
"'That's enough, sir,'says Jack, 'I can't mistake him in that dress, so
I'll be ready; but, jintlemen, if it would be plasing to you both I'd
every bit as soon not go home with these,' and he handled the brave pair
of ears he had got, as he spoke. 'The truth is, jintlemen, I'm deluding
enough without them; and as I'm so modest, you persave, why if you'd take
them away, you'd oblige me!'
"To this they had no objection, and during that year Jack wrought night
and day, that he might be able to lave as much provision with his poor
mother as would support her in his absence; and when the morning came that
he was to bid her farewell, he went down on his two knees and got her
blessing. He then left her with tears in his eyes, and promised to come
back the very minute his time would be up. 'Mother,' says he, 'be kind to
your little family here, and feed them well, as they are all you'll have
to keep you company till you see me again.'
"His mother then stuffed his pockets with bread, till they stuck out
behind him, and gave him a crooked six-pence for luck; after which, he got
his staff, and was just ready to tramp, when, sure enough, he spies his
ould friend the dog, with the green ribbon about his neck, and the
Wellington boots upon his hind legs. He didn't go in, but waited on the
outside till Jack came out. They then set off, but no one knows how far
they travelled, till they reached the dark gintleman's castle, who
appeared very glad to see Jack, and gave him a hearty welcome.
"The next day, in consequence of his long journey, he was ax'd to do
nothing; but in the coorse of the evening, the dark chap brought him into
a long, frightful room, where there were three hundred and sixty-five
hooks sticking out of the wall, and on every hook but one a man's head.
When Jack saw this agreeable sight, his dinner began to quake within him;
but he felt himself still worse, when his master pointed to the empty
hook, saying, 'Now, Jack, your business to-morrow is to clane out a stable
that wasn't claned for the last seven years, and if you don't have it
finished before dusk—do you see that hook?'
"'Ye—yes,' replied Jack, hardly able to spake.
"'Well, if you don't have it finished before dusk, your head will be
hanging on that hook as soon as the sun sets.'
"'Very well, your honor,' replied Jack; scarcely knowing what he said, or
he wouldn't have said 'very well' to such a bloody-minded intention, any
how—-'Very well,' says he, 'I'll do my best, and all the world knows
that the best can do no more.'
"Whilst this discoorse was passing betune them, Jack happened to look at
the upper end of the room, and there he saw one of the beautifullest faces
that ever was seen on a woman, looking at him through a little panel that
was in the wall. She had a white, snowy forehead—such eyes, and
cheeks, and teeth, that there's no coming up to them; and the clusters of
dark hair that hung about her beautiful temples!—by the laws, I'm
afeard of falling in love with her myself, so I'll say no more about her,
only that she would charm the heart of a wheel-barrow. At any rate, in
spite of all the ould fellow could say—heads and hooks, and all,
Jack couldn't help throwing an eye, now and then, to the panel; and to
tell the truth, if he had been born to riches and honor, it would be hard
to fellow him, for a good face and a good figure.
"'Now, Jack,' says his master, 'go and eat your supper, and I hope you'll
be able to perform your task—if not, off goes your head.'
"'Very well, your honor,' says Jack, again scratching it in the hoith of
perplexity, 'I must only do what I can.'
"The next morning Jack was up with the sun, if not before him, and hard at
his task; but before breakfast time he lost all heart, and little wonder
he should, poor fellow, bekase for every one shovelful he'd throw out,
there would come three more in: so that instead of making his task less,
according as he got on, it became greater. He was now in the greatest
dilemmy, and didn't know how to manage, so he was driven at last to such
an amplush, that he had no other shift for employment, only to sing Paddeen
O'Rafferty out of mere vexation, and dance the hornpipe trebling step
to it, cracking his fingers, half mad, through the stable. Just in the
middle of this tantrum, who comes to the door to call him to his
breakfast, but the beautiful crathur he saw the evening before peeping at
him through the panel. At this minute, Jack had so hated himself by the
dancing, that his handsome face was in a fine glow, entirely.
"'I think,' said, she to Jack, with one of her own sweet smiles, 'that
this is an odd way of performing your task.'
"'Och, thin, 'tis you that may say that,' replies Jack; 'but it's myself
that's willing to have my head hung up any day, just for one sight of you,
"'Where did you come from?' asked the lady, with another smile that bate
the first all to nothing.
"'Where did I come from, is it?' answered Jack; 'why, death-alive! did you
never hear of ould Ireland, my jewel!—hem—I mane, plase your
"'No,' she answered; 'where is that country?'
"'Och, by the honor of an Irishman,' says Jack, 'that takes the shine!—not
heard of Erin—the Imerald Isle—the Jim of the ocean, where all
the men are brave and honorable, and all the women—hem—I mane
the ladies—chaste and beautiful?'
"'No,' said she; 'not a word: but if I stay longer I may get you blame—come
in to your breakfast, and I'm sorry to find that you have done so little
at your task. Your roaster's a man that always acts up to what he
threatens: and, if you have not this stable cleared out before dusk, your
head will be taken of your shoulders this night.'
"'Why, thin,' says Jack, 'my beautiful darl—plase your honor's
ladyship—if he Dangs it up, will you do me the favor, acushla
machree, to turn my head toardst that same panel where I saw a sartin
fair face that I won't mintion: and if you do, let me alone for watching a
sartin purty face I'm acquainted with.'
"'What means cushla machree? inquired the lady, as she turned to go
"'It manes that you're the pulse of my heart, avourneen, plase your
ladyship's Reverence,' says Jack.
"'Well,' said the lovely crathur, 'any time you speak to me in future, I
would rather you would omit terms of honor, and just call me after the
manner of your own country; instead, for instance, of calling me your
ladyship, I would be better pleased if you called me cushla—something—'
'Cushla machree, ma vourneen—the pulse of my heart—my
darling,' said Jack, consthering it (the thief) for her, for fraid she
wouldn't know it well enough.
"'Yes,' she replied, 'cushla machree; well, as I can pronounce it, acushla
machree, will you come in to your breakfast?' said the darling, giving
Jack a smile that would be enough, any day, to do up the heart of an
Irishman. Jack, accordingly, went after her, thinking of nothing except
herself; but on going in he could see no sign of her, so he-sat down to
his breakfast, though a single ounce, barring a couple of pounds of beef,
the poor fellow couldn't ate, at that bout, for' thinking of her.
"Well, he went again to his work, and thought he'd have better luck; but
it was still the ould game—three shovelfuls would come in for ev'ry
one he'd throw out; and now he began, in earnest, to feel something about
his heart that he didn't like, bekase he couldn't, for the life of him,
help thinking of the three hundred and sixty-four heads, and the empty
hook. At last he gave up the work entirely, and took it into his head to
make himself scarce from about the old fellow's castle, altogether; and
without more to do, he set off, never saying as much as 'good-bye' to his
master: but he hadn't got as far as the lower end of the yard, when his
ould friend, the dog, steps out of a kennel, and meets him full but in the
"'So, Jack,' says he, 'you're going to give us leg bail, I see; but walk
back with yourself, you spalpeen, this minute, and join your work, or if
you don't,' says he, 'it'll be worse for your health. I'm not so much your
enemy now as I was, bekase you have a friend in coort that you know
nothing about; so just do whatever you are bid, and keep never minding.'
"Jack went back with a heavy heart, as you may be sure, knowing that,
whenever the black cur began to blarney him, there was no good to come in
his way. He accordingly went into the stable, but consuming to the hand's
turn he did, knowing it would be only useless; for, instead of clearing it
out, he'd be only filling it.
"It was near dinner-time, and Jack was very sad and sorrowful, as how
could he be otherwise, poor fellow, with such a bloody-minded ould chap to
dale with? when up comes the darling of the world again, to call him to
"'Well, Jack,' says she, with her white arms so beautiful, and her dark
clusters tossed about by the motion of her walk—how are you coming
on at your task?' 'How am I coming on, is it? Och, thin,' says Jack,
giving a good-humored smile through the frown that was on his face, 'plase
your lady—a cushla machree—it's all over with me; for I've
still the same story to tell, and off goes my head, as sure as it's on my
shoulders, this blessed night.'
"'That would be a pity, Jack,' says she, 'for there are worse heads on
worse shoulders; but will you give me the shovel?' 'Will I give you the
shovel, is it?—Och thin, wouldn't I be a right big baste to do the
likes of that, any how?' says Jack; 'what! avourneen dheelish! to stand up
with myself, and let this hard shovel into them beautiful, soft, white
hands of your own! Faix, my jewel, if you knew but all, my mother's son's
not the man to do such a disgraceful turn, as to let a lady like you take
the shovel out of his hand, and he standing with his mouth under his nose,
looking at you—not myself auourneen! we have no such ungenteel
manners as that in our country.' 'Take my advice, Jack,' says she, pleased
in her heart at what Jack said, for all she didn't purtend it—'give
me the shovel, and depend upon it, I'll do more in a short time to clear
the stable than you would for years.' 'Why, thin, avour-neen, it goes to
my heart to refuse you; but, for all that, may I never see yesterday, if a
taste of it will go into your purty, white fingers,' says the thief,
praising her to her face all the time—'my head may go off, any day,
and welcome, but death before dishonor. Say no more, darling; but tell
your father I'll be to my dinner immediately.'
"Notwithstanding all this, by jingo, the lady would not be put off; like a
raal woman, she'd have her own way; so on telling Jack that she didn't
intend to work with the shovel, at all, at all, but only to take it for a
minute in her hand, at long last he gave it to her; she then struck it
three times on the threshel of the door, and, giving it back into his
hand, tould him to try what he could do. Well, sure enough, now there was
a change; for, instead of three shovelfuls coming in, as before, when he
threw one out, there went nine more along with it. Jack, in coorse,
couldn't do less than thank the lovely crathur for her assistance; but
when he raised his head to speak to her, she was gone. I needn't say,
howsomever, that he went in to his dinner with a light heart and a
murdhering appetite; and when the ould fellow axed him how he was coming
on, Jack tould him he was doing gloriously. 'Remember the empty hook,
Jack,' said he. 'Never fear, your honor,' answered Jack, 'if I don't
finish my task, you may bob my head off anytime.'
"Jack now went out, and was a short time getting through his job, for
before the sun set it was finished, and he came into the kitchen, ate his
supper, and, sitting down before the fire, sung 'Love among the Roses,'
and the 'Black Joke,' to vex the ould fellow.
"This was one task over, and his head was safe for that bout; but that
night, before he went to bed, his master called him upstairs, brought him
into the bloody room, and gave him his orders for the next day. 'Jack,'
says he, 'I have a wild filly that has never been caught, and you must go
to my demesne to-morrow, and catch her, or if you don't—look there,'
says the big blackguard, 'on that hook it hangs, before to-morrow, if you
havn't her at sunset in the stable that you claned yesterday.' 'Very well,
your honor,' said Jack, carelessly, 'I'll do every thing in my power, and
if I fail, I can't help it.'
"The next morning, Jack was out with a bridle in his hand, going to catch
the filly. As soon as he got into the domain, sure enough, there she was
in the middle of a green field, grazing quite at her ase. When Jack saw
this he went over towards her, houlding out his hat as if it was full of
oats; but he kept the hand that had the bridle in it behind his back, for
fraid she'd see it and make off. Well, my dear, on he went till he was
almost within grip of her, cock-sure that he had nothing more to do than
slip the bridle over her neck and secure her; but he made a bit of a
mistake in his reckoning, for though she smelt and snoaked about him, just
as if she didn't care a feed of oats whether he caught her or not, yet
when he boulted over to hould her fast, she was off like a shot with her
tail cocked, to the far end of the demesne, and Jack had to set off hot
foot after here. All, however, was to no purpose; he couldn't come next or
near her for the rest of the day, and there she kept coorsing him about
from one field to another, till he hadn't a blast of breath in his body.
"In this state was Jack when the beautiful crathur came out to call him
home to his breakfast, walking with the pretty small feet and light steps
of her own upon the green fields, so bright and beautiful, scarcely
bending the flowers and the grass as she went along, the darling.
"'Jack,' says she, 'I fear you have as difficult a task to-day as you had
"'Why, and it's you that may say that with your own purty mouth,' says
Jack, says he; for out of breath and all as he was, he couldn't help
giving her a bit of blarney, the rogue.
"'Well, Jack,' says she, 'take my advice, and don't tire yourself any
longer by attempting to catch her; truth's, best—I tell you, you
could never do it; come home to your breakfast, and when you return again,
'just amuse yourself as well as you can until dinner-time.'
"'Och, och!' says Jack, striving to look, the sly thief, as if she had
promised to help him—'I only wish I was a king, and, by the powers,
I know who would be my queen, any how; for it's your own sweet lady—savourneen
dheelish—I say, amn't I bound to you for a year and a day longer,
for promising to give me a lift, as well as for what you done yesterday?'
"'Take care, Jack,' says she, smiling, however, at his ingenuity in
striving to trap her into a promise, 'I don't think I made any promise of
"'You didn't,' says Jack, wiping his face with the skirt of his coat,
''cause why?—you see pocket-handkerchiefs weren't invented in them
times: 'why, thin, may I never live to see yesterday, if there's not as
much rale beauty in that smile that's diverting itself about them
sweet-breathing lips of yours, and in them two eyes of light that's
breaking both their hearts laughing at me, this minute, as would encourage
any poor fellow to expect a good turn from you—that is, whin you
could do it, without hurting or harming yourself; for it's he would be the
right rascal that could take it, if it would injure a silken hair of your
"'Well,' said the lady, with a mighty roguish smile, 'I shall call you
home to your dinner, at all events.'
"When Jack went back from his breakfast, he didn't slave himself after the
filly toy more, but walked about to view the demesne, and the avenues, and
the green walks, and nice temples, and fish-ponds, and rookeries, and
everything, in short, that was worth seeing. Towards dinner-time, howiver,
he began to have an eye to the way the sweet crathur was to come, and sure
enough she that wasn't one minute late.
"'Well, Jack,' says she, 'I'll keep you no longer in doubt:' for the
tender-hearted crathur saw that Jack, although he didn't wish to let an to
her, was fretting every now and then about the odd hook and the bloody
room—'So, Jack,' says she, 'although I didn't promise, yet I'll
perform;' and with that she pulled a small ivory whistle out of her
pocket, and gave three blasts on it that brought the wild filly up to her
very hand, as quick as the wind. She then took the bridle, and threw it
over the baste's neck, giving her up, at the same time, to Jack; 'You
needn't fear now, Jack,' says she, 'you'll find her as quiet as a lamb,
and as tame as you wish; as proof of it, just walk before her, and you
will see she will follow you to any part of the field.'
"Jack, you maybe sure, paid her as many and as sweet compliments as he
could, and never heed one from his country for being able to say something
toothsome to the ladies. At any rate, if he laid it on thick the day
before, he gave two or three additional coats this time, and the innocent
soul went away smiling, as usual.
"When Jack brought the filly home, the dark fellow, his master, if dark
before, was a perfect thunder-cloud this night: bedad, he was nothing less
than near bursting with vexation, bekaise the thieving ould sinner
intended to have Jack's head upon the hook, but he fell short in his
reckoning now as well as before. Jack sung 'Love among the Roses,' and the
'Black Joke,' to help him into better timper.
"'Jack,' says he, striving to make himself speak pleasant to him, 'you've
got two difficult tasks over you; but you know the third time's the charm—take
care of the next.'
"'No matter about that,' says Jack, speaking up to him stiff and stout,
bekase, as the dog tould him, he knew he had a friend in coort—'let's
hear what it is, any how.'
"'To-morrow, then,' says the other, 'you're to rob a crane's nest, on the
top of a beech-tree which grows in the middle of a little island in the
lake that you saw yesterday in my demesne; you're to have neither boat,
nor oar, nor any kind of conveyance, but just as you stand; and if you
fail to bring me the eggs, or if you break one of them,—look here!'
says he, again pointing to the odd hook, for all this discoorse took place
in the bloody room.
"'Good again,' says Jack; 'if I fail I know my doom.'
"'No, you don't, you spalpeen,' says the other, getting vexed with him
entirely, 'for I'll roast you till you're half dead, and ate my dinner off
you after; and, what is more than that, you blackguard, you must sing the
'Black Joke' all the time for my amusement.'
"'Div'l fly away with you,' thought Jack, 'but you're fond of music, you
"The next morning Jack was going round and round the lake, trying about
the edge of it, if he could find any place shallow enough to wade in; but
he might as well go to wade the say, and what was worst of all, if he
attempted to swim, it would be like a tailor's goose, straight to the
bottom; so he kept himself safe on dry land, still expecting a visit from
the 'lovely crathur,' but, bedad, his good luck failed him for wanst, for
instead of seeing her coming over to him, so mild and sweet, who does he
obsarve steering at a dog's trot, but his ould friend the smoking cur.
'Confusion to that cur,' says Jack to himself, 'I know now there's some
bad fortune before me, or he wouldn't be coming acrass me.'
"'Come home to your breakfast, Jack,' says the dog, walking up to him,
'it's breakfast time.'
"'Ay,' says Jack, scratching his head, 'it's no matter whether I do or
not, for I bleeve my head's hardly worth a flat-dutch cabbage at the
"'Why, man, it was never worth so much,' says the baste, pulling out his
pipe and putting it in his mouth, when it lit at once.
"'Take care of yourself,' says Jack, quite desperate,—for he thought
he was near the end of his tether,—'take care of yourself, you dirty
cur, or maybe I might take a gintleman's toe from your tail.'
"'You had better keep a straight tongue in your head,' says four-legs,
'while it's on your shoulders, or I'll break every bone in your skin—Jack,
you're a fool,' says he, checking himself, and speaking kindly to him—'you're
a fool; didn't I tell you the other day to do what you were bid, and keep
"'Well,' thought Jack to himself, 'there's no use in making him any more
my enemy than he is—particularly as I'm in such a hobble.'
"'You lie,' says the dog, as if Jack had spoken out to him, wherein he
only thought the words to himself, 'you lie,' says he, 'I'm not, nor never
was, your enemy, if you knew but all.'
"'I beg your honor's pardon,' answers Jack, 'for being so smart with your
honor, but, bedad, if you were in my case,—if you expected your
master to roast you alive,—eat his dinner of your body,—make
you sing the 'Black Joke,' by way of music for him; and, to crown all,
know that your head was to be stuck upon a hook after—maybe you
would be a little short, in your temper, as well as your neighbors.'
"'Take heart, Jack,' says the other, laying his fore claw as knowingly as
ever along his nose, and winking slyly at Jack, didn't I tell you that you
had a friend in coort—the day's not past yet, so cheer up, who knows
but there is luck before you still?'
"'Why, thin,' says Jack, getting a little cheerful, and wishing to crack a
joke with him, 'but your honor's very fond of the pipe!' 'Oh! don't you
know, Jack,' says he, 'that that's the fashion at present among my tribe;
sure all my brother puppies smoke now, and a man might as well be out of
the world as out of the fashion, you know.'
"When they drew near home, they got quite thick entirely; 'Now,' says
Jack, in a good-humored way, 'if you can give me a lift in robbing this
crane's nest, do; at any rate, I'm sure your honor won't be my enemy. I
know you have too much good nature in your face to be one that wouldn't
help a lame dog over a style—that is,' says he, taking himself up
for fear of offending the other,—'I'm sure you'd be always inclined
to help the weak side.'
"'Thank you for the compliment,' says, the dog; 'but didn't I tell you
that you have a friend in coort?'
"When Jack went back to the lake, he-could only sit and look sorrowfully
at the tree, or walls; about the edge of it, without being able to do
anything else. He spent the whole day this way, till dinner-time, when
what would you have of it, but he sees the darlin' coming out to him, as
fair and as blooming as an angel. His heart, you may be sure, got up to
his mouth, for he knew she would be apt to take him out of his
difficulties. When she came up—
"'Now, Jack,' says she, 'there is not a minute to be lost, for I'm
watch'd; and if it's discovered that I gave you any assistance, we will
both be destroyed.'
"'Oh, murder sheery!' (* Murder everlasting) says Jack, 'fly back,
avourneen machree—for rather than anything should happen you, I'd
"'No,' says she, 'I think I'll be able to-get you over this, as well as
the rest; so have a good heart, and be faithful' 'That's it,' replied
Jack, 'that's it, acushla—my own correcthur to a shaving;
I've a heart worth its weight in bank notes, and a more faithful boy isn't
alive this day nor I'm to yez all, ye darlings of the world.'
"She then pulled a small white wand out of her pocket, struck the lake,
and there was the prettiest green ridge across it to the foot of the tree
that ever eye beheld. 'Now,' says she, turning her back to Jack, and
stooping down to do something that he couldn't see, 'Take these,' giving
him her ten toes, 'put them against the tree, and you will have steps to
carry you to the top, but be sure, for your life and mine, not to forget
any of them. If you do, my life will be taken tomorrow morning, for your
master puts on my slippers with his own hands.'
"Jack was now going to swear that he would give up the whole thing and
surrender his head at once; but when life looked at her feet, and saw no
appearance of blood, he went over without more to do, and robbed the nest,
taking down the eggs one by one, that he mightn't brake them. There was no
end to his joy, as he secured the last egg; he instantly took down the
toes, one after another, save and except the little one of the left foot,
which in his joy and hurry he forgot entirely. He then returned by the
green ridge to the shore, and accordingly as he went along, it melted away
into water behind him.
"'Jack,' says the charmer, 'I hope you forgot none of my toes.'
"'Is it me?' says Jack, quite sure that he had them all—'arrah,
catch any one from my country making a blunder of that kind.'
"'Well,' says she, 'let us see; so, taking the toes, she placed them on
again, just as if they had never been off. But, lo and behold! on coming
to the last of the left foot, it wasn't forthcoming. 'Oh! Jack, Jack,'
says she, 'you have destroyed me; to-morrow morning your master will
notice the want of this toe, and that instant I'll be put to death.'
"'Lave that to me,' says Jack; 'by the powers, you won't lose a drop of
your darling blood for it. Have you got a pen-knife about you? and I'll
soon show you how you won't.'
"'What do you want with the knife?' she inquired.
"'What do I want with it?—Why to give you the best toe on both my
feet, for the one I lost on you; do you think I'd suffer you to want a
toe, and I having ten thumping ones at your sarvice?—I'm not the
man, you beauty you, for such a shabby trick as that comes to.'
"'But you forget,' says the lady, who was a little cooler than Jack, 'that
none of yours would fit me.'
"'And must you die to-morrow, acushla?' asked Jack, in desperation.
"'As sure as the sun rises,' answered the lady 'for Your master would know
at once that it was by my toes the nest was robbed.'
"'By the powers,' observed Jack, 'he's one of the greatest ould vag—I
mane, isn't he a terrible man, out and out, for a father?'
"'Father!' says the darling,—'he's not my father, Jack, he only
wishes to marry me and if I'm not able to outdo him before three days
more, it's decreed that he must.
"When Jack heard this, surely the Irishman must come out; there he stood,
and began to wipe his eyes with the skirt of his coat, making out as if he
was crying, the thief of the world. 'What's the matter with you?' she
"'All!' says Jack, 'you darling, I couldn't find it in my heart to desave
you; for I have no way at home to keep a lady like you, in proper style,
at all at all; I would only bring I you into poverty, and since you wish
to know what ails me, I'm vexed that I'm not rich for your sake; and next,
that that thieving ould villain's to have you; and, by the powers, I'm
crying for both these misfortunes together.'
"The lady could not help being touched and plaised with Jack's tinderness
and ginerosity; so, says she, 'Don't be cast down, Jack, come or go what
will, I won't marry him—I'd die first. Do you go home as usual; but
take care and don't sleep at all this night. Saddle the wild filly—meet
me under the whitethorn bush at the end of the lawn, and we'll both leave
him for ever. If you're willin' to marry me, don't let poverty distress
you, for I have more money than we'll know what to do with.'
"Jack's voice now began to tremble in airnest, with downright love and
tinderness, as good right it had; so he promised to do everything just as
she bid him, and then went home with a dacint appetite enough to his
"You may be sure the ould fellow looked darker and grimmer than ever at
Jack: but what could he do? Jack had done his duty? so he sat before the
fire, and sung 'Love among the Roses,' and the 'Black Joke,' with a
stouter and a lighter heart than ever, while the black chap, could have
seen him skivered.
"When midnight came, Jack, who kept a hawk's eye to the night, was at the
hawthorn with the wild filly, saddled and all—more betoken, she
wasn't a bit wild then, but as tame as a dog. Off they set, like
Erin-go-bragh, Jack and the lady, and never pulled bridle till it was one
o'clock next day, when they stopped at an inn, and had some refreshment.
They then took to the road again, full speed; however, they hadn't gone
far, when they heard a great noise behind them, and the tramp of horses
galloping like mad. 'Jack,' says the darling, on hearing the hubbub, 'look
behind you, and see what's this.'
"'Och! by the elevens,' says Jack, 'we're done at last; it's the dark
fellow, and half the country after us.' 'Put your hand,' says she, 'in the
filly's right ear, and tell me what you find in it.' 'Nothing at all,'
says Jack, 'but a weeshy bit of a dry stick.' 'Throw it over your left
shoulder says she, 'and see what will happen.' Jack did so at once, and
there was a great grove of thick trees growing so close to one another,
that a dandy could scarcely get his arm betwixt them. 'Now,' said she, 'we
are safe for another day.' 'Well,' said Jack, as he pushed on the filly,
'you're the jewel of the world, sure enough; and maybe it's you that won't
live happy when we get to the Jim of the Ocean.'
"As soon as dark-face saw what happened, he was obliged to scour the
country for hatchets and hand-saws, and all kinds of sharp instruments, to
hew himself and his men a passage through the grove. As the saying goes,
many hands make light work, and sure enough, it wasn't long till they had
cleared a way for themselves, thick as it was, and set off with double
speed after Jack and the lady.
"The next day, about' one o'clock, he and she were after taking another
small refreshment of roast-beef and porther, and pushing on, as before,
when they heard the same tramping behind them, only it was ten times
"'Here they are again,' says Jack; 'and I'm afeard they'll come up with us
"'If they do,' says she, 'they'll put us to death on the spot; but we must
try somehow to stop them another day, if we can; search the filly's right
ear again, and let me know what you find in it.'
"Jack pulled out a little three-cornered pebble, telling her that it was
all he got; 'well,' says she, 'throw it over your left shoulder like the
"No sooner said than done; and there was a great chain of high, sharp
rocks in the way of divel-face and all his clan. 'Now,' says she, 'we have
gained another day.' 'Tundher-and-turf!' says Jack, 'what's this for, at
all, at all?—but wait till I get you in the Immerald Isle, for this,
and if you don't enjoy happy days any how, why I'm not sitting before you
on this horse, by the same token that it's not a horse at all, but a filly
though; if you don't get the hoith of good aiting and drinking—lashings
of the best wine and whisky that the land can afford, my name's not Jack.
We'll build a castle, and you'll have upstairs and downstairs—a
coach and six to ride in—lots of sarvints to attend on you, and full
and plinty of everything; not to mintion—hem!—not to mintion
that you'll have a husband that the fairest lady in the land might be
proud of,' says he, stretching himself up in the saddle, and giving the
filly a jag of the spurs, to show off a bit; although the coaxing rogue
knew that the money which was to do all this was her own. At any rate,
they spent the remainder of this day pleasantly enough, still moving on,
though, as fast as they could. Jack, every now and then, would throw an
eye behind, as if to watch their pursuers, wherein, if the truth was
known, it was to get a peep at the beautiful glowing face and warm lips
that were breathing all kinds of fragrancies about him. I'll
warrant he didn't envy the king upon his throne, when he felt the
honeysuckle of her breath, like the smell of Father Ned's orchard there,
of a May morning.
"When Fardorougha (* the dark man) found the great chain of rocks before
him, you may set it down that he was likely to blow up with vexation; but,
for all that, the first thing he blew up was the rocks—and that he
might lose little or no time in doing it, he collected all the gunpowder
and crowbars, spades and pickaxes, that could be found for miles about
him, and set to it, working as if it was with inch of candle. For half a
day there was nothing but boring and splitting, and driving of iron
wedges, and blowing up pieces of rocks as big as little houses, until, by
hard, labor, they made a passage for themselves sufficient to carry them
over. They then set off again, full speed; and great advantage they had
over the poor filly that Jack and the lady rode on, for their horses were
well rested, and hadn't to carry double, like Jack's. The next day they
spied Jack and his beautiful companion, just about a quarter of a mile
"'Now,' says dark-brow, 'I'll make any man's fortune forever that will
bring me them two, either living or dead, but, if possible, alive: so,
spur on, for whoever secures them, man, woman, or child, is a made man,
but, above all, make no noise.'
"It was now divil take the hindmost among the bloody pack—every spur
was red with blood, and every horse smoking. Jack and the lady were
jogging on acrass a green field, not suspecting that the rest were so near
them, and talking over the pleasant days they would spind together in
Ireland, when they hears the hue-and-cry once more at their very heels.
"'Quick as lightning, Jack,' says she, 'or we're lost—the right ear
and the left shoulder, like thought—they're not three lengths of the
filly from us!'
"But Jack knew his business; for just as a long, grim-looking villain,
with a great rusty rapier in his hand, was within a single leap of them,
and quite sure of either killing or making prisoners of them both, Jack
flings a little drop of green water that he got in the filly's ear over
his left shoulder, and in an instant there was a deep, dark gulf, filled
with black, pitchy-looking water between them. The lady now desired Jack
to pull up the filly a bit, that they might see what would become of the
dark fellow; but just as they turned round, the ould nagur set 'spurs to
his horse, and, in a fit of desperation, plunged himself, horse and all,
into the gulf, and was never seen or heard of more. The rest that were
with him went home, and began to quarrel about his wealth, and kept
murdering and killing one another, until a single vagabond of them wasn't
left alive to enjoy it.
"When Jack saw what happened, and that the blood-thirsty ould villain got
what he desarved so richly, he was as happy as a prince, and ten times
happier than most of them as the world goes, and she was every bit as
delighted. 'We have nothing more to fear,' said the darling that put them
all down so cleverly, seeing that she was but a woman; but, bedad, it's
she was the right sort of a woman—'all our dangers are now over, at
least, all yours are; regarding myself,' says she, 'there's a trial before
me yet, and that trial, Jack, depends upon your faithfulness and
"'On me, is it?—Och, then, murder! isn't it a poor case entirely,
that I have no way of showing you that you may depind your life upon me,
only by telling you so?'
"'I do depend upon you,' says she—'and now, as you love me, do not,
when the trial comes, forget her that saved you out of so many troubles,
and made you such a great and wealthy man.'
"The foregoing part of this Jack could well understand, but the last part
of it, making collusion to the wealth, was a little dark, as he thought,
bekase, he hadn't fingered any of it at the time: still, he knew she was
truth to the back-bone, and wouldn't desave him. They hadn't travelled
much farther, When Jack snaps his fingers with a 'Whoo! by the powers,
there it is, my darling—there it is, at long last!'
"'There is what, Jack?' said she, surprised, as well she might, at his
mirth and happiness—'There is what?' says she. 'Cheer up!' says
Jack; 'there it is, my darling,—the Shannon!—as soon as we get
to the other side of it, we'll be in ould Ireland once more.'
"There was no end to Jack's good humor, when he crossed the Shannon; and
she was not a bit displeased to see him so happy. They had now no enemies
to fear, were in a civilized country, and among green fields and well-bred
people. In this way they travelled at their ase, till they came within a
few miles of the town of Knockimdowny, near which Jack's mother lived.
"'Now, Jack,' says she, 'I told you that I would make you rich. You know
the rock beside your mother's cabin; in the east end of that rock there is
a loose stone, covered over with gray moss, just two feet below the cleft
out of which the hanging rowan-tree grows—pull that stone out, and
you will find more goold than would make a duke. Neither speak to any
person, nor let any living thing touch your lips till you come back to me,
or you'll forget that you ever saw me, and I'll lie left poor and
friendless in a strange, country.'
"'Why, thin, manim asthee hu,' (* My soul's within you.) says Jack,
'but the best way to guard against that, is to touch your own sweet lips
at the present time,' says he, giving her a smack that you'd hear, of a
calm evening, acrass a couple of fields. Jack set off to touch the money,
with such speed that when he fell he scarcely waited to rise again; he was
soon at the rock, any how, and without either doubt or disparagement,
there was a cleft of real goolden guineas, as fresh as daisies. The first
thing he did, after he had filled his pockets with them, was to look if
his mother's cabin was to the fore; and there surely it was, as snug as
ever, with the same dacent column of smoke rowling from the chimbley.
"'Well,' thought he, 'I'll just stale over to the door-cheek, and peep in
to get one sight of my poor mother; then I'll throw her in a handful of
these guineas, and take to my scrapers.'
"Accordingly, he stole up at a half bend to the door, and was just going
to take a peep in, when out comes the little dog Trig, and begins to leap
and fawn upon him, as if it would eat him. The mother, too, came running
out to see what was the matter, when the dog made another spring up about
Jack's neck, and gave his lips the slightest lick in the world with its
tongue, the crathur was so glad to see him: the next minute, Jack forgot
the lady, as clane as if he had never seen her; but if he forgot her,
catch him at forgetting the money—not he, avick!—that stuck to
him like pitch.
"When the mother saw who it was, she flew to him, and, clasping her arms
about his neck, hugged him till she wasn't worth three halfpence. After
Jack sot a while, he made a trial to let her know what had happened him,
but he disremembered it all, except having the money in the rock, so he up
and tould her that, and a glad woman she was to hear of his good fortune.
Still he kept the place where the goold was to himself, having been often
forbid by her ever to trust a woman with a sacret when he could avoid it.
"Now everybody knows what changes the money makes, and Jack was no
exception to this ould saying. In a few years he built himself a fine
castle, with three hundred and sixty-four windies in it, and he would have
added another, to make one for every day in the year, only that would be
equal to the number in the King's palace, and the Lord of the Black Rod
would be sent to take his head off, it being high thrason for a subject to
have as many windies in his house as the king. (* Such is the popular
opinion.) However, Jack, at any rate, had enough of them; and he that
couldn't be happy with three hundred and sixty-four, wouldn't desarve to
have three hundred and sixty-five. Along with all this, he bought coaches
and carriages, and didn't get proud like many another beggarly upstart,
but took especial good care of his mother, whom he dressed in silks and
satins, and gave her nice nourishing food, that was fit for an ould woman
in her condition. He also got great tachers, men of great larning, from
Dublin, acquainted with all subjects; and as his own abilities were
bright, he soon became a very great scholar, entirely, and was able, in
the long run, to outdo all his tutherers.
"In this way he lived for some years—was now a man of great larning
himself—could spake the seven langidges, and it would delight
your ears to hear how high-flown and Englified he could talk. All the
world wondered where he got his wealth; but as he was kind and charitable
to every one that stood in need of assistance, the people said that
wherever he got it it couldn't be in better hands. At last he began to
look about him for a wife, and the only one in that part of the country
that would be at all fit for him, was the Honorable Miss Bandbox, the
daughter of a nobleman in the neighborhood. She indeed flogged all the
world for beauty; but it was said that she was proud and fond of wealth,
though, God he knows, she had enough of that any how. Jack, however, saw
none of this; for she was cunning enough to smile, and simper, and look
pleasant, whenever he'd come to her father's. Well, begad, from one thing,
and one word, to another, Jack thought it was best to make up to her at
wanst, and try if she'd accept of him for a husband; accordingly he put
the word to her like a man, and she, making as if she was blushing, put
her fan before her face and made no answer. Jack, however, wasn't to be
daunted; for he knew two things worth knowing, when a man goes to look for
a wife: the first is—that 'faint heart never won fair lady,' and the
second—that 'silence gives consint;' he, therefore, spoke up to her
in fine English, for it's he that knew how to speak now, and after a
little more fanning and blushing, by jingo, she consinted. Jack then broke
the matter to her father, who was as fond of money as the daughter, and
only wanted to grab at him for the wealth.
"When the match was a making, says ould Bandbox to Jack, 'Mr. Magennis,'
says he, (for nobody called him Jack now but his mother)—'these two
things you must comply with, if you marry my daughter, Miss Gripsy:—you
must send away your mother from about you, and pull down the cabin in
which you and she used to live; Gripsy says that they would jog her memory
consarning your low birth and former poverty; she's nervous and
high-spirited, Mr. Magennis, and declares upon her honor that she couldn't
bear the thoughts of having the delicacy of her feeling offinded by these
"'Good morning to you both,' says Jack, like an honest fellow as he was,
'if she doesn't marry me except on these conditions, give her my
compliments, and tell her our courtship is at an end.'
"But it wasn't long till they soon came out with another story, for before
a week passed they were very glad to get him on his own conditions. Jack
was now as happy as the day was long—all things appointed for the
wedding, and nothing a wanting to make everything to his heart's content
but the wife, and her he was to have in less than no time. For a day or
two before the wedding, there never was seen such grand preparations:
bullocks, and hogs, and sheep were roasted whole—kegs of whiskey,
both Roscrea and Innishowen, barrels of ale and beer were there in dozens.
All descriptions of niceties and wild-fowl, and fish from the say;
and the dearest wine that could be bought with money, was got for the
gentry and grand folks. Fiddlers, and pipers, and harpers, in short all
kinds of music and musicianers, played in shoals. Lords and ladies, and
squares of high degree were present—and, to crown the thing, there
was open house to all comers.
