Book: Beside The Fire
Author: Douglas Hyde

Beside The Fire By Douglas Hyde

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 143
Publication Date: 1910

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A collection Of 15 Irish Gaelic Folk Stories. From the Preface: 'IRISH and Scotch Gaelic folk-stories are, as a living form of literature, by this time pretty nearly a thing of the past. They have been trampled in the common ruin under the feet of the Zeitgeist, happily not before a large harvest has been reaped in Scotland, but, unfortunately, before anything worth mentioning has been done in Ireland to gather in the crop which grew luxuriantly a few years ago. Until quite recently there existed in our midst millions of men and women who, when their day's work was over, sought and found mental recreation in a domain to which few indeed of us who read books are permitted to enter.'

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THERE was once a tailor in Galway, and he was sewing cloth. He saw a flea springing up out of the cloth, and he threw his needle at it and killed it. Then he said:

"Am I not a fine hero when I was able to kill that flea?"

Then he said that he must go to Blackleea (Dublin), to the king's court, to see would he be able to build it. That court was a building for a long time; but as much of it as would be made during the day used to be thrown down again during the night, and for that reason nobody could build it up. It was three giants who used to come in the night and throw it.

The day on the morrow the tailor went off, and brought with him his tools, the spade and the shovel.

He had not gone far till he met a white horse, and he saluted him.

"God save you," said the horse. "Where are you going?"

"I am going to Dublin," said the tailor, "to build a court for the king, and to get a lady for a wife, if I am able to do it;" for the king had promised that he would give his own daughter, and a lot of money with her, to whoever would be able to build up his court.

"Would you make me a hole," said the old white garraun (horse), "where I could go a' hiding whenever the people are for bringing me to the mill or the kiln, so that they won't see me, for they have me perished doing work for them?"

"I'll do that, indeed," said the tailor, "and welcome."

He brought the spade and shovel, and he made a hole, and he said to the old white horse to go down into it till he would see if it would fit him. The white horse went down into the hole, but when he tried to come up again he was not able.

"Make a place for me now," said the white horse, "by which I'll come up out of the hole here, whenever I'll be hungry."

"I will not," said the tailor; "remain where you are until I come back, and I'll lift you up."

The tailor went forward next day, and the fox met him.

"God save you," said the fox.

"God and Mary save you."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to Dublin, to try will I be able to make a court for the king."

"Would you make a place for me where I'd go hiding?" said the fox. "The rest of the foxes do be beating me, and they don't allow me to eat anything along with them."

"I'll do that for you," said the tailor.

He took with him his axe and his saw, and he cut rods, until he made, as you would say, a thing like a cleeve (creel), and he desired the fox to get into it till he would see whether it would fit him. The fox went into it, and when the tailor got him down, he clapped his thigh on the hole that the fox got in by. When the fox was satisfied at last that he had a nice place of it within, he asked the tailor to let him out, and the tailor answered that he would not.

"Wait there until I come back again," says he.

The tailor went forward the next day, and he had not walked very far until he met a modder-alla (lion?) and the lion greeted him, and asked him where was he going.

"I'm going to Dublin till I make a court for the king, if I'm able to make it," said the tailor.

"If you were to make a plough for me," said the lion, "I and the other lions could be ploughing and harrowing until we'd have a bit to eat in the harvest."

"I'll do that for you," said the tailor.

He brought his axe and his saw, and he made a plough. When the plough was made, he put a hole in the beam of it, and he said to the lion to go in under the plough till he'd see was he any good of a ploughman. He placed the tail in the hole he had made for it, and then clapped in a peg, and the lion was not able to draw out his tail again.

"Loose me out now," said the lion, "and we'll fix ourselves and go ploughing."

The tailor said he would not loose him out until he came back himself. He left him there then, and he came to Dublin.

When he came to Dublin he put forth a paper, desiring all the tradesmen that were raising the court to come to him, and that he would pay them; and at that time workmen used only to be getting one penny in the day. A number of tradesmen gathered the next day, and they began working for him. They were going home again after their day, when the tailor said to them "to put up that great stone upon the top of the work that they had done." When the great stone was raised up, the tailor put some sort of contrivance under it, that he might be able to throw it down as soon as the giant would come as far as it. The work people went home then, and the tailor went in hiding behind the big stone.