The Three O'Byrnes and the Evil
by W. B. Yeats
In the dim kingdom there is a great abundance of all excellent things.
There is more love there than upon the earth; there is more dancing
there than upon the earth; and there is more treasure there than upon
the earth. In the beginning the earth was perhaps made to fulfil the
desire of man, but now it has got old and fallen into decay. What
wonder if we try and pilfer the treasures of that other kingdom!
A friend was once at a village near Sleive League. One day he was
straying about a rath called "Cashel Nore." A man with a haggard face
and unkempt hair, and clothes falling in pieces, came into the rath and
began digging. My friend turned to a peasant who was working near and
asked who the man was. "That is the third O'Byrne," was the answer. A
few days after he learned this story: A great quantity of treasure had
been buried in the rath in pagan times, and a number of evil faeries
set to guard it; but some day it was to be found and belong to the
family of the O'Byrnes. Before that day three O'Byrnes must find it and
die. Two had already done so. The first had dug and dug until at last
he had got a glimpse of the stone coffin that contained it, but
immediately a thing like a huge hairy dog came down the mountain and
tore him to pieces. The next morning the treasure had again vanished
deep into the earth. The second O'Byrne came and dug and dug until he
found the coffer, and lifted the lid and saw the gold shining within.
He saw some horrible sight the next moment, and went raving mad and
soon died. The treasure again sank out of sight. The third O'Byrne is
now digging. He believes that he will die in some terrible way the
moment he finds the treasure, but that the spell will be broken, and
the O'Byrne family made rich for ever, as they were of old.
A peasant of the neighbourhood once saw the treasure. He found the
shin-bone of a hare lying on the grass. He took it up; there was a hole
in it; he looked through the hole, and saw the gold heaped up under the
ground. He hurried home to bring a spade, but when he got to the rath
again he could not find the spot where he had seen it.