"At length the wedding-day arrived; there was nothing but roasting and
boiling; servants dressed in rich liveries ran about with joy and delight
in their countenances, and white gloves and wedding favors on their hats
and hands. To make a long story short, they were all seated in Jack's
castle at the wedding breakfast, ready for the priest to marry them when
they'd be done; for in them times people were never married until they had
laid in a good foundation to carry them through the ceremony. Well, they
were all seated round the table, the men dressed in the best of
broadcloth, and the ladies rustling in their silks and satins—their
heads, necks, and arms hung round with jewels both rich and rare; but of
all that were there that day, there wasn't the likes of the bride and
bridegroom. As for him, nobody could think, at all at all, that he was
ever any thing else than a born gintleman; and what was more to his
credit, he had his kind ould mother sitting beside the bride, to tache her
that an honest person, though poorly born, is company for the king. As
soon as the breakfast was served up, they all set to, and maybe the
various kinds of eatables did not pay for it; and among all this cutting
and thrusting, no doubt but it was remarked, that the bride herself was
behindhand wid none of them—that she took her dalin-trick
without flinching, and made nothing less than a right fog meal of it; and
small blame to her for that same, you persave.
"When the breakfast was over, up gets Father Flannagan—out with his
book, and on with his stole, to marry them. The bride and bridegroom went
up to the end of the room, attended by their friends, and the rest of the
company stood on each side of it, for you see they were too high bred, and
knew their manners too well, to stand in a crowd like spalpeens. For all
that, there was many a sly look from the ladies to their bachelors, and
many a titter among them, grand as they were; for, to tell the truth, the
best of them likes to see fun in the way, particularly of that sort. The
priest himself was in as great a glee as any of them, only he kept it
under, and well he might, for sure enough this marriage was nothing less
than a rare windfall to him and the parson that was to marry them after
him—bekase you persave a Protestant and Catholic must be married by
both, otherwise it does not hould good in law. The parson was as grave as
a mustard-pot, and Father Flannagan called the bride and bridegroom his
childher, which was a big bounce for him to say the likes of, more betoken
that neither of them was a drop's blood to him.
"However, he pulled out the book, and was just beginning to buckle them
when in comes Jack's ould acquaintance, the smoking cur, as grave as ever.
The priest had just got through two or three words of Latin, when the dog
gives him a pluck by the sleeve; Father Flannagan, of coorse, turned round
to see who it was that nudged him: 'Behave yourself,' says the dog
to him, just as he peeped over his shoulder—-'behave yourself,' says
he; and with that he sat him down on his hunkers beside the priest, and
pulling a cigar instead of a pipe out of his pocket, he put it in his
mouth, and began to smoke for the bare life of him. And, by my own word,
it's he that could smoke: at times he would shoot the smoke in a slender
stream like a knitting-needle, with a round curl at the one end of it,
ever so far out of the right side of his mouth; then he would shoot it out
of the left, and sometimes make it swirl out so beautiful from the middle
of his lips!—why, then, it's he that must have been the well-bred
puppy all out, as far as smoking went. Father Flannagan and they all were
"'In the name of St. Anthony, and of that holy nun, St. Teresa,' said his
Reverence to him, 'who and what are you, at all at all?'
"'Never mind that,' says the dog, taking the cigar for a minute between
his claws; 'but if you wish particularly to know, I'm a thirty-second
cousin of your own by the mother's side.'
"'I command you in the name of all the saints,' says Father Flarmagan,
believing him to be the devil, 'to disappear from among us, and never
become visible to any one in this house again.'
"'The sorra a budge, at the present time, will I budge,' says the dog to
him, 'until I see all sides rightified, and the rogues disappointed.'
"Now one would be apt to think the appearance of a spaking dog
might be after fright'ning the ladies; but doesn't all the world know that
spaking puppies are their greatest favorites? Instead of that, you
see, there was half a dozen fierce-looking whiskered fellows, and three or
four half-pay officers, that were nearer making off than the ladies. But,
besides the cigar, the dog had his beautiful eye-glass, and through it,
while he was spaking to Father Flannigan, he ogled all the ladies, one
after another, and when his eye would light upon any that pleased him, he
would kiss his paw to her and wag his tail with the greatest politeness.
"'John,' says Father Flannagan, to one of the servants, 'bring me salt and
water, till I consecrate them* to banish the divil, for he has appeared to
us all during broad daylight in the shape of a dog.'
* Salt and water consecrated by a particular form is Holy Water.
"'You had better behave yourself, I say again,' says the dog, 'or if you
make me speak, by my honor as a gintleman I'll expose you: I say you won't
marry the same two, neither this nor any other day, and I'll give you my
raisons presently; but I repate it, Father Flannagan, if you compel me to
speak, I'll make you look nine ways at once.'
"'I defy you, Satan,' says the priest; 'and if you don't take yourself
away before the holy watcher's made, I'll send you off in a flame of
"'Oh! yes, I'm trimbling,' says the dog: 'plenty of spirits you laid in
your day, but it was in a place that's nearer to us than the Red Sea, you
did it: listen to me though, for I don't wish to expose you, as I said;'
so he gets on his hind legs, puts his nose to the priest's ear, and
whispers something that none of the rest could hear—all before the
priest had time to know where he was. At any rate, whatever he said seemed
to make his Reverence look double, though, faix, that wasn't hard to do,
for he was as big as two common men. When the dog was done speaking, and
had put his cigar in his mouth, the priest seemed thundherstruck, crossed
himself, and was, no doubt of it, in great perplexity.
"'I say it's false,' says Father Flannagan, plucking up his courage; 'but
you know you're a liar, and the father of liars.'
"'As thrue as gospel, this bout, I tell you,' says the dog.
"'Wait till I make my holy wather,' says the priest, 'and if I don't cork
you in a thumb-bottle for this,* I'm not here.'
* According to the superstitious belief of the Irish, a
priest, when banishing a spirit, puts it into a thumb-
bottle, which he either buries deep in the earth, or in some
"Just at this minute, the whole company sees a gintleman galloping for the
bare life of him, up to the hall-door, and he dressed like an officer. In
three jiffeys he was down off his horse, and in among the company. The
dog, as soon as he made his appearance, laid his claw as usual on his
nose, and gave the bridegroom a wink, as much as to say, 'watch what'll
"Now it was very odd that Jack, during all this time, remembered the dog
very well, but could never once think of the darling that did so much for
him. As soon, however, as the officer made his appearance, the bride
seemed as if she would sink outright; and when he walked up to her, to ax
what was the meaning of what he saw, why, down she drops at once—fainted
clane. The gintleman then went up to Jack, and says, 'Sir, was this lady
about to be married to you?'
"'Sartinly,' says Jack, 'we were going to be yoked in the blessed and holy
tackle of mathrimony;' or some high-flown words of that kind.
"'Well, sir,' says the other back to him, 'I can only say that she is most
solemniously sworn never to marry another man but me at a time; that oath
she tuck when I was joining my regiment before it went abroad; and if the
ceremony of your marriage be performed, you will sleep with a perjured
"Begad, he did plump before all their faces. Jack, of coorse, was struck
all of aghape at this; but as he had the bride in his arms, giving her a
little sup of whiskey to bring her to, you persave, he couldn't make him
an answer. However, she soon came to herself, and, on opening her eyes,
'Oh, hide me, hide me,' says she, 'for I can't bear to look on him!'
"'He says you are his sworn bride, my darling,' says Jack.
"'I am—I am,' says she, covering her eyes, and crying away at the
rate of a wedding: 'I can't deny it; and, by tare-an-ounty!' says she,
'I'm unworthy to be either his wife or yours; for, except I marry you
both, I dunna how to settle this affair between you at all;—oh,
murther sheery! but I'm the misfortunate crathur, entirely.'
"'Well,' says Jack to the officer, 'nobody can do more than be sorry for a
wrong turn; small blame to her for taking a fancy to your humble servant,
Mr. Officer,'—and he stood as tall as possible to show himself off:
'you see the fair lady is sorrowful for her folly, so as it's not yet too
late, and as you came in the nick of time, in the name of Providence take
my place, and let the marriage go an.'
"'No,' says she, 'never; I'm not worthy of him, at all, at all;
thundher-an-age, but I'm the unlucky thief!'
"While this was going forward, the officer looked closely at Jack, and
seeing him such a fine, handsome fellow, and having heard before of his
riches, he began to think that, all things considhered, she wasn't so much
to be blempt. Then, when he saw how sorry she was for having forgot
him, he steps forrid.
"'Well,' says he, 'I'm still willing to marry you, particularly as you
"He should have said contrition, confession, and satisfaction," observed
"Pettier, will you keep your theology to yourself," replied Father Ned,
"and let us come to the plot without interruption."
"Plot!" exclaimed Father Peter; "I'm sure it's no rebellion that there
should be a plot in it, any way!"
"Tace," said Father Ned—"tace, and that's Latin for a
"I deny that," said the curate; "tace is the imperative mood from tacco,
to keep silent. Tacco, taces, tacui, tacere, tacendi, tacendo tac—"
"Ned, go on with your story, and never mind that deep larning of his—he's
almost cracked with it," said the superior: "go on, and never mind him."
"'Well,' says he, 'I'm still willing to marry you, particularly as you
feel conthrition for what you were going to do.' So, with this, they all
gother about her, and, as the officer was a fine fellow himself, prevailed
upon her to let the marriage be performed, and they were accordingly
spliced as fast as his Reverence could make them.
"'Now, Jack,' says the dog, 'I want to spake with you for a minute—it's
a word for your own ear;' so up he stands on his two hind legs, and
purtinded to be whisp'ring something to him; but what do you think?—he
gives him the slightest touch on the lips with his paw, and that instant
Jack remimbered the lady and everything that happened betune them.
"'Tell me, this instant,' says Jack, seizing him by the throat, 'where's
the darling, at all, at all, or by this and by that you'll hang on the
"Jack spoke finer nor this, to be sure, but as I can't give his tall
English, the sorra one of me will bother myself striving to do it.
"'Behave yourself,' says the dog, 'just say nothing, only follow me.'
"Accordingly, Jack went out with the dog, and in a few minutes comes in
again, leading along with him, on the one side, the loveliest lady that
ever eye beheld, and the dog, that was her brother, metamurphied into a
beautiful, illegant gintleman, on the other.
"'Father Flannagan,' says Jack, 'you thought a little while ago you'd have
no marriage, but instead of that you'll have a brace of them;' up and
telling the company, at the same time, all that had happened to him, and
how the beautiful crathur that he had brought in with him had done so much
"Whin the gintlemen heard this, as they Were all Irishmen, you may be sure
there was nothing but huzzaing and throwing up of hats from them, and
waving of hankerchers from the ladies. Well, my dear, the wedding dinner
was ate in great style; the nobleman proved himself no disgrace to his
rank at the trencher; and so, to make a long story short, such faisting
and banquetteering was never since or before. At last, night came; among
ourselves, not a doubt of it, but Jack thought himself a happy man; and
maybe, if all was known, the bride was much in the same opinion: be that
as it may, night came—the bride, all blushing, beautiful, and modest
as your own sweetheart, was getting tired after the dancing; Jack, too,
though much stouter, wished for a trifle of repose, and many thought it
was near time to throw the stocking, as is proper, of coorse, on every
occasion of the kind. Well, he was just on his way up stairs, and had
reached the first landing, when he hears a voice at his ear, shouting,
'Jack—Jack—Jack Magennis!' Jack could have spitted anybody for
coming to disturb him at such a criticality. 'Jack Magennis!' says the
voice. Jack looked about to see who it was that called him, and there he
found himself lying on the green Rath, a little above his mother's cabin,
of a fine, calm summer's evening, in the month of June. His mother was
stooping over him, with her mouth at his ear, striving to waken him, by
shouting and shaking him out of his sleep.
"'Oh! by this and by that, mother,' says Jack, 'what did you waken me
"'Jack, avourneen,' says the mother, 'sure and you war lying grunting, and
groaning, and snifthering there, for all the world as if you had the
cholic, and I only nudged you for fraid you war in pain.'
"'I wouldn't for a thousand guineas,' says Jack, 'that ever you wakened
me, at all, at all; but whisht, mother, go into the house, and I'll be
afther you in less than no time.'
"The mother went in, and the first thing Jack did was to try the rock;
and, sure enough, there he found as much money as made him the richest man
that ever was in the country. And what was to his credit, when, he did
grow rich, he wouldn't let his cabin be thrown down, but built a fine
castle on a spot near it, where he could always have it under his eye, to
prevent him from getting proud. In the coorse of time, a harper, hearing
the story, composed a tune upon it, which every body knows is called the
'Little House under the Hill' to this day, beginning with—
'Hi for it, ho for it, hi for it still;
Och, and whoo! your sowl—hi for the little house under the hill!'
"So you see that was the way the great Magennisses first came by their
wealth, and all because Jack was indistrious, and an obadient, dutiful,
and tindher son to his helpless ould mother, and well he deserved what he
got, ershi misha (* Say I.) Your healths, Father Ned—Father
Pether—all kinds of happiness to us; and there's my story."
"Well," said Father Peter, "I think that dog was nothing more or less than
a downright cur, that deserved the lash nine times a day, if it was only
for his want of respect to the clergy; if he had given me such insolence,
I solemnly declare I would have bate the devil out of him with a hazel
cudgel, if I failed to exorcise him with a prayer."
Father Ned looked at the simple and credulous curate with an expression of
humor and astonishment.
"Paddy," said he to the servant, "will you let us know what the night's
Paddy looked out. "Why, your Rev'rence, it's a fine night, all out, and
cleared up it is bravely."
At this moment the stranger awoke.
"Sir," said Father Ned, "you missed an amusing story, in consequence of
"Though I missed the story," replied the stranger, "I was happy enough to
hear your friend's critique upon the dog."
Father Ned seemed embarrassed; the curate, on the contrary, exclaimed with
triumph—"but wasn't I right, sir?"
"Perfectly," said the stranger; "the moral you applied was excellent."
"Good-night, boys," said Father Ned—"good-night, Mr. Longinus
"Good-night, boys," said Father Peter, imitating Father Ned, whom he
looked upon as a perfect model of courtesy—"Good-night, boys—good
night, Mr. Longinus Polysyllabus Alexandrinus."
"Good-night," replied the stranger—"good-night, Doctor Edward
Deleery; and good-night, Doctor Peter M'Clatchaghan—good-night."
When the clergymen were gone, the circle about the fire, excepting the
members of Ned's family and the stranger, dispersed to their respective
homes; and thus ended the amusement of that evening.
After they had separated, Ned, whose curiosity respecting the stranger was
by no means satisfied, began to sift him in his own peculiar manner, as
they both sat at the fire.
"Well, sir," said Ned, "barring the long play-acther that tumbles upon the
big stage in the street of our market-town, here below, I haven't seen so
long a man this many a day; and, barring your big whiskers, the sorra one
of your honor's unlike him. A fine portly vagabone he is, indeed—a
big man, and a bigger rogue, they say, for he pays nobody."
"Have you got such a company in your neighborhood?" inquired the stranger,
"We have, sir," said Ned, "but, plase goodness, they'll soon be lashed
like hounds from the place—the town boys are preparing to give them
a chivey some fine morning out of the country."
"Indeed!—he—hem! that will be very spirited of the town boys,"
said the stranger dryly.
"That's a smart looking horse your honor rides," observed Ned; "did he
carry you far to-day, with submission?"
"Not far," replied his companion—"only fourteen miles; but, I
suppose, the fact is, you wish to know who and what I am, where I came
from and whither I am going. Well, you shall know this. In the first
place, I am agent to Lord Non Resident's estate, if you ever heard of that
nobleman, and am on my way from Castle Ruin, the seat of his Lordship's
Incumbrances, to Dublin. My name you have already heard. Are you now
"Parfitly, your honor," replied Ned, "and I am much obliged to you, sir."
"I trust you are an honest man," said the stranger, "because for this
night I am about to place great confidence in you."
"Well, sir," said his landlord, "if I turn out dishonest to you, it's more
nor I did in my whole life to any body else, barring to Nancy."
"Here, then," said the stranger, drawing out a large packet, inclosed in a
roll of black leather—"here is the half year's rent of the estate,
together with my own property: keep it secure till morning, when I shall
demand it, and, of course, it will be safe?"
"As if it was five fadom, under ground," replied Ned. "I will put
it along with our own trifle of silver; and after that, let Nancy alone
for keeping it safe, so long as it's there;" saying which, Ned secured the
packet, and showed the stranger his bed.
About five o'clock the next morning their guest was up, and ordered a
snack in all haste; "Being a military man," said he, "and accustomed to
timely hours, I shall ride down to the town, and put a letter into the
post-office in time for the Dublin mail, after which you may expect me to
breakfast. But, in the meantime, I am not to go with empty pockets," he
added; when mounting his horse at the door—"bring me some silver,
landlord, and be quick."
"How much, plase your honor?"
"Twenty or thirty shillings; but, harkee, produce my packet, that I may be
quite certain my property is safe."
"Here it is, your honor, safe and sound," replied Ned, returning from
within; "and Nancy, sir, has sent you all the silver she has, which was
One Pound Five; but I'd take it as a favor if your honor would be contint
with twenty shillings, and lave me the odd five, for you see the case is
this, sir, plase your honor, she," and Ned, with a shrewd, humorous
nod, pointed with his thumb over his shoulder, as he spoke— "she
wears the —— what you know, sir."
"Ay, I thought so," replied the stranger; "but a man of your size to be
henpecked must be a great knave, otherwise your wife would allow you more
liberty. Go in, man; you deserve no compassion in such an age of freedom
as this. I sha'n't give you a farthing till after my return, and only then
if it be agreeable to your wife."*
* Ned M'Keown was certainly a very remarkable individual,
and became, in consequence of his appearance in these pages,
a person of considerable notoriety during the latter years
of his life. His general character, and the nature of his
unsuccessful speculations, I have drawn with great truth.
There is only one point alone in which I have done him
injustice, and that is in depicting him as a henpecked
husband. The truth is, I had a kind of good humored pique in
against Ned, and for the following reasons:—The cross-roads
at which he lived formed a central point for all the
youngsters of the neighborhood to assemble for the purpose
of practising athletic exercises, of which I, in my youth,
was excessively fond. Now Ned never would suffer me to join
my young acquaintances in these harmless and healthful
sports, but on every occasion, whenever he saw me, he would
run out with,a rod or cudgel and chase me from the scene of
amusement. This, to a boy so enthusiastically devoted to
such diversions as I was, often occasioned me to give him
many a hearty malediction when at a safe distance. In fact,
he continued this practice until I became too much of a man
to run away, after which he durst only growl and mutter
abuse, whilst I snapped my fingers at him. For this reason,
then, and remembering all the vexatious privations of my
favorite sports which he occasioned me, I resolved to turn
the laugh against him, which I did effectually, by bringing
him out in the character of a hen-pecked husband, which was
indeed very decidedly opposed to his real one. My triumph
was complete, and Ned, on hearing himself read of "in a
book," waxed indignant and wrathful. In speaking of me he
could not for the life of him express any other idea of my
age and person than that by which he last remembered me.
"What do you think?" he would exclaim, "there's that young
Carleton has put me in a book, and made Nancy leather me!"
Ned survived Nancy several years, and married another wife,
whom I never saw. About twenty-five years ago he went to
America, where he undertook to act as a tanner, and nearly
ruined his employer. After some time he returned, home, and
was forced to mend roads. Towards the close of his life,
however, he contrived to get an ass and cart, and became
egg-merchant, but I believe with his usual success. In this
last capacity, I think about two years ago, he withdrew from
all his cares and speculations, and left behind him the
character of an honest, bustlin, good-humored man, whom
everybody knew and everybody liked, and whose harmless
eccentricities many will long remember with good-humor and
"Murdher!" said Ned, astonished, "I beg your honor's pardon; but murdher
alive, sir, where's your whiskers?"
The stranger put his hand hastily to his face, and smiled—"Where are
my whiskers? Why, shaved off, to be sure," he replied; and setting spurs
to his horse, was soon out of sight and hearing.
It was nearly a month after that, when Ned and Nancy, in presence of
Father Deleery, opened the packet, and. discovered, not the half-year's
rent of Lord Non-Resident's estate, but a large sheaf of play-bills packed
up together—their guest having been the identical person to whom Ned
affirmed he bore so strong a resemblance.
SHANE FADH'S WEDDING.
On the following evening, the neighbors were soon assembled about Ned's
hearth in the same manner as on the night preceding:—And we may
observe, by the way, that though there was a due admixture of opposite
creeds and conflicting principles, yet even then, and the time is not so
far back, such was their cordiality of heart and simplicity of manners
when contrasted with the bitter and rancorous spirit of the present day
that the very remembrance of the harmony in which they lived is at once
pleasing and melancholy.
After some preliminary chat, "Well Shane," said Andy Morrow, addressing
Shane Fadh, "will you give us an account of your wedding? I'm tould it was
the greatest let-out that ever was in the country, before or since."
"And you may say that, Mr. Morrow," said Shane, "I was at many a wedding
myself, but never at the likes of my own, barring Tim Lannigan's, that
married Father Corrigan's niece."
"I believe," said Andy, "that, too, was a dashing one; however, it's your
own we want. Come, Nancy, fill these measures again, and let us be
comfortable, at all events, and give Shane a double one, for talking's
druthy work:—I'll stand this round."
When the liquor was got in, Shane, after taking a draught, laid down his
pint, pulled out his steel tobacco-box, and, after twisting off a chew
between his teeth, closed the box, and commenced the story of his wedding.
"When I was a Brine-Oge,"* said Shane, "I was as wild as an unbroken cowlt—no
divilment was too hard for me; and so sign's on it, for there wasn't a
piece of mischief done in the parish, but was laid at my door—and
the dear knows I had enough of my own to answer for, let alone to be set
down for that of other people; but, any way, there was many a thing done
in my name, when I knew neither act nor part about it. One of them I'll
mintion: Dick Cuillenan, father to Paddy, that lives at the crass-roads,
beyant Gunpowdher Lodge, was over head and ears in love with Jemmy
Finigan's eldest daughter, Mary, then, sure enough, as purty a girl as
you'd meet in a fair—indeed, I think I'm looking at her, with her
fair flaxen ringlets hanging over her shoulders, as she used to pass our
house, going to mass of a Sunday. God rest her sowl, she's now in glory—that
was before she was my wife. Many a happy day we passed together; and I
could take it to my death, that an ill word, let alone to rise our hands
to one another, never passed between us—only one day, that a word or
two happened about the dinner, in the middle of Lent, being a little too
late, so that the horses were kept nigh half an hour out of the plough;
and I wouldn't have valued that so much, only that it was Beal Cam**
Doherty that joined*** me in ploughing that year—and I was vexed not
to take all I could out of him, for he was a raal Turk himself.
* A young man full of fun and frolic. The word literally
signifies Young Brian. Such phrases originate thus:—A young
man remarkable for one or more qualities of a particular
nature becomes so famous for them that his name, in the
course of time, is applied to others, as conveying the same
** Crooked mouth.
***In Ireland, small farmers who cannot afford to keep more
than one horse are in the habit of "joining," as it is
termed—that is, of putting their horses together so as to
form a yoke, when they plough each other's farms, working
alternately, sometimes, by the week, half-week, or day; that
is, I plough this day, or this week, and you the next day,
or week, until our crops are got down. In this case, each is
anxious to take as much out of the horses as he can,
especially where the farms are unequal. For instance, where
one farm is larger than another the difference must be paid
by the owner of the larger one in horse-labor, man-labor, or
money; but that he may have as little to pay as possible, he
ploughs as much for himself, by the day, as he can, and
often strives to get the other to do as little per day, on
the other side, in order to diminish what will remain due to
his partner. There is, consequently, a ludicrous
undercurrent of petty jealousy running between them, which
explains the passage in question.
"I disremember now what passed between us as to words—but I know I
had a duck-egg in my hand, and when she spoke, I raised my arm, and nailed—poor
Larry Tracy, our servant boy, between the two eyes with it, although the
crathur was ating his dinner quietly fornent me, not saying a word.
"Well, as I tould you, Dick was ever after her, although her father and
mother would rather see her under boord* than joined to any of that
connection; and as for herself, she couldn't bear the sight of him, he was
sich an upsetting, conceited puppy, that thought himself too good for
every girl. At any rate, he tried often and often, in fair and market, to
get striking up with her; and both coming from and going to mass, 'twas
the same way, for ever after and about her, till the state he was in
spread over the parish like wild fire. Still, all he could do was of no
use; except to bid him the time of day, she never entered into discoorse
with him at all at all. But there was no putting the likes of him off; so
he got a quart of spirits in his pocket, one night, and without saying a
word to mortal, off he sets full speed to her father's, in order to brake
the thing to the family.
* In that part of the country where the scene of Shane
Fadh's Wedding is laid, the bodies of those who die are not
stretched out on a bed, and the face exposed; on the
contrary, they are placed generally on the ground, or in a
bed, but with a board resting upon two stools or chairs over
them. This is covered with a clean sheet, generally borrowed
from some wealthier neighbor; so that the person of the
deceased is altogether concealed. Over the sheet upon the
board, are placed plates of cut tobacco, pipes, snuff, &c.
This is what is meant by being "undher boord."
"Mary might be about seventeen at this time, and her mother looked almost
as young and fresh as if she hadn't been married at all. When Dick came
in, you may be sure they were all surprised at the sight of him; but they
were civil people—and the mother wiped a chair, and put it over near
the fire for him to sit down upon, waiting to hear what he'd say, or what
he wanted, although, they could give a purty good guess as to that!—but
they only wished to put him off with as little offince as possible. When
Dick sot a while, talking about what the price of hay and oats would be in
the following summer, and other subjects that he thought would show his
knowledge of farming and cattle, he pulls out his bottle, encouraged to by
their civil way of talking—and telling the ould couple, that as he
came over on his kailyee,* he had brought a drop in his pocket to sweeten
the discoorse, axing Susy Finigan, the mother, for a glass to send it
round with—at the same time drawing over his chair close to Mary who
was knitting her stocken up beside her little brother Michael, and
chatting to the gorsoon, for fraid that Cuillenan might think she paid him
* Kailyee—a friendly evening visit.
When Dick got alongside of her, he began of coorse, to pull out her
needles and spoil her knitting, as is customary before the young people
come to close spaking. Mary, howsomever, had no welcome for him; so, says
she, 'You ought to know, Dick Cuillenan, who you spake to, before you make
the freedom you do'
"'But you don't know, says Dick, 'that I'm a great hand at spoiling the
girls' knitting,—it's a fashion I've got,' says he.
"'It's a fashion, then,' says Mary, 'that'll be apt to get you a broken
* It is no unusual thing in Ireland for a country girl to
repulse a fellow whom she thinks beneath her, if not by a
flat at least by a flattening refusal; nor is it seldom that
the "argumentum fistycuffum" resorted to on such occasions.
I have more than once seen a disagreeable lover receive,
from that fair hand which he sought, so masterly a blow,
that a bleeding nose rewarded his ambition, and silenced for
a time his importunity.
"'Then,' says Dick, 'whoever does that must marry me.'
"'And them that gets you, will have a prize to brag of,' says she; 'stop
yourself, Cuillenan—-single your freedom, and double your distance,
if you plase; I'll cut my coat off no such cloth.'
"'Well, Mary,' says he, 'maybe, if you, don't, as good will; but
you won't be so cruel as all that comes to—the worst side of you is
out, I think.'
"He was now beginning to make greater freedom; but Mary rises from her
seat, and whisks away with herself, her cheek as red as a rose with
vexation at the fellow's imperance. 'Very well,' says Dick, 'off you go;
but there's as good fish in the say as ever was catched.—I'm sorry
to see, Susy,' says he to her mother, 'that Mary's no friend of mine, and
I'd be mighty glad to find it otherwise; for, to tell the truth, I'd wish
to become connected with the family. In the mane time, hadn't you better
get us a glass, till we drink one bottle on the head of it, anyway.'
"'Why, then, Dick Cuillenan,' says the mother, 'I don't wish you anything
else than good luck and happiness; but, as to Mary, She's not for you
herself, nor would it be a good match between the families at all. Mary is
to have her grandfather's sixty guineas; and the two moulleens*
that her uncle Jack left her four years ago has brought her a good stock
for any farm. Now if she married you, Dick, where's the farm to bring her
to?—surely it's not upon them seven acres of stone and bent, upon
the long Esker,** that I'd let my daughter go to live. So, Dick, put up
your bottle, and in the name of God, go home, boy, and mind your business;
but, above all, when you want a wife, go to them that you may have a right
to expect, and not to a girl like Mary Finigan, that could lay down
guineas where you could hardly find shillings.'
* Cows without horns.
** Esker; a high ridge of land, generally barren and
unproductive, when upon a small scale. It is also a ridgy
height that runs for many miles through a country.
"'Very well, Susy,' says Dick, nettled enough, as he well might, 'I say to
you, just as I say to your daughter, if you be proud there's no force.'"
"But what has this to do with you, Shane?" asked Andy Morrow; "sure we
wanted to hear an account of your wedding, but instead of that, it's Dick
Cuillenan's history you're giving us."
"That's just it," said Shane; "sure, only for this same Dick, I'd never
got Mary Finigan for a wife. Dick took Susy's advice, bekase, after all,
the undacent drop was in him? or he'd never have brought the bottle out of
the house at all; but, faith he riz up, put the whiskey in his pocket, and
went home with a face on him as black as my hat with venom. Well, things
passed on till the Christmas following, when one night, after the Finigans
had all gone to bed, there comes a crowd of fellows to the door, thumping
at it with great violence, and swearing that if the people within wouldn't
open it immediately, it would be smashed into smithereens. The family, of
coorse, were all alarmed; but somehow or other, Susy herself got
suspicious that it might be something about Mary, so up she gets, and
sends the daughter to her own bed, and lies down herself in the
"In the mane time, Finigan got up, and after lighting a candle, opened the
door at once. 'Come, Finigan,' says a strange voice, 'put out the candle,
except you wish us to make a candlestick of the thatch,' says he—'or
to give you a prod of a bagnet under the ribs,' says he.
"It was a folly for one man to go to bell-the-cat with a whole crowd; so
he blew the candle out, and next minute they rushed in, and went as
straight as a rule to Mary's bed. The mother all the time lay close, and
never said a word. At any rate, what could be expected, only that, do what
she could, at the long-run she must go? So according, after a very hard
battle on her side, being a powerful woman, she was obliged to travel—but
not till she had left many of them marks to remimber her by; among the
rest, Dick himself got his nose split on his face, with the stroke of a
churn-staff, so that he carried half a nose on each cheek till the day of
his death. Still there was very little spoke, for they didn't wish to
betray themselves on any side. The only thing that Finigan could hear, was
my name repeated several times, as if the whole thing was going on under
my direction; for Dick thought, that if there was any one in the parish
likely to be set down for it, it was me.
"When Susy found they were for putting her behind one of them, on a horse,
she rebelled again, and it took near a dozen of boys to hoist her up; but
one vagabone of them, that had a rusty broad-sword in his hand, gave her a
skelp with the flat side of it, that subdued her at once, and off they
went. Now, above all nights in the year, who should be dead but my own
full cousin, Denis Fadh—God be good to him!—and I, and Jack,
and Dan, his brothers, while bringing; home whiskey for the wake and
berrin, met them on the road. At first we thought them distant relations
coming to the wake, but when I saw only one woman among the set, and she
mounted on a horse, I began to suspect that all wasn't right. I
accordingly turned back a bit, and walked near enough without their seeing
me to hear the discoorse, and discover the whole business. In less than no
time I was back at the wake-house, so I up and tould them what I saw, and
off we set, about forty of us, with good cudgels, scythe-sneds, and
flails, fully bent to bring her back from them, come or go what would. And
troth, sure enough, we did it; and I was the man myself, that rode afore
the mother on the same horse that carried her off.
"From this out, when and wherever I got an opportunity, I whispered the
soft nonsense, Nancy, into poor Mary's ear, until I put my comedher*
on her, and she couldn't live at all without me. But I was something for a
woman to look at then, any how, standing six feet two in my stocking
soles, which, you know, made them call me Shane Fadh.** At that
time I had a dacent farm of fourteen acres in Crocknagooran—the same
that my son, Ned, has at the present time; and though, as to wealth, by no
manner of manes fit to compare with the Finigans, yet, upon the whole, she
might have made a worse match. The father, however, wasn't for me; but the
mother was: so after drinking a bottle or two with the mother, Sarah
Traynor, her cousin, and Mary, along with Jack Donnellan, on my part, in
their own barn, unknown to the father, we agreed to make, a runaway match
of it, and appointed my uncle Brian Slevin's as the house we'd go to. The
next Sunday was the day appointed; so I had my uncle's family prepared,
and sent two gallons of whiskey, to be there before us, knowing that
neither the Finigans nor my own friends liked stinginess.
* Comedher—come hither—alluding to the burden of an old
love-charm which is still used by the young of both sexes on
May-morning. It is a literal translation of the Irish word
** Fadh is tall, or long
"Well, well, after all, the world is a strange thing—it's myself
hardly knows what to make of it. It's I that did doat night and day upon
that girl; and indeed there was them that could have seen me in Jimmaiky
for her sake, for she was the beauty of the country, not to say of the
parish, for a girl in her station. For my part, I could neither ate nor
sleep, for thinking that she was so soon to be my own married wife, and to
live under my roof. And when I'd think of it, how my heart would bounce to
my throat, with downright joy and delight! The mother had made us promise
not to meet till Sunday, for fraid of the father becoming suspicious: but
if I was to be shot for it, I couldn't hinder myself from going every
night to the great flowering whitethorn that was behind their garden; and
although she knew I hadn't promised to come, yet there she still was;
something, she said, tould her I would come.
"The next Sunday we met at Althadhawan wood, and I'll never forget
what I felt when I was going to the green at St. Patrick's Chair, where
the boys and girls meet on Sunday; but there she was—the bright eyes
dancing: with joy in her head to see me. We spent the evening in the wood,
till it was dusk—I bating them all leaping, dancing, and throwing
the stone; for, by my song, I thought I had the action of ten men in me;
she looking on, and smiling like an angel, when I'd lave them miles behind
me. As it grew dusk, they all went home, except herself and me, and a few
more who, maybe, had something of the same kind on hands.
"'Well Mary,' says I, 'acushla machree, it's dark enough for us to go;
and, in the name of God, let us be off."
"The crathur looked into my face, and got pale—for she was very
young then: 'Shane,' says she, and she thrimbled like an aspen lafe, 'I'm
going to trust myself with—you for ever—for ever, Shane,
avourueen,—and her sweet voice broke into purty murmurs as she
spoke; 'whether for happiness or sorrow God he only knows. I can bear
poverty and distress, sickness and want will' you, but I can't bear to
think that you should ever forget to love me as you do now, or your heart
should ever cool to me: but I'm sure,' says she, 'you'll never forget this
night—and the solemn promises you made me, before God and the
blessed skies above us.'
"We were sitting at the time under the shade of a rowan-tree, and I had
only one answer to make—I pulled her to my breast, where she laid
her head and cried like a child with her cheek against mine. My own eyes
weren't dry, although I felt no sorrow, but—but—I never forgot
that night—and I never will."
He now paused a few minutes, being too much affected to proceed.
"Poor Shane," said Nancy, in a whisper to Andy Morrow, "night and day he's
thinking about that woman; she's now dead going on a year, and you would
think by him, although he bears up very well before company that she died
only yestherday—but indeed it's he that was always the kind-hearted,
affectionate man; and a better husband never broke bread."
"Well," said Shane, resuming the story, and clearing his voice, "it's
great consolation to me, now that she's gone, to think that I never broke
the promise I made her that night; for as I tould you, except in regard to
the duck-egg, a bitther word never passed between us. I was in a passion
then, for a wonder, and bent upon showing her that I was a dangerous man
to provoke; so just to give her a spice of what I could do, I made
Larry feel it—and may God forgive me for raising my hand even
then to her. But sure he would be a brute that would beat such a woman
except by proxy. When it was clear dark we set off, and after crossing the
country for two miles, reached my uncle's, where a great many of my
friends were expecting us. As soon as we came to the door I struck it two
or three times, for that was the sign, and my aunt came out, and taking
Mary in her arms, kissed her, and, with a thousand welcomes, brought us
"You all know that the best of aiting and dhrinking is provided when a
runaway couple is expected; and indeed there was galore of both there. My
uncle and all that were within welcomed us again; and many a good song and
hearty jug of punch was sent round that night. The next morning my uncle
went to her father's, and broke the business to him at once: indeed it
wasn't very hard to do, for I believe it reached him afore he saw my uncle
at all; so she was brought home* that day, and, on the Thursday night
after, I, my father, uncle, and several other friends, went there and made
the match. She had sixty guineas, that her grandfather left her, thirteen
head of cattle, two feather- and two chaff-beds, with sheeting, quilts,
and blankets; three pieces of bleached linen, and a flock of geese of her
own rearing—upon the whole, among ourselves, it wasn't aisy to get
such a fortune.
* One-half, at least, of the marriages in a great portion of
Ireland are effected in this manner. They are termed
"runaway matches," and are attended with no disgrace. When
the parents of the girl come to understand that she has
"gone off," they bring her home in a day or two; the friends
of the parties then meet, and the arrangements for the
marriage are made as described in the tale.
"Well, the match was made, and the wedding day appointed; but there was
one thing still to be managed, and that was how to get over standing
at mass on Sunday, to make satisfaction for the scandal we gave the church
by running away with one another—but that's all stuff, for who cares
a pin about standing, when three halves of the parish are married in the
same way! The only thing that vexed me was, that it would keep back the
wedding-day. However, her father and my uncle went to the priest, and
spoke to him, trying, of coorse, to get us off it, but he knew we were fat
geese, and was in for giving us a plucking.—Hut, tut!—he
wouldn't hear of it at all, not he; for although he would ride fifty miles
to sarve either of us, he couldn't break the new orders that he had got
only a few days before that from the bishop. No; we must stand*—for
it would be setting a bad example to the parish; and if he would let us
pass, how could he punish the rest of his flock, when they'd be guilty of
the same thing?
* Matches made in this manner are discountenanced by the
Roman Catholic clergy, as being liable to abuse; and, for
this reason, the parties, by way of punishment, are
sometimes, but not always, made to stand up at mass for one
or three Sundays; but, as Shane expresses it, the punishment
is so common that it completely loses its effect. To
"stand," in the sense meant here, is this: the priest, when
the whole congregation are on their knees, calls the young
man and woman by name, who stand up and remain under the
gaze of the congregation, whilst he rebukes them for the
scandal they gave to the church, after which they kneel
down. In general it is looked upon more in fun than
punishment. Sometimes, however, the wealthier class
compromise this matter with the priest, as described above.
"'Well, well, your Reverence,' says my uncle, winking at her father, 'if
that's the case, it can't be helped, any how—they must only stand,
as many a dacent father and mother's child has done before them, and will
again, plase God—your Reverence is right in doing your duty.'
"'True for you, Brian,' says his Reverence, 'and yet, God knows, there's
no man in the parish would be sorrier to see such a dacent, comely young
couple put upon a level with all the scrubs of the parish; and I know,
Jemmy Finigan, it would go hard with your young, bashful daughter to get
through with it, having the eyes of the whole congregation staring on
"'Why, then, your Reverence, as to that,' says my uncle, who was just as
stiff as the other was stout, 'the bashfulest of them will do more nor
that to get a husband.'
"'But you tell me,' says the priest, 'that the wedding-day is fixed upon;
how will you manage there?'
"'Why, put it off for three Sundays longer, to be sure,' says the uncle.
"'But you forget this, Brian,' says the priest, 'that good luck or
prosperity never attends the putting off of a wedding.'
"Now here, you see, is where the priest had them; for they knew that as
well as his Reverence himself—so they were in a puzzle again.
"'It's a disagreeable business,' says the priest, 'but the truth is, I
could get them off with the bishop, only for one thing—I owe him
five guineas of altar-money, and I am so far back in dues that I'm not
able to pay him. If I could inclose this to him in a letter, I would get
them off at once, although it would be bringing myself into trouble with
the parish afterwards; but, at all events,' says he, 'I wouldn't make
every one of you both—so, to prove that I wish to sarve you, I'll
sell the best cow in my byre, and pay him myself, rather than their
wedding day should be put off, poor things, or themselves brought to any
bad luck—the Lord keep them from it!'
"While he was speaking, he stamped his foot two or three times on the
flure, and the housekeeper came in.—'Katty,' says he, 'bring us in a
bottle of whiskey; at all events, I can't let you away,' says he, 'without
tasting something, and drinking luck to the young folks.'
"'In troth,' says Jemmy Finigan, 'and begging your Reverence's pardon, the
sorra cow you'll sell this bout, any how, on account of me or my childhre,
bekase I'll lay down on the nail what'll clear you wid the bishop; and in
the name of goodness, as the day is fixed and all, let the crathurs not be
"'Jemmy,' says my uncle, 'if you go to that, you'll pay but your share,
for I insist upon laying down one-half, at laste.'
"At any rate they came down with the cash, and after drinking a bottle
between them, went home in choice spirits entirely at their good luck in
so aisily getting us off. When they had left the house a bit, the priest
sent after them—'Jemmy,' says he to Finigan, 'I forgot a
circumstance, and that is, to tell you that I will go and marry them at
your own house, and bring Father James, my curate with me.' 'Oh, wurrah,
no,' said both, 'don't mention that, your Reverence, except you wish to
break their hearts, out and out! why, that would be a thousand times worse
nor making them stand to do penance: doesn't your Reverence know that if
they hadn't the pleasure of running for the bottle, the whole wedding
wouldn't be worth three half-pence?' 'Indeed, I forgot that, Jemmy.' 'But
sure,' says my uncle, 'your Reverence and Father James must be at it,
whether or not—for that we intended from the first.' 'Tell them I'll
run for the bottle, too,' says the priest, laughing, 'and will make some
of them look sharp, never fear.'
"Well, by my song, so far all was right; and may be it's we that weren't
glad—maning Mary and myself—that there was nothing more in the
way to put off the wedding-day. So, as the bridegroom's share of the
expense always is to provide the whiskey, I'm sure, for the honor and
glory of taking the blooming young crathur from the great lot of bachelors
that were all breaking their hearts about her, I couldn't do less nor
finish the thing dacintly; knowing, besides, the high doings that the
Finigans would have of it—for they were always looked upon as a
family that never had their heart in a trifle, when it would come to the
push. So, you see, I and my brother Mickey, my cousin Tom, and Dom'nick
Nulty, went up into the mountains to Tim Cassidy's still-house, where we
spent a glorious day, and bought fifteen gallons of stuff, that one drop
of it would bring the tear, if possible, to a young widdy's eye that had
berrid a bad husband. Indeed, this was at my father's bidding, who wasn't
a bit behindhand with any of them in cutting a dash. 'Shane,' says he to
me, 'you know the Finigans of ould, that they won't be contint with what
would do another, and that, except they go beyant the thing, entirely,
they won't be satisfied. They'll have the whole countryside at the
wadding, and we must let them see that we have a spirit and a faction of
our own,' says he, 'that we needn't be ashamed of. They've got all kinds
of ateables in cart-loads, and as we're to get the drinkables, we must see
and give as good as they'll bring. I myself, and your mother, will go
round and invite all we can think of, and let you and Mickey go up the
hills to Tim Cassidy, and get fifteen gallons of whiskey, for I don't
think less will do us.'
"This we accordingly complied with, as I said, and surely better stuff
never went down the red lane (* Humorous periphrasis for throat) than the
same whiskey; for the people knew nothing about watering it then, at all
at all. The next thing I did was to get a fine shop cloth coat, a pair of
top-boots, and buckskin breeches fit for a squire; along with a new
Caroline hat that would throw off the wet like a duck. Mat Kavanagh, the
schoolmaster from Findramore bridge, lent me his watch for the occasion,
after my spending near two days learning from him to know what o'clock it
was. At last, somehow, I masthered that point so well that, in a quarter
of an hour at least, I could give a dacent guess at the time upon it.
"Well, at last the day came. The wedding morning, or the bride's part of
it,* as they say, was beautiful. It was then the month of July. The
evening before my father"* and my brother went over to Jemmy Finigan's, to
make the regulations for the wedding. We, that is my party, were to be at
the bride's house about ten o'clock, and we were then to proceed, all on
horseback, to the priest's, to be married. We were then, after drinking
something at Tom Hance's public-house, to come back as far as the
Dumbhill, where we were to start and run for the bottle. That morning we
were all up at the shriek of day. From six o'clock my own faction, friends
and neighbors, began to come, all mounted; and about eight o'clock there
was a whole regiment of them, some on horses, some on mules, others on
raheries** and asses; and, by my word, I believe little Dick Snudaghan,
the tailor's apprentice, that had a hand in making my wedding-clothes, was
mounted upon a buck goat, with a bridle of salvages tied to his horns.
Anything at all to keep their feet from the ground; for nobody would be
allowed to go with the wedding that hadn't some animal between them and
* The morning or early part of the day, on which an Irish
couple are married, up until noon, is called the bride's
part, which, if the fortunes of the pair are to be happy, is
expected to be fair—rain or storm being considered
indicative of future calamity.
** A small, shaggy pony, so called from being found in great
numbers on the Island of that name.
"To make a long story short, so large a bridegroom's party was never seen
in that country before, save and except Tim Lannigans, that I mentioned
just now. It would make you split your face laughing to see the figure
they cut; some of them had saddles and bridles—others had saddles
and halthers; some had back-suggawns of straw, with hay Stirrups to them,
but good bridles; others sacks filled up as like saddles as they could
make them, girthed with hay-ropes five or six times tied round the horse's
body. When one or two of the horses wouldn't carry double, except the hind
rider sat stride-ways, the women had to be put foremost, and the men
behind them. Some had dacent pillions enough, but most of them had none at
all, and the women were obliged to sit where the pillion ought to be—and
a hard card they had to play to keep their seats even when the horses
walked asy, so what must it be when they came to a gallop! but that same
was nothing at all to a trot.
"From the time they began to come that morning, you may be sartain that
the glass was no cripple, any how—although, for fear of accidents,
we took care not to go too deep. At eight o'clock we sat down to a rousing
breakfast, for we thought it best to eat a trifle at home, lest they might
think that what we were to get at the bride's breakfast might be thought
any novelty. As for my part, I was in such a state, that I couldn't let a
morsel cross my throat, nor did I know what end of me was uppermost. After
breakfast they all got their cattle, and I my hat and whip, and was ready
to mount, when my uncle whispered to me that I must kneel down and ax my
father and mother's blessing, and forgiveness for all my disobedience and
offinces towards them—and also to requist the blessing of my
brothers and sisters. Well, in a short time I was down; and my goodness!
such a hullabaloo of crying as there was in a minute's time! 'Oh, Shane
Fadh—Shane Fadh, acushla machree!' says my poor mother in Irish,
'you're going to break up the ring about your father's hearth and mine—going
to lave us, avourneen, for ever, and we to hear your light foot and sweet
voice, morning, noon, and night, no more! Oh!' says she, 'it's you that
was the good son all out; and the good brother, too: kind and cheerful was
your voice, and full of love and affection was your heart! Shane,
avourneen dheelish, if ever I was harsh to you, forgive your poor mother,
that will never see you more on her flure as one of her own family.'
"Even my father, that wasn't much given to crying', couldn't speak, but
went over to a corner and cried till the neighbors stopped him. As for my
brothers and sisters, they were all in an uproar; and I myself cried like
a Trojan, merely bekase I see them at it. My father and mother both kissed
me, and gave me their blessing; and my brothers and sisters did the same,
while you'd think all their hearts would break. 'Come, come,' says my
uncle, 'I'll have none of this: what a hubbub you make, and your son going
to be well married—going to be joined to a girl that your betters
would be proud to get into connection with. You should have more sense,
Rose Campbell—you ought to thank God that he had the luck to come
acrass such a colleen for a wife; and that it's not going to his grave,
instead of into the arms of a purty girl—and what's better, a good
girl. So quit your blubbering, Rose; and you, Jack,' says he to my father,
'that ought to have more sense, stop this instant. Clear off, every one of
you, out of this, and let the young boy go to his horse. Clear out, I say,
or by the powers I'll—look at them three stags of huzzies; by the
hand of my body they're blubbering bekase it's not their own story this
blessed day. Move—bounce!—and you, Rose Oge, if you're not
behind Dudley Pulton in less than no time, by the hole of my coat, I'll
marry a wife myself, and then where will the twenty guineas be that I'm to
"God rest his soul, and yet there was a tear in his eye all the while—even
in spite of his joking!
"Any how, it's easy knowing that there wasn't sorrow at the bottom of
their grief: for they were all now laughing at my uncle's jokes, even
while their eyes were red with the tears: my mother herself couldn't but
be in a good humor, and join her smile with the rest.
"My uncle now drove us all out before him; not, however, till my mother
had sprinkled a drop of holy water on each of us, and given me and my
brothers and sisters a small taste of blessed candle, to prevent us from
sudden death and accidents.* My father and she didn't come with as then,
but they went over to the bride's while we were all gone to the priest's
house. At last we set off in great style and spirits—I well mounted
on a good horse of my own, and my brother (On one that he had borrowed
from Peter Dannellon), fully bent on winning the bottle. I would have
borrowed him myself, but I thought it dacenter to ride my own horse
manfully, even though he never won a side of mutton or a saddle, like
Dannellon's. But the man that was most likely to come in for the bottle
was little Billy Cormick, the tailor, who rode a blood-racer that
young-John Little had wickedly lent him for the special purpose; he was a
tall bay animal, with long small legs, a switch tail, and didn't know how
to trot. Maybe we didn't cut a dash—and might have taken a town
before us. Out we set about nine o'clock, and went acrass the country: but
I'll not stop to mintion what happened some of them, even before we got to
the bride's house. It's enough to say here, that sometimes one in crassing
a stile or ditch would drop into the shough;** sometimes another would
find himself head foremost on the ground; a woman would be capsized here
in crassing a ridgy field, bringing her fore-rider to the ground along
with her; another would be hanging like a broken arch, ready to come down,
till some one would ride up and fix her on the seat. But as all this
happened in going over the fields, we expected that when we'd get out on
the king's highway there would be less danger, as we would have no ditches
or drains to crass. When we came in sight of the house, there was a
general shout of welcome from the bride's party, who were on the watch for
us: we couldn't do less nor give them back the chorus; but we had better
have let that alone, for some of the young horses took the stadh,***
others of them capered about; the asses—the sorra choke them—that
were along with us should begin to bray, as if it was the king's birthday—and
a mule of Jack Urwin's took it into his head to stand stock still. This
brought another dozen of them to the ground; so that, between one thing or
another, we were near half an hour before we got on the march again. When
the blood-horse that the tailor rode saw the crowd and heard the shouting,
he cocked his ears, and set off with himself full speed; but before he had
got far he was without a rider, and went galloping up to the bride's
house, the bridle hangin' about his feet. Billy, however, having taken a
glass or two, wasn't to be cowed: so he came up in great blood, and swore
he would ride him to America, sooner than let the bottle be won from the
* In many parishes of Ireland a number of small wax candles
are blessed by the priest upon Ash-Wednesday, and these are
constantly worn about the person until that day twelve
months, for the purposes mentioned above.
** Dyke or drain.
*** Became restive.
"When we arrived, there was nothing but shaking hands and kissing, and all
kinds of slewsthering—men kissing men—women kissing
women—and after that men and women all through other. Another
breakfast was ready for us; and here we all sat down; myself and my next
relations in the bride's house, and the others in the barn and garden; for
one house wouldn't hold the half of us. Eating, however, was all only
talk: of coorse we took some of the poteen again, and in a short time
afterwards set off along the paved road to the priest's house, to be tied
as fast as he could make us, and that was fast enough. Before we went out
to mount our horses though, there was just such a hullabaloo with the
bride and her friends as there was with myself: but my uncle soon put a
stop to it, and in five minutes had them breaking their hearts laughing.
"Bless my heart, what doings! what roasting and boiling!—and what
tribes of beggars and shulers, and vagabonds of all sorts and sizes, were
sunning themselves about the doors wishing us a thousand times long life
and happiness. There was a fiddler and piper: the piper was to stop in my
father-in-law's while we were going to be married, to keep the neighbors
that were met there shaking their toes while we were at the priest's; and
the fiddler was to come with ourselves, in order you know, to have a dance
at the priest's house, and to play for us coming and going; for there's
nothing like a taste of music when one's on for sport. As we were setting
off, ould Mary M'Quade from Kilnahushogue, who was sent for bekase she
understood charms, and had the name of being lucky, took myself aside:
'Shane Fadh,' says she, 'you're a young man well to look upon; may God
bless you and keep you so; and there's not a doubt but there's them here
that wishes you ill—that would rather be in your shoes this blessed
day, with your young colleen bawn, (* Fair Girl) that will be your
wife before the sun sets, plase the heavens. There's ould Fanny Barton,
the wrinkled thief of a hag, that the Finigans axed here for the sake of
her decent son-in-law, who ran away with her daughter Betty, that was the
great beauty some years ago: her breath's not good, Shane, and many a
strange thing's said of her. Well, maybe, I know more about that nor I'm
not going to mintion, any how: more betoken that it's not for nothing the
white hare haunts the shrubbery behind her house.'
"'But what harm could she do me, Sonsy Mary?' says I—for she was
called Sonsy—'we have often sarved her one way or other.'
"Ax me no questions about her, Shane,' says she, 'don't I know what she
did to Ned Donnelly, that was to be pitied, if ever a man was to be
pitied, for as good as seven months after his marriage, until I relieved
him; was gone to a thread he was, and didn't they pay me decently for my
"'Well, and what am I to do, Mary?' says I, knowing very well that what
she sed was thrue enough, although I didn't wish her to see that I was
"'Why,' says she, 'you must first exchange money with me, and then, if you
do as I bid you you may lave the rest to myself.'
"'I then took out, begad, a daicent lot of silver—say a crown or so—for
my blood was up and the money was flush—and gave it to her for which
I got a cronagh-bawn* half-penny in exchange.
* So-called from Cronebane, in the county of Wicklow, where
there is a copper mine.
"'Now,' says she, 'Shane, you must keep this in your company, and for your
life and sowl, don't part wid it for nine days after your marriage; but
there's more to be done,' says she—'hould out your right knee;' so
with this she unbuttoned three buttons of my buckskins, and made me loose
the knot of my garther on the right leg. 'Now,' says she, 'if you keep
them loose till after the priest says the words, and won't let the money I
gave you go out of your company for nine days, along with something else
I'll do that you're to know nothing about, there's no fear of all their
pisthroges.'* She then pulled off her right shoe, and threw it after us
* Charms of an evil nature. These are ceremonies used by
such women, and believed to be of efficacy by the people. It
is an undoubted fact that the woman here named—and truly
named—was called in by honest Ned Donnelly, who, I believe,
is alive, and could confirm the truth of it. I remember her
well, as I do the occasion on which she was called in by Ned
or his friends. I also remember that a neighbor of ours, a
tailor named Cormick M'Elroy—father, by the way, to little
Billy Cormick, who figures so conspicuously at the wedding—
called her in to cure, by the force of charms, some cows he
had that were sick.
"We were now all in motion once more—the bride riding behind my man,
and the bridesmaid behind myself—a fine bouncing girl she was, but
not to be mintioned in the one year with my own darlin'—in troth, it
wouldn't be aisy getting such a couple as we were the same day, though
it's myself that says it. Mary, dressed in a black castor hat, like a
man's, a white muslin coat, with a scarlet silk handkercher about her
neck, with a silver buckle and a blue ribbon, for luck, round her waist;
her fine hair wasn't turned up, at all at all, but hung down in beautiful
curls on her shoulders; her eyes, you would think, were all light; her
lips as plump and as ripe as cherries—and maybe it's myself that
wasn't to that time o' day without tasting them, any how; and her teeth,
so even, and as white as a burned bone. The day bate all for beauty; I
don't know whether it was from the lightness of my own spirit it came,
but, I think, that such a day I never saw from that to this; indeed, I
thought everything was dancing and smiling about me, and sartinly every
one said, that such a couple hadn't been married, nor such a wedding seen
in the parish for many a long year before.
"All the time, as we went along, we had the music; but then at first we
were mightily puzzled what to do with the fiddler. To put him as a hind
rider it would prevent him from playing, bekase how could he keep the
fiddle before him and another so close to him? To put him foremost was as
bad, for he couldn't play and hould the bridle together; so at last my
uncle proposed that he should get behind himself, turn his face to the
horse's tail, and saw away like a Trojan.
"It might be about four miles or so to the priest's house, and, as the day
was fine, we' got on gloriously. One thing, however, became troublesome;
you see there was a cursed set of ups and downs on the road, and as the
riding coutrements were so bad with a great many of the weddiners, those
that had no saddles, going down steep places, would work onward bit by
bit, in spite of all they could do, till they'd be fairly on the horse's
neck, and the women behind them would be on the animal's shoulders; and it
required nice managing to balance themselves, for they might as well sit
on the edge of a dale board. Many of them got tosses this way, though it
all passed in good humor. But no two among the whole set were more puzzled
by this than my uncle and the fiddler—I think I see my uncle this
minute with his knees sticking into the horse's shoulders, and his two
hands upon his neck, keeping himself back, with a cruiht* upon him,
and the fiddler with his heels away, towards the horse's tail, and he
stretched back against my uncle, for all the world like two bricks laid
against one another, and one of them falling. 'Twas the same thing going
up a hill; whoever was behind, would be hanging over the horse's tail,
with the arm about the fore-rider's neck or body, and the other houlding
the baste by the mane, to keep them both from sliding off backwards. Many
a come-down there was among them—but, as I said, it was all in good
humor; and, accordingly, as regularly as they fell, they were sure to get
* The hump, which constitutes a round-shouldered man. If the
reader has ever seen Hogarth's Illustrations of Hudibras,
and remembers the redoubtable hero as he sits on horseback,
he will be at no loss in comprehending what a cruiht means.
Cruiht is the Irish for harp, and the simile is taken from
the projection between the shoulders of the harper which was
caused by carrying that instrument.
"When we got to the priest's house, there was a hearty welcome for us all.
The bride and I, with our next kindred and friends, went into the parlor;
along with these, there was a set of young fellows, who had been bachelors
of the bride's, that got in with an intention of getting the first kiss*
and, in coorse, of bating myself out of it. I got a whisper of this; so by
my song, I was determined to cut them all out in that, as well as I did in
getting herself; but you know, I couldn't be angry, even if they had got
the foreway of me in it, bekase it's an ould custom. While the priest was
going over the business, I kept my eye about me, and sure enough, there
were seven or eight fellows all waiting to snap at her. When the ceremony
drew near a close, I got up on one leg, so that I could bounce to my feet
like lightning, and when it was finished, I got her in my arm, before you
could say Jack Robinson, and swinging her behind the priest, gave her the
husband's first kiss. The next minute there was a rush after her; but, as
I had got the first, it was but fair that they should come in according as
they could, I thought, bekase, you know, it was all in the coorse of
practice; but, hould, there were two words to be said to that, for what
does Father Dollard do but shoves them off, and a fine stout shoulder he
had—shoves them off, like childre, and getting his arms about Mary,
gives her half a dozen smacks at least—oh, consuming to the one less—that
mine was only a cracker** to. The rest, then, all kissed her, one after
another, according as they could come in to get one. We then went straight
to his Reverence's barn, which had been cleared out for us the day before,
by his own directions, where we danced for an hour or two, his Reverence
and his Curate along with us.
* There is always a struggle for this at an Irish wedding,
where every man is at liberty—even the priest himself—to
anticipate the bridegroom if he can.
** Cracker is the small, hard cord which is tied to a rustic
whip, in order to make it crack. When a man is considered to
be inferior to another in anything, the people say, "he
wouldn't make a cracker to his whip."
"When this was over we mounted again, the fiddler taking his ould
situation behind my uncle. You know it is usual, after getting the knot
tied, to go to a public-house or shebeen, to get some refreshment after
the journey; so, accordingly, we went to little lame Larry Spooney's—grandfather
to him that was transported the other day for staling Bob Beaty's sheep;
he was called Spooney himself, for his sheep-stealing, ever since Paddy
Keenan made the song upon him, ending with 'his house never wants a good
ram-horn spoon;' so that let people say what they will, these things run
in the blood—well, we went to his shebeen house, but the tithe of us
couldn't get into it; so we sot on the green before the door, and, by my
song, we took (* drank) dacently with him, any how; and, only for my
uncle, it's odds but we would have been all fuddled.
"It was now that I began to notish a kind of coolness between my party and
the bride's, and for some time I didn't know what to make of it—I
wasn't long so, however; for my uncle, who still had his eye about him,
comes over to me, and says, 'Shane, I doubt there will be bad work amongst
these people, particularly betwixt the Dorans and the Flannagans—the
truth is, that the old business of the law-shoot will break out, except
they're kept from drink, take my word for it, there will be blood spilled.
The running for the bottle will be a good excuse,' says he, 'so I think we
had better move home before they go too far in the drink.'
"Well, any way, there was truth in this; so, accordingly, the reckoning
was ped, and, as this was the thrate of the weddiners to the bride and
bridegroom, every one of the men clubbed his share, but neither I nor the
girls anything. Ha—ha—ha! Am I alive at all? I never—ha—ha—ha—!—I
never laughed so much in one day as I did in that, today I can't help
laughing at it yet. Well, well! when we all got on the top of our horses,
and sich other iligant cattle as we had—the crowning of a king was
nothing to it. We were now purty well I thank you, as to liquor; and, as
the knot was tied, and all safe, there was no end to our good spirits; so,
when we took the road, the men were in high blood, particularly Billy
Cormick, the tailor, who had a pair of long cavalry spurs upon him, that
he was scarcely able to walk in—and he not more nor four feet high.
The women, too, were in blood, having faces upon them, with the hate of
the day and the liquor, as full as trumpeters.
"There was now a great jealousy among thim that were bint for winning the
bottle; and when one horseman would cross another, striving to have the
whip hand of him when they'd set off, why you see, his horse would get a
cut of the whip itself for his pains. My uncle and I, however, did all we
could to pacify them; and their own bad horsemanship, and the screeching
of the women, prevented any strokes at that time. Some of them were
ripping up ould sores against one another as they went along; others,
particularly the youngsters, with their sweethearts behind them, coorting
away for the life of them, and some might be heard miles off, singing and
laughing; and you may be sure the fiddler behind my uncle wasn't idle, no
more nor another. In this way we dashed on gloriously, till we came in
sight of the Dumb-hill, where we were to start for the bottle. And now you
might see the men themselves on their saddles, sacks and suggans; and the
women tying kerchiefs and shawls about their caps and bonnets, to keep
them from flying off, and then gripping their fore-riders hard and fast by
the bosoms. When we got to the Dumb-hill, there were five or six fellows
that didn't come with us to the priest's, but met us with cudgels in their
hands, to prevent any of them from starting before the others, and to show
"Well, when they were all in a lump,—horses, mules, raheries, and
asses—some, as I said, with saddles, some with none; and all jist as
I tould you before;—the word was given and off they scoured, myself
along with the rest; and divil be off me, if ever I saw such another sight
but itself before or since. Off they skelped through thick and thin, in a
cloud of dust like a mist about us; but it was a mercy that the life
wasn't trampled out of some of us; for before we had gone fifty perches,
the one-third of them were sprawling a-top of one another on the road. As
for the women, they went down right and left—sometimes bringing the
horsemen with them; and many of the boys getting black eyes and bloody
noses on the stones. Some of them, being half blind with the motion of the
whiskey, turned off the wrong way, and galloped on, thinking they had
completely distanced the crowd; and it wasn't until they cooled a bit that
they found out their mistake.
"But the best sport of all was, when they came to the Lazy Corner, just at
Jack Gallagher's flush,* where the water came out a good way acrass the
road; being in such a flight, they either forgot or didn't know how to
turn the angle properly, and plash went above thirty of them, coming down
right on the top of one another, souse in the pool. By this time there was
about a dozen of the best horsemen a good distance before the rest,
cutting one another up for the bottle: among these were the Dorans and
Flanagans; but they, you see, wisely enough, dropped their women at the
beginning, and only rode single. I myself didn't mind the bottle, but kept
close to Mary, for fraid that among sich a divil's pack of half-mad
fellows, anything might happen her. At any rate, I was next the first
batch: but where do you think the tailor was all this time? Why away off
like lightning, miles before them—flying like a swallow: and how he
kept his sate so long has puzzled me from that day to this; but, any how,
truth's best—there he was topping the hill ever so far before them.
After all, the unlucky crathur nearly missed the bottle; for when he
turned to the bride's house, instead of pulling up as he ought to do—why,
to show his horsemanship to the crowd that was out looking at them, he
should begin to cut up the horse right and left, until he made him take
the garden ditch in full flight, landing him among the cabbages. About
four yards or five from the spot where the horse lodged himself was a
well, and a purty deep one, by my word; but not a sowl present could tell
what become of the tailor, until Owen Smith chanced to look into the well,
and saw his long spurs just above the water; so he was pulled up in a
purty pickle, not worth the washing; but what did he care? although he had
a small body, the sorra one of him but had a sowl big enough for Golias or
Sampson the Great.
* Flush is a pool of water that spreads nearly across a
road. It is usually fed by a small mountain stream, and in
consequence of rising and falling rapidly, it is called
"As soon as he got his eyes clear, right or wrong, he insisted on getting
the bottle: but he was late, poor fellow, for before he got out of the
garden, two of them comes up—Paddy Doran and Peter Flanagan—cutting
one another to pieces, and not the length of your nail between them. Well,
well, that was a terrible day, sure enough. In the twinkling of an eye
they were both off the horses, the blood streaming from their bare heads,
struggling to take the bottle from my father, who didn't know which of
them to give it to. He knew if he'd hand it to one, the other would take
offince, and then he was in a great puzzle, striving to raison with them;
but long Paddy Doran caught it while he was spaking to Flanagan, and the
next instant Flanagan measured him with a heavy loaded whip, and left, him
stretched upon the stones.—And now the work began: for by this time
the friends of both parties came up and joined them. Such knocking down,
such roaring among the men, and screeching and clapping of hands and
wiping of heads among the women, when a brother, or a son, or a husband
would get his gruel! Indeed, out of a fair, I never saw anything to come
up to it. But during all this work, the busiest man among the whole set
was the tailor, and what was worst of all for the poor creature, he should
single himself out against both parties, bekase you see he thought they
were cutting him out of his right to the bottle.
"They had now broken up the garden gate for weapons, all except one of the
posts, and fought into the garden; when nothing should sarve Billy, but to
take up the large heavy post, as if he could destroy the whole faction on
each side. Accordingly he came up to big Matthew Flanagan, and was rising
it just as if he'd fell him, when Matt, catching him by the nape of the
neck, and the waistband of the breeches, went over very quietly, and
dropped him a second time, heels up, into the well; where he might have
been yet, only for my mother-in-law, who dragged him out with a great deal
to do: for the well was too narrow to give him room to turn.
"As for myself and all my friends, as it happened to be my own wedding,
and at our own place, we couldn't take part with either of them; but we
endeavored all in our power to red (* Pacify or separate) them, and a
tough task we had of it, until we saw a pair of whips going hard and fast
among them, belonging to Father Corrigan and Father James, his curate.
Well, its wonderful how soon a priest can clear up a quarrel! In five
minutes there wasn't a hand up—instead of that they were ready to
run into mice-holes:—
"'What, you murderers,' says his Reverence, 'are you bint to have each
other's blood upon your heads; ye vile infidels, ye cursed unchristian
Anthemtarians?* are ye going to get yourself hanged like sheep-stalers?
down with your sticks, I command you: do you know—will you give
yourselves time to see who's spaking to you—you bloodthirsty set of
Episcopalians? I command you, in the name of the Catholic Church and the
Blessed Virgin Mary, to stop this instant, if you don't wish me,' says he,
'to turn you into stocks and stones where you stand, and make world's
wonders of you as long as you live.—Doran, if you rise your hand
more, I'll strike it dead on your body, and to your mouth you'll never
carry it while you have breath in your carcass,' says he.—'Clear
off, you Flanagans, you butchers you—or by St. Domnick I'll turn the
heads round upon your bodies, in the twinkling of an eye, so that you'll
not be able to look a quiet Christian in the face again. Pretty respect
you have for the decent couple at whose house you have kicked up such a
hubbub. Is this the way people are to be deprived of their dinners on your
accounts, you fungaleering thieves!'
* Antitrinitarians; the peasantry are often extremely fond
of hard and long words, which they call tall English.
"'Why then, plase your Riverence, by the—hem—I say Father
Corrigan, it wasn't my fault, but that villain Flanagan's, for he knows I
fairly won the bottle—and would have distanced him, only that when I
was far before him, the vagabone, he galloped across me on the way,
thinking to thrip up the horse.'
"'You lying scoundrel,' says the priest, 'how dare you tell me a falsity,'
says he, 'to my face? how could he gallop acrass you if you were far
before him? Not a word more, or I'll leave you without a mouth to your
face, which will be a double share of provision and bacon saved any way.
And, Flanagan, you were as much to blame as he, and must be chastised for
your raggamuffianly conduct,' says he, 'and so must you both, and all your
party, particularly you and be, as the ringleaders. Right well I know it's
the grudge upon the lawsuit you had and not the bottle, that occasioned
it: but by St. Peter, to Loughderg both of you must tramp for this.'
"'Ay, and by St. Pether, they both desarve it as well as a thief does the
gallows,' said a little blustering voice belonging to the tailor, who came
forward in a terrible passion, looking for all the world like a drowned
rat. 'Ho, by St. Pether, they do, the vagabones; for it was myself that
won the bottle, your Reverence; and by this and by that,' says he, 'the
bottle I'll have, or some of their crowns, will crack for it: blood or
whiskey I'll have, your Reverence, and I hope that you'll assist me.
"'Why, Billy, are you here?' says Father Corrigan, smiling down upon the
figure the little fellow cut, with his long spurs and his big whip; 'what
in the world tempted you to get on horseback, Billy?'
"'By the powers, I was miles before them,' says Billy; 'and after this
day, your Reverence, let no man say that I couldn't ride a steeplechase
"'Why, Billy, how did you stick on at all, at all?' says his Reverence.
"'How do I know how I stuck on?' says Billy, 'nor whether I stuck on at
all or not; all I know is, that I was on horseback leaving the Dumb-hill,
and that I found them pulling me by the heels out of the well in the
corner of the garden—and that, your Reverence, when the first was
only topping the hill there below, as Lanty Magowran tells me who was
"'Well, Billy,' says Father Corrigan, 'you must get the bottle; and as for
you Dorans and Flanagans, I'll make examples of you for this day's work—that
you may reckon on. You are a disgrace to the parish, and, what's more, a
disgrace to your priest. How can luck or grace attind the marriage of any
young couple that there's such work at? Before you leave this, you must
all shake hands, and promise never to quarrel with each other while grass
grows or water runs; and if you don't, by the blessed St. Domnick, I'll
exkimnicate* ye both, and all belonging to you into the bargain; so that
ye'll be the pitiful examples and shows to all that look upon you.'
* Excommunicate. It is generally pronounced as above by the people.
"'Well, well, your Reverence,' says my father-in-law, 'let all by-gones be
by-gones; and please God, they will, before they go, be better friends
than ever they were. Go now an' clane yourselves, take the blood from
about your faces, for the dinner's ready an hour agone; but if you all
respect the place you're in, you'll show it, in regard of the young
crathurs that's going, in the name of God, to face the world together, and
of coorse wishes that this day at laste should pass in pace and quietness:
little did I think there was any friend or neighbor here that would make
so little of the place or people, as was done for nothing at all, in the
face of the country.'
"'God he sees,' says my mother-in-law, 'that there's them here this day we
didn't desarve this from, to rise such a norration, as if the house
was a shebeen or a public-house! It's myself didn't think either me or my
poor coolleen here, not to mention the dacent people she's joined to,
would be made so little of, as to have our place turned into a play-acthur—for
a play-acthur couldn't be worse.'
"'Well,' says my uncle, 'there's no help for spilt milk, I tell you, nor
for spilt blood either; tare-an-ounty, sure we're all Irishmen, relations,
and Catholics through other, and we oughtn't to be this way. Come away to
the dinner—by the powers, we'll duck the first man that says a loud
word for the remainder of the day. Come, Father Corrigan, and carve the
goose, or the geese, for us—for, by my sannies, I bleeve there's a
baker's dozen of them; but we've plenty of Latin for them, and your
Reverence and Father James here understands that langidge, any how—larned
enough there, I think, gintlemen.'
"'That's right, Brian,' shouts the tailor—'that's right; there must
be no fighting: by the powers, the first man attempts it, I'll brain him—fell
him to the earth like an ox, if all belonging to him was in my way.'
"This threat from the tailor went farther, I think, in putting them into
good humor nor even what the priest said. They then washed and claned
themselves, and accordingly went to their dinners.—Billy himself
marched with his terrible whip in his hand, and his long cavalry spurs
sticking near ten inches behind him, draggled to the tail like a bantling
cock after a shower. But, maybe, there was more draggled tails and bloody
noses nor poor Billy's, or even nor was occasioned by the fight; for after
Father Corrigan had come, several of them dodged up, some with broken
shins and heads and wet clothes, that they'd got on the way by the
mischances of the race, particularly at the Flush. But I don't know how it
was; somehow the people in them days didn't value these things a straw.
They were far hardier then nor they are now, and never went to law at all
at all. Why, I've often known skulls to be broken, and the people to die
afterwards, and there would be nothing more about it, except to brake
another skull or two for it; but neither crowner's quest, nor judge, nor
jury, was ever troubled at all about it. And so sign's on it, people were
then innocent, and not up to law and counsellors as they are now. If a
person happened to be killed in a fight at a fair or market, why he had
only to appear after his death to one of his friends, and get a number of
masses offered up for his sowl, and all was right; but now the times are
clane altered, and there's nothing but hanging and transporting for such
things; although that won't bring the people to life again."
"I suppose," said Andy Morrow, "you had a famous dinner, Shane?"
"'Tis you that may say that, Mr. Morrow," replied Shane: "but the house,
you see, wasn't able to hould one-half of us; so there was a dozen or two
tables borrowed from the neighbors and laid one after another in two rows,
on the green, beside the river that ran along the garden-hedge, side by
side. At one end Father Corrigan sat, with Mary and myself, and Father
James at the other. There were three five-gallon kegs of whiskey, and I
ordered my brother to take charge of them; and there he sat beside them,
and filled the bottles as they were wanted—bekase, if he had left
that job to strangers, many a spalpeen there would make away with lots of
it. Mavrone, such a sight as the dinner was! I didn't lay my eye on the
fellow of it since, sure enough, and I'm now an ould man, though I was
then a young one. Why there was a pudding boiled in the end of a sack; and
troth it was a thumper, only for the straws—for you see, when they
were making it, they had to draw long straws acrass in order to keep, it
from falling asunder—a fine plan it is, too. Jack M'Kenna, the
carpenther, carved it with a hand-saw, and if he didn't curse the same
straws, I'm not here. 'Draw them out, Jack,' said Father Corrigan—'draw
them out.—It's asy known, Jack, you never ate a polite dinner, you
poor awkward spalpeen, or you'd have pulled out the straws the first thing
you did, man alive.'
