THERE'S a sort of people whom every one
must have met with some time or other; people that pretend to disbelieve what,
in their hearts, they believe and are afraid of. Now Felix O'Driscoll was one
of these. Felix was a rattling, rollicking, harum-scarum, devil may-care sort
of fellow, like - but that's neither here nor there: he was always talking one
nonsense or another; and among the rest of his foolery, he pretended not to
believe in the fairies, the cluricaunes, and the phoocas; and he even
sometimes had the impudence to affect to doubt of