Fairy Lore in this district

Up to lately the people here were very “pisreogach” but it has practically disappeared with the youth. They won’t know what a fairy is and to my mind religion has suffered. Here are the beautiful stories and the truth in a deal. Forty years ago a man and his brother who is now living in Dublin experienced this. The man’s name was John Molloy and his brother, Willie, Ballinlass, Co. Galway. Before the family broke up forty years ago, the two of them were working on a ditch adjacent to the bog. Now they always saw a light arising out of this place and crossing over the bog over a road called Doirín Bodhar. Tradition handed down to them that a carpenter lived in the next village was murdered by unknown men. This poor man was on his way to Dunmore with twenty pounds in his pocket. This didn’t go unnoticed to some greedy people for money. The poor man was attacked and murdered and all his money taken. As law and order was at a low ebb these culprits were never found. They buried him at hour of darkness in the ditch. Forty years ago when they were fixing the ditch the poor skeleton appeared. He had an excellent set of teeth except one missing in upper jaw. They contacted the guards at once. The bones were put into a big bag and he was buried in consecrated ground. Afterwards the good men got a mass said for his soul. Would you believe it the light disappeared? This is gospel.

Another one that happened to myself forty years ago. I was coming from Castlerea at 11.30 of the night. Near a place called Cill Salach I noticed two hands stopping me. Yes, I knew them. They requested a lift as far as Glenamaddy as the battery had gone down in their own car. They were brother and sister from Kilkerrin. I left them home but as we were passing a gate near their house the three of us shouted. For over the bonnet flew an animal like a hare and he was covered in a ball of fire. Don’t tell me it was anything natural – we three agreed on that. I afterwards heard that things were seen at that gate.

That same summer it was a glorious day. My friend and I decided to see some of Galway so we took a spin to Shantallagh. At a cross I decided to pull up and take a breather. I wasn’t let. Immediately the car stopped something like a calf got under the car and started scraping its back on the bottom of the car. It continued scraping and lifting the car. I jumped out at once and searched high and low, on roads and in fields, but nothing living was to be seen. I jumped in again but it got worse and then the hair began to stand on end. I wasn’t long starting the car and flying from the place. A friend of mine in Galway told us that that particular place was haunted. I often wondered if I defied it what would have happened.

A story was told to me by a brother from Ballyglunin. They built a new church there about 10 years ago.  Burke the resident of the big house nearby gave the Archbishop £7,000 to help clear the debt. This story I had heard from time immemorial about the light like car lamps used to travel the fields as far as the monastery. The big house was owned by the Burkes and was considered to be a house of ill-repute. Sometime before the church was finished three young men decided to defy the lights and see what they were made of or would they speak. The young men went into the fields and followed the light around. One young man died a week later and the other two never divulged what they heard. When the church was finished and blessed, whatever evil spirit it was vanished. The place in now in the hands of Opus Dei.

Another true story was told to me by the men around here. They are now in heaven. They were going to the fair of Athleague to buy a horse. They had to pass a village named Gortnadieve. They noticed a little light in this bothán. You can go in and light my duidín, I am dying for a smoke. The other fellow jumped over the crate of the cart and made for the door. On entering he noticed a corpse in the middle of the kitchen. “Go mbeannaigh Dia anseo” ar an fear ag féachaint thart. Níor labhair aon duine. Cheap sé go raibh na daoine ar na suíocháin thart timpeall níos lú ná na gnáth daoine, “an féidir liom mo phíopa a dhearghadh” agus chuir sé sméaróid ón tine beag a bhí ann. Amach an doras leis agus dúirt sé lena chompánach a bhí ag fanacht amuigh, “ ta duine eicint caillte san teach sin”. La arna bhárach ar teacht abhaile dóibh thug siad féin ndeara nach raibh duine ar bith san áit agus an féar fada ag fás thar timpeall an tí. Dúirt an fear céanna go bhfaca sé an diabhail taobh amuigh dá theach féin. Cén chaoi ar athnaigh sé. Well, a dúirt sé,  “suile móra dubha, straos air, dá crúb ann cosúil le bó”. Nuair a chonaic se é d’iompair sé thart agus ar ais leis ar nós na gaoithe agus rith sé go dtí an teach in a raibh sé ar cuairt ann. Thuit sé isteach an doras í lagar. Béigean dóibh uisce beatha a chaitheamh isteach ann gur tháinig sé ar a chóir féin arís. Béigean dóibh é a fhágáil sa mbaile nuair a d’fág siad é ag a theach féin. In aice leis an áit seo bhí píosa talmhan d’arbh ainm “Lairgín”. It was said by the old people that it contained a fóidín mearúil and many are the stories told of people going astray.

About 10 years ago a priest from the diocesan colleges called up to a place near Ballymoe. He was looking for a maid. The poor man had to cross boggy fields to get to the place and simply went astray. The next day he was found near a clamp of turf dead. He had his coat turned inside out. He left the lights on. Of course, the story went around that he was mesmerised by the fóidín mearúil.

Author: Paddy Crosby, Glenamaddy B.N.S.

Source: Folio No. 1868, Pages 65-155. Irish Folklore Main Manuscript Collection