"Such lashins of corned beef, and rounds of beef, and legs of mutton, and
bacon—turkeys and geese, and barn-door fowls, young and fat. They
may talk as they will, but commend me to a piece of good ould bacon, ate
with crock butther, and phaties, and cabbage. Sure enough, they leathered
away at everything, but this and the pudding were the favorites. Father
Corrigan gave up the carving in less than no time, for it would take him
half a day to sarve them all, and he wanted to provide for number one.
After helping himself, he set my uncle to it, and maybe he didn't slash
away right and left. There was half a dozen gorsoons carrying about the
beer in cans, with froth upon it like barm—but that was beer in
airnest, Nancy—I'll say no more."
"When the dinner was over, you would think there was as much left as would
sarve a regiment; and sure enough, a right hungry ragged regiment was
there to take care of it—though, to tell the truth, there was as
much taken into Finigan's as would be sure to give us all a rousing
supper. Why, there was such a troop of beggars—men, women, and
childher, sitting over on the sunny side of the ditch, as would make short
work of the whole dinner, had they got it. Along with Father Corrigan and
me, was my father and mother, and Mary's parents; my uncle, cousins, and
nearest relations on both sides. Oh, it's Father Corrigan, God rest his
sowl, he's now in glory, and so he was then, also—how he did crow
and laugh! 'Well, Matthew Finigan,' says-he, 'I can't say but I'm happy
that your Colleen Bawn here has lit upon a husband that's no discredit to
the family—and it is herself didn't drive her pigs to a bad market,'
says he. 'Why, in troth, Father avourneen,' says my mother-in law, 'they'd
be hard to plase that couldn't be satisfied with them she got; not saying
but she had her pick and choice of many a good offer, and might have got
richer matches; but Shane Fadh M'Cawell although you're sitting there
beside my daughter, I'm prouder to see you on my own flure, the husband of
my child, nor if she'd got a man with four times your substance.'
"'Never heed the girls for knowing where to choose,' says his Reverence,
slyly enough: 'but, upon my word, only she gave us all the slip, to tell
the truth, I had another husband than Shane in my eye for her, and that
was my own nevvy, Father James's brother here.'
"'And I'd be proud of the connection,' says my father-in-law, 'but you
see, these girls won't look much to what you or I'll say, in choosin' a
husband for themselves. How-and-iver, not making little of your nevvy,
Father Michael, I say he's not to be compared with that same bouchal
sitting beside Mary there.'
"'No, nor by the powdhers-o-war, never will,' says Billy M'Cormick the
tailor, who had come over and slipped in on the other side betune Father
Corrigan and the bride—'by the powdhers-o' war, he'll never be fit
to be compared with me, I tell you, till yesterday comes back again.'
"'Why, Billy,' says the priest, 'you're every place.' 'But where I ought
to be!' says Billy; 'and that's hard and fast tackled to Mary Bane, the
bride here, instead of that steeple of a fellow she has got,' says the
"'Billy, I thought you were married,' said Father Corrigan.
"'Not I, your Reverence,' says Billy;' but I'll soon do something, Father
Michael—I have been threatening this longtime, but I'll do it at
"'He's not exactly married, Sir, says my uncle 'but there's a colleen
present' (looking at the bridesmaid) 'that will soon have his name upon
"'Very good, Billy,' says the priest, 'I hope you will give us a rousing
wedding-equal, at least, to Shane Fadh's.'
"'Why then, your Reverence, except I get sich a darling as Molly Bane,
here—and by this and that, it's you that is the darling Molly
asthore—what come over me, at all at all, that I didn't think of
you,' says the little man, drawing close to her, and poor Mary smiling
good-naturedly at his spirit.
"'Well, and what if you did get such a darling as Molly Bane, there?' says
"'Why, except I get the likes of her for a wife—upon second
thoughts, I don't like marriage, any way,' said Billy, winking against the
priest—'I lade such a life as your Reverence; and by the powdhers,
it's a thousand pities that I wasn't made into a priest, instead of a
tailor. For, you see, if I had' says he, giving a verse of an old song—
'For you see, if I had,
It's I'd be the lad
That would show all my people such larning;
And when they'd do wrong,
Why, instead of a song,
I'd give them a lump of a sarmin.'
"'Billy,' says my father-in-law, 'why don't you make a hearty dinner, man
alive? go back to your sate and finish your male—you're aiting
nothing to signify.' 'Me!' says Billy—'why, I'd scorn to ate a
hearty dinner; and, I'd have you to know, Matt Finigan, that it wasn't for
the sake of your dinner I came here, but in regard to your family, and
bekase I wished him well that's sitting beside your daughter: and it ill
becomes your father's son to cast up your dinner in my face, or any one of
my family; but a blessed minute longer I'll not stay among you. Give me
your hand, Shane Fadh, and you, Mary—may goodness grant you pace and
happiness every night and day you both rise out of your beds. I made that
coat your husband has on his back beside you—and a, betther fit was
never made; but I didn't think it would come to my turn to have my dinner
cast up this a-way, as if I was aiting it for charity.'
"'Hut, Billy,' says I, 'sure it was all out of kindness; he didn't mane to
"'It's no matter,' says Billy, beginning to cry, 'he did offend me; and
it's, low days with me to bear an affront from him, or the likes of him;
but by the powdhers-o'-war,' says he, getting into a great rage, 'I won't
bear it,—only as you're an old man yourself, I'll not rise my hand
to you; but, let any man now that has the heart to take up your quarrel,
come out and stand before me on the sod here.'
"Well, by this time, you'd tie all that were present with three straws, to
see Billy stripping himself, and his two wrists not thicker than
drumsticks. While the tailor was raging, for he was pretty well up with
what he had taken, another person made his appearance at the far end of
the boreen* that led to the green where we sot. He was mounted upon the
top of a sack that was upon the top of a sober-looking baste enough—God
knows; he jogging along at his ase, his legs dangling down from the sack
on each side, and the long skirts of his coat hanging down behind him.
Billy was now getting pacified, bekase they gave way to him a little; so
the fun went round, and they sang, roared, danced, and coorted, right and
* A small pathway or bridle road leading to a farm-house.
"When the stranger came as far as the skirt of the green, he turned the
horse over quite nathural to the wedding; and, sure enough, when he jogged
up, it was Friar Rooney himself, with a sack of oats, for he had been questin.*
Well, sure the ould people couldn't do less nor all go over to put the failtah**
on him. 'Why, then,' says my father and mother-in-law, ''tis yourself,
Friar Rooney, that's as welcome as the flowers of May; and see who's here
before you—Father Corrigan, and Father Dollard.'
* Questin—When an Irish priest or friar collects corn or
money from the people in a gratuitous manner, the act is
"'Thank you, thank you, Molshy—thank you, Matthew—troth, I
know that 'tis I am welcome.'
"'Ay, and you're welcome again, Father Rooney,' said my father, going down
and shaking hands with him, 'and I'm proud to see you here. Sit down, your
Reverence—here's everything that's good, and plinty of it, and if
you don't make much of yourself, never say an ill fellow dealt with you.'
"The friar stood while my father was speaking, with a pleasant, contented
face upon him, only a little roguish and droll.
"'Hah! Shane Fadh,' says he, smiling dryly at me, 'you did them all, I
see. You have her there, the flower of the parish, blooming beside you;
but I knew as much six months ago, ever since I saw you bid her good-night
at the hawthorn. Who looked back so often, Mary, eh? Ay, laugh and blush—do—throth,
'twas I that caught you, but you didn't see me, though. Well, a colleen,
and if you did, too, you needn't be ashamed of your bargain, any how. You
see, the way I came to persave yez that evening was this—but I'll
tell it, by and by. In the mane time,' says he, sitting down and attacking
a fine piece of corn-beef and greens, 'I'll take care of a certain
acquaintance of mine,' says he. 'How are you, reverend gintlemen of the
Secularily? You'll permit a poor friar to sit and ate his dinner, in your
presence, I humbly hope.'
"'Frank,' says Father Corrigan, 'lay your hand upon your conscience, or
upon your stomach, which is the same thing, and tell us honestly, how many
dinners you eat on your travels among my parishioners this day.'
"'As I'm a sinner, Michael, this is the only thing to be called a dinner I
eat this day;—Shane Fadh—Mary, both your healths, and God
grant you all kinds of luck and happiness, both here and hereafter! All
your healths in gineral! gintlemen seculars!'
"'Thank you, Frank,' said Father Corrigan; how did you speed to-day?'
"'How can any man speed, that comes after you?' says the Friar; 'I'm after
travelling the half of the parish for that poor bag of oats that you see
standing against the ditch.'
"'In other words, Frank,' says the Priest, 'you took Allhadhawan in your
way, and in about half a dozen houses filled your sack, and then turned
your horse's head towards the good cheer, by way of accident only.'
"'And was it by way of accident, Mr. Secular, that I got you and that
illoquent young gintleman, your curate, here before me? Do you feel that,
man of the world? Father James, your health, though—you're a good
young man as far as saying nothing goes; but it's better to sit still than
to rise up and fall, so I commend you for your discretion,' says he; 'but
I'm afeared your master there won't make you much fitter for the kingdom
of heaven any how.'
"'I believe, Father Corrigan,' says my uncle, who loved to see the priest
and the friar at it, 'that you've met with your match—I think Father
Rooney's able for you.'
"'Oh, sure,' says Father Corrigan, he was joker to the college of the
Sorebones (* Sorbonne) in Paris; he got as much education as enabled him
to say mass in Latin, and to beg oats in English, for his jokes.'
"'Troth, and,' says the friar, 'if you were to get your larning on the
same terms, you'd be guilty of very little knowledge; why, Michael, I
never knew you to attempt a joke but once, and I was near shedding tears,
there was something so very sorrowful in it.'
"This brought the laugh against the priest—'Your health, Molshy,'
says he, winking at my mother-in-law, and then giving my uncle, who sat
beside him, a nudge; 'I believe, Brian, I'm giving it to him.' ''Tis
yourself that is,' says my uncle; 'give him a wipe or two more.' 'Wait
till he answers the last,' says the friar.
"'He's always joking,' says Father James, 'when he thinks he'll make any
thing by it.'
"'Ah!' says the friar, 'then God help you both if you were left to your
jokes for your feeding; for a poorer pair of gentlemen wouldn't be found
"'And I believe,' says Father Corrigan, 'if you depinded for your feeding
upon your divinity instead of your jokes, you'd be as poor as a man in the
last stage of a consumption.'
"This drew the laugh against the friar, who smiled himself; but he was a
dry man that never laughed much.
"'Sure,' says the friar, who was seldom at a loss, 'I have yourself and
your nephew for examples that it's possible to live and be well fed
"'At any rate,' says my uncle, putting in his tongue, 'I think you're both
very well able to make divinity a joke betune you,' says he.
"'Well done, Brian,' says the friar, 'and so they are, for I believe it is
the only subject they can joke upon! and I beg your pardon, Michael, for
not excepting it before; on that subject I allow you to be humorsome.'
"'If that be the case, then,' says Father Corrigan, 'I must give up your
company, Frank, in order to avoid the force of bad example; for you're so
much in the habit of joking on everything else, that you're not able to
accept even divinity itself.'
"'You may aisily give me up,' says the friar, 'but how will you be able to
forget Father Corrigan? I'm afeard you'll find his acquaintance as great a
detriment to yourself, as it is to others in that respect.'
"'What makes you say,' says Father James, who was more in airnest than the
rest, 'that my uncle won't make me fit for the kingdom of heaven?'
"'I had a pair of rasons for it, Jemmy,' says the friar; 'one is, that he
doesn't understand the subject himself; another is, that you haven't
capacity for it, even if he did. You've a want of natural parts—a whackuuum
here' pointing to his forehead.
"'I beg your pardon, Frank,' says Father James 'I deny your premises, and
I'll now argue in Latin with you, if you wish, upon any subject you
"'Come, then,' says the friar,—'Kid eat ivy mare eat hay.'
"'Kid—what?' says the other.
"'Kid eat ivy mare eat hay,' answers the friar.
"'I don't know what you're at,' says Father James, 'but I'll argue in
Latin with you as long as you wish.'
"'Tut man,' says Father Rooney, 'Latin's for school-boys; but come, now,
I'll take you in another language—I'll try you in Greek—In-mud-eel-is
in-clay-none-is in-fir-tar-is in-oak-no ne-is.'
"The curate looked at him, amazed, not knowing what answer to make. At
last says he, 'I don't profess to know Greek, bekase I never larned it—but
stick to the Latin, and I'm not afeard of you.'
"'Well, then,' says the friar, 'I'll give you a trial at that—Afflat
te canis ter—Forte dux fel flat in guttur.'
"'A flat tay-canisther—Forty ducks fell flat in the gutthers!' says
Father James,—'why that's English!'
"'English!' says the friar, 'oh, good-bye to you, Mr. Secular; 'if that's
your knowledge of Latin, you're an honor to your tachers and to your
"Father Corrigan now laughed heartily at the puzzling the friar gave
Father James. 'James,' says he, 'never heed him; he's only pesthering you
with bog-Latin; but, at any rate to do him justice, he's not a bad
Scholar, I can tell you that.... Your health, Prank, you droll crathur—your
health. I have only one fault to find with you, and that is, that you fast
and mortify yourself too much. Your fasting has reduced you from being
formerly a friar of very genteel dimensions to a cut of corpulency that
smacks strongly of penance—fifteen stone at least.
"'Why,' says the friar, looking down quite plased, entirely, at the cut of
his own waist, Uch, among ourselves, was no trifle, and giving a growl of
a laugh—the most he ever gave, 'if what you pray here benefits you
in the next life as much as what I fast does for me in
this, it will be well for the world in general Michael.'
"'How can you say, Frank,' says Father 'with such a carkage as that,
you're a poor friar? Upon my credit, when you die, I think the angels will
have a job of it in wafting you upwards."
"'Jemmy, man, was it you that said it?—why, my light's
beginning to shine upon you, or you never could have got out so much,'
says Father Rooney, putting his hands over his brows, and looking up
toardst him; 'but if you ever read scripthur, which I suppose you're not
overburdened with, you would know that it says, "Blessed are the poor in
spirit," but not blessed are the poor in flesh—now, mine is
"'Very true, Frank,' says Father Corrigan, 'I believe there's a great
dearth and poverty of spirituality about you, sure enough. But of all
kinds of poverty, commend me to a friar's. Voluntary poverty's something,
but it's the divil entirely for a man to be poor against his will. You
friars boast of this voluntary poverty; but if there's a fat bit in any
part of the parish, we, that are the lawful clargy, can't eat it, but
you're sure to drop in, just in the nick of time, with your voluntary
"'I'm sure, if we do,' says the friar, 'it's nothing out of your pocket,
Michael. I declare I believe you begrudge us the air we breathe. But don't
you know very well that our ordhers are apostolic, and that, of coorse, we
have a more primitive appearance than you have.'
"'No such thing,' says the other; 'you, and the parsons, and the fat
bishops, are too far from the right place—the only difference
between you is, that you are fat and lazy by toleration, whereas the
others are fat and lazy by authority. You are fat and lazy on your ould
horses, jogging about from house to house, and stuffing yourselves either
at the table of other people's parishioners, or in your own convents in
Dublin and elsewhere. They are rich, bloated gluttons, going about in
their coaches, and wallying in wealth. Now, we are the golden mean, Frank,
that live upon a little, and work hard for it.'
"'Why, you cormorant,' says the friar, a little nettled, for the dhrop was
beginning to get up into his head, 'sure if we're fat by toleration, we're
only tolerably fat, my worthy secular!'
"'You see,' says the friar, in a whisper to my uncle, 'how I sobered them
in the larning, and they are good scholars for all that, but not near so
deep read as myself.' 'Michael,' says he, 'now that I think on it—sure
I'm to be at Denis O'Flaherty's Month's mind on Thursday next.'
"'Indeed I would not doubt you,' says Father Corrigan; 'you wouldn't be
apt to miss it.'
"'Why, the widdy Flaherty asked me yesterday, and I think that's proof
enough that I'm not going unsent for.'
"By this time the company was hard and fast at the punch, the songs, and
the dancing. The dinner had been cleared off, except what was before the
friar, who held out wonderfully, and the beggars and shulers were clawing
and scoulding one another about the divide. The dacentest of us went into
the house for a while, taking the fiddler with us, and the rest, with the
piper, staid on the green to dance, where they were soon joined by lots of
the counthry people, so that in a short time there was a large number
entirely. After sitting for some time within, Mary and I began, you may be
sure, to get unasy, sitting palavering among a parcel of ould sober folks;
so, at last, out we slipped, and the few other dacent young people that
were with us, to join the dance, and shake our toe along with the rest of
them. When we made our appearance, the flure was instantly cleared for us,
and then she and I danced the Humors of Glin.
"Well, it's no matter—it's all past now, and she lies low; but I may
say that it wasn't very often danced in better style since, I'd wager.
Lord, bless us, what a drame the world is! The darling of my heart you
war, avourneen machree. I think I see her with the modest smile upon her
face, straight, and fair, and beautiful, and—hem—and when the
dance was over, how she stood leaning upon me, and my heart within melting
to her, and the look she'd give into my eyes and my heart, too, as much as
to say, 'This is the happy day with me;' and the blush still would fly
acrass her face, when I'd press her, unknownst to the bystanders, against
my beating heart. A suilish machree, (* Light of my heart.) she is
now gone from me—lies low, and it all appears like a drame to me;
but—hem—God's will be done!—sure she's happy—och,
"Many a shake hands did I get from the neighbors' sons, wishing me joy;
and I'm sure I couldn't do less than thrate them to a glass, you know; and
'twas the same way with Mary: many a neighbors' daughter, that she didn't
do more nor know by eyesight, maybe, would come up and wish her happiness
in the same manner, and she would say to me, 'Shane, avourneen, that's
such a man's daughter—they're a dacent friendly people, and we can't
do less nor give her a glass.' I, of coorse, would go down and bring them
over, after a little pulling—making, you see, as if they wouldn't
come—to where my brother was handing out the native.
"In this way we passed the time till the evening came on, except that Mary
and the bridesmaid were sent for to dance with the priests, who were
within at the punch, in all their glory,—Friar Rooney along with
them as jolly as a prince. I and my man, on seeing this, were for staying
with the company; but my mother, who 'twas that came for them, says,
'Never mind the boys, Shane, come in with the girls, I say. You're just
wanted at the present time, both of you, follow me for an hour or two,
till their Reverences within have a bit of a dance with the girls, in the
back room; we don't want to gother a crowd about them.' Well, we went in,
sure enough, for awhile; but, I don't know how it was, I didn't at all
feel comfortable with the priests; for, you see, I'd rather sport my day
figure with the boys and girls upon the green: so I gives Jack the hard
word* and in we went, when, behold you, there was Father Corrigan
planted upon the side of a settle, Mary along with him, waiting till
they'd have the fling of a dance together, whilst the Curate was capering
on the flure before the bridesmaid, who was a purty dark-haired girl, to
the tune of 'Kiss my lady;' and the friar planted between my mother and my
mother-in-law, one of his legs stretched out on a chair, he singing some
funny song or other, that brought the tears to their eyes with laughing.
* A pass-word, sign, or brief intimation, touching something
of which a man is ignorant, that he may act accordingly.
"Whilst Father James was dancing with the bridesmaid, I gave Mary the wink
to! come away from Father Corrigan, wishing, as I tould you, to get out
amongst the youngsters once more; and Mary, herself, to tell the truth,
although he was the priest, was very willing to do so. I went over to her,
and says, 'Mary, asthore, there's a friend without that wishes to spake to
"'Well,' says Father Corrigan, 'tell that friend that she's better
employed, and that they must wait, whoever they are. I'm giving your wife,
Shane,' says he, 'a little good advice that she won't be the worse for,
and she can't go now.'
"Mary, in the meantime, had got up, and was coming away, when his
Reverence wanted her to stay till they'd finished their dance. 'Father
Corrigan,' says she, 'let me go now, sir, if you plase, for they would
think it bad threatment of me not to go out to them.'
"'Troth, and you'll do no such thing, acushla,' says he, spaking so sweet
to her; 'let them come in if they want you. Shane, says his Reverence,
winking at me, and spiking in a whisper, 'stay here, you and the girls,
till we take a hate at the dancing—don't you know that the ould
women here, and me will have to talk over some things about the fortune;
you'll maybe get more nor you expect. Here, Molshy,' says he to my
mother-in-law, 'don't let the youngsters out of this."
"'Musha, Shane, ahagur,' say's the ould woman 'why will yez go and lave
the place; sure you needn't be dashed before them—they'll dance
"Accordingly we stayed in the room; but just on the word, Mary gives one
spring away, leaving his Reverence by himself on the settle. 'Come
away,' says she, 'lave them there, and let us go to where I can have a
dance with yourself, Shane.'
"Well, I always loved Mary, but at that minute, if it would save her, I
think I could spill my heart's blood for her. 'Mary,' says I full to the
throat, 'Mary, acushla agus asthore machree,* I could lose my life for
*The very pulse and delight of my heart.
"She looked in my face, and the tears came into her—yes—'Shane,
achora,' says she, 'amn't I your happy girl, at last?' She was leaning
over against my breast; and what answer do you think I made?—I
pressed her to my heart: I did more—I took off my hat, and looking
up to God, I thanked him with tears in my eyes, for giving me such a
treasure. 'Well, come now,' says she, 'to the green;' so we went—and
it's she that was the girl, when she did go among them, that threw them
all into the dark for beauty and figure; as fair as a lily itself did she
look—so tall and illegant, that you wouldn't think she was a
farmer's daughter at all; so we left the priests dancing away, for we
could do no good before them.
"When we had danced an hour or so, them that the family had the greatest
regard for were brought in unknown to the rest, to drink tay. Mary planted
herself beside me, and would sit nowhere else; but the friar got beside
the bridesmaid, and I surely observed that many a time she'd look over,
likely to split, at Mary, and it's Mary herself that gave her many's a
wink, to come to the other side; but, you know, out of manners, she was
obliged to sit quietly, though among ourselves it's she that was like a
hen on a hot griddle, beside the ould chap. It was now that the bride-cake
was got. Ould Sonsy Mary marched over, and putting the bride on her feet,
got up on a chair and broke it over her head, giving round a fadge*
of it to every young person in the house, and they again to their
acquaintances: but, lo and behold you, who should insist on getting a
whang of it but the friar, which he rolled up in a piece of paper, and put
it in his pocket. 'I'll have good fun,' says he, 'dividing this to-morrow
among the colleens when I'm collecting my oats—the sorra one of me
but I'll make them give me the worth of it of something, if it was only a
fat hen or a square of bacon.'
* A liberal portion torn off a thick cake.
"After tay the ould folk got full of talk; the youngsters danced round
them; the friar sung like a thrush, and told many a droll story. The
tailor had got drunk a little too early, and had to be put to bed, but he
was now as fresh as ever, and able to dance a hornpipe, which he did on a
door. The Dorans and the Flanagans had got quite thick after drubbing one
another—Ned Doran began his courtship with Alley Flanagan on that
day, and they were married soon after, so that the two factions joined,
and never had another battle until the day of her berrial, when they were
at it as fresh as ever. Several of those that were at the wedding were
lying drunk about the ditches, or roaring, and swaggering, and singing
about the place. The night falling, those that were dancing on the green
removed to the barn. Father Corrigan and Father James weren't ill off; but
as for the friar, although he was as pleasant as a lark, there was hardly
any such thing as making him tipsy. Father Corrigan wanted him to dance—'What!'
says he, 'would you have me to bring on an earthquake, Michael?—but
who ever heard of a follower of St. Domnick, bound by his vow to voluntary
poverty and mortification——young couple, your health—will
anybody tell mo who mixed this, for they've knowledge worth a folio of the
fathers——poverty and mortification, going to shake his heel?
By the bones of St. Domnick, I'd desarve to be suspinded if I did. Will no
one tell me who mixed this, I say, for they had a jewel of a hand at it?—Och—
'Let parsons prache and pray—
Let priests to pray and prache, sir;
What's the rason they
Don't practise what they tache, sir?
Forral, orral, loll,
Forral, orral, laddy—
Sho da slainthah ma collenee agus ma bouchalee. Hoigh, oigh, oigh,
healths all! gintlemen seculars! Molshy,' says the friar to my
mother-in-law, 'send that bocaun* to bed—poor fellow, he's almost
off—rouse yourself, James! It's aisy to see that he's but young at
it yet—that's right—he's sound asleep—just toss him into
bed, and in an hour or so he'll be as fresh as a daisy.
* A soft, unsophisticated youth.
Let parsons prache and pray—
——-Forral, orral, loll.'
"For dear's sake, Father Rooney,' says my uncle, running in, in a great
hurry, 'keep yourself quiet a little; here's the Squire and Mister Francis
coming over to fulfil their promise; he would have come up airlier, he
says, but that he was away all day at the 'sizes.'
"'Very well,' says the friar, 'let him come—who's afeard—mind
"In a minute or two they came in, and we all rose up of course to welcome
them. The Squire shuck hands with the ould people, and afterwards with
Mary and myself, wishing us all happiness, then with the two clergymen,
and introduced Master Frank to them; and the friar made the young chap sit
beside him. The masther then took a sate himself, and looked on while they
were dancing, with a smile of good-humor on his face—while they, all
the time, would give new touches and trebles, to show off all their steps
before him. He was landlord both to my father and father-in-law; and it's
he that was the good man, and the gintleman every inch of him. They may
all talk as they will, but commend me, Mr. Morrow, to some of the ould
squires of former times for a landlord. The priests, with all their
larning, were nothing to him for good breeding—he appeared so free,
and so much at his ase, and even so respectful, that I don't think there
was one in the house but would put their two hands under his feet to do
him a sarvice.
"When he sat a while, my mother-in-law came over with a glass of nice
punch that she had mixed, at least equal to what the friar praised so
well, and making a low curtshy, begged pardon for using such freedom with
his honor, but hoped that he would just taste a little to the happiness of
the young couple. He then drank our healths, and shuck hands with us both
a second time, saying—although I can't, at all at all, give it in
anything like his own words—'I am glad,' says he, to Mary's parents,
'that your daughter has made such a good choice;'—throth he did—the
Lord be merciful to his sowl—God forgive me for what I was going to
say, and he a Protestant;—but if ever one of yez went to heaven, Mr.
Morrow, he did;—' such a prudent choice; and I congr—con—grathu-late
you,' says he to my father, 'on your connection with so industrious and
respectable a family. You are now beginning the world for yourselves,'
says he to Mary and me, 'and I cannot propose a better example to you both
than that of your respective parents. From this forrid,' says he, 'I'm to
considher you my tenants; and I wish to take this opportunity of informing
you both, that should you act up to the opinion I entertain of you, by an
attentive coorse of industry and good management, you will find in me an
encouraging and indulgent landlord. I know, Shane,' says he to me, smiling
a little, knowingly enough too, 'that you have been a little wild or so,
but that's past, I trust. You have now sarious duties to perform, which
you cannot neglect—but you will not neglect them; and be assured, I
say again, that I shall feel pleasure in rendhering you every assistance
in my power in the cultivation and improvement of your farm.'—'Go
over, both of you,' says my father, 'and thank his honor, and promise to
do everything he says.' Accordingly, we did so; I made my scrape as well
as I could, and Mary blushed to the eyes, and dropp'd her curtshy.
"'Ah!' says the friar, 'see what it is to have a good landlord and a
Christian gintleman to dale with. This is the feeling which should always
bind a landlord and his tenants together. If I know your character, Squire
Whitethorn, I believe you're not the man that would put a Protestant
tenant over the head of a Catholic one, which shows, sir, your own good
sense; for what is a difference of religion, when people do what they
ought to do? Nothing but the name. I trust, sir, we shall meet in a better
place than this—both Protestant and Catholic'
"'I am happy, sir,' says the Squire, 'to hear such principles from a man
who I thought was bound to hould different opinions.'
"'Ah, sir!' says the friar, 'you little know who you're talking to, if you
think so. I happened to be collecting a taste of oats, with the permission
of my friend Doctor Corrigan here, for I'm but a poor friar, sir, and
dropped in by mere accident; but, you know the hospitality of our
country, Squire; and that's enough—go they would not allow me, and I
was mintioning to this young gintleman, your son, how we collected the
oats, and he insisted on my calling—a generous, noble child! I hope,
sir, you have got proper instructors for him?'
"'Yes,' said the Squire; 'I'm taking care of that point.'
"What do you think, sir, but he insists on my calling over to-morrow, that
he may give me his share of oats, as I told him that I was a friar, and
that he was a little parishioner of mine: but I added, that that wasn't
right of him, without his papa's consent.'
"'Well, sir,' says the Squire, 'as he has promised, I will support him; so
if you'll ride over to-morrow, you shall have a sack of oats—at all
events I shall send you a sack in the course of the day.'
"'I humbly thank you, sir,' says Father Rooney and I thank my noble little
parishioner for his generosity to the poor old friar—God mark you to
grace, my dear; and wherever you go, take the ould man's blessing along
"They then bid us good-night, and we rose and saw them to the door.
"Father Corrigan now appeared to be getting sleepy. While this was going
on, I looked about me, but couldn't see Mary. The tailor was just
beginning to get a little hearty once more. Supper waa talked of, but
there was no one that could ate anything; even the friar, was against it.
The clergy now got their horses, the friar laving his oats behind him; for
we promised to send them home, and something more along with them the next
day. Father James was roused up, but could hardly stir with a heddick.
Father Corrigan was correct enough; but when the friar got up, he ran a
little to the one side, upsetting Sonsy Mary that sat a little beyond him.
He then called over my mother-in-law to the dresser, and after some
collogin (* whispering) she slipped two fat fowl, that had never been
touched, into one of his coat pockets, that was big enough to hould a leg
of mutton. My father then called me over and said, 'Shane,' says he,
'hadn't you better slip Father Rooney a bottle or two of that whiskey;
there's plenty of it there that wasn't touched, and you won't be a bit the
poorer of it, may be, this day twelve months.' I accordingly dropped two
bottles of it into the other pocket, so that his Reverence was well
balanced any how.
"'Now,' said he, 'before I go, kneel down both of you, till I give you my
"We accordingly knelt down, and he gave us his blessing in Latin before he
bid us good-night!
"After they went, Mary threw the stocking—all the unmarried folks
coming in the dark, to see who it would hit. Bless my sowl, but she was
the droll Mary—for what did she do, only put a big brogue of her
father's into it, that was near two pounds weight; and who should it hit
on the bare sconce, but Billy Cormick, the tailor—who thought he was
fairly shot, for it levelled the crathur at once; though that wasn't hard
to do any how.
"This was the last ceremony: and Billy was well continted to get the
knock, for you all know, whoever the stocking strikes upon is to be
married first. After this, my mother and mother-in-law set them to the
dancing—and 'twas themselves that kept it up till long after
daylight the next morning—but first they called me into the next
room where Mary was; and—and—so ends my wedding; by the same
token that I'm as dry as a stick."
"Come, Nancy," says Andy Morrow, "replenish again for us all, with a
double measure for Shane Fadh—because he well desarves it."
"Why, Shane," observed Alick, "you must have a terrible memory of your
own, or you couldn't tell it all so exact."
"There's not a man in the four provinces has sich a memory," replied
Shane. "I never hard that story yet, but I could repate it in fifty years
afterwards. I could walk up any town in the kingdom, and let me look at
the signs and I would give them to you agin jist exactly as they stood."
Thus ended the account of Shane Fadh's wedding; and, after finishing the
porter, they all returned home, with an understanding that they were to
meet the next night in the same place.
LARRY M'FARLAND'S WAKE.
The succeeding evening found them all assembled about Ned's fireside in
the usual manner; where M'Roarkin, after a wheezy fit of coughing and a
draught of Nancy's Porter, commenced to give them an account of Larry
M'Farland's Wake. We have observed before, that M'Roarkin was desperately
asthmatic, a circumstance which he felt to be rather an unpleasant
impediment to the indulgence either of his mirth or sorrow. Every chuckle
at his own jokes ended in a disastrous fit of coughing; and when he became
pathetic, his sorrow was most ungraciously dissipated by the same cause;
two facts which were highly relished by his audience.
"Lakry M'Fakland, when a young man, was considered the best laborer within
a great ways of him; and no servant-man in the parish got within five
shillings a quarter of his wages. Often and often, when his time would be
near out, he'd have offers from the rich farmers and gintlemen about him,
of higher terms; so that he was seldom with one masther more nor a year at
the very most. He could handle a flail with e'er a man that ever stepped
in black leather; and at spade-work there wasn't his aquil. Indeed, he had
a brain for everything: he could thatch better nor many that arned their
bread by it; could make a slide-car, straddle, or any other rough
carpenter work, that it would surprise you to think of it; could work a
kish or side creel beautifully; mow as much as any two men, and go down a
ridge of corn almost as fast as you could walk; was a great hand at
ditching, or draining meadows and bogs; but above all things he was famous
for building hay-ricks and corn-stacks; and when Squire Farmer used to
enter for the prize at the yearly plowing-match, he was sure to borrow the
loan of Larry from whatever master he happened to be working with. And
well he might, for the year out of four that he hadn't Larry he lost the
prize: and every one knew that if Larry had been at the tail of his
plough, they would have had a tighter job of it in beating him.
"Larry was a light, airy young man, that knew his own value; and was proud
enough, God knows, of what he could do. He was, indeed, two much up to
sport and divarsion, and never knew his own mind for a week. It was
against him that he never stayed long in one place; for when he got a
house of his own afterwards, he had no one that cared anything in
particular about him. Whenever any man would hire him, he'd take care to
have Easter and Whiss'n Mondays to himself, and one or two of the
Christmas Maragahmores.* He was also a great dancer, fond of the dhrop—and
used to dress above his station: going about with a shop-cloth coat,
cassimoor small-clothes, and a Caroline hat; so that you would little
think he was a poor sarvint-man, laboring for his wages. One way or other,
the money never sted long with him; but he had light spirits, depended
entirely on his good hands, and cared very little about the world,
provided he could take his own fling out of it.
* Anglice—Big markets. There are three of these held before
Christmas, and one or two before Easter, to enable the
country folks to make their markets, and prepare for the
more comfortably celebrating those great convivial
festivals. They are almost as numerously attended as fairs;
for which reason they are termed "big markets."
"In this way he went on from year to year, changing from one master to
another; every man that would employ him thinking he might get him to stop
with him for a constancy. But it was all useless; he'd be off after half a
year, or sometimes a year at the most, for he was fond of roving; and that
man would never give himself any trouble about him afterwards; though, may
be if he had continted himself with him, and been sober and careful, he
would be willing to assist and befriend him, when he might stand in need
"It's an ould proverb, that 'birds of a feather flock together,' and Larry
was a good proof of this, There was in the same neighborhood a young woman
name Sally Lowry, who was just the other end of himself (* meaning his
counterpart) for a pair of good hands, a love of dress and of dances. She
was well-looking, too, and knew it; light and showy, but a tight and clane
sarvint, any way. Larry and she, in short, began to coort, and were
pulling a coard together for as good as five or six years. Sally, like
Larry, always made a bargain, when hiring, to have the holly-days to
herself; and on these occasions she and Larry would meet and sport their
figure; going off with themselves, as soon as mass would, be over, into
Ballymavourneen, where he would collect a pack of fellows about him, and
she a set of her own friends; and there they'd sit down and drink for the
length of a day, laving themselves without a penny of whatever little
aiming the dress left behind it; for Larry was never right, except when he
was giving a thrate to some one or other.
"After corrousing away till evening, they'd then set off to a dance; and
when they'd stay there till it would be late, he should see her home, of
coorse, never parting till they'd settle upon meeting another day.
"At last they got fairly tired of this, and resolved to take one another
for better for worse. Indeed they would have done this long ago, only that
they could never get as much together as would pay the priest. Howandever,
Larry spoke to his brother, who was a sober, industrious boy, that had
laid by his scollops for the windy-day,* and tould him that Sally
Lowry and himself were going to yoke for life. Tom was a well-hearted,
friendly lad, and thinking that Sally, who bore a good name for being such
a clane sarvint, would make a good wife, he lent Larry two guineas, which
along with two more that Sally's aunt, who had no childhre of her own,
gave her, enabled them to over their difficulties and get married. Shortly
after this, his brother Tom followed his example; but as he had saved
something, he made up to Val Slevin's daughter, that had a fortune of
twenty guineas, a cow and a heifer, with two good chaff beds and bedding.
* In Irish the proverb is—"Ha naha la na guiha la na
scuilipagh:" that is, the windy or stormy day is not that on
which the scollops should be cut. Scollops are osier twigs,
sharpened at both ends, and inserted in the thatch, to bind
it at the eave and rigging. The proverb inculcates
preparation for future necessity.
"Soon after Tom's marriage, he comes to Larry one day and says 'Larry, you
and I are now going to face the world; we're both young', healthy, and
willin' to work—so are our wives; and it's bad if we can't make out
bread for ourselves, I think.'
"'Thrue for you, Tom,' says Larry, 'and what's to hinder us? I only wish
we had a farm, and you'd see we'd take good bread out of it: for my part
there's not another he in the country I'd turn my back upon for
managing a farm, if I had one.'
"' Well,' says the other, 'that's what I wanted to overhaul as we're
together; Squire Dickson's steward was telling me yesterday, as I was
coming up from my father-in-law's, that his master has a farm of fourteen
acres to set at the present time; the one the Nultys held, that went last
spring to America—'twould be a dacent little take between us.'
"'I know every inch of it,' says Larry, 'and good strong land it is, but
it was never well wrought; the Nultys weren't fit for it at all; for one
of them didn't know how to folly a plough. I'd engage to make that land
turn out as good crops as e'er a farm within ten miles of it.'
