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Legends and Stories of Ireland

Samuel Lover

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This is a collection of Irish folklore, with some swatches of Irish 'dialect' and other comic touches. Stories include: King O'Toole and St. Kevin; Lough Corrib; A Legend of Lough Mask; A White Trout; The Battle of the Berrins; or, The Double Funeral; Father Roach; The Priest's Story; The King and the Bishop; Jimmy the Fool; The Catastrophe; The Devil's Mill; The Gridiron or Paddy Mullowney's Travels in France; Paddy the Piper; The Priest's Ghost; New Potatoes; Paddy the Sport; The White Horse of the Peppers; The Legend of the Little Weaver of Duleek Gate; Conclusion of the White Horse of the Peppers; The Curse of Kishogue; and, The Fairy Finder.

This book has 228 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1831.

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Excerpt from 'Legends and Stories of Ireland'


WHO has not read of St. Kevin, celebrated as he has been by Moore in the melodies of his native land, with whose wild and impassioned music he has so intimately entwined his name? Through him, in the beautiful ballad whence the epigraph of this story is quoted, the world already knows that the skylark, through the intervention of the saint, never startles the morning with its joyous note in the lonely valley of Glendalough. In the same ballad, the unhappy passion which the saint inspired, and the "unholy blue" eyes of Kathleen, and the melancholy fate of the heroine by the saint's being "unused to the melting mood," are also celebrated; as well as the superstitious, finale of the legend, in the spectral appearance of the love-lorn maiden:

"And her ghost was seen to glide
Gently o'er the fatal tide."

Thus has Moore given, within the limits of a ballad, the spirit of two legends of Glendalough, which otherwise the reader might have been put to the trouble of reaching after a more roundabout fashion. But luckily for those coming after him, one legend he has left to be

"--touched by a hand more unworthy--"

and instead of a lyrical essence, the raw material in prose is offered, nearly verbatim, as it was furnished to me by that celebrated guide and bore, Joe Irwin, who traces his descent In a direct line from the old Irish kings, and warns the public In general that "there's a power of them spalpeens sthravaigin' about, sthrivin' to put their comether upon the quol'ty (quality), and callin' themselves Irwin (knowin', the thieves o' the world, how his name had gone far and near, as the rale guide), for to deceave dacent people; but never for to b'lieve the likes--for it was only mulvatherin people they wor." For my part, I promised never to put faith in any but himself; and the old rogue's self-love being satisfied, we set out to explore the wonders of Glendalough. On arriving at a small ruin, situated on the south-eastern side of the lake, my guide assumed an air of importance, and led me into the ivy-covered remains, through a small square doorway, whose simple structure gave evidence of its early date: a lintel of stone lay across two upright supporters, after the fashion of such remains in Ireland.

"This, sir," said my guide, putting himself in an attitude, "is the chapel of King O'Toole--av coorse y'iv often heard o' King O'Toole, your honour?"

"Never," said I.

"Musha, thin, do you tell me so?" said be. "By gor, I thought all the world, far and near, heerd o' King O'Toole! Well, well!--but the darkness of mankind is ontellible. Well, sir, you must know, as you didn't hear it afore, that there was wanst a king, called King O'Toole, who was a fine ould king in the ould ancient times, long ago; and it was him that ownded the Churches in the airly days."

"Surely," said I, "the Churches were not in King O'Toole's time?"

"Oh, by no manes, your honour--throth, it's yourself that's right enough there; but you know the place is called 'The Churches,' bekase they wor built afther by St. Kavin, and wint by the name o' the Churches iver more; and therefore, av coorse, the place bein' so called, I say that the king ownded the Churches--and why not, sir, seein' 'twas his birthright, time out o' mind, beyant the flood? Well, the king, you see, was the right sort--he was the rale boy, and loved sport as he loved his life, and huntin' in partic'lar; and from the risin' o' the sun, up he got, and away be wint over the mountains beyant afther the deer. And the fine times them wor; for the deer was as plinty thin--aye, throth, far plintyer than the sheep is now; and that's the way it was with the king, from the crow o' the cock to the song o' the redbreast.

"In this counthry, air," added he, speaking parenthetically in an undertone, "we think it onlooky to kill the redbreast, or the robin is God's own bird."

Then, elevating his voice to its former pitch, he proceeded:

"Well, it was all mighty good, as long as the king had his health; but, you see, in coorse o' time, the king grewn ould, by raison he was stiff in his limbs, and when he got athriken in years, his heart failed him, and he was lost intirely for want o' divarshin, bekase he couldn't go a-huntln' no longer; and, by dad, the poor king' was obleeged at last for to get a goose to divart him."

Here an involuntary smile was produced by this regal mode of recreation, "the royal game of goose."

"Oh, you may laugh if you like," said he, half-affronted, "but it's thruth I'm tellin' you; and the way the goose diverted him was this-a-way: you see, the goose used for to swim acrass the lake, and go down divin' for throut (and not finer throut in all Ireland, than the same throut), and cotch fish on a Friday for the king, and flew every other day round about the lake divartin' the poor king, that you'd think he'd break his sides laughin' at the frolicksome tricks av his goose; so in coorse o' time the goose was the greatest pet in the counthry, and the biggest rogue, and diverted the king to no end, and the poor king was as happy as the day was long. So that's the way it was; and all went on mighty well, antil, by dad, the goose got sthricken in years, as well as the king, and grewn stiff in the limbs, like her masther, and couldn't divert him no longer; and then it was that the poor king was lost complate, and didn't know what in the wide world to do, seein' he was done out of all divarshin, by raison that the goose was no more in the flower of her blame.

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