"'I know that, Larry,' says Tom, 'and Squire Dickson knows that no man
could handle it to more advantage. Now if you join me in it, whatever
means I have will be as much yours as mine; there's two snug houses under
the one roof, with out-houses and all, in good repair—and if Sally
and Biddy will pull manfully along with us, I don't see, with the help of
Almighty Grod, why we shouldn't get on dacently, and soon be well and
comfortable to live.'
"'Comfortable!' savs Larry, 'no, but wealthy itself, Tom: and let us at
it at wanst; Squire Dickson knows what I can do as well as any man in
Europe; and I'll engage won't be hard upon us for the first year or two;
our best plan is to go to-morrow, for fraid some-other might get the
foreway of us.'
"The Squire knew very well that two better boys weren't to be met with
than the same M'Farlands, in the way of knowing how to manage land; and
although he had his doubts as to Larry's light and careless ways, yet he
had good depindance out of the brother and thought, on the whole, that
they might do very-well together. Accordingly, he set them the farm at a
reasonable rint, and in a short time they were both living on it with
their two wives. They divided the fourteen acres into aquil parts; and for
fraid were would be any grumbling between them about better or worse, Tom
proposed that they should draw lots, which was agreed to by Larry; but,
indeed, there was very little difference in the two halves; for Tom took
care, by the way he divided them, that none of them should have any reason
to complain. From the time they wint to live upon their farms, Tom was up
early and down late, improving it—paid attention to nothing else;
axed every man's opinion as to what crop would be best for such a spot,
and to tell the truth he found very few, if any, able to instruct him so
well as his own brother Larry. He was no such laborer, however, as Larry—but
what he was short in, he made up by perseverance and care.
"In the coorse 'of two or three years you would hardly bleeve how he got
on, and his wife was every bit aquil to him. She spun the yarn for the
linen that made their own shirts and sheeting, bought an odd pound of
wool-now and then when she could get it chape, and put it past till she
had a stone or so; she would then sit down and spin it—get it wove
and dressed; and before one would know anything about it she'd have the
making of a dacent comfortable coat for Tom, and a bit of heather-colored
drugget for her own gown, along with a piece of striped red and blue for a
petticoat—all at very little cost.
"It wasn't so with Larry. In the beginning, to be sure, while the fit was
on him, he did very well; only that he would go off an odd time to a
dance; or of a market or fair day, when he'd see the people pass by,
dressed in their best clothes, he'd take the notion, and sot off with
himself, telling Sally that he'd just go in for a couple of hours, to see
how the markets were going on.
"It's always an unpleasant thing for a body to go to a fair or market
without anything in their pocket; accordingly, if money was in the house,
he'd take some of it with him, for fraid that any friend or acquaintance
might thrate him; and then it would be a poor, mane-spirited thing, he
would say, to take another man's thrate, without giving one for it. He'd
seldom have any notion, though, of breaking in upon or spinding the money,
he only brought it to keep his pocket, jist to prevent him from being
shamed, should he meet a friend.
"In the manetime, Sally, in his absence, would find herself lonely, and as
she hadn't, may be, seen her aunt for some time before, she'd lock the
door, and go over to spind a while with her; or take a trip as far as her
ould mistress's place to see the family. Many a thing people will have to
say to one another about the pleasant times they had together, or several
other subjects best known to themselves, of coorse. Larry would come home
in her absence, and finding the door locked, would slip down to Squire
Dickson's, to chat with the steward or gardener, or with the sarvints in
"You all remimber Torn Hance, that kept the public-house at Tullyvernon
cross-roads, a little above the. Squire's—at laste, most of you do—and
ould Willy Butledge, the fiddler, that spint his time between Tom's and
the big house—God,be good to Wilty!—it's himself was the droll
man entirely: he died of ating boiled banes, for a wager that the Squire
laid on him agin ould Captain Mint, and dhrinking porter after them till
he was swelled like a tun; but the Squire berried him at his own expense.
Well, Larry's haunt, on finding Sally out when he came home, was either at
the Squire's kitchen, or Tom Hance's; and as he was the broth of a boy at
dancing, the sarvints, when he'd go down, would send for Wilty to Hance's,
if he didn't happen to be with themselves at the time, and strike up a
dance in the kitchen; and, along with all, may be Larry would have a sup
in his head.
"When Sally would come home, in her turn, she'd not find Larry before her;
but Larry's custom was to go in to Tom's wife, and say,—'Biddy, tell
Sally, when she comes home, that I'm gone down awhile to the big house (or
to Tom Hance's, as it might be), but I'll not be long.' Sally, after
waiting awhile, would put on her cloak, and slip down to see what was
keeping him. Of course, when finding the sport going on, and carrying a
light heel at the dance herself, she'd throw off the cloak, and take a
hand at it along with the rest. Larry and she would then go their ways
home, find the fire out, light a sod of turf in Tom's, and feeling their
own place very cowld and naked, after the blazing comfortable fire they
had left behind them, go to bed, both in very middling spirits entirely.
"Larry, at other times, would quit his work early in the evening, to go
down towards the Squire's, bekase he had only to begin work earlier the
next day to make it up. He'd meet the Squire himself, may be, and, after
putting his hand to his hat, and getting a 'how do you do, Larry,' from
his honor, enter into discoorse with him about his honor's plan of
stacking his corn. Now, Larry was famous at this.
"'Who's to build your stacks this saison, your honor?'
"'Tim Dillon, Larry.'
"'Is it he, your honor?—he knows as much about building a stack of
corn as Mas-ther George, here. He'll only botch them, sir, if you let him
go about them.'
"'Yes;' but what can I do, Larry? He's the only man I have that I could
trust them to.'
"'Then it's your honor needn't say that anyhow; for rather then see them
spoiled, I'd come down myself and put them up for you.'
"'Oh, I couldn't expect that, Larry.'
"Why, then, I'll do it, your honor; and you may expect, me down in the
morning at six o'clock, plase God.'
"Larry would keep his word, though his own corn was drop-ripe; and havin'
once undertaken the job, he couldn't give it up till he'd, finish it off
dacently. In the meantime, his own crop would go to destruction; sometimes
a windy day would come, and not leave him every tenth grain; he'd then get
some one to cut it down for him—he had to go to the big house, to
build the master's corn; he was then all bustle—a great man entirely—there
was non such; would be up with, the first light, ordering and
commanding, and directing the Squire's laborers, as if he was the king of
the castle. Maybe, 'tis after he'd come from the big' house, that he'd,
collect a few of the neighbors, and get a couple of cars and horses from
the Squire, you see, to bring home his own oats to the hagyard with
moonlight, after the dews would begin to fall; and. in a week afterwards
every stack would be heated, and all in a reek of froth and smoke. It's
not aisy to do anything in a hurry, and especially it's not aisy to build
a corn-stack after night, when a man cannot see how it goes on: so 'twas
no wonder if Larry's stacks were supporting one another the next day—one
leaning north and another south.
"But, along with this, Larry and Sally were great people for going to the
dances that Hance used to have at the crass-roads, bekase he wished to put
money into his own pocket; and if a neighbor died, they were sure to be
the first at the wake-house—for Sally was a great hand at washing
down a corpse—-and they would be the last home from the berril; for
you know, they couldn't but be axed in to the dhrinking, after the friends
would lave the churchyard, to take a sup to raise their spirits and drown
sorrow, for grief is always drouthy.
"When the races, too, would come, they would be sure not to miss them; and
if you'd go into a tint, it's odds but you'd find them among a knot of
acquaintances, dhrinking and dancing, as if the world was no trouble to
them. They were, indeed, the best nathured couple in Europe; they would
lend you a spade or a hook in potato time or harvest, out of pure
kindness, though their own corn, that was drop-ripe, should be uncut, or
their potatoes, that were a tramping every day with their own cows or
those of the neighbors, should be undug—all for fraid of being
"In this way they went on for some years, not altogether so bad but that
they were able just to keep the house over their heads. They had a small
family of three children on their hands, and every likelihood of having
enough of them. Whenever they got a young one christened, they'd be sure
to have a whole lot of the neighbors at it; and surely some of the young
ladies, or Master George, or John, or Frederick, from the big house,
should stand gossip, and have the child called after them. They then
should have tay enough to sarve them, and loaf-bread and punch; and though
Larry should sell a sack of seed-oats or seed-potatoes to get it, no doubt
but there should be a bottle of wine, to thrate the young ladies or
"When their childre grew up, little care was taken of them, bekase their
parents minded other people's business more nor their own. They were
always in the greatest poverty and distress; for Larry would be killing
time about the Squire's, or doing some handy job for a neighbor who could
get no other man to do it. They now fell behind entirely in the rint, and
Larry got many hints from the Squire that if he didn't pay more attention
to his business, he must look after his arrears, or as much of it as he
could make up from the cattle and the crop. Larry promised well, as far as
words went, and no doubt hoped to be able to perform; but he hadn't
steadiness to go through with a thing. Thruth's best;—you see both
himself and his wife neglected their business in the beginning, so that
everything went at sixes and sevens. They then found themselves
uncomfortable at their own hearth, and had no heart to labor: so that what
would make a careful person work their fingers to the stumps to get out of
poverty, only prevented them from working at all, or druv them to
work for those that had more comfort, and could give them a better male's
mate than they had themselves.
"Their tempers, now, soon began to get sour: Larry thought, bekase Sally
wasn't as careful as she ought to be, that if he had taken any other young
woman to his wife, he wouldn't be as he was;—she thought the very
same thing of Larry. 'If he was like another,' she would say to his
brother, 'that would be up airly and late at his own business, I would
have spirits to work, by rason it would cheer my heart to see our little
farm looking as warm and comfortable as anothers; but, fareer gairh
(* bitter misfortune) that's not the case, nor likely to be so, for he
spinds his time from one place to another, working for them that laughs at
him for his pains; but he'd rather go to his neck in wather than lay down
a hand for himself, except when he can't help it.'
"Larry, again, had his complaint—'Sally's a lazy trollop,' he would
say to his brother's wife, 'that never does one hand's turn that she can
help, but sits over the fire from morning till night, making bird's nests
in the ashes with her yallow heels, or going about from one neighbor's
house to another, gosthering and palavering about what doesn't consarn
her, instead of minding the house. How can I have heart to work, when I
come in—expecting to find my dinner ready; but, instead of that, get
her sitting upon her hunkers on the hearthstone; blowing at two or three
green sticks with her apron, the pot hanging on the crook, without even
the white horses on it.* She never puts a stitch in my clothes, nor in the
childher's clothes, nor in her own, but lets them go to rags at once—the
divil's luck to her! I wish I had never met with her, or that I had
married a sober girl, that wasn't fond of dress and dancing. If she was a
good sarvint, it was only because she liked to have a good name; for when
she got a house and place of her own, see how she turned out!'
* The white horses are produced by the extrication of air,
which rises in white bubbles to the surface when the
potatoes are beginning to boil; so that when the first
symptoms of boiling commence, it is a usual phrase to say,
the white horses are on the pot—sometimes the white friars.
"From less to more, they went on squabbling and fighting, until at last
you might see Sally one time with a black eye or a cut head, or another
time going off with herself, crying, up to Tom Hance's or some other
neighbor's house, to sit down and give a history of the ruction that he
and she had on the head of some trifle or another that wasn't worth
naming. Their childher were shows, running about without a single stitch
upon them, except ould coats that some of the sarvints from the big house
would throw them. In these they'd go sailing about,with the long skirts
trailing on the ground behind them; and sometimes Larry would be mane
enough to take the coat from the gorsoon, and ware it himself. As for
giving them any schooling, 'twas what they never thought of; but even if
they were inclined to it, there was no school in the neighborhood to send
them to, for God knows it's the counthry that was in a neglected state as
to schools in those days, as well as now.
"It's a thrue saying, that as the ould cock crows the young one larns; and
this was thrue here, for the childher fought one another like so many
divils, and swore like Trojans—Larry, along with everything else,
when he was a Brine-oge, thought it was a manly thing to be a great
swearer; and the childher, when they got able to swear, warn't worse nor
their father. At first, when any of the little souls would thry at an
oath, Larry would break his heart laughing at them; and so, from one thing
to another, they got quite hardened in it, without being any way checked
in wickedness. Things at last drew on to a bad state, entirely. Larry and
Sally were now as ragged as Dives and Lazarus, and their childher the
same. It was no strange sight, in summer, to see the young ones marching
about the street as bare as my hand, with scarce a blessed stitch upon
them that ever was seen, they dirt and ashes to the eyes, waddling after
their uncle Tom's geese and ducks, through the green sink of rotten water
that lay before their own door, just beside the dunghill: or the bigger
ones running after the Squire's laborers, when bringing home the corn or
the hay, wanting to get a ride as they went back with the empty cars.
"Larry and Sally would never be let into the Squire's kitchen now to eat
or drink, or spend an evening with the sarvints; he might go out and in to
his meal's mate along with the rest of the laborers, but there was no grah
(* goodwill) for him. Sally would go down with her jug to get some
buttermilk, and have to stand among a set of beggars and cotters, she as
ragged and as poor as any of them, for she wouldn't be let into the
kitchen till her turn came, no more nor another, for the sarvints would
turn up their noses with the greatest disdain possible at them both.
"It was hard to tell whether the inside or the outside of their house was
worse;—within, it would amost turn your stomach to look at it—the
flure was all dirt, for how could it be any other way, when at the end of
every meal the schrahag* would be emptied down on it, and the pig,
that was whining and grunting about the door, would brake into the hape of
praty-skins that Sally would there throw down for it. You might reel
Larry's shirt, or make a surveyor's chain of it; for, bad cess (* Bad
success) to me, but I bleeve it would reach from this to the Bath. The
blanket was in tatthers, and, like the shirt, would go round the house:
their straw-beds were stocked with the black militia—the
childer's heads were garrisoned with Scotch greys, and their heels
and heads ornamented with all description of kibes. There wor only two
stools in all the house, and a hassock of straw for the young child, and
one of the stools wanted a leg, so that it was dangerous for a stranger to
sit down upon it, except he knew of this failing. The flure was worn into
large holes, that were mostly filled up with slop, where the childher used
to daddle about, and amuse themselves by sailing egg-shells upon them,
with bits of boiled praties in them, by way of a little faste. The dresser
was as black as dirt could make it, and had on it only two or three wooden
dishes, clasped with tin, and noggins without hoops, a beetle, and some
crockery. There was an ould chest to hold their male, but it wanted the
hinges; and the childher, when they'd get the mother out, would mix a sup
of male and wather in a noggin, and stuff themselves with it, raw and all,
for they were almost starved.
"Then, as the cow-house had never been kept in repair, the roof fell in,
and the cow and pig had to stand in one end of the dwelling-house; and,
except Larry did it, whatever dirt the same cow and pig, and the childher
to the back of that, were the occasion of, might stand there till Saturday
night, when, for dacency's sake, Sally herself would take a shovel, and
out with it upon the hape that was beside the sink before the door. If a
wet day came, there wasn't a spot you could stand in for down-rain;
and wet or dry, Sally, Larry, and the childher were spotted like trouts
with the soot-dhrops, made by the damp of the roof and the smoke. The
house on the outside was all in ridges of black dirt, where the thatch had
rotted, or covered over with chickenweed or blind-oats; but in the middle
of all this misery they had a horseshoe nailed over the door-head for good
"You know, that in telling this story, I needn't mintion everything just
as it happened, laying down year after year, or day and date; so you may
suppose, as I go on, that all this went forward in the coorse cf time.
They didn't get bad of a sudden, but by degrees, neglecting one thing
after another, until they found themselves in the state I'm relating to
you—then struggling and struggling, but never taking the right way
"But where's the use in saying much more about it?—things couldn't
stand—they were terribly in arrears; but the landlord was a good
kind of man, and, for the sake of the poor childher, didn't wish to turn
them on the wide world, without house or shelter, bit or sup. Larry, too,
had been, and still was, so ready to do difficult and nice jobs for him,
and would resave no payment, that he couldn't think of taking his only cow
from him or prevent him from raising a bit of oats' or a plat of potatoes,
every year, out of the farm.—The farm itself was all run to waste by
this time, and had a miserable look about it—sometimes you might see
a piece of a field that had been ploughed, all overgrown with grass,
because it had never been sowed or set with anything. The slaps were all
broken down, or had only a piece of an ould beam, a thorn bush, or crazy
car lying acrass, to keep the cattle out of them. His bit of corn was all
eat away and cropped here and there by the cows, and his potatoes rooted
up by the pigs.—The garden, indeed, had a few cabbages, and a ridge
of early potatoes, but these were so choked with burtlocks and nettles,
that you could hardly see them.
"I tould you before that they led the divil's life, and that was nothing
but God's truth; and according as they got into greater poverty it was
worse. A day couldn't pass without a fight; if they'd be at their
breakfust, maybe he'd make a potato hop off her skull, and she'd give him
the contents of her noggin of buttermilk about the eyes; then he'd flake
her, and the childher would be in an uproar, crying out, 'Oh, daddy,
daddy, don't kill my mammy!' When this would be over, he'd go off with
himself to do something for the Squire, and would sing and laugh so
pleasant, that you'd think he was the best-tempered man alive; and so he
was, until neglecting his business, and minding dances, and fairs, and
drink, destroyed him.
"It's the maxim of the world, that when a man is down, down with him; but
when a man goes down through his own fault, he finds very little mercy from
any one. Larry might go to fifty fairs before he'd meet any one now to
thrate him; instead of that, when he'd make up to them, they'd turn away,
or give him the cowld shoulder. But that wouldn't satisfy him: for if he
went to buy a slip of a pig, or a pair of brogues, and met an ould
acquaintance that had got well to do in the world, he should bring him in,
and give him a dram, merely to let the other see that he was still able
to do it; then, when they'd sit down, one dram would bring on another from
Larry, till the price of the pig or the brogues would be spint, and he'd
go home again as he came, sure to have another battle with Sally.
"In this way things went on, when one day that Larry was preparing to sell
some oats a son of Nicholas Roe Sheridan's of the Broad bog came in to
him. 'Good-morrow,' says he. 'Good-morrow, kindly, Art,' says Larry—'how
are you, ma bou-chal?'
"'Why I've no rason to complain, thank God, and you,' says the other; 'how
"'Well, thank you, Art: how is the family?'
"'Faix, all stout except my father, that has got a touch of the toothache.
When did you hear from the Slevins?'
"'Sally was down on Thursday last, and they're all well, your soul.'
"'Where's Sally now?'
"'She's just gone down to the big house for a pitcher of buttermilk; our
cow won't calve these three weeks to come, and she gets a sup of kitchen
for the childher till then; won't you take a sate, Art? but you had better
have a care of yourself, for that stool wants a leg.'
"'I didn't care she was within, for I brought a sup of my own stuff in my
pocket,' said Art.
"'Here, Hurrish' (he was called Horatio after one of the Square's sons),
'fly down to the Square's, and see what's keeping your mother; the divil's
no match for her at staying out with herself wanst she's from under the
"'Let Dick go,' says the little fellow, 'he's betther able to go nor I am;
he has got a coat on him.'
"'Go yourself, when I bid you,' says the father.
"'Let him go,' says Hurrish, 'you have no right to bid me to go, when he
has a coat upon him: you promised to ax one for me from Masther Francis,
and you didn't do it; so the divil a toe I'll budge to-day,' says he,
getting betune the father and the door.
"'Well, wait,' says Larry, 'faix, only the strange man's to the fore, and
I don't like to raise a hubbub, I'd pay you for making me such an answer.
Dick, agra, will you run down, like a good bouchal, to the big house, and
tell your mother to come home, that there's a strange man here wants her?'
"'Twas Hurrish you bid,' says Dick—'and make him: that's the way he
always thrates you—does nothing that you bid him.'
"'But you know, Dick,' says the father, 'that he hasn't a stitch to his
back, and the crathur doesn't like to go out in the cowld, and he so
"'Well, you bid him go,' says Dick, 'an let him; the sorrayard I'll go—the
shinburnt spalpeen, that's always the way with him; whatever he's bid to
do, he throws it on me, bekase, indeed, he has no coat; but he'll folly
Masther Thomas or Masther Francis through sleet and snow up the mountains
when they're fowling or tracing; he doesn't care about a coat then.'
"'Hurrish, you must go down for your mother when I bid you,' says the weak
man, turning again to the other boy.
"I'll not,' says the little fellow; 'send Dick.'
"Larry said no more, but, laying down the child he had in his hands, upon
the flure, makes at him; the lad, however, had the door of him, and was
off beyant his reach like a shot. He then turned into the house, and
meeting Dick, felled him with a blow of his fist at the dresser.
'Tundher-an-ages, Larry,' says Art, 'what has come over you at all at all?
to knock down the gorsoon with such a blow! couldn't you take a rod or a
switch to him?—Dher manhim, (* By my soul!) man, but I bleeve
you've killed him outright,' says he, lifting the boy, and striving to
bring him to life. Just at this minit Sally came in.
"'Arrah, sweet bad-luck to you, you lazy vagabond you,' says Larry, 'what
kept you away till this hour?'
"'The devil send you news, you nager you,' says Sally, 'what kept me—could
I make the people churn sooner than they wished or were ready?'
"'Ho, by my song, I'll flake you as soon as the dacent young man leaves
the house,' says Larry to her, aside.
"'You'll flake me, is it?' says Sally, speaking out loud—'in troth,
that's no new thing for you to do, any how.'
"'Spake asy, you had betther.'
"'No, in troth, won't I spake asy; I've spoken asy too long, Larry, but
the devil a taste of me will bear what I've suffered from you any longer,
you mane-spirited blackguard you; for he is nothing else that would rise
his hand to a woman, especially to one in my condition, and she put her
gown tail to her eyes. When she came in, Art turned his back to her, for
fraid she'd see the state the gorsoon was in—but now she noticed it—
"'Oh, murdher, murdher,' says she, clapping her hands, and running over to
him, 'what has happened my child? oh! murdher, murdher, this is your work,
murdherer!' says she to Larry. 'Oh, you villain, are you bent on
murdhering all of us—are you bent on destroying us out o' the face!
Oh, wurrah sthrew! wurrah sthrew! what'll become of us! Dick, agra,' says
she, crying, 'Dick, acushla machree, don't you hear, me spaiking to you!—don't
you hear your poor broken-hearted mother spaking to you? Oh! wurrah!
wurrah! amn't I the heart-brokenest crathur that's alive this day, to see
the likes of such doings! but I knew it would come to this! My sowl to
glory, but my child's murdhered by that man standing there!—by his
own father—his own father! Which of us will you murther next, you
"'For heaven's sake, Sally,' says Art, 'don't exaggerate him more nor he
is—the boy is only stunned—see, he's coming to: Dick, ma
bouchal, rouse yourself, that's a man: hut! he's well enough—that's
it, alannah; here, take a slug out of this bottle, and it'll set all right—or
stop, have you a glass within, Sally?' 'Och, inusha, not a glass is under
the roof wid me,' says Sally; 'the last we had was broke the night Barney
was christened, and we hadn't one since—but I'll get you an
egg-shell.'* 'It'll do as well as the best,' says Art. And to make a long
story short, they sat down, and drank the bottle of whiskey among them.
Larry and Sally made it up, and were as great friends as ever; and Dick
was made drunk for the bating he got from his father.
* The ready wit of the Irish is astonishing. It often
happens that they have whiskey when neither glasses nor cups
are at hand; in which case they are never at a loss. I have
seen them use not only egg-shells, but pistol barrels,
tobacco boxes, and scooped potatoes, in extreme cases.
"What Art wanted was to buy some oats that Larry had to sell, to run in a
private Still, up in the mountains, of coorse, where every Still is kept.
Sure enough, Larry sould him the oats, and was to bring them up to the
still-house the next night after dark. According to appointment, Art came
a short time after night-fall, with two or three young boys along with
him. The corn was sacked and put on the horses; but before that was done,
they had a dhrop, for Art's pocket and the bottle were ould acquaintances.
They all then sat down in Larry's, or, at laste, as many as there were
seats for, and fell to it. Larry, however, seemed to be in better humor
this night, and more affectionate with Sally and the childher: he'd often
look at them, and appear to feel as if something was over him* but no one
observed that till afterwards. Sally herself seemed kinder to him, and
even went over and sat beside him on the stool, and putting her arm about
his neck, kissed him in a joking way, wishing to make up, too, for what
Art saw the night before—poor thing—but still as if it wasn't
all a joke, for at times she looked sorrowful. Larry, too, got his arm
about her, and looked, often and often on her and the childher, in a way
that he wasn't used to do, until the tears fairly came into his eyes.
* This is precisely tantamount to what the Scotch call
"fey." It means that he felt as if some fatal doom were over
"'Sally, avourneen,' says he, looking at her, 'I saw you when you had
another look from what you have this night; when it wasn't asy to fellow
you in the parish or out of it;' and when he said this he
could hardly spake.
"'Whist, Larry, acushla,' says she, 'don't be spaking that way—sure
we may do very well yet, plase God: I know, Larry, there was a great dale
of it—maybe, indeed, it was all my fault; for I wasn't to you, in
the way of care and kindness, what I ought to be.'
"'Well, well, aroon, says Larry, 'say no more; you might have been all
that, only it was my fault: but where's Dick, that I struck so terribly
last night? Dick, come over to me, agra—come over, Dick, and sit
down here beside me. Arrah, here, Art, ma bouchal, will you fill this
egg-shell for him?—Poor gorsoon! God knows, Dick, you get far from
fair play, acushla—far from the ating and drinking that other
people's childher get, that hasn't as good a skin to put it in as you,
alannah! Kiss me, Dick, acushla—and God knows your face is pale, and
that's not with good feeding, anyhow: Dick, agra, I'm sorry for what I
done to you last night; forgive your father, Dick, for I think that my
heart's breaking, acushla, and that you won't have me long with you.'
"Poor Dick, who was naturally a warmhearted, affectionate gorsoon, kissed
his father, and cried bitterly. Sally herself, seeing Larry so sorry for
what he done, sobbed as if she would drop on the spot: but the rest began,
and betwixt scoulding and cheering them up, all was as well as ever. Still
Larry seemed as if there was something entirely very strange the matter
with him, for as he was going out, he kissed all the childher, one after
another; and even went over to the young baby that was asleep in the
little cradle of boords that he himself had made for it, and kissed it two
or three times, asily, for fraid of wakening it. He then met Sally at the
door, and catching her hand when none of the rest saw him, squeezed it,
and gave her a kiss, saying, 'Sally, darling!' says he.
"'What ails you, Larry, asthore?' says Sally.
"'I don't know,' says he; 'nothing, I bleeve—but Sally, acushla, I
have thrated you badly all along. I forgot, avourneen, how I loved you once
and now it breaks my heart that I have used you so ill.'
"'Larry she answered, 'don't be talking that way, bekase you make me
sorrowful and unasy—don't, acushla: God above me knows I forgive you
it all. Don't stay long,' says she 'and I'll borry a lock of meal from
Biddy, till we get home our own meldhre, and I'll have a dish of stirabout
ready to make for you when you come home. Sure, Larry, who'd forgive you,
if I, your own wife, wouldn't? But it's I that wants it from you, Larry;
and in the presence of God and ourselves, I now beg your pardon, and ax
your forgiveness for all the sin I done to you.' She dropped on her knees,
and cried bitterly; but he raised her up, himself a choking at the time,
and as the poor crathur got to her feet, she laid herself on his breast,
and sobbed out, for she couldn't help it. They then went away, though
Larry, to tell the thruth, wouldn't have gone with them at all, only that
the sacks were borried from his brother, and he had to bring them home, in
regard of Tom wanting them the very next day.
"The night was as dark as pitch—so dark, faiks, that they had to get
long pieces of bog fir, which they lit, and held in their hand, like the
lights that Ned there says the lamplighters have in Dublin to light the
"At last, with a good dale of trouble, they got to the still-house; and,
as they had all taken a drop before, you may be sure they were better
inclined, to take another now. They, accordingly, sat down about the fine
rousing fire that was under the still, and had a right good jorum of
strong whiskey that never seen a drop of water. They all were in very good
spirits, not thinking of to-morrow, and caring at the time very little
about the world as it went.
"When the night was far advanced, they thought of moving home; however, by
that time they weren't able to stand: but it's one curse of being drunk,
that a man doesn't know what he's about for the time, except some few,
like that poaching ould fellow, Billy M'Kinny, that's cuinninger when he's
drunk than when he's sober; otherwise they would not have ventured out in
the clouds of the night, when it was so dark and severe, and they in such
"At last they staggered away together, for their road lay for a good
distance in the same direction. The others got on, and reached home as
well as they could; but, although Sally borried the dish of male from her
sister-in-law, to have a warm pot of stirabout for Larry, and sat up till
the night was more than half gone, waiting for him, yet no Larry made his
appearance. The childher, too, all sat up, hoping he'd come home before
they'd fall asleep and miss the supper: at last the crathurs, after
running about, began to get sleepy, and one head would fall this way and
another that way; so Sally thought it hard to let them go without getting
their share, and accordingly she put down the pot on a bright fire, and
made a good lot of stirabout for them, covering up Larry's share in a red
earthen dish before the fire.
"This roused them a little; and they sat about the hearth with their
mother, keeping her company with their little chat, till their father
would come back.
"The night, for some time before this, got very stormy entirely. The wind
ris, and the rain fell as if it came out of methers.* The house was very
cowld, and the door was bad; for the wind came in very strong under the
foot of it, where the ducks and hens, and the pig when it was little, used
to squeeze themselves in when the family was absent, or afther they went
to bed. The wind now came whistling under it; and the ould hat and rags,
that stopped up the windies, were blown out half a dozen times with such
force, that the ashes were carried away almost from the hearth. Sally got
very low-spirited on hearing the storm whistling so sorrowfully through
the house, for she was afeard that Larry might be out on the dark moors
under it; and how any living soul could bear it, she didn't know. The talk
of the childhre, too, made her worse; for they were debating among
themselves, the crathurs, about what he had better do under the tempest;
whether he ought to take the sheltry side of a hillock, or get into a long
heather bush or under the ledge of a rock or tree, if he could meet such a
* An old Irish drinking vessel, of a square form, with a
handle or ear on each side, out of which all the family
drank successively, or in rotation. The expression above is
"In the mane time, terrible blasts would come over and through the house,
making the ribs crack so that you would think the roof would be taken away
at wanst. The fire was now getting low, and Sally had no more turf in the
house; so that the childher crouched closer and closer about it, their
poor hungry-looking pale faces made paler with fear that the house might
come down upon them, or be stripped, and their father from home—and
with worse fear that something might happen him under such a tempest of
wind and rain as it blew. Indeed it was a pitiful sight to see the ragged
crathurs drawing in in a ring nearer and nearer the dying fire; and their
poor, naked, half-starved mother, sitting with her youngest infant lying
between her knees and her breast; for the bed was too cowld to put it into
it, without being kept warm by the heat of them that it used to sleep
"Musha, God help her and them," says Ned, "I wish they were here beside me
on this comfortable hob, this minute; I'd fight Nancy to get a fog-meal
for them, any way—a body can't but pity them afther all!"
"You'd fight Nancy!" said Nancy herself—"maybe Nancy would be as
willing to do something for the crathurs as you would—I like every
body that's able to pay for what they get! but we ought to have some
bowels in us for all that. You'd fight Nancy, indeed!"
"Well," continued the narrator, "there' they sat, with cowld and fear in
their pale faces, shiverin' over the remains of the fire, for it was now
nearly out, and thinking, as the deadly blast would drive through the
creaking ould door and the half-stuffed windies, of what their father
would do under such a terrible night. Poor Sally, sad and sorrowful, was
thinking of all their ould quarrels, and taking the blame all to herself
for not bein' more attentive to her business, and more kind to Larry; and
when she thought of the way she thrated him, and the ill-tongue she used
to give him, the tears began to roll from her eyes, and she rocked herself
from side to side, sobbing as if her heart would brake. When the childher
saw her wiping her eyes with the corner of the little handkerchief that
she had about her neck, they began to cry along with her. At last she
thought, as it was now so late, that it would be folly to sit up any
longer; she hoped, too, that he might have thought of going into some
neighbor's house on his way, to take shelter, and with these thoughts, she
raked the greeshough (* warm ashes and embers) over the fire, and after,
putting the childher in their little straw nest, and spreading their own
rags over them, she and the young one went to bed, although she couldn't
sleep at all at all, for thinking of Larry.
"There she lay, trembling under the light cover of the bed-clothes, for
they missed Larry's coat, listening to the dreadful night that was in it,
so lonely, that the very noise of the cow, in the other corner, chewing
her cud, in the silence of a short calm, was a great relief to her. It was
a long time before she could get a wink of sleep, for there was some
uncommon weight upon her that she couldn't account for by any chance; but
after she had been lying for about half an hour, she heard something that
almost fairly knocked her up. It was the voice of a woman, crying and
wailing in the greatest distress, as if all belonging to her were
"When Sally heard it first, she thought it was nothing but the whistling
of the wind; but it soon came again, more sorrowful than before, and as
the storm arose, it rose upon the blast along with it, so strange and
mournful that she never before heard the like of it. 'The Lord be about
us!' said she to herself, 'what can that be at all?—or who is it?
for its not Nelly,' maning her sister-in-law. Again she listened, and
there was, sobbing and sighing in the greatest grief, and she thought she
heard it louder than ever, only that this time it seemed to name
whomsoever it was lamenting. Sally now got up and put her ear to the door,
to see if she could hear what it said. At this time the wind got calmer,
and the voice also got lower; but although it was still sorrowful, she
never heard any living Christian's voice so sweet, and what was very odd,
it fell in fits, exactly as the storm sunk, and rose as it blew louder.
"When she put her ear to the chink of the door, she heard the words
repeated, no doubt of it, only couldn't be quite sure, as they wern't very
plain; but as far as she could make any sense out of them, she thought
that it said—'Oh, Larry M'Farland!—Larry M'Farland!—Larry
"Sally's hair stood on end when she heard this; but on listening again,
she thought it was her own name instead of Larry's that it repeated, and
that it said, 'Sally M'Farland!—Sally M'Farland!—Sally
M'Farland!' Still she wasn't sure, for the words wern't plain, and all she
could think was, that they resembled her own name or Larry's more than any
other words she knew. At last, as the wind fell again, it melted away,
weeping most sorrowfully, but so sweetly, that the likes of it was never
heard. Sally then went to bed, and the poor woman was so harrished with
one thing or another, that at last she fell asleep."
"'Twas the Banshee," said Shane Fadh.
"Indeed it was nothing else than that same," replied M'Roarkin.
"I wonder Sally didn't think of-that," said Nancy—"sure she might
know that no living crathur would be out lamenting under such a night as
"She did think of that," said Tom; "but as no Banshee ever followed her
own* family, didn't suppose that it could be such a thing; but she
forgot that it might follow Larry's. I, myself, heard his brother Tom say,
afterwards, that a Banshee used always to be heard before any of them
* The Banshee in Ireland is, or rather was, said to follow
only particular families—principally the Old Milesians. It
appeared or was heard before the death of any member of the
family. Its form was always that of a female—weeping,
wailing, wringing its hands, and uttering the national
keene, or lamentation for the dead. Banshee signifies gentle
"Did his brother hear it?" Ned inquired.
"He did," said Tom, "and his wife along with him, and knew, at once, that
some death would happen in the family—but it wasn't long till he
suspected who it came for; for, as he was going to bed that night, on
looking towards his own hearth, he thought he saw his brother standing at
the fire, with a very sorrowful face upon him. 'Why, Larry,' says he, 'how
did you get in, after me barring the door?—or did you turn back from
helping them with the corn? You surely hadn't time to go half the way
"Larry, however, made him no answer; and, on looking for him again, there
was no Larry there for him. 'Nelly,' says he to his wife, 'did you see any
sight of Larry since, he went to the still-house?' 'Arrah, no indeed,
Tom,' says she; 'what's coming over you to spake to the man that's near
Drum-furrar by this time?' 'God keep him from harm!' said Tom;—'poor
fellow, I wish nothing ill may happen him this night! I'm afeard, Nelly,
that I saw his fetch;* and if I did, he hasn't long to live; for
when one's fetch is seen at this time of night, their lase of life, let
them be sick or in health, is always short.'
* This in the North of Ireland is called wraith, as in
Scotland. The Fetch is a spirit that assumes the likeness of
a particular person. It does not appear to the individual
himself whose resemblance it assumes, but to some of his
friends. If it is seen in the morning, it betokens long
life; if after sunset, approaching death; after nightfall,
"'Hut, Tom aroon!' says Nelly, 'it was the shadow of the jamb or yourself
you saw in the light of the candle, or the shadow of the bed-post.'
"The next morning they were all up, hoping that he would drop in to them.
Sally got a creel of turf, notwithstanding her condition, and put down a
good fire to warm him; but the morning passed, and no sign of him. She now
got very unasy, and mintioned to his brother what she felt, and Tom went
up to the still-house to know if he was there, or to try if he could get
any tidings of him. But, by the laws! when he heard that he had left that
for home the night before, and he in a state of liquor, putting this, and
what he had heard and seen in his house together, Tom knew that something
must have happened him. He went home again, and on his way had his eye
about him, thinking that it would be no miracle, if he'd meet him lying
head-foremost in a ditch; however, he did not, but went on, expecting to
find him at home before him.
"In the mane time, the neighbors had been all raised to search for him;
and, indeed, the hills were alive with people. It was the second day
after, that Sally was standing, looking out at her own door towards the
mountains, expecting that every man with a blue coat upon him might be
Larry, when she saw a crowd of people coming down the hills. Her heart
leaped to her mouth, and she sent Dick, the eldest of the sons, to meet
them, and run back with word to her if he was among them. Dick went away;
but he hadn't gone far when he met his uncle Tom, coming on before the
"'Uncle,' says Dick, 'did you get my father? for I must fly back with word
to my mother, like lightning.'
"'Come here, Dick,' says Tom; 'God help you, my poor bouchal (* boy)—Come
here, and walk alongside of me, for you can't go back to your mother, till
I see her first—God help you, my poor bouchal, it's you that's to be
pitied, this blessed and sorrowful day;' and the poor fellow could by no
means keep in the tears. But he was saved the trouble of breaking the
dismal tidings to poor Sally; for as she stood watching the crowd, she saw
a door carried upon their shoulders, with something like a man stretched
upon it. She turned in, feeling as if a bullet had gone through her head,
and sat down with her back to the door, for fraid she might see the
thruth, for she couldn't be quite sure, they we're at such a distance. At
last she ventured to take another look out, for she couldn't bear what she
felt within her, and just as she rose and came to the door, the first
thing she saw coming down the hill a little above the house, was the body
of her husband stretched on a door—dead. At that minute, her
brother-in-law, Tom, just entered, in time to prevent her and the child
she had in her arms from falling on the flure. She had seen enough, God
help her!—for she took labor that instant, and, in about two hours,
afterwards, was stretched a corpse beside her husband, with her
heart-broken and desolate orphans in an uproar of outher misery about
them. That was the end of Larry M'Farland and Sally Lowry; two that might
have done well in the world, had they taken care of themselves—avoided,
fairs and markets—except when they had business there—not
given themselves idle fashions by drinking, or going to dances, and
wrought as well for themselves as they did for others."
"But how did he lose his life, at all at all?" inquired Nancy.
"Why, they found his hat in a bog-hole upon the water, and on searching
the hole itself poor Larry was fished up from the bottom of it."
"Well, that's a murdhering sorrowful story," said Shane Fadh: "but you
won't be after passing that on us for the wake, ainy how."
"Well, you must learn patience, Shane," said the narrator, "for you know
patience is a virtue."
"I'll warrant you that Tom and his wife made a better hand of themselves,"
said Alick M'Kinley, "than Larry and Sally did."
"Ah! I wouldn't fear, Alick," said Tom, "but you would come at the truth—'tis
you that may say they did; there wasn't two in the parish more comfortable
than the same two, at the very time that Larry and Sally came by their
deaths. It would do you good to look at their hagyard—the corn
stacks were so nately roped and trimmed, and the walls so well made up,
that a bird could scarcely get into it. Their barn and cowhouse, too, and
dwelling-house, were all comfortably thatched, and the windies all glazed,
with not a broken pane in them. Altogether they had come on wondherfully;
sould a good dale of male and praties every year; so that in a short time
they were able to lay by a little money to help to fortune off their
little girls, that were growing up fine colleens, all out."
"And you may add, I suppose," said Andy Morrow, "that they lost no time
going to fairs and dances, or other foolish divarsions. I'll engage they
never were at a dance in the Squire's kitchen; that they never went about
losing their time working for others, when their own business was going at
sixes and sevens, for want of hands; nor spent their money drinking and
thrating a parcel of friends that only laugh at them for their pains, and
wouldn't, maybe, put one foot past the other to sarve them; nor never
fought and abused one another for what they both were guilty of."
"Well," says Tom, "you have saved me some trouble, Mr. Morrow, for you
just said, to a hair, what they were. But I mustn't forget to mintion one
thing that I saw the morning of the berril. We were,—about a dozen
neighbors of us, talking in the street, just before the door; both the
hagyards were forninst us—Tom's snug and nate—but Charley
Lawdher had to go over from where we stood to drive the pig out of poor
Larry's. There was one of the stacks with the side out of it, just as he
had drawn away the sheaves from time to time; for the stack leaned to one
side, and he pulled sheaves out of the other side to keep it straight.
Now, Mr. Morrow, wasn't he an unfortunate man? for whoever would go down
to Squire Dickson's hagyard, would see the same Larry's handiwork so
beautiful and illegant, though his own was in such brutheen.* Even
his barn to wrack; and he was obliged to thrash his oats in the open air
when ther would be a frost, and he used to lose one-third of it; and if
there came a thaw, 'twould almost brake the crathur."
* Brutheen is potatoes champed with butter. Anything in a
loose, broken, and irregular state, is said to be in
brutheen—that is in disorder and contusion.
"God knows," said Nancy, looking over at Ned very significantly, "and
Larry's not alone in neglecting his business; that is, if certain people
were allowed to take their own way; but the truth of it is, that he met
with a bad woman. If he had a careful, sober, industrious wife of his own,
that would take care of the house and place—(Biddy, will you hand
me over that other dew out of the windy-stool there till I finish this
stocking for Ned)—the story would have another ending any how."
"In throth," said Tom, "that's no more than thruth, Nancy; but he had not,
and everything went to the bad with them entirely."
"It's a thousand pities he hadn't yourself, Nancy," said Alick, grinning;
"if he had, I haven't the laste doubt at all, but he'd die worth money."
"Go on, Alick—go on, Avick; I will give you lave to have your joke,
any way; for it's you that's the patthern to any man that would wish to
thrive in the world."
"If Ned dies, Nancy, I don't know a woman I'd prefer; I'm now a widdy'
these five years; and I feel, somehow, particularly since I began to spend
my evenings here, that I'm disremembering very much the old proverb—a
burnt child, dreads the fire.'"
* The peasantry of a great portion of Ireland use this word
as applicable to both sexes.
"Thank you, Alick; you think I swallow that; but as for Ned, the never a
fear of him; except that an increasing stomach is a sign of something; or
what's the best chance of all, Alick, for you and me, that he should meet
Larry's fate in some of his drunken fits."
"Now, Nancy," says Ned, "there's no use in talking that way; it's only
last Thursday, Mr. Morrow, that, in presence of her own brother, Jemmy
Connolly, the breeches-maker, and Billy M'Kinny, there, that I put my two
five fingers acrass, and swore solemnly by them five crosses, that, except
my mind changed, I'd never drink more nor one-half pint of spirits and
three pints of porther in a day."
"Oh, hould your tongue, Ned—hould your tongue, and don't make me
spake," said Nancy; "God help you! many a time you've put the same fingers
acrass, and many a time your mind has changed; but I'll say no more now—wait
till we see how you'll keep it."
"Healths a-piece, your sowls," said Ned, winking at the company.
"Well, Tom," said Andy Morrow, "about the wake?"
"Och, och! that was the merry wake, Mr. Morrow. From that day to this I
remarked, that, living or dead, them that won't respect themselves, or
take care of their families, won't be respected: and sure enough, I saw
full proof of that same at poor Larry's wake. Many a time afterwards I
pitied the childher, for if they had seen better, they wouldn't turn out
as they did—all but the two youngest, that their uncle took to
himself, and reared afterwards; but they had no one to look afther them,
and how could it be expected from what they seen, that good could come of
them? Squire Dickson gave Tom the other seven acres, although he could
have got a higher rint from others; but he was an industrious man that
desarved encouragement, and he got it."
"I suppose Tom was at the expense of Larry's berrin, as well as of his
marriage," said Alick.
"In troth and he was," said Tom, "although he didn't desarve it from him
when he was alive;* seeing he neglected many a good advice that Tom and
his dacent woman of a wife often gave him; for all that, blood is thicker
than wather—and it's he that waked and berried him dacently; by the
same token that there was both full and plenty of the best over him: and
everything, as far as Tom was consarned, dacint and creditable about the
* The genuine blunders of the Irish—not those studied for
them by men ignorant of their modes of expression and habits
of life—are always significant, clear, and full of strong
sense and moral truth.
"He did it for his own sake, of coorse," said Nancy, "bekase one wouldn't
wish, if—they had it at all, to see any one belonging to them worse
off than another at their wake or berrin."
"Thrue for you, Nancy," said M'Roarkin, "and, indeed, Tom was well spoken
of by the neighbors for his kindness to his brother after his death; and
luck and grace attended him for it, and the world flowed upon him before
it came to his own turn."
"Well, when a body dies even a natural death, it's wondherful how soon it
goes about; but when they come to an untimely one, it spreads like fire on
a dry mountain."
"Was there no inquest?" asked Andy Morrow.
"The sorra inquist, not making you an ill answer, sir—the people
weren't so exact in them days: but any how the man was dead, and what good
could an inquist do him? The only thing that grieved them was, that they
both died without the priest; and well it might, for it's an awful thing
entirely to die without having the clargy's hands over a body. I tould you
that the news of his death spread over all the counthry in less than no
time. Accordingly, in the coorse of the day, their relations began to come
to the place; but, any way, messengers had been sent especially for them.
"The squire very kindly lent sheets for them both to be laid out in, and
mould candle-sticks to hould the lights; and, God he knows, 'twas a
grievous sight to see the father and mother both stretched beside one
another in their poor place, and their little orphans about them; the
gorsoons,—them that had sense enough to know their loss,—breaking
their hearts, the craythurs, and so hoarse, that they weren't able to cry
or spake. But, indeed, it was worse to see the two young things going
over, and wanting to get acrass to waken their daddy and mammy, poor
"When the corpses were washed and dressed, they looked uncommonly well,
consitherin'. Larry, indeed, didn't bear death so well as Sally; but you
couldn't meet a purtier corpse than she was in a day's travelling. I say,
when they were washed and dressed, their friends and neighbors knelt down
around them, and offered up a Pather and Ave a-piece, for the good of
their sowls: when this was done, they all raised the keena, stooping over
them at a half bend, clapping their hands, and praising them, as far as
they could say anything good of them; and indeed, the craythurs, they were
never any one's enemy but their own, so that nobody could say an ill word
of either of them. Bad luck to it for potteen-work every day it rises!
only for it, that couple's poor orphans wouldn't be left without father or
mother as they were; nor poor Hurrish go the gray gate he did, if he had
his father living, may be; but having nobody to bridle him in, he took to
horse riding for the squire, and then to staling them for himself. He was
hanged afterwards, along with Peter Doraghy Crolly, that shot Ned Wilson's
uncle of the Black Hills.
"After the first keening, the friends and neighbors took their sates about
the corpse. In a short time, whiskey, pipes, snuff, and tobacco came, and
every one about the place got a glass and a fresh pipe. Tom, when he held
his glass in his hand, looking at his dead brother, filled up to the eyes,
and couldn't for some time get out a word; at last, when he was able to
spake—'Poor Larry,'says he, 'you're lying there low before me, and
many a happy day we spint with one another. When we were childher,' said
he, turning to the rest, 'we were never asunder; he was oulder nor me by
two years, and can I ever forget the leathering he gave Dick Rafferty long
ago, for hitting me with the rotten egg—although Dick was a great
dale bigger than either of us. God knows, although you didn't thrive in
life, either of you, as you might and could have done, there wasn't a more
neighborly or friendly couple in the parish they lived in; and now, God
help them both, and their poor orphans over them! Larry, acushla, your
health, and Sally, yours; and may God Almighty have marcy on both your
"After this, the neighbors began to flock in more generally. When any
relation of the corpses would come, as soon, you see, as they'd get inside
the door, whether man or woman, they'd raise the shout of a keena, and all
the people about the dead would begin along with them, stooping over them
and clapping their hands as before.
"Well, I said, it's it that was the merry wake, and that was only the
thruth, neighbors. As soon as night came, all the young boys and girls
from the countryside about them flocked to it in scores. In a short time
the house was crowded; and maybe there wasn't laughing, and story-telling,
and singing, and smoking, and drinking, and crying—all going on,
heller-skelter, together. When they'd be all in full chorus this way, may
be, some new friend or relation, that wasn't there before, would come in,
and raise the keena; of coorse, the youngsters would then keep quiet; and
if the person coming in was from the one neighborhood with any of them
that were so merry, as soon as he'd raise the shout, the merry folks would
rise up, begin to pelt their hands together, and cry along with him till
their eyes would be as red as a ferret's. That once over, they'd be down
again at the songs, and divarsion, and divilment—just as if nothing
of the kind had taken place: the other would then shake hands with the
friends of the corpses, get a glass or two, and a pipe, and in a few
minutes be as merry as the best of them."
"Well," said Andy Morrow, "I should like to know if the Scotch and English
are such heerum-skeerum kind of people as we Irishmen are."
"Musha, in throth I'm sure they're not," says Nancy, "for I believe that
Irishmen are like nobody in the wide world but themselves; quare crathurs,
that'll laugh or cry, or fight with any one, just for nothing else, good
or bad but company."
"Indeed, and you all know, that what I'm sayin's thruth, except Mr. Morrow
there, that I'm telling it to, bekase he's not in the habit of going to
wakes; although, to do him justice he's very friendly in going to a
neighbor's funeral; and, indeed, kind father for you* Mr. Morrow,
for it's he that was a real good hand at going to such places.
* That is, in this point you are the, same kind as your
father; possessing that prominent trait in his disposition
"Well, as I was telling you, there was great sport going on. In one
corner, you might see a knot of ould men sitting together, talking over
ould times—ghost stores, fairy tales, or the great rebellion of '41,
and the strange story of Lamh Dearg, or the bloody hand—that,
maybe, I'll tell you all some other night, plase God: there they'd sit
smoking—their faces quite plased with the pleasure of the pipe—amusing
themselves and a crowd of people, that would be listening to them with
open mouth. Or, it's odd, but there would be some droll young fellow among
them, taking a rise out of them; and, positively, he'd often find, them
able enough for him, particularly ould Ned Magin, that wanted at the time
only four years of a hundred. The Lord be good to him, and rest his sowl
in glory, it's he that was the pleasant ould man, and could tell a story
with any one that ever got up.
"In another corner there was a different set, bent on some piece of
divilment of their own. The boys would be sure to get beside their
sweethearts, any how; and if there was a purty girl, as you may set it
down there was, it's there the skroodging, (* pressure of the
crowd) and the pushing, and the shoving, and, sometimes, the knocking down
itself, would be, about seeing who'd get her. There's ould Katty Duffy,
that's now as crooked as the hind leg of a dog, and it's herself was then
as straight as a rush, and as blooming as a rose—Lord bless us, what
an alteration time makes upon the strongest and fairest of us!—it's
she that was the purty girl that night, and it's myself that gave Frank
M'Shane, that's still alive to acknowledge it, the broad of his back upon
the flure, when he thought to pull her off my knee. The very gorsoons and
girshas were sporting away among themselves, and learning one another to
smoke in the dark corners. But all this, Mr. Morrow, took place in the
corpse-house, before ten or eleven o'clock at night; after that time the
house got too thronged entirely, and couldn't huld the half of them; so by
jing, off we set, maning all the youngsters of us, both boys and girls,
out to Tom's barn, that was red up (* Cleared up for us—set
in order), there to commence the plays. When we were gone, the ould people
had more room, and they moved about on the sates we had left them. In the
mane time, lashings of tobacco and snuff, cut in platefuls, and piles of
fresh new pipes, were laid on the table for any one that wished to use
"When we got to the barn, it's then we took our pumps off (* Threw
aside all restraint) in airnest—by the hokey, such sport you never
saw. The first play we began was Hot-loof; and maybe there wasn't
skelping then. It was the two parishes of Errigle-Keeran and
Errigle-Truagh against one another. There was the Slip from Althadhawan,
for Errigle-Truagh, against Pat M'Ardle, that had married Lanty Gorman's
daughter of Cargach, for Errigle-Keeran. The way they play it, Mr. Morrow,
is this—two young men out of each parish go out upon the flure—one
of them stands up, then bends himself, sir, at a half bend, placing his
left hand behind on the back part of his ham, keeping it there to receive
what it's to get. Well, there he stands, and the other coming behind him,
places his left foot out before him, doubles up the cuff of his coat, to
give his hand and wrist freedom: he then rises his right arm, coming down
with the heel of his hand upon the other fellow's palm, under him, with
full force. By jing, it's the divil's own divarsion; for you might as well
get a stroke of a sledge as a blow from one of them able, hard-working
fellows, with hands upon them like lime-stone. When the fellow that's down
gets it hot and heavy, the man that struck him stands bent in his place,
and some friend of the other comes down upon him, and pays him for what
the other fellow got.
"In this way they take it, turn about, one out of each parish, till it's
over; for I believe if they were to pelt one another since (* from
that hour to this), that they'd never give up. Bless my soul, but it was
terrible to hear the strokes that the Slip and Pat M'Ardle did give that
night. The Slip was a young fellow upwards of six feet, with great able
bones and little flesh, but terrible thick shinnins (*sinews); his wrist
was as hard and strong as a bar of iron. M'Ardle was a low, broad man,
with a rucket head and bull neck, and a pair of shoulders that you could
hardly get your arms about, Mr. Morrow, long as they are; it's he, indeed,
that was the firm, well built chap, entirely. At any rate, a man might as
well get a kick from a horse as a stroke from either of them.
"Little Jemmy Teague, I remimber, struck a cousin of the Slip's a very
smart blow, that made him dance about the room, and blow his fingers for
ten minutes after it. Jemmy, himself, was a tight, smart fellow. When the
Slip saw what his cousin had got, he rises up, and stands over Jemmy so
coolly, and with such good humor, that every one in the house trembled for
poor Jemmy, bekase, you see, whenever the Slip was bent on mischief, he
used always to grin. Jemmy, however, kept himself bent firm; and to do him
justice, didn't flinch from under the stroke, as many of them did—no,
he was like a rock. Well, the Slip, as I said, stood over him, fixing
himself for the stroke, and coming down with such a pelt on poor Jemmy's
hand, that the first thing we saw was the blood acrass the Slip's own legs
and feet, that had burst out of poor Jemmy's finger-ends. The Slip then
stooped to receive the next blow himself, and you may be sure there was
above two dozen up to be at him. No matter; one man they all gave way to,
and that was Pat M'Ardle.
"'Hould away,' says Pat,—'clear off, boys, all of you—this
stroke's mine by right, any how;—and,' says he, swearing a terrible
oath, 'if you don't sup sorrow for that stroke,' says he to the Slip, 'why
Pat M'Ardle's not behind you here.'
"He, then, up with his arm, and came down—why, you would think that
the stroke he gave the Slip had druv his right hand into his body: but,
any way, it's he that took full satisfaction for what his cousin got; for
if the Slip's fingers had been cut off at the tops, the blood couldn't
spring out from under his nails more nor it did. After this the Slip
couldn't strike another blow, bekase his hand was disabled out and out.
"The next play they went to was the Sitting Brogue. This is played
by a ring of them sitting down upon the bare ground, keeping their knees
up. A shoemaker's leather apron is then got, or a good stout brogue, and
sent round under their knees. In the mane time one stands in the middle;
and after the brogue is sent round, he is to catch it as soon as he can.
While he stands there, of course, his back must be to some one, and
accordingly those that are behind him thump him right and left with the
brogue, while he, all the time, is striving to catch it. Whoever he
catches this brogue with must stand up in his place, while he sits down
where the other had been, and then the play goes on as before.
"There's another play called the Standing Brogue—where one
man gets a brogue of the same kind, and another stands up facing him with
his hands locked together, forming an arch turned upside down. The man
that houlds the brogue then strikes him with it betune the hands; and even
the smartest fellow receives several pelts before he is able to close his
hands and catch it; but when he does, he becomes brogueman, and the man
who held the brogue stands for him, until he catches it. The same thing is
gone through, from one, to another, on each side, until it is over.
"The next is Frimsy Framty, and is played in this manner:—A
chair or stool is placed in the middle of the flure, and the man who
manages the play sits down upon it, and calls his sweetheart, or the
prettiest girl in the house. She, accordingly, comes forward, and must
kiss him. He then rises up, and she sits down. 'Come, now,' he says, 'fair
maid—Frimsy framsy, who's your fancy?' She then calls them she likes
best, and when the young man she calls comes over and kisses her, he then
takes her place, and calls another girl—and so on, smacking away for
a couple of hours. Well, throth, it's no wonder that Ireland's full of
people; for I believe they do nothing but coort from the time they're the
hoith of my leg. I dunno is it true, as I hear Captain Sloethern's steward
say, that the Englishwomen are so fond of Irishmen?"
"To be sure it is," said Shane Fadh; "don't I remimber myself, when Mr.
Fowler went to England—and he as fine looking a young-man, at the
time, as ever got into a saddle—he was riding up the street of
London, one day, and his servant after him—and by the same token he
was a thousand pound worse than nothing; but no matter for that, you see
luck was before him—what do you think, but a rich dressed livery
servant came out, and stopping the Squire's man, axed whose servant he
"'Why, thin,' says Ned Magavran, who-was his body servant at the time,
'bad luck to you, you spalpeen, what a question do you ax, and you have
eyes in your head!' says he—'hard feeling to you!' says he, 'you
vagabone, don't you see I'm my master's?'
"The Englishman laughed. 'I know that, Paddy,' says he—for they call
us all Paddies in England, as if we had only one name among us, the
thieves; 'but I wish to know his name,' says the Englishman.
"'You do!' says Ned; 'and by the powers!' says he, 'but you must first
tell me which side of the head you'd wish to hear it an.'
"'Oh! as for that,' says the Englishman—not up to him, you see——'I
don't care much, Paddy, only let me hear it, and where he lives.'
"'Just keep your ground, then,' says Ned, 'till I light off this
blood-horse of mine'—he was an ould garron that was fattened up, not
worth forty shillings—'this blood-horse of mine,' says Ned, 'and
I'll tell you.'
"So down he gets, and lays the Englishman sprawling in the channel.
"' Take that, you vagabone! says he, and it'll larn you to call people by
their right names agin: I was christened as well as you, you spalpeen!'
"All this time the lady was looking out of the windy, breaking her heart
laughing at Ned and the servant; but, behould!—she knew a thing or
two, it seems; for, instead of sending a man at all at all, what does she
do but sends her own maid—a very purty girl, who comes up to Ned,
putting the same question to him.
"'What's his name, avourneen?' says Ned, melting, to be sure, at the sight
of her 'Why, then, darling, who could refuse you anything?—but, you
jewel! by the hoky, you must bribe me or I'm dumb,' says he.
"'How could I bribe you?' says she, with a sly smile—for Ned himself
was a well-looking young fellow at the time.
"'I'll show you that,' says Ned, 'if you tell me where you live; but, for
fraid you forget it—with them two lips of your own, my darling.'
"'There, in that great house,' says the maid; 'my mistress is one of the
beautifullest and richest young ladies in London, and she wishes to know
where your master could be heard of.'
"'Is that the house?' says Ned, pointing to it.
"'Exactly', says she: 'that's it.' 'Well, acushla,' says he, 'you've a
purty and an innocent-looking face; but I'm tould there's many a trap in
London well baited. Just only run over while I'm looking at you, and let
me see that purty face of yours smiling at me out of the windy that that
young lady is peeping at us from.'
"This she had to do.
"'My master,' thought Ned, while she was away, 'will aisily find out what
kind of a house it is, any how, if that be it.'
"In a short time he saw her in the windy, and Ned then gave her a sign to
come down to him.
"'My master,' says he, 'never was afeard to show his face, or tell his
name to any one—he's a Squire Fowler,' says he—'a Sarjen-major
in a great militia regiment: he shot five men in his time; and there's not
a gentleman in the country he lives in that dare say Boo to his blanket.
And now, what's your name,' says Ned, 'you flattering little blackguard
"'My name's Betty Cunningham,' says she.
"'And next, what's your mistress's, my darling?' says Ned.
"'There it is,' says she, handing him a card.
"'Very well,' says Ned, the thief, looking at it with a great air, making
as if he could read; 'this will just do, a colleen bawn.'
"'Do you read in your country with the wrong side of the print up?' says
"'Up or down,' says Ned, 'it's all one to us in Ireland; but, any how, I'm
left-handed, you deluder!'
"The upshot of it was, that her mistress turned out to be a great hairess,
and a great beauty; and she and Fowler got married in less than a month.
So, you see, it's true enough that the Englishwomen are fond of Irishmen,"
says Shane; "but, Tom, with, submission for stopping you, go on with your
"The next play, then, is Marrying——"
"Hooh!" says Andy Morrow, "why, all their plays are about kissing and
marrying, and the like of that."
"Surely and they are, sir," says Tom.
"It's all the nathur of the baste," says Alick.
"The next is marrying. A bouchal puts an ould dark coat on him, and if he
can, borry a wig from any of the ould men in the wake-house, why, well and
good, he's the liker his work—this is the priest; he takes, and
drives all the young men out of the house, and shuts the door upon them,
so, that they can't get in till he lets them. He then ranges the girls all
beside one another, and, going to the first, makes her name him she wishes
to be her husband; this she does, of coorse, and the priest lugs him in,
shutting the door upon the rest. He then pronounces this marriage sarvice,
when the husband smacks her first, and then the priest:—'Amo amas,
avourneen—in nomine gomine, betwuxt and between—for hoc erat
in votis, squeeze 'em please 'em—omnia vincit amor, wid two horns to
caput nap it—poluphlasboio, the lasses—'Quid,' says Cleopatra;
'Shid,' says Antony—ragibus et clatibus solemus stapere windous—nine
months—big-bottle, and a honeymoon—Alneas poque Dido' poque
Roymachree—hum not fiem viat—lag rag, merry kerry, Parawig and
breeches—hoc manifestibus omnium—Kiss your wife under the
nose, then seek repose.' 'Tis' done,' says the priest. 'Vinculum
trinculum; and now you're married. Amen!' Well, these two are married, and
he places his wife upon his knee, for fraid of taking up too much room, you
persave; there they coort away again, and why shouldn't they?
"The priest then goes to the next, and makes her name her husband; this is
complied with, and he is brought in after the same manner, but no one else
till they're called: he is then married, and kisses his wife, and the
priest kisses her after him; and so they're all married.
"But if you'd see them that don't chance to be called at all, the figure
they cut—slipping into some dark corner, to avoid the mobbing they
get from the priest and the others. When they're all united, they must
each sing a song—man and wife, according as they sit; or if they
can't sing, or get some one to do it for them, they're divorced. But the
priest, himself, usually lilts for any one that's not able to give a
verse. You see, Mr. Morrow, there's always in the neighborhood some droll
fellow that takes all these things upon him, and if he happened to be
absent, the wake would be quite dull."
"Well," said Andy Morrow, "have you any more of their sports; Tom?"
"Ay, have I; one of the best and pleasantest you heard yet."
"I hope there's no more coorting in it," says Nancy; "God knows we're
tired of their kissing and marrying."
"Were you always so?" says Ned, across the fire to her.
"Behave yourself, Ned," says she; "don't you make me spake; sure you were
set down as the greatest Brine-oge that ever was known, in the parish, for
"No, but don't you make me spake," replies Ned.
"Here, Biddy," said Nancy, "bring that uncle of yours another pint; that's
what he wants most at the present time, I'm thinking."
Biddy, accordingly, complied with this.
"Don't make me spake," continued Ned.
"Come, Ned," she replied, "you've got a fresh pint now; so drink it, and
give me no more gosther. (* Gossip—Idle talk.)
"Shuid-urth!"* says Ned, putting the pint to his head, and winking
slyly at the rest.
* This to you, or upon you; a form of drinking healths.
"Ay, wink; in troth I'll be up to you for that, Ned," says Nancy; by no
means satisfied that Ned should enter into particulars. "Well, Tom," says
she, diverting the conversation, "go on, and give us the remainder of your
"Well," says Tom, "the next play is in the milintary line. You see, Mr.
Morrow, the man that leads the sports places them all on their sates, gets
from some of the girls a white handkerchief, which he ties round his hat,
as you would tie a piece of mourning; he then walks round them two or
three times singing,
Will you list and come with me, fair maid?
Will'you list and come with me, fair maid?
Will you list and come with me, fair maid,
And folly the lad with the white cockade?
"When he sings this he takes off his hat, and puts it on the head of the
girl he likes best, who rises up and puts her arm around him, and then
they both go about in the same way, singing the same words. She then puts
the hat on some young man, who gets up and goes round with them, singing
as before. He next puts it on the girl he loves best, who, after singing
and going round in the same manner, puts it on another, and he on his
sweetheart, and so on. This is called the White Cockade. When it's all
over, that is, when every young man has pitched upon the girl that he
wishes to be his sweetheart, they sit down, and sing songs, and coort, as
they did at the marrying.
"After this comes the Weds or Forfeits, or what they call putting
round the button. Every one gives in a forfeit—the boys a
neck-handkerchief or a pen-knife, and the girls a pocket-handkerchief or
something that way. The forfeit is held over them, and each of them stoops
in tarn. They are, then, compelled to command the person that owns that
forfeit to sing a song—to kiss such and such a girl—or to
carry some ould man, with his legs about their neck, three times round the
house, and this last is always great fun. Or, maybe, a young, upsetting
fellow, will be sent to kiss some toothless, slavering, ould woman, just
to punish him; or if a young woman is any way saucy, she'll have to kiss
some ould, withered fellow, his tongue hanging with age half way down his
chin, and the tobacco water trickling from each comer of his mouth.
"By jingo, many a time, when the friends of the corpse would be breaking
their very hearts with grief and affliction, I have seen them obligated to
laugh out, in spite of themselves, at the drollery of the priest, with,
his ould black coat and wig upon him; and when the laughing fit would be
over, to see them rocking themselves again with the sorrow—so sad.
The best man for managing such sports in this neighborhood, for many a
year, was Roger M'Cann, that lives up as you go to the mountains. You
wouldn't begrudge to go ten miles the cowldest winter night that ever
blew, to see and hear Roger.
"There's another play that they call the Priest of the Parish,
which, is remarkably pleasant. One of the boys gets a wig upon himself as
before—goes out on the flure, places the boys in a row, calls one his
man Jack and says to each 'What will you be?' One answers 'I'll be
black cap;' another—red cap;' and so on. He then says, 'The priest
of the parish has lost his considhering cap some says this, and some says
that, but I say my man Jack!' Man Jack, then, to put it off himself, says,
Is it me, sir?' 'Yes, sir!' 'You lie, sir!' 'Who then, sir?' 'Black cap!'
If Black cap, then, doesn't say 'Is it me, sir?' before the priest has
time to call him, he must put his hand on his ham, and get a pelt of the
brogue. A body must be supple with the tongue in it.
"After this comes one they call Horns, or the Painter. A droll
fellow gets a lump of soot or lamp black, and after fixing a ring of the
boys and girls about him, he lays his two fore-fingers on his knees, and
says. 'Horns, horns, cow horns!' and then raises his finders by a jerk up
above his head; the boys and girls in the ring then do the same thing, for
the meaning of the play is this:—the man with the black'ning always
raises his fingers every time he names an animal; but if he names any that
has no horns, and that the others jerk up their fingers, then they must
get a stroke over the face with the soot. 'Horns, horns, goat horns!'—then
he ups with his fingers like lightning; they must all do the same, bekase
a goat has horns. Horns, horns, horse horns!'—he ups with them
again, but the boys and girls ought not, bekase a horse has not horns;
however any one that raises them then, gets a slake. So that it all comes
to this:—Any one, you see that lifts his fingers when an animal is
named that has no horns—or any one that does not raise them when a
baste is mintioned that has horns, will get a mark. It's a purty game, and
requires a keen eye and a quick hand; and, maybe, there's not fun in
straiking the soot over the purty, warm, rosy cheeks of the colleens,
while their eyes are dancing with delight in their heads, and their sweet
breath comes over so pleasant about one's face, the darlings!—Och!
"There's another game they call the Silly ould Man, that's played
this way:—A ring of the boys and girls is made on the flure—boy
and girl about—holding one another by the hands; well and good—a
young fellow gets into the middle of the ring, as 'the silly ould Man.'
There he stands looking at all the girls to choose a wife, and, in the
mane time, the youngsters of the ring sing out—
Here's a silly ould Man that lies all alone,
That lies all alone,
That lies all alone;
Here's a silly ould man that lies all alone,
He wants a wife and he can get none.
"When the' boys and girls sing this, the silly ould man must choose a wife
from some of the colleens belonging to the ring. Having made choice of
her, she goes into the ring along with him, and they all sing out—
Now, young couple, you're married together,
You're married together,
You're married together,
You must obey your father and mother,
And love one another like sister and brother—
I pray, young couple, you'll kiss together!
"And you may be sure this part of the marriage is not missed, any way."
"I doubt," said Andy Morrow, "that good can't come of so much kissing,
marrying, and coorting."
The narrator twisted his mouth knowingly, and gave a significant groan.
"Be dhe husth,* hould your tongue, Misther Morrow," said he; "Biddy
avour-neen," he continued, addressing Biddy and Bessy, "and Bessy,
alannah, just take a friend's advice, and never mind going to wakes; to be
sure there's plenty of fun and divarsion at sich places, but—healths
apiece!" putting the pint to his lips—"and that's all I say about
"Right enough, Tom," observed Shane Fadh—"sure most of the matches
are planned at them, and, I may say, most of the runaways, too—poor,
young, foolish crathurs, going off, and getting themselves married; then
bringing small, helpless families upon their hands, without money or manes
to begin the world with, and afterwards likely to eat one another out of
the face for their folly; however, there's no putting ould heads upon
young shoulders, and I doubt, except the wakes are stopped altogether,
that it'll be the ould case still."
"I never remember being at a counthry wake," said Andy Morrow. "How is
everything laid out in the house?"
"Sure it's to you I'm telling the whole story, Mr. Morrow: these thieves
about me here know all about it as well as I do—the house, eh? Why,
you see, the two corpses were stretched beside one another, washed and
laid out. There were long deal boords with their ends upon two stools,
laid over the bodies; the boords were covered with a white sheet got at
the big house, so the corpses were'nt to be seen. On these, again, were
placed large mould candles, plates of cut tobacco, pipes, and snuff, and
so on. Sometimes corpses are waked in a bed, with their faces visible;
when that is the case, white sheets, crosses, and sometimes flowers, are
pinned up about the bed, except in the front; but when they're undher
boord, a set of ould women sit smoking, and rocking themselves from side
to side, quite sorrowful—these are keeners—friends or
relations; and when every one connected with the dead comes in, they raise
the keene, like a song of sorrow, wailing and clapping their hands.
"The furniture is mostly removed, and sates made round the walls, where
the neighbors sit smoking, chatting, and gosthering. The best of aiting
and dhrinking that they can afford is provided; and, indeed, there is
generally open house, for it's unknown how people injure themselves by
their kindness and waste at christenings, weddings, and wakes.
"In regard to poor Larry's wake—we had all this, and more at it;
for, as I obsarved a while agone, the man had made himself no friends when
he was living, and the neighbors gave a loose to all kinds of divilment
when he was dead. Although there's no man would be guilty of any
disrespect where the dead are, yet, when a person has led a good life, and
conducted themselves dacently and honestly, the young people of the
neighborhood show their respect by going through their little plays and
divarsions quieter and with less noise, lest they may give any offence;
but, as I said, whenever the person didn't live as they ought to do,
there's no stop to their noise and rollikin.
"When it drew near morning, every one of us took his sweetheart, and,
after convoying her home, we went to our own houses to get a little sleep—so
that was the end of poor Larry, M'Farland, and his wife, Sally Lowry.
"Success, Tom!" said Bill M'Kinnly "take a pull of the malt now, afther
the story, your soul!—But what was the funeral like?"
"Why, then, a poor berrin it was," said Tom; "a miserable sight, God knows—just
a few of the neighbors; for those that used to take his thrate, and while
he had a shilling in his pocket blarney him up, not one of the skulking
thieves showed their faces at it—a good warning to foolish men that
throw their money down throats that haven't hearts anundher them.—But
boys, desarve another thrate, I think, afther my story!" This, we need
scarcely add, he was supplied with, and after some further desultory chat,
they again separated, with the intention of reassembling at Ned's on the
THE BATTLE OF THE FACTIONS.
Accordingly, the next evening found them all present, when it was
determined unanimously that Pat Frayne, the hedge schoolmaster, should
furnish them with the intellectual portion of the entertainment for that
night, their object being each to tell a story in his turn.
"Very well," said Pat, "I am quite simultaneous to the wishes of the
company; but you will plaise to observe, that there is clay which is
moist, and clay which is not moist. Now, under certain circumstances, the
clay which is not moist, ought to be made moist, and one of those
circumstances that in which any larned person becomes loquacious, and
indulges in narrative. The philosophical raison, is decided on by
Socrates, and the great Phelim M'Poteen, two of the most celebrated
liquorary characters that ever graced the sunny side of a plantation, is,
that when a man commences a narration with his clay not moist, the said
narration is found, by all lamed experience, to be a very dry one—ehem!"
"Very right, Mr. Frayne," replied Andy Morrow; "so in ordher to avoid a
dhry narrative, Nancy, give the masther a jug of your stoutest to wet his
whistle, and keep him in wind as he goes along."
"Thank you, Mr. Morrow—and in requital for your kindness, I will
elucidate you such a sample of unadulterated Ciceronian eloquence, as
would not be found originating from every chimney-corner in this Province,
anyhow. I am not bright, however, at oral relation. I have accordingly
composed into narrative the following tale, which is appellated 'The
Battle of the Factions:'—
"My grandfather, Connor O'Callaghan, though a tall, erect man, with white
flowing hair, like snow, that falls profusely about his broad shoulders,
is now in his eighty-third year: an amazing age, considhering his former
habits. His countenance is still marked with honesty and traces of hard
fighting, and his cheeks ruddy and cudgel-worn; his eyes, though not as
black as they often used to be, have lost very little of that nate fire
which characterizes the eyes of the O'Callaghans, and for which I myself
have been—but my modesty won't allow me to allude to that: let it be
sufficient for the present to say that there never was remembered so
handsome a man in his native parish, and that I am as like him as one
Cork-red phatie is to another. Indeed, it has been often said, that it
would be hard to meet an O'Callaghan without a black eye in his head. He
has lost his fore-teeth, however, a point in which, Unfortunately, I,
though his grandson, have strong resemblance to him. The truth is, they
were knocked out of him in rows, before he had reached his thirty-fifth
year—a circumstance which the kind reader will be pleased to receive
in extenuation for the same defect in myself. That, however, is but a
trifle, which never gave either of us much trouble.
"It pleased Providence to bring us through many hair-breadth escapes, with
our craniums uncracked; and when we considher that he, on taking a
retrogradation of his past life, can indulge in the plasing recollection
of having broken two skulls in his fighting days, and myself one, without
either of us getting a fracture in return, I think we have both rason to
be thankful. He was a powerful bulliah battha * in his day and
never met a man able to fight him, except big Mucldemurray, who stood
before him the greater part of an hour and a half, in the fair of
Knockimdowny, on the day that the first great fight took place—twenty
years afther the hard, frost—between the O'Callaghans and the
O'Hallaghans. The two men fought single hands—for both factions were
willing to let them try the engagement out, that they might see what side
could boast of having the best man. They began where you enter the north
side of Knockimdowny, and fought successively up to the other end, then
back again to the spot where they commenced, and afterwards up to the
middle of the town, right opposite to the market-place, where my
grandfather, by the same a-token, lost a grinder; but he soon took
satisfaction for that, by giving Mucldemurray a tip above the eye with the
end of an oak stick, dacently loaded with lead, which made the poor man
feel very quare entirely, for the few days that he survived it.
* Literally the stroke of a cudgel; put for cudgel-player.
"Faith, if an Irishman happened to be born in Scotland, he would find it
mighty inconvanient—afther losing two or three grinders in a row—to
manage the hard oaten bread that they use there; for which rason, God be
good to his sowl that first invented the phaties, anyhow, because a man
can masticate them without a tooth, at all at all. I'll engage, if larned
books were consulted, it would be found out that he was an Irishman. I
wonder that neither Pastorini nor Columbkill mentions anything about him
in their prophecies concerning the church; for my own part, I'm strongly
inclinated to believe that it must have been Saint Patrick himself; and I
think that his driving all kinds of venomous reptiles out of the kingdom
is, according to the Socrastic method of argument, an undeniable proof of
it. The subject, to a dead certainty, is not touched upon in the Brehon
Code,* nor by any of the three Psalters,** which is extremely odd, seeing
that the earth never produced a root equal to it in the multiplying force
of prolification. It is, indeed, the root of prosperity to a fighting
people: and many a time my grandfather boasts to this day, that the first
bit of bread he ever ett was a phatie.
* This was the old code of laws peculiar to Ireland before
the introduction of English legislation into it.
** There was properly only two Psalters, those of Tara and
Cashel. The Psalters were collections of genealogical
history, partly in verse; from which latter circumstances
they had their name.
"In mentioning my grandfather's fight with Mucldemurray, I happened to
name them blackguards, the O'Hallaghans: hard fortune to the same set, for
they have no more discretion in their quarrels, than so many Egyptian
mummies, African buffoons, or any other uncivilized animals. It was one of
them, he that's married to my own fourth cousin, Biddy O'Callaghan, that
knocked two of my grinders out, for which piece of civility I had the
satisfaction of breaking a splinter or two in his carcase, being always
honestly disposed to pay my debts.
"With respect to the O'Hallaghans, they and our family, have been next
neighbors since before the Flood—and that's as good as two hundred
years; for I believe it's 198, any how, since my great grandfather's
grand-uncle's ould mare was swept out of the 'Island,' in the dead of the
night, about half an hour after the whole country had been ris out of
their beds by the thunder and lightning. Many a field of oats and many a
life, both of beast and Christian, was lost in it, especially of those
that lived on the bottoms about the edge of the river: and it was true for
them that said it came before something; for the next year was one 'of the
hottest summers ever remembered in Ireland.
"These O'Hallaghans couldn't be at peace with a saint. Before they and our
faction, began to quarrel, it's said that the O'Donnells, or Donnells, and
they had been at it,—and a blackguard set the same O'Donnells were,
at all times—in fair and market, dance, wake, and berrin, setting
the country on fire. Whenever they met, it was heads cracked and bones
broken; till by degrees the O'Donnells fell away, one after another, from
fighting, accidents, and hanging; so that at last there was hardly the
name of one of them in the neighborhood. The O'Hallaghans, after this, had
the country under themselves—were the cocks of the walk entirely;—who
but they? A man darn't look crooked at them, or he was certain of getting
his head in his fist. And when they'd get drunk in a fair, it was nothing
but 'Whoo! for the O'Hallaghans!' and leaping yards high off the pavement,
brandishing their cudgels over their heads, striking their heels against
their hams, tossing up their hats; and when all would fail, they'd strip
off their coats, and trail them up and down the street, shouting, 'Who
dare touch the coat of an O'Hallaghan? Where's the blackguard Donnells
now?'—and so on, till flesh and blood couldn't stand it.
"In the course of time, the whole country was turned against them; for no
crowd could get together in which they didn't kick up a row, nor a bit of
stray fighting couldn't be, but they'd pick it up first; and if a man
would venture to give them a contrary answer, he was sure to get the crame
of a good welting for his pains. The very landlord was timorous of them;
for when they'd get behind in their rint, hard fortune to the bailiff, or
proctor, or steward, he could find, that would have anything to say to
them. And the more wise they; for maybe, a month would hardly pass till
all belonging to them in the world would be in a heap of ashes: and who
could say who did it? for they were as cunning as foxes.
"If one of them wanted a wife, it was nothing but find out the purtiest
and the richest farmer's daughter in the neighborhood, and next march into
her father's house, at the dead hour of night, tie and gag every mortal in
it, and off with her to some friend's place in another part of the
country. Then what could be done? If the girl's parents didn't like to
give in, their daughter's name was sure to be ruined; at all events, no
other man would think of marrying her, and the only plan was, to make the
best of a bad bargain; and God He knows, it was making a bad bargain for a
girl to have any matrimonial concatenation with the same O'Hallaghans; for
they always had the bad drop in them, from first to last, from big to
little—the blackguards! But wait, it's not over with them yet.
"The bone of contintion that got, between them and our faction was this
circumstance; their lands and ours were divided by a river that ran down
from the high mountains of Slieve Boglish, and, after a coorse of eight or
ten miles, disembogued itself, first into George Duffy's mill-dam, and
afterwards into that superb stream, the Blackwater, that might be well and
appropriately appellated the Irish Niger. This river, which, though small
at first, occasionally inflated itself to such a gigantic altitude, that
it swept away cows, corn, and cottages, or whatever else happened to be in
the way, was the march ditch, or merin between our farms. Perhaps it is
worth while remarking, as a solution for natural philosophers, that these
inundations were much more frequent in winter than in summer; though, when
they did occur in summer, they were truly terrific.
"God be with the days, when I and half a dozen gorsoons used to go out, of
a warm Sunday in summer, the bed of the river nothing but a line of white
meandering stones, so hot that you could hardly stand upon, them, with a
small obscure thread of water creeping invisibly among them, hiding
itself, as it were, from the scorching sun; except here and there, that
you might find a small crystal pool where the streams had accumulated. Our
plan was to bring a pocketful of roche lime with us, and put it into the
pool, when all the fish used to rise on the instant to the surface,
gasping with open mouth for fresh air, and we had only to lift them out of
the water; a nate plan which, perhaps, might be adopted successfully, on a
more extensive scale, by the Irish fisheries. Indeed, I almost regret that
I did not remain in that station of life, for I was much happier then than
ever I was since I began to study and practice larning. But this is
vagating from the subject.
"Well, then, I have said that them O'Hallaghans lived beside us, and that
this stream divided our lands. About half a quarter—i. e., to
accommodate myself to the vulgar phraseology—or, to speak more
scientifically, one-eighth of a mile from our house was as purty a hazel
glen as you'd wish to see, near half a mile long—its developments
and proportions were truly classical. In the bottom of this glen was a
small green island, about twelve yards, diametrically, of Irish
admeasurement, that is to say, be the same more or less; at all events, it
lay in the way of the river, which, however, ran towards the O'Hallaghan
side, and, consequently, the island was our property.
"Now, you'll observe, that this river had been, for ages, the merin
between the two farms, for they both belonged to separate landlords, and
so long as it kept the O'Hallighan side of the little peninsula in
question there could be no dispute about it, for all was clear. One wet
winter, however, it seemed to change its mind upon the subject; for it
wrought and wore away a passage for itself on our side of the island, and
by that means took part, as it were, with the O'Hallighans leaving the
territory which had been our property for centhries, in their possession.
This was a vexatious change to us, and, indeed, eventually produced very
feudal consequences. No sooner had the stream changed sides, than the
O'Hallaghans claimed the island as theirs, according to their tenement;
and we, having had it for such length of time in our possession, could not
break ourselves of the habitude of occupying it. They incarcerated our
cattle, and we incarcerated theirs. They summoned us to their landlord,
who was a magistrate; and we summoned them to ours, who was another. The
verdicts were north and south. Their landlord gave it in favor of them,
and ours in favor of us. The one said he had law on his side; the other,
that he had proscription and possession, length of time and usage.
"The two squires then fought a challenge upon the head of it, and what was
more singular, upon the disputed spot itself; the one standing on their
side, the other on ours; for it was just twelve paces every way. Their
friend was a small, light man, with legs like drumsticks; the other was a
large, able-bodied gentleman, with a red face and hooked nose. They
exchanged two shots, only one of which—the second—took effect.
It pastured upon their landlord's spindle leg, on which he held it out,
exclaiming, that while he lived he would never fight another challenge
with his antagonist, 'because,' said he, holding out his own spindle
shank, 'the man who could hit that could hit anything.'
"We then were advised, by an attorney, to go to law with them; and they
were advised by another attorney to go to law with us: accordingly, we did
so, and in the course of eight or nine years it might have been decided,
but just at the legal term approximated in which the decision was to be
announced, the river divided itself with mathematical exactitude on each
side of the island. This altered the state and law of the question in
toto; but, in the meantime, both we and the O'Hallaghans were nearly
fractured by the expenses. Now during the lawsuit we usually houghed and
mutilated each other's cattle, according as they trespassed the premises.
This brought on the usual concomitants of various battles, fought and won
by both sides, and occasioned the lawsuit to be dropped; for we found it a
mighty, inconvanient matter to fight it out both ways; by the same a-token
that I think it a proof of stultity to go to law at all at all, as long as
a person is able to take it into his own management. For the only
incongruity in the matter is this: that, in the one case, a set of lawyers
have the law in their hands, and, in the other, that you have it in your
own; that's the only difference, and 'tis easy knowing where the advantage
"We, however, paid the most of the expenses, and would have ped
them all with the greatest integrity, were it not that our attorney, when
about to issue an execution against our property, happened somehow to be
shot, one evening, as he returned home from a dinner which was given by
him that was attorney for the O'Hallaghans. Many a boast the O'Hallaghan's
made, before the quarrelling between us and them commenced, that they'd
sweep the streets with the fighting O'Callaghans, which was an epithet
that was occasionally applied to our family. We differed, however,
materially from them; for we were honorable, never starting out in dozens
on a single man or two, and beating him into insignificance. A couple, or
maybe, when irritated, three, were the most we ever set at a single enemy,
and if we left him lying in a state of imperception, it was the most we
ever did, except in a regular confliction, when a man is justified in
saving his own skull by breaking one of an opposite faction. For the truth
of the business is, that he who breaks the skull of him who endeavors to
break his own is safest; and, surely, when a man is driven to such an
alternative, the choice is unhesitating.
"O'Hallaghans' attorney, however, had better luck; they were, it is true,
rather in the retrograde with him touching the law charges, and, of
coorse, it was only candid in him to look for his own. One morning, he
found that two of his horses had been executed by some incendiary unknown,
in the coorse of the night; and, on going to look at them, he found a
taste of a notice posted on the inside of the stable-door, giving him
intelligence that if he did not find a horpus corpus* whereby to
transfer his body out of the country, he would experience a fate parallel
to that of his brother lawyer or the horses. And, undoubtedly, if honest
people never perpetrated worse than banishing such varmin, along with
proctors, and drivers of all kinds, out of a civilized country, they would
not be so very culpable or atrocious.
* Habeas corpus; the above is the popular pronunciation.
"After this, the lawyer went to reside in Dublin; and the only bodily
injury he received was the death of a land-agent and a bailiff, who lost
their lives faithfully in driving for rent. They died, however,
successfully; the bailiff having been provided for nearly a year before
the agent was sent to give an account of his stewardship—as the
Authorized Version has it.
"The occasion on which the first re-encounter between us and the
O'Hallaghans took place, was a peaceable one. Several of our respective
friends undertook to produce a friendly and oblivious potation between us—it
was at a berrin belonging to a corpse who was related to us both; and,
certainly, in the beginning we were all as thick as whigged milk. But
there is no use now in dwelling too long upon that circumstance; let it be
sufficient to assert that the accommodation was effectuated by fists and
cudgels, on both sides—the first man that struck a blow being one of
the friends that wished to bring about the tranquillity. From that out the
play commenced, and God he knows when it may end; for no dacent faction
could give in to another faction without losing their character, and being
kicked, and cuffed, and kilt, every week in the year.
"It is the great battle, however, which I am after going to describe: that
in which we and the O'Hallaghans had contrived, one way or other, to have
the parish divided—one-half for them, and the other for us; and,
upon my credibility, it is no exaggeration to declare that the whole
parish, though ten miles by six, assembled itself in the town of
Knockimdowny, upon this interesting occasion. In thruth, Ireland ought to
be a land of mathemathitians; for I am sure her population is well
trained, at all events, in the two sciences of multiplication and
division. Before I adventure, however, upon the narration, I must wax
pathetic a little, and then proceed with the main body of the story.
"Poor Rose O'Hallaghan!—or, as she was designated—Rose Galh,
or Fair Rose, and sometimes simply, Rose Hallaghan, because the
detention of the big O often produces an afflatus in the pronunciation,
that is sometimes mighty inconvenient to such as do not understand oratory—besides,
that the Irish are rather fond of sending the liquids in a gutthural
direction—Poor Rose! that faction fight, was a black day to her, the
sweet innocent—when it was well known that there wasn't a man,
woman, or child, on either side that wouldn't lay their hands under her
feet. However, in order to insense the reader better into her
character, I will commence a small sub-narration, which will afterwards
emerge into the parent stream of the story.
"The chapel of Knockimdowny is a slated house, without any ornament,
except a set of wooden cuts, painted red and blue, that are placed seriatum
around the square of the building in the internal side. Fourteen* of these
suspind at equal distances on the walls, each set in a painted frame;
these constitute a certain species of country devotion. It is usual, on
Sundays, for such of the congregation as are most inclined to piety, to
genuflect at the first of these pictures, and commence a certain number of
prayers to it after the repetition of which, they travel on their knees
along the bare earth to the second, where they repate another prayer
peculiar to that, and so on, till they finish the grand tower of
the interior. Such, however as are not especially addictated to this kind,
of locomotive prayer, collect together in various knots through the
chapel, and amuse themselves by auditing or narrating anecdotes,
discussing policy, or detraction; and in case it be summer, and the day of
a fine texture, they scatter themselves into little crowds on the
chapel-green, or lie at their length upon the grass in listless groups,
giving way to chat and laughter.
* These are called the "Fourteen Stations of the Cross."
"In this mode, laired on the sunny side of the ditches and hedges, or
collected in rings round that respectable character, the Academician of
the village, or some other well-known Senachie, or story-teller, they
amuse themselves till the priest's arrival. Perhaps, too, some walking
geographer of a pilgrim may happen to be present; and if there be, he is
sure to draw a crowd about him, in spite of all the efforts of the learned
Academician to the contrary. It is no unusual thing to see such a vagrant,
in all the vanity of conscious sanctimony, standing in the middle of the
attentive peasants, like the nave and felloes of a cart-wheel—if I
may be permitted the loan of an apt similitude—repeating some piece
of unfathomable and labyrinthine devotion, or perhaps warbling, from
Stentorian lungs, some melodia sacra, in an untranslatable tongue;
or, it may be, exhibiting the mysterious power of an amber bade fastened
as a Decade to his paudareens* lifting a chaff or light bit of
straw by the force of its attraction. This is an exploit which causes many
an eye to turn from the bades to his own bearded face, with a hope, as it
were, of being able to catch a glimpse of the lurking sanctimony by which
the knave hoaxes them in the miraculous.
* Pilgrims and other impostors pass these things upon the
people as miracles upon a small scale.
"The amusements of the females are also nearly such as I have drafted out.
Nosegays of the darlings might be seen sated on green banks, or sauntering
about with a sly intention of coming in compact with their sweethearts,
or, like bachelors' buttons in smiling rows, criticising the young men as
they pass. Others of them might be seen screened behind a hedge, with
their backs to the spectators taking the papers off their curls before
small bit of looking-glass placed against the ditch; or perhaps putting on
their shoes and stockings—which phrase can be used only by the
authority of the figure heusteron proteron—inasmuch as if
they put on the shoes first, you persave, it would be a scientific job to
get on the stockings after; but it's an idiomatioal expression, and
therefore justifiable. However, it's a general custom in the country,
which I dare to say has not yet spread into large cities, for the young
women to walk bare-footed to the chapel, or within a short distance of it,
that they may exhibit their bleached thread stockings and well-greased
slippers to the best advantage, not pretermitting a well-turned ankle and
neat leg, which, I may fearlessly assert, my fair country-women can show
against any other nation, living or dead.
"One sunny Sabbath, the congregation of Knockimdowny were thus
assimilated, amusing themselves in the manner I have just outlined; a
series of country girls sat on a little green mount, called the Rabbit
Bank, from the circumstance of its having been formerly an open burrow,
though of late years it has been closed. It was near twelve o'clock, the
hour at which Father Luke O'Shaughran was generally seen topping the rise
of the hill at Larry Mulligan's public-house, jogging on his bay hack at
something between a walk and a trot—that is to say, his horse moved
his fore and hind legs on the off side at one motion, and the fore and
hind legs of the near side in another, going at a kind of dog's trot, like
the pace of an idiot with sore feet in a shower—a pace, indeed, to
which the animal had been set for the last sixteen years, but beyond
which, no force, or entreaty, or science, or power, either divine or
human, of his Reverence could drive him. As yet, however, he had not
become apparent; and the girls already mentioned were discussing the
pretensions which several of their acquaintances had to dress or beauty.
"'Peggy,' said Katy Carroll to her companion, Peggy Donohue, 'were you
out* last Sunday?'
* Out.—This expression in remote parts of the country is
understood to mean being at mass.
"'No, in troth, Katty, I was disappointed in getting my shoes from Paddy
Mellon, though I left him the measure for my foot three weeks agone, and
gave him a thousand warnings to make them duck-nebs; but, instead of
that,' said she, holding out a very purty foot, 'he has made them as sharp
in the toe as a pick-axe, and a full mile too short for me. But why do ye
ax was I out, Katty?'
* Paddy Mellon—a short, thick-set man, with gray hair,
which he always kept cropped close—the most famous
shoemaker in the parish: in fact the Drummond of a large
district. No shoes considered worth wearing if he did not
make them. But, having admitted this, I am bound in common
justice and honesty to say that so big a liar never put an
awl into leather. No language could describe his iniquity in
this respect. I myself am a living-witness of this. Many a
trudge has the villain taken out of me in my boyhood, and as
sure as I went on the appointed day—which was always
Saturday—so surely did he swear that they would be ready
for me on that day week. He was, as a tradesman, the most
multifarious and barefaced liar I ever met; and what was the
most rascally trait about him, was the faculty he possessed
of making you believe the lie as readily after the fifteenth
repetition of it, as when it was uttered fresh from his
"'Oh, nothing,' responded Katty, 'only that you missed a sight, anyway.'
"'What was it Kitty, ahagur?' asked her companion with mighty great
"'Why, nothing less, indeed, nor Rose Cullenan decked out in a white
muslin gown, and a black sprush bonnet, tied under her chin wid a silk
ribbon, no less; but what killed us out and out was—you wouldn't
"'Arrah, how could I guess, woman alive? A silk handkerchy, maybe; for I
wouldn't doubt the same Rose but she would be setting herself up for the
likes of such a thing.'
"'It's herself that had, as red as scarlet, about her neck; but that's not
"'Arrah, Katty, tell it to us at wanst; out with it, ahagur; sure there's
no treason in it, anyhow.'
"'Why, thin, nothing less nor a crass-bar red-and-white pocket-handkerchy,
to wipe her purty complexion wid!'
"To this Peggy replied by a loud laugh, in which it was difficult to say
whether there was more of satire than astonishment.
"'A pocket-handkerchy!' she exclaimed; 'musha, are we alive afther that,
at all at all! Why, that bates Molly M'Cullagh and her red mantle
entirely. I'm sure, but it's well come up for the likes of her, a poor,
imperint crathur, that sprung from nothing, to give herself such airs.'
"'Molly M'Cullagh, indeed,' said Katty, 'why, they oughtn't to be
mintioned in the one day, woman. Molly's come of a dacent ould stock, and
kind mother for her to keep herself in genteel ordher at all times; she
sees nothing else, and can afford it, not all as one as the other flipe*
that would go to the world's end for a bit of dress.'
* Flipe—One who is "flippant"—of which word it is the
substantive, and a good one too.
"' Sure she thinks she's a beauty, too, if you plase,' said Peggy, tossing
her head with an air of disdain; 'but tell us, Katty, how did the muslin
sit upon her at all, the upsetting crathur?'
"'Why, for all the world like a shift on a Maypowl, or a stocking on a
body's nose: only nothing killed us outright but the pocket-handkerchy!'
"'Hut!' said the other, 'what could we expect from a proud piece like her,
that brings a Manwill* to mass every Sunday, purtending she can read in
it, and Jem Finigan saw the wrong side of the book towards her, the Sunday
of the Purcession!'**
* Manuel—a Catholic Prayer-book.
** The priest described in "Ned M'Keown" having been
educated on the Continent, was one of the first to introduce
the Procession of the Host in that part of the country. The
Consecrated Host, shrined in a silver vessel formed like a
chalice, was borne by a priest under a silken canopy; and to
this the other clergymen present offered up incense from a
censer, whilst they circumambulated the chapel inside and
out, if the day was fine.
"At this hit they both formed another risible junction, quite as sarcastic
as the former—in the midst of which the innocent object of their
censure, dressed in all her obnoxious finery, came up and joined them. She
was scarcely sated—I blush to the very point of my pen during the
manuscription—when the confabulation assumed a character directly
antipodial to that which marked the precedent dialogue.
"'My gracious, Rose, but that's a purty thing you have got in your gown!—where
did you buy it?'
"'Och, thin, not a one of myself likes it over much. I'm sorry I didn't
buy a gingham: I could have got a beautiful patthern, all out, for two
shillings less; but they don't wash so well as this. I bought it in Paddy
"'Troth, it's nothing else but a great beauty; I didn't see anything on
you this long time that becomes you so well, and I've remarked that you
always look best in white.'
"'Who made it, Rose?' inquired Katty; 'for it sits illegant'
"'Indeed,' replied Rose, 'for the differ of the price, I thought it better
to bring it to Peggy Boyle, and be sartin of not having it spoiled. Nelly
Keenan made the last; and although there was a full breadth more in it nor
this, bad cess to the one of her but spoiled it on me; it was ever so much
too short in the body, and too tight in the sleeves, and then I had no
step at all at all.'
"'The sprush bonnet is exactly the fit for the gown,' observed Katty; 'the
black and the white's jist the cut—how many yards had you, Rose?'
"'Jist ten and a half; but the half-yard was for the tucks.'
"'Ay, faix! and brave full tucks she left in it; ten would do me, Rose?'
"'Ten!—no, nor ten and a half; you're a size bigger nor me at the
laste, Peggy; but you'd be asy fitted, you're so well made.'
"'Rose, darling,' said Peggy, 'that's a great beauty, and shows off
your complexion all to pieces; you have no notion how well you look in it
and the sprush.'
"In a few minutes after this her namesake, Rose Galh O'Hallaghan, came
towards the chapel, in society with her father, mother, and her two
sisters. The eldest, Mary, was about twenty-one; Rose, who was the second,
about nineteen, or scarcely that; and Nancy, the junior of the three,
about twice seven.
"'There's the O'Hallaghans,' says Rose.
"'Ay,' replied Katty; 'you may talk of beauty, now; did you ever lay your
two eyes on the likes of Rose for downright—musha, if myself knows
what to call it—but, anyhow, she's the lovely crathur to look at.'
"Kind reader, without a single disrespectful insinuation against any
portion of the fair sex, you may judge what Rose O'Hallaghan must have
been, when even these three were necessitated to praise her in her
"'I'll warrant,' observed Katty, 'we'll soon be after seeing John
O'Callaghan'—(he was my own cousin)—'sthrolling afther them,
at his ase.'
"'Why,' asked Rose, 'what makes you say that?'
"'Bekase,' replied the other, I've a rason for it.'
"'Sure John O'Callaghan wouldn't be thinking of her,' observed Rose, 'and
their families would see other shot: their factions would never have a
crass marriage, anyhow.'
"'Well,' said Peggy, 'it's the thousand pities that the same two couldn't
go together; for fair and handsome as Rose is, you'll not deny but John
comes up to her; but I faix! sure enough it's they that's the proud people
on both sides, and dangerous to make or meddle with, not saying that ever
there was the likes of the same two for dacency and peaceableness among
either of the factions.'
"'Didn't I tell yez?' cried Katty; 'look at him now staling afther her;
and it'll be the same thing going home again; and, if Rose is not much
belied, it's not a bit displasing to her.'
"'Between ourselves, observed Peggy, it would be no wondher the darling
young crathur would fall in love with him; for you might thravel the
country afore you'd meet with his fellow for face and figure.'
"'There's Father Ned,' remarked Katty; 'we had betther get into the chapel
before the scroodgin comes an, or your bonnet and gown, Rose, won't
be the betther for it.'
"They now proceeded to the chapel, and those who had been amusing
themselves after the same mode, followed their exemplar. In a short time
the hedges and ditches adjoining the chapel were quite in solitude, with
the exception of a few persons from the extreme parts of the parish, who
might be seen running with all possible velocity 'to overtake mass,' as
the phrase on that point expresses itself.
"The chapel of Knockimdowny was situated at the foot of a range of lofty
mountains; a by-road went past the very door, which had under subjection a
beautiful extent of cultivated country, diversificated by hill and dale,
or rather by hill and hollow; for, as far as my own geographical knowledge
goes, I have uniformly found them inseparable. It was also ornamented with
the waving verdure of rich corn-fields and meadows, not pretermitting
phatie-fields in full blossom—a part of rural landscape which, to my
utter astonishment, has escaped the pen of poet, and the brush of painter;
although I will risk my reputation as a man of pure and categorical taste,
if a finer ingredient in the composition of a landscape could be found
than a field of Cork-fed phaties or Moroky blacks in full bloom,
allowing a man to judge by the pleasure they confer upon the eye, and
therefore to the heart. About a mile up from the chapel, towards the
south, a mountain-stream, not the one already intimated—over which
there was no bridge, crossed the road. But in lieu of a bridge, there was
a long double plank laid over it, from bank to bank; and as the river was
broad, and not sufficiently incarcerated within its channel, the neighbors
were necessitated to throw these planks across the narrowest part they
could find in the contiguity of the road. This part was consequently the
deepest, and, in floods, the most dangerous; for the banks were elevated
as far as they went, and quite tortuositous.
"Shortly after the priest had entered the chapel, it was observed that the
hemisphere became, of a sudden, unusually obscure, though the preceding
part of the day had not only been uncloudously bright, but hot in a most
especial manner. The obscurity, however, increased rapidly, accompanied by
that gloomy stillness which always takes precedence of a storm, and fills
the mind with vague and interminable terror. But this ominous silence was
not long unfractured; for soon after the first appearance of the gloom, a
flash of lightning quivered through the chapel, followed by an
extragavantly loud clap of thunder, which shook the very glass in the
windows, and filled the congregation to the brim with terror. Their
dismay, however, would have been infinitely greater, only for the presence
of his Reverence, and the confidence which might be traced to the solemn
occasion on which they were assimilated.
"From this moment the storm became progressive in dreadful magnitude, and
the thunder, in concomitance with the most vivid flashes of lightning,
pealed through the sky, with an awful grandeur and magnificence, that were
exalted and even rendered more sublime by the still solemnity of religious
worship. Every heart now prayed fervently—every spirit shrunk into a
deep sense of its own guilt and helplessness—and every conscience
was terror-stricken, as the voice of an angry God thundered out of his
temple of storms though the heavens; for truly, as the Authorized Version
has it, 'darkness was under his feet, and his pavilion round about was
dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, because he was wroth.'
"The rain now condescended in even-down torrents, and thunder succeeded
thunder in deep and terrific peals, whilst the roar of the gigantic echoes
that deepened and reverberated among the glens and hollows, 'laughing in
their mountain mirth,'—hard fortune to me, but they made the flesh
creep on my bones!
"This lasted for an hour, when the thunder slackened: but the rain still
continued. As soon as mass was over, and the storm had elapsed, except an
odd peal which might be heard rolling at a distance behind the hills, the
people began gradually to repover their spirits, and enter into
confabulation; but to venture out was still impracticable. For about
another hour it rained incessantly, after which it ceased; the hemisphere
became lighter—and the sun shone out once more upon the countenance
of nature with its former brightness. The congregation then decanted
itself out of the chapel—the spirits of the people dancing with that
remarkable buoyancy or juvenility which is felt after a thunderstorm, when
the air is calm, soople, and balmy—and all nature garmented with
glittering verdure and light. The crowd next began to commingle on their
way home, and to make the usual observations upon the extraordinary storm
which had just passed, and the probable effect it would produce on the
fruit and agriculture of the neighborhood.
"When the three young women, whom we have already introduced to our
respectable readers, had evacuated the chapel, they determined to
substantiate a certitude, as far as their observation could reach, as to
the truth of what Kitty Carroll had hinted at, in reference to John
O'Callaghan's attachment to Rose Galh O'Hallaghan, and her taciturn
approval of it. For this purpose they kept their eye upon John, who
certainly seemed in no especial hurry home, but lingered upon the chapel
green in a very careless method. Rose Galh, however, soon made her
appearance, and, after going up the chapel-road a short space, John slyly
walked at some distance behind, without seeming to pay her any particular
notice, whilst a person up to the secret might observe Rose's bright eye
sometimes peeping back to see if he was after her. In this manner they
proceeded until they came to the river, which, to their great alarm, was
almost fluctuating over its highest banks.
"A crowd was now assembled, consulting as to the safest method of crossing
the planks, under which the red boiling current ran, with less violence,
it is true, but much deeper than in any other part of the stream. The
final decision was, that the very young and the old, and such as were
feeble, should proceed by a circuit of some miles to a bridge that crossed
it, and that the young men should place themselves on their knees along
the planks, their hands locked in each other, thus forming a support on
one side, upon which such as had courage to venture across might lean, in
case of accident or megrim. Indeed, anybody that had able nerves might
have crossed the planks without this precaution, had they been dry; but,
in consequence of the rain, and the frequent attrition of feet, they were
quite slippery; and, besides, the flood rolled terrifically two or three
yards below them, which might be apt to beget a megrim that would not be
felt if there was no flood.
"When this expedient had been hit upon, several young men volunteered
themselves to put it in practice; and in a short time a considerable
number of both sexuals crossed over, without the occurrence of any
unpleasant accident. Paddy O'Hallaghan and his family had been stationed
for some time on the bank, watching the success of the plan; and as it
appeared not to be attended with any particular danger, they also
determined to make the attempt. About a perch below the planks stood John
O'Callaghan, watching the progress of those who were crossing them, but
taking no part in what was going forward. The river, under the planks, and
for some perches above and below them, might be about ten feet deep; but
to those who could swim, it was less perilous, should any accident befall
them, than those parts where the current was more rapid, but shallower.
The water here boiled, and bubbled, and whirled about; but it was slow,
and its yellow surface unbroken by rocks or fords.
"The first of the O'Hallaghans that ventured over it was the youngest,
who, being captured by the hand, was encouraged by many cheerful
expressions from the young men who were clinging to the planks. She got
safe over, however; and when she came to the end, one who was stationed on
the bank gave her a joyous pull, that translated her several yards upon
"'Well, Nancy,' he observed, 'you're safe, anyhow; and if I don't dance at
your wedding for this, I'll never say you're dacent.'
"To this Nancy gave a jocular promise, and he resumed his station, that he
might be ready to render similar assistance to her next sister. Rose Galh
then went to the edge of the plank several times, but her courage as often
refused to be forthcoming. During her hesitation, John O'Callaghan stooped
down, and privately untied his shoes, then unbuttoned his waistcoat, and
very gently, being unwilling to excite notice, slipped the knot of his
cravat. At long last, by the encouragement of those who were on the plank,
Rose attempted the passage, and had advanced as far as the middle of it,
when a fit of dizziness and alarm seized her with such violence, that she
lost all consciousness—a circumstance of which those who handed her
along were ignorant. The consequence, as might be expected, was dreadful;
for as one of the young men was receiving her hand, that he might pass her
to the next, she lost her momentum, and was instantaneously precipitated
into the boiling current.
"The wild and fearful cry of horror that succeeded this cannot be laid on
paper. The eldest sister fell into strong convulsions, and several of the
other females fainted on the spot. The mother did not faint; but, like
Lot's wife, she seemed to be translated into stone: her hands became
clenched convulsively, her teeth locked, her nostrils dilated, and her
eyes shot half way out of her head. There she stood, looking upon her
daughter struggling in the flood, with a fixed gaze or wild and impotent
frenzy, that, for fearful ness, beat the thunder-storm all to nothing. The
father rushed to the edge of the river, oblivious of his incapability to
swim, determined to save her or lose his own life, which latter would have
been a dead certainty, had he ventured; but he was prevented by the crowd,
who pointed out to him the madness of such a project.
"'For God's sake, Paddy, don't attimpt it,' they exclaimed, 'except you
wish to lose your own life, without being able to save hers: no man could
swim in that flood, and it upwards of ten feet deep.'
"Their arguments, however, were lost upon him; for, in fact, he was
insensible to everything but his child's preservation. He, therefore, only
answered their remonstrances by attempting to make another plunge into the
"'Let me alone, will yez,' said he—'let me alone! I'll either save
my child, Rose, or die along with her! How could I live after her?
Merciful God, any of them but her! Oh! Rose, darling,' he exclaimed, 'the
favorite of my heart—will no one save you?' All this passed in less
than a minute.
"'Just as these words were uttered, a plunge was heard a few yards below
the bridge, and a man appeared in the flood, making his way with rapid
strokes to the drowning girl. Another cry now arose from the spectators:
'It's John O'Callaghan,' they shouted—'it's John O'Callaghan, and
they'll both be lost.' 'No,' exclaimed others; 'if it's in the power of
man to save her, he will!' 'O, blessed father, she's lost!' now burst from
all present; for, after having struggled and been kept floating for some
time by her garments, she at length sunk, apparently exhausted and
senseless, and the thief of a flood flowed over her, as if she had not
been under it's surface.
"When O'Callaghan saw that she went down, he raised himself up in the
water, and cast his eye towards that part of the bank opposite which she
disappeared, evidently, as it proved, that he might have a mark to guide
him in fixing on the proper spot where to plunge after her. When he came
to the place, he raised himself again in the stream, and, calculating that
she must by this time have been borne some distance from the spot where
she sank, he gave a stroke or two down the river, and disappeared after
her. This was followed by another cry of horror and despair, for somehow,
the idea of desolation which marks, at all times, a deep, over-swollen
torrent, heightened by the bleak mountain scenery around them, and the
dark, angry voracity of the river where they had sunk, might have
impressed the spectators with utter hopelessness as to the fate of those
now engulfed in its vortex. This, however, I leave to those who are deeper
read in philosophy than I am.
"An awful silence succeeded the last shrill exclamation, broken only by
the hoarse rushing of the waters, whose wild, continuous roar, booming
hollowly and dismally in the ear, might be heard at a great distance over
all the country. But a new sensation soon invaded the multitude; for after
the lapse of about half a minute, John O'Callaghan emerged from the flood,
bearing in his sinister hand the body of his own Rose Galh—for it's
he that loved her tenderly. A peal of joy congratulated them from the
assembled crowd; hundreds of directions were given to him how to act to
the best advantage. Two young men in especial, who were both dying about
the lovely creature that he held, were quite anxious to give advice.
"'Bring her to the other side, John, ma bouchal; it's the safest,' said
"'Will you let him alone, Carty?' said Simon Tracy, who was the other,
'you'll only put him in a perplexity.'
"But Carty should order in spite of every thing. He kept bawling out,
however, so loud, that John raised his eye to see what he meant, and was
near losing hold of Rose. This was too much for Tracy, who ups with his
fist, and downs him—so they both at it; for no one there could take
themselves off those that were in danger, to interfere between them. But
at all events, no earthly thing can happen among Irishmen without a fight.
"The father, during this, stood breathless, his hands clasped, and his
eyes turned to heaven, praying in anguish for the delivery of his darling.
The mother's look was still wild and fixed, her eyes glazed, and her
muscles hard and stiff; evidently she was insensible to all that was going
forward; while large drops of paralytic agony hung upon her cold brow.
Neither of the sisters had yet recovered, nor could those who supported
them turn their eyes from the more imminent danger, to pay them any
particular attention. Many, also, of the other females, whose feelings
were too much wound up when the accident occurred, now fainted, when they
saw she was likely to be rescued; but most of them were weeping with
delight and gratitude.
"When John brought her to the surface, he paused for a moment to recover
breath and collectedness; he then caught her by the left arm, near the
shoulder, and cut, in a slanting direction, down the stream, to a watering
place, where a slope had been formed in the bank. But he was already too
far down to be able to work across the stream to this point; for it was
here much stronger and more rapid than under the planks. Instead,
therefore, of reaching the slope, he found himself in spite of every
effort to the contrary, about a perch below it; and, except he could gain
this point, against the strong rush of the flood, there was very little
hope of being able to save either her or himself—for he was now much
"Hitherto, therefore, all was still doubtful, whilst strength was fast
failing him. In this trying and almost hopeless situation, with an
admirable presence of mind, he adopted the only expedient which could
possibly enable him to reach the bank. On finding himself receding down,
instead of advancing up the current, he approached the bank, which was
here very deep and perpendicular; he then sank his fingers into and
pressed his right foot against the firm blue clay with which it was
stratified, and by this means advanced, bit by bit, up the stream, having
no other force by which to propel himself against it. After this mode did
he breast the current with all his strength—which must have been
prodigious, or he never could have borne it out—until he reached the
slope, and got from the influence of the tide, into dead water. On
arriving here, his hand was caught by one of the young men present, who
stood up to the neck, waiting his approach. A second man stood behind him,
holding his other hand, a link being thus formed, that reached out to the
firm bank; and a good pull now brought them both to the edge of the river.
On finding bottom, John took his Colleen Galh in his own arms, carried her
out, and pressing his lips to hers, laid her in the bosom of her father;
then, after taking another kiss of the young drowned flower, he burst into
tears, and fell powerless beside her. The truth is, the spirit that had
kept him firm was now exhausted; both his legs and arms having become
nerveless by the exertion.
"Hitherto her father took no notice of John, for how could he? seeing that
he was entirely wrapped up in his daughter; and the question was, though
rescued from the flood, if life was in her. The sisters were by this time
recovered, and weeping over her, along with the father—and, indeed,
with all present; but the mother could not be made to comprehend what they
were about at all at all. The country people used every means with which
they were intimate to recover Rose; she was brought instantly to a
farmer's house beside the spot, put into a warm bed, covered over with hot
salt, wrapped in half-scorched blankets, and made subject to every other
mode of treatment that could possibly revoke the functions of life. John
had now got a dacent draught of whiskey, which revived him. He stood over
her, when he could be admitted, watching for the symptomatics of her
revival; all, however, was vain. He now determined to try another course:
by-and-by he stooped, put his mouth to her mouth, and, drawing in his
breath, respired with all his force from the bottom of his very heart into
hers; this he did several times rapidly—faith, a tender and
agreeable operation, any how. But mark the consequence: in less than a
minute her white bosom heaved—her breath returned—her pulse
began to play—she opened her eyes, and felt his tears of love
raining warmly on her pale cheek!
"For years before this no two of these opposite factions had spoken, nor
up to this minute had John and they, even upon this occasion, exchanged a
monosyllable. The father now looked at him—the tears stood afresh in
his eyes; he came forward—stretched out his hand—it was
received; and the next moment he fell upon John's neck, and cried like an
"When Rose recovered, she seemed as if striving to recordate what had
happened; and, after two or three minutes, inquired from her sister, in a
weak but sweet voice, 'Who saved me?'
"''Twas John O'Callaghan, Rose darling,' replied the sister, in tears,
'that ventured his own life into the boiling flood, to save yours—and
did save it, jewel!'
"Rose's eye glanced at John—and I only wish, as I am a bachelor not
further than my forty-fourth, that I may ever have the happiness to get
such a glance from two blue eyes, as she gave him that moment—a
faint smile played about her mouth, and a slight blush lit up her fair
cheek, like the evening sunbeams on the virgin snow, as the poets have
said for the five-hundredth time, to my own personal knowledge. She then
extended her hand, which John, you may be sure, was no way backward in
receiving, and the tears of love and gratitude ran silently down her
"It is not necessary to detail the circumstances of this day farther; let
it be sufficient to say, that a reconciliation took place between those
two branches of the O'Hallaghan and O'Callaghan families, in consequence
of John's heroism and Rose's soft persuasion, and that there was, also,
every perspective of the two factions being penultimately amalgamated. For
nearly a century they had been pell-mell at it, whenever and wherever they
could meet. Their forefathers, who had been engaged in the lawsuit about
the island which I have mentioned, wore dead and petrified in their
graves; and the little peninsula in the glen was gradationally worn away
by the river, till nothing remained but a desert, upon a small scale, of
sand and gravel. Even the ruddy, able-bodied squire, with the longitudinal
nose, projecting out of his face like a broken arch, and the small, fiery
magistrate—both of whom had fought the duel, for the purpose of
setting forth a good example, and bringing the dispute to a peaceable
conclusion—were also dead. The very memory of the original
contention! had been lost (except that it was preserved along with the
cranium of my grandfather), or became so indistinct that the parties
fastened themselves on some more modern provocation, which they kept in
view until another fresh motive would start up, and so on. I know not,
however, whether it was fair to expect them to give up at once the
agreeable recreation of fighting. It's not easy to abolish old customs,
particularly diversions; and every one knows that this is our national
"There were, it is true, many among both, factions who saw the matter in
this reasonable light, and who wished rather, if it were to cease, that it
should die away by degrees, from the battle of the whole parish, equally
divided between the factions, to the subordinate row between certain
members of them—from that to the faint broil of certain families,
and so on to the single-handed play between individuals. At all events,
one-half of them were for peace, and two-thirds of them were equally
divided between peace and war.
"For three months after the accident which befell Rose Galh O'Hallaghan,
both factions had been tolerantly quiet—that is to say, they had no
general engagement. Some slight skirmishes certainly did take place on
market-nights, when the drop was in, and the spirits up; but in those
neither John nor Rose's immediate families took any part. The fact was,
that John and Rose were on the evening of matrimony; the match had been
made—the day appointed, and every other necessary stipulation
ratified. Now, John was as fine a young man as you would meet in a day's
traveling; and as for Rose, her name went far and near for beauty: and
with justice, for the sun never shone on a fairer, meeker, or modester
virgin than Rose Galh O'Hallaghan.
"It might be, indeed, that there were those on both sides who thought
that, if the marriage was obstructed, their own sons and daughters would
have a better chance. Rose had many admirers; they might have envied John
his happiness; many fathers, on the Other side, might have wished their
sons to succeed with Rose. Whether I am sinister in this conjecture is
more than I can say. I grant, indeed, that a great portion of it is
speculation on my part. The wedding-day, however, was arranged; but,
unfortunately, the fair-day of Knockimdowny occurred, in the rotation of
natural time, precisely one week before it. I know not from what motive it
proceeded, but the factions on both sides were never known to make a more
light-hearted preparation for battle. Cudgels of all sorts and sizes (and
some of them, to my own knowledge, great beauties) were provided.
"I believe I may as well take this opportunity of saying that real Irish
cudgels must be root-growing, either oak, black-thorn, or crab-tree—although
crab-tree, by the way, is apt to fly. They should not be too long—three
feet and a few inches is an accommodating length. They must be naturally
top-heavy, and have around the end that is to make acquaintance with the
cranium three or four natural lumps, calculated to divide the flesh in the
natest manner, and to leave, if possible, the smallest taste in life of
pit in the skull. But if a good root-growing kippeen be light at
the fighting-end, or possess not the proper number of knobs, a hole, a few
inches deep, is to be bored in the end, which must be filled with melted
lead. This gives it a widow-and-orphan-making quality, a child-bereaving
touch, altogether very desirable. If, however, the top splits in the
boring—which, in awkward hands, is not uncommon—the defect may
be remediated by putting on an iron ferrule, and driving two or three
strong nails into it, simply to preserve it from flying off; not that an
Irishman is ever at a loss for weapons when in a fight, for so long as a
scythe, flail, spade, pitchfork, or stone is at hand, he feels quite
contented with the lot of war. No man, as they say of great statesmen, is
more fertile in expedients during a row; which, by the way, I take to be a
good quality, at all events.
"I remember the fair-day of Knockimdowny well; it has kept me from
griddle-bread and tough nutriment ever since. Hard fortune to Jack Roe
O'Hallaghan! No man had better teeth than I had till I met with him that
day. He fought stoutly on his own side; but he was ped then for the same
basting that fell to me, though not by my hands, if to get his jaw
dacently divided into three halves could be called a fair liquidation of
an old debt—it was equal to twenty shillings in the pound, any how.
"There had not been a larger fair in the town of Knockimdowny for years.
The day was dark and sunless, but sultry. On looking through the crowd, I
could see no man! without a cudgel; yet, what was strange, there was no
certainty of any sport. Several desultory skrimmages had locality, but
they I were altogether sequestered from the great factions of the O's.
Except that it was pleasant and stirred one's blood to look at them, or
occasioned the cudgels to be grasped more firmly, there was no personal
interest felt by any of us in them; they therefore began and ended, here
and there, through the fair, like mere flashes in the pan, dying in their
"The blood of every prolific nation is naturally hot; but when that hot
blood is inflamed by ardent spirits, it is not to be supposed that men
should be cool; and God he knows, there is not on the level surface of
this habitable globe, a nation that has been so thoroughly inflamed by
ardent spirits of all kinds as Ireland.
"Up till four o'clock that day, the factions were quiet. Several relations
on both sides had been invited to drink by John and Rose's families, for
the purpose of establishing a good feeling between them. But this was,
after all, hardly to be expected, for they hated one another with an
ardency much too good-humored and buoyant; and, between ourselves, to
bring Paddy over a bottle is a very equivocal mode of giving him an
anti-cudgeling disposition. After the hour of four, several of the
factions were getting very friendly, which I knew at the time to be a bad
sign. Many of them nodded to each other, which I knew to be a worse one;
and some of them shook hands with the greatest cordiality, which I no
sooner saw than I slipped the knot of my cravat, and held myself in
preparation for the sport.
"I have often had occasion to remark—and few men, let me tell you,
had finer opportunities of doing so—the differential symptomatics
between a Party Fight, that is, a battle between Orangemen and Ribbon-men,
and one between two Roman Catholic Factions. There is something infinitely
more anxious, silent, and deadly, in the compressed vengeance, and the
hope of slaughter, which characterize a party fight, than is to be seen in
a battle between factions. The truth is, the enmity is not so deep and
well-grounded in the latter as in the former. The feeling is not political
nor religious between the factions; whereas, in the other, it is both,
which is a mighty great advantage; for when this is adjuncted to an
intense personal hatred, and a sense of wrong, probably arising from a too
intimate recollection of the leaded black thorn, or the awkward death of
some relative, by the musket or the bayonet, it is apt to produce very
purty fighting, and much respectable retribution.
"In a party fight, a prophetic sense of danger, hangs, as it were, over
the crowd—the very air is loaded with apprehension; and the
vengeance burst is proceeded by a close, thick darkness, almost sulphury,
that is more terrifical than the conflict itself, though dearly less
dangerous and fatal. The scowl of the opposing parties, the blanched
cheeks, the knit brows, and the grinding teeth, not pretermitting the
deadly gleams that shoot from their kindled eyes, are ornaments which a
plain battle between factions cannot boast, but which, notwithstanding,
are very suitable to the fierce and gloomy silence of that premeditated
vengeance which burns with such intensity in the heart, and scorches up
the vitals into such a thirst for blood. Not but that they come by
different means to the same conclusion; because it is the feeling, and not
altogether the manner of operation, that is different.
"Now a faction fight doesn't resemble this at all at all. Paddy's at home
here; all song, dance, good-humor, and affection. His cheek is flushed
with delight, which, indeed, may derive assistance from the consciousness
of having no bayonets or loaded carabines to contend with; but anyhow,
he's at home—his eye is lit with real glee—he tosses his hat
in the air, in the height of mirth—and leaps, like a mounteback, two
yards from the ground. Then, with what a gracious dexterity he brandishes
his cudgel! what a joyous spirit is heard in his shout at the face of a
friend from another faction! His very 'who!' is contagious, and would make
a man, that had settled on running away, return and join the sport with an
appetite truly Irish. He is, in fact, while under the influence of this
heavenly afflatus, in love with every one, man, woman, and child. If he
meet his sweetheart, he will give her a kiss and a hug, and that with
double kindness, because he is on his way to thrash her father or brother.
It is the acumen of his enjoyment; and woe be to him who will adventure to
go between him and his amusements. To be sure, skulls and bones are
broken, and lives lost; but they are lost in pleasant fighting—they
are the consequences of the sport, the beauty of which consists in
breaking as many heads and necks as you can; and certainly when a man
enters into the spirit of any exercise, there is nothing like elevating
himself to the point of excellence. Then a man ought never to be
disheartened. If you lose this game, or get your head good-humoredly
beaten to pieces, why you may win another, or your friends may mollify two
or three skulls as a set-off to yours; but that is nothing.
"When the evening became more advanced, maybe, considering the poor look
up there was for anything like decent sport—maybe, in the early part
of the day, it wasn't the delightful sight to see the boys on each side of
the two great factions beginning to get frolicsome. Maybe the songs and
the shouting, when they began, hadn't melody and music in them, any how!
People may talk about harmony; but what harmony is equal to that in which
five or six hundred men sing and shout, and leap and caper at each other,
as a prelude to neighborly fighting where they beat time upon the drums of
each other's ears and heads with oak drumsticks? That's an Irishman's
music; and hard fortune to the garran* that wouldn't have
friendship and kindness in him to join and play a stave along with them!
'Whoo; your sowl! Hurroo! Success to our side! Hi for the O'Callaghans!
Where's the blackguard to—,' I beg pardon, decent reader; I forgot
myself for a moment, or rather I got new life in me, for I am nothing at
all at all for the last five months—a kind of nonentity I may say,
ever since that vagabond Burges occasioned me to pay a visit to my distant
relations, till my friends get that last matter of the collar-bone
* Garran—a horse; but it is always used as meaning a bad
one—one without mettle. When figuratively applied to a man,
it means a coward
"The impulse which faction fighting gives to trade and business in Ireland
is truly surprising; whereas party fighting depreciates both. As soon as
it is perceived that a party fight is to be expected, all buying and
selling are nearly suspended for the day; and those who are not up*,
and even many who are, take themselves and their property home as quickly
as may be convenient. But in a faction fight, as soon as there is any
perspective of a row, depend upon it, there is quick work at all kinds of
negotiation; and truly there is nothing like brevity and decision in
buying and selling; for which reason, faction fighting, at all events, if
only for the sake of national prosperity, should be encouraged and kept
* Initiated into Whiteboyism
"Towards five o'clock, if a man was placed on an exalted station; so that
he could look at the crowd, and wasn't able to fight, he could have seen
much that a man might envy him for. Here a hat went up, or maybe a dozen
of them; then followed a general huzza. On the other side, two dozen
caubeens sought the sky, like so many scaldy crows attempting their own
element for the first time, only they were not so black. Then another
shout, which was answered by that of their friends on the opposite side;
so that you would hardly know which side huzzaed loudest, the blending of
both was so truly symphonius. Now there was a shout for the face of an
O'Callaghan; this was prosecuted on the very heels by another for the face
of an O'Hallaghan. Immediately a man of the O'Hallaghan side doffed his
tattered frieze, and catching it by the very extremity of the sleeve, drew
it with a tact, known only by an initiation of half a dozen street days,
up the pavement after him. On the instant, a blade from the O'Callaghan
side peeled with equal alacrity, and stretching his home-made * at
full length after him, proceeded triumphantly up the street, to meet the
* Irish frieze is mostly manufactured at home, which
accounts for the expression here.
"Thunder-an-ages, what's this for, at all, at all! I wish I hadn't begun
to manuscript an account of it, any how; 'tis like a hungry man dreaming
of a good dinner at a feast, and afterwards awaking and finding his front
ribs and back-bone on the point of union. Reader, is that a black-thorn
you carry—tut, where is my imagination bound for?——to
meet the other, I say.
"'Where's the rascally O'Callaghan that will place his toe or his shillely
on this frieze?' 'Is there no blackguard O'Hallaghan jist to look crucked
at the coat of an O'Callaghan, or say black's the white of his eye?'
"'Troth and there is, Ned, avourneen, that same on the sod here.'
"'Is that Barney?'
"'The same, Ned, ma bouchal; and how is your mother's son, Ned?'
"'In good health at the present time, thank God and you; how is yourself,
"'Can't complain as time goes; only take this, any how, to mend your
health, ma bouchal.' (Whack.)
"'Success, Barney, and here's at your sarvice, avick, not making little of
what I got, any way.' (Crack.)
"About five o'clock on a May evening, in the fair of Knockimdowny, was the
ice thus broken, with all possible civility, by Ned and Barney. The next
moment a general rush took place towards the scene of action, and ere you
could bless yourself, Barney and Ned were both down, weltering in their
own and each other's blood. I scarcely know, indeed, though with a mighty
respectable quota of experimentality myself, how to describe what
followed. For the first twenty minutes the general harmony of this fine
row might be set to music, according to a scale something like this:—Whick
whack—crick crack—whick whack—crick crack—&c,
&c, &o. 'Here yer sowl—(crack)—there yer sowl—(whack).
Whoo for the O'Hallag-hans!'—(crack, crack, crack). 'Hurroo for the
O'Callaghans!—(whack, whack, whack). The O'Callaghans for ever!'—(whack).
'The O'Hallaghans for ever!'—(crack). 'Mur-ther! murther!—(crick,
crack)—foul! foul!—(whack, whack). Blood and turf!—(whack,
whick)—tunther-an-ouns'—(crack, crick). 'Hurroo! my darlings!
handle your kip-peens—(crack, crack)—the O'Hallaghans are
"You are to suppose them, here to have been at it for about half an hour.
"Whack, crack—'oh—oh—oh! have mercy upon me, boys—(crack—a
shriek of murther! murther—crack, crack, whack)—my life—my
life—(crack, crack—whack, whack)—oh! for the sake of the
living Father!—for the sake of my wife and childher, Ned Hallaghan,
spare my life.'
"'So we will, but take this, any how'—(whack, crack, whack, crack).
"'Oh! for the love of. God, don't kill—(whack, crack, whack). Oh!'—(crack,
"'Huzza! huzza! huzza!' from the O'Hallaghans. 'Bravo, boys! there's one
of them done for: whoo! my darlings! hurroo! the O'Hallaghans for ever!'
"The scene now changes to the O'Callaghan side.
"'Jack—oh, Jack, avourneen—hell to their sowls for murdherers—Paddy's
killed—his skull's smashed! Revinge, boys, Paddy O'Callaghan's
killed! On with you, O'Callaghans—on with you—on with you,
Paddy O'Callaghan's murdhered—take to the stones—that's it—keep
it up, down with: him! Success!—he's the bloody villain that: didn't
show him marcy—that's it. Tunder-an-ouns, is it laving him that way
you are afther—let me at him!'
"'Here's a stone, Tom!'
"'No, no, this stick has the lead in it. It'll do him, never fear!'
"'Let him alone, Barney, he's got enough.'
"'By the powdhers, it's myself that won't: didn't he kill Paddy?—(crack,
crack). Take that, you murdhering thief!'—(whack, whack).
"'Oh!—(whack, crack)—my head—I'm killed—I'm'—(crack—kicks
"'Now, your sowl, that does you, any way—(crack, whack)—hurro!—huzza!—huzza!—Man
for man, boys—an O'Hallaghan's done for—whoo! for our side—tol-deroll,
folderoll, tow, row, row—huzza!—fol-deroll, fol-deroll, tow,
row, row, huzza for the O'Callaghans!'
"From this moment the battle became delightful; it was now pelt and welt
on both sides, but many of the kippeens were broken: many of the boys had
their fighting arms disabled by a dislocation, or bit of fracture, and
those weren't equal to more than doing a little upon such as were down.
"In the midst of the din, such a dialogue as this might be heard:
"'Larry, you're after being done for, for this day.' (Whack, crack.)
"'Only an eye gone—is that Mickey?' (whick, whack, crick, crack.)
"'That's it, my darlings!—you may say that, Larry—'tis my
mother's son that's in it—(crack, crack,—a general huzza.):
(Mickey and Larry) huzza! huzza! huzza for the O'Hallaghans! What have you
got, Larry?—(crack, crack).
"'Only the bone of my arm, God be praised for it, very purtily snapt
across!' (whack, whack).
"'Is that all? Well, some people have luck!'—(crack, crack, crack).
"'Why I've no reason to complain, thank God—(whack, crack!)—purty
play that, any way—Paddy O'Callaghan's settled—did you hear
it?—(whack, whack, another shout)—That's it boys—handle
the shilleleys!—Success O'Hallaghans—down with the bloody
"'I did hear it: so is Jem O'Hallaghan—(crack, whack, whack, crack)—you're
not able to get up, I see—tare-an-ounty, isn't it a pleasure to hear
that play?—What ails you?'
"'Oh, Larry, I'm in great pain, and getting very weak, entirely'—(faints).
"'Faix, and he's settled too, I'm thinking.'
"'Oh, murdher, my arm!' (One of the O'Callaghans attacks him—crack,
"'Take that, you vagabone!'—(whack, whack).
"' Murdher, murdher, is it strikin' a down man you're after?—foul,
foul, and my arm broke!'—(crack, crack).
"'Take that, with what you got before, and it'll ase you, maybe.'
"(A party of the O'Hallaghans attack the man who is beating him).
"'Murdher, murdher!'—(crack, whack, whack, crack, crack, whack).
"'Lay on him, your sowls to pirdition—lay on him, hot and heavy—give
it to him! He sthruck me and me down wid my broken arm!'
"'Foul, ye thieves of the world!—(from the O'Callaghan)—foul!
five against one—give me fair play!—(crack, crack, crack)—Oh!—(whack)
Oh, oh, oh!'—(falls senseless, covered with blood).
"'Ha, hell's cure to you, you bloody thief; you didn't spare me with my
arm broke'—(Another general shout.) 'Bad end to it, isn't it a poor
case entirely, that I can't even throw up my caubeen, let alone join in
"Both parties now rallied, and ranged themselves along the street,
exhibiting a firm phalanx, wedged close against each other, almost foot to
foot. The mass was thick and dense, and the tug of conflict stiff, wild
and savage. Much natural skill and dexterity were displayed in their
mutual efforts to preserve their respective ranks unbroken, and as the
sallies and charges were made on both sides, the temporary rash, the
indentation of the multitudinous body, and the rebound into its original
position, gave an undulating appearance to the compact mass—reeking,
dragging, groaning, and buzzing as it was, that resembled the serpentine
motion of a rushing water-spout in the clouds.
"The women now began to take part with their brothers and sweethearts.
Those who had no bachelors among the opposite factions, fought along with
their brothers; others did not scruple even to assist in giving their
enamored swains the father of a good beating. Many, however, were more
faithful to love than to natural affection, and these sallied out, like
heroines, under the banners of their sweethearts, fighting with amazing
prowess against their friends and relations; nor was it at all
extraordinary to see two sisters engaged on opposite sides—perhaps
tearing each other as, with dishevelled hair, they screamed with a fury
that was truly exemplary. Indeed it is no untruth to assert that the women
do much valuable execution. Their manner of fighting is this—as soon
as the fair one decides upon taking a part in the row, she instantly takes
off her apron or her stocking, stoops down, and lifting the first four
pounder she can get, puts it in the corner of her apron, or the foot of
her stocking, if it has a foot, and marching into the scene of action,
lays about her right and left. Upon my credibility, they are extremely
useful and handy, and can give mighty nate knockdowns—inasmuch as no
guard that a man is acquainted with can ward off their blows. Nay, what is
more, it often happens, when a son-in-law is in a faction against his
father-in-law and his wife's people generally, that if he and his wife's
brother meet, the wife will clink him with the pet in her apron,
downing her own husband with great skill, for it is not always that
marriage extinguishes the hatred of factions; and very often 'tis the
brother that is humiliated.
"Up to the death of these two men, John O'Callaghan and Rose's father,
together with a large party of their friends on both sides, were drinking
in a public-house, determined to take no portion in the fight, at all at
all. Poor Rose, when she heard the shouting and terrible strokes, got as
pale as death, and sat close to John, whose hand she captured hers,
beseeching him, and looking up in his face with the most imploring
sincerity as she spoke, not to go out among them; the tears falling all
the time from her fine eyes, the mellow flashes of which, when John's
pleasantry in soothing her would seduce a smile, went into his very heart.
But when, on looking out of the window where they sat, two of the opposing
factions heard that a man on each side was killed; and when on
ascertaining the names of the individuals, and of those who murdered them,
it turned out that one of the murdered men was brother to a person in the
room, and his murderer uncle to one of those in the window, it was not in
the power of man or woman to keep them asunder, particularly as they were
all rather advanced in liquor. In an instant the friends of the murdered
man made a rush at the window, before any pacifiers had time to get
between them, and catching the nephew of him who had committed the murder,
hurled him head-foremost upon the stone pavement, where his skull was
dashed to pieces, and his brains scattered about the flags!
"A general attack instantly took place in the room, between the two
factions; but the apartment was too low and crowded to permit of proper
fighting, so they rushed out to the street, shouting and. yelling, as they
do when the battle comes to the real point of doing business. As soon as
it was seen that the heads of the O'Callaghan's and O'Hallaghans were at
work as well as the rest, the fight was recommenced with retrebled spirit;
but when the mutilated body of the man who had been flung from the window,
was observed lying in the pool of his own proper brains and blood, such a
cry arose among his friends, as would cake (* harden) the vital fluid in
the veins of any one not a party in the quarrel. Now was the work—the
moment of interest—men and women groaning, staggering, and lying
insensible; others shouting, leaping, and huzzaing; some singing, and not
a few able-bodied spalpeens blurting, like over-grown children, on seeing
their own blood; many raging and roaring about like bulls;—all this
formed such a group as a faction fight, and nothing else, could represent.
"The battle now blazed out afresh; and all kinds of instruments were
pressed into I the service. Some got flails, some spades, some shovels,
and one man got his hands upon a scythe, with which, unquestionably, he
would have taken more lives than one; but, very fortunately, as he sallied
out to join the crowd, he was politely visited in the back of the head by
a brick-bat, which had a mighty convincing way with it of giving him a
peaceable disposition, for he instantly lay down, and did not seem at all
anxious as to the result of the battle. The O'Hallaghans were now
compelled to give way, owing principally to the introvention of John
O'Ohallaghan, who, although he was as good as sworn to take no part in the
contest, was compelled to fight merely to protect himself. But,
blood-and-turf! when he did begin, he was dreadful. As soon as his party
saw him engaged, they took fresh courage, and in a short time made the
O'Hallaghan's retreat up the church-yard. I never saw anything equal to
John; he absolutely sent them down in dozens; and when a man would give
him any inconvenience with the stick, he would down him with the fist, for
right and left were all alike to him. Poor Rose's brother and he met, both
roused like two lions; but when John saw who it was, he held back his
"'No, Tom,' says he, 'I'll not strike you, for Rose's sake. I'm not
fighting through ill will to you or your family; so take another
direction, for I can't strike you.'
"The blood, however, was unfortunately up in Tom.
"'We'll decide it now,' said he, 'I'm as good a man as you, O'Callaghan:
and let me whisper this in your ears—you'll never warm the one bed
with Rose, while's God's in heaven—it's past that now—there
can be I nothing but blood between us!'
"At this juncture two of the O'Callaghans ran with their shillelaghs up,
to beat down Tom on the spot.
"'Stop, boys!' said John, 'you mustn't touch him; he had no hand in the
quarrel. Go, boys, if you respect me; lave him to myself.'
"The boys withdrew to another part of the fight; and the next instant Tom
struck the very man that interfered to save him, across the temple, and
cut him severely. John put his hand up and staggered.
"'I'm sorry for this,' he observed; 'but it's now self-defence with me;'
and at the same moment, with one blow, he left Tom O'Hallaghan stretched
insensible on the street.
"On the O'Hallaghans being driven to the church-yard, they were at a
mighty great inconvenience for weapons. Most of them had lost their
sticks, it being a usage in fights of this kind to twist the cudgels from
the grasp of the beaten men, to prevent them from rallying. They soon,
however, furnished themselves with the best they could find, videlicet,
the skull, leg, thigh, and arm bones, which they found lying about the
grave-yard. This was a new species of weapon, for which the majority of
the O'Callaghans were scarcely prepared. Out they sallied in a body—some
with these, others with stones, and making fierce assault upon their
enemies, absolutely druv then—not so much by the damage they we're
doing, as by the alarm and terror which these unexpected species of
missiles excited. At this moment, notwithstanding the fatality that had
taken place, nothing could be more truly comical and facetious than the
appearance of the field of battle. Skulls were flying in every direction—so
thick, indeed, that it might with truth be assevervated, that many who
were petrified in the dust, had their skulls broken in this great battle
between the factions.—God help poor Ireland! when its inhabitants
are so pugnacious, that even the grave is no security against getting
their crowns cracked, and their bones fractured! Well, any how, skulls and
bones flew in every direction—stones and brick-bats were also put in
motion; spades, shovels, loaded whips, pot-sticks, churn-staffs, flails,
and all kinds of available weapons were in hot employment.
"But, perhaps, there was nothing more-truly felicitous or original in its
way than the mode of warfare adopted by little Neal Malone, who was tailor
for the O'Callaghan side: for every tradesman is obliged to fight on
behalf of his own faction. Big Frank Farrell, the miller, being on the
O'Hallaghan side, had been sent for, and came up from his mill behind the
town, quite fresh. He was never what could be called a good man,* though
it was said that he could lift ten hundred weight. He puffed forward with
a great cudgel, determined to commit slaughter out of the face, and the
first man he met was the weeshy fraction of a tailor, as nimble as a hare.
He immediately attacked him, and would probably have taken his measure for
life had not the tailor's activity protected him. Farrell was in a rage,
and Neal, taking advantage of his blind fury, slipped round him, and, with
a short run, sprung upon the miller's back, and planted, a foot upon the
threshold of each coat pocket, holding by the mealy collar of his
waistcoat. In this position he belabored the miller's face and eyes with
his little hard fist to such purpose, that he had him in the course of a
few minutes nearly as blind as a mill-horse. The' miller roared for
assistance, but the pell-mell was going on too warmly for his cries to be
available. In fact, he resembled an elephant with a monkey on his back.
* A brave man. He was a man of huge size and prodigious
strength, and died in consequence of an injury he received
in lifting one of the cathedral bells at Clogher, which is
said to be ten hundredweight.
"'How do you like that, Farrell?' Neal would say, giving him a cuff—'and
that, and that; but that is best of all. Take it again, gudgeon (two cuffs
more)—here's grist for you (half a dozen additional)—hard
fortune to you! (crack, crack.) What! going to lie down!—by all
that's terrible, if you do, I'll annigulate* you! Here's a dhuragh,**
(another half dozen)—long measure, you savage!—the baker's
dozen, you baste!—there's five-an'-twenty to the score, Sampson! and
one or two in' (crack, whack).
* Annihilate—Many of the jawbreakers—and this was one in a
double sense—used by the hedge-schoolmasters, are scattered
among the people, by whom they were so twisted that it would
be extremely difficult to recognize them.
** Dhuragh—An additional portion of anything thrown in from
a spirit of generosity, after the Measure agreed on is
given. When the miller, for instance, receives his toll, the
country-people usually throw in several handfuls of meal as
"'Oh! murther sheery!' shouted the miller. 'Murther-an-age, I'm kilt! Foul
"'You lie, big Nebuchodonosor! it's not—this is all fair play, you
big baste! Fair play, Sampson!—by the same a-token, here's to jog
your memory that it's the Fair day of Knockimdowny! Irish Fair play, you
whale! But I'll whale you' (crack, crack, whack).
"'Oh! oh!' shouted the miller.
"'Oh! oh! is it? Oh, if I had my scissors here till I'd clip your ears off—wouldn't
I be the happy man, any how, you swab, you?' (whack, whack, crack).
"'Murther! murther! murther!' shouted the miller. 'Is there no help?'
"'Help, is it?—you may say that (crack crack): there's a trifle—a
small taste in the milling style, you know; and here goes to dislodge a
grinder. Did ye ever hear of the tailor on horseback, Sampson? eh? (whack,
whack). Did you ever expect to see a tailor on horseback of yourself, you
baste? (crack). I tell you, if you offer to lie down, I'll annigulate you
out o' the face.'
"Never, indeed, was a miller before or since so well dusted; and, I dare
say, Neal would have rode him long enough, but for an O'Hallaghan, who had
gone into one of the houses to procure a weapon. This man was nearly as
original in his choice of one as the tailor in the position which he
selected for beating the miller. On entering the kitchen, he found that he
had been anticipated: there was neither tongs, poker, nor churn-staff,
nor, in fact, anything wherewith he could assault his enemies; all had
been carried off by others. There was, however, a goose, in the action of
being roasted on a spit at the fire: this was enough; Honest O'Hallaghan
saw nothing but the spit, which he accordingly seized, goose and all,
making the best of his way, so armed, to the scene of battle. He just came
out of an entry as the miller was once more roaring for assistance, and,
to a dead certainty, would have spitted the tailor like a cook-sparrow
against the miller's carcase, had not his activity once more saved him.
Unluckily, the unfortunate miller got the thrust behind which was intended
for Neal, and roared like a bull. He was beginning to shout 'Foul play!'
again, when, on turning round, he perceived that the thrust had not been
intended for him, but for the tailor.
"'Give me that spit,' said he; 'by all the mills that ever were turned,
I'll spit the tailor this blessed minute beside the goose, and we'll roast
them both together.'
"The other refused to part with the spit, but the miller seizing the
goose, flung it with all his force after the tailor, who stooped, however,
and avoided the blow.
"'No man has a better right to the goose than the tailor,' said Neal, as
he took it up, and, disappearing, neither he nor the goose could be seen
for the remainder of the day.
"The battle was now somewhat abated. Skulls, and bones, and bricks, and
stones, were, however, still flying; so that it might be truly said, the
bones of contention were numerous. The streets presented a woeful
spectacle: men were lying with their bones broken—others, though not
so seriously injured, lappered in their blood—some were crawling up,
but were instantly knocked down by their enemies—some were leaning
against the walls, or groping their way silently along them, endeavoring
to escape observation, lest they might be smashed down and altogether
murdered. Wives were sitting with the bloody heads of their husbands in
their laps, tearing their hair, weeping and cursing, in all the gall of
wrath, those who left them in such a state. Daughters performed the said
offices to their fathers, and sisters to their brothers; not pretermitting
those who did not neglect their broken-pated bachelors to whom they paid
equal attention. Yet was the scene not without abundance of mirth. Many a
hat was thrown up by the O'Callaghan side, who certainly gained the day.
Many a song was raised by those who tottered about with trickling sconces,
half drunk with whiskey, and half stupid with beating. Many a 'whoo,' and
'hurroo,' and 'huzza,' was sent forth by the triumphanters; but truth to
tell, they were miserably feeble and faint, compared to what they had been
in the beginning of the amusement; sufficiently evincing that, although
they might boast of the name of victory, they had got a bellyful of
beating; still there was hard fighting.
"I mentioned, some time ago, that a man had adopted a scythe. I wish from
my heart there had been no such bloody instrument there that day; but
truth must be told. John O'Callaghan was now engaged against a set of the
other O's, who had rallied for the third time, and attacked him and his
party. Another brother of Rose Galh's was in this engagement, and him did
John O'Callaghan not only knock down, but cut desperately across the
temple. A man, stripped, and covered with blood and dust, at that moment
made his appearance, his hand bearing the blade of the aforesaid scythe.
His approach was at once furious and rapid, and I may as well add, fatal;
for before John O'Callaghan had time to be forewarned of his danger, he
was cut down, the artery of his neck laid open, and he died without a
groan. It was truly dreadful, even to the oldest fighter present, to see
the strong rush of red blood that curvated about his neck, until it
gurgled, gurgled, gurgled, and lappered, and bubbled out, ending in small
red spouts, blackening and blackening, as they became fainter and more
faint. At this criticality, every eye was turned from the corpse to the
murderer; but he had been instantly struck down, and a female, with a
large stone in her apron, stood over him, her arms stretched out, her face
horribly distorted with agony, and her eyes turned backwards, as it were,
into her head. In a few seconds she fell into strong convulsions, and was
immediately taken away. Alas! alas! it was Rose Galh; and when we looked
at the man she had struck down, he was found to be her brother! flesh of
her flesh, and blood of her blood! On examining him more closely, we
discovered that his under-jaw hung loose, that his limbs were supple; we
tried to make him speak, but in vain—he too was a corpse.
"The fact was, that in consequence of his being stripped, and covered by
so much blood and dust, she know him not; and, impelled by her feelings to
avenge herself on the murderer of her lover, to whom she doubly owed her
life, she struck him a deadly blow, without knowing him to be her brother.
The shock produced by seeing her lover murdered, and the horror of finding
that she herself, in avenging him, had taken her brother's life, was too
much for a heart so tender as hers. On recovering from her convulsions,
her senses were found to be gone for ever! Poor girl! she is still living;
but from that moment to this, she has never opened her lips to mortal. She
is, indeed, a fair ruin, but silent, melancholy, and beautiful as the moon
in the summer heaven. Poor Rose Galh! you and many a mother, and father,
and wife, and orphan, have had reason to maledict the bloody Battles of
"With regard to my grandfather, he says that he didn't see purtier
fighting within his own memory; not since the fight between himself and
Big Mucklemurray took place in the same town. But, to do him justice, he
condemns the scythe and every other weapon except the cudgels; because, he
says, that if they continue to be resorted to, nate fighting will be
altogether forgotten in the country."
[It was the original intention of the author to have made every man in
the humble group about Ned M'Keown's hearth narrate a story
illustrating Irish life, feeling, and manners; but on looking into the
matter more closely, he had reason to think that such a plan, however
agreeable for a time, would ultimately narrow the sphere of his work,
and perhaps fatigue the reader by a superfluity of Irish dialogue and
its peculiarities of phraseology. He resolved therefore, at the close
of the Battle of the Factions, to abandon his original design,
and leave himself more room for description and observation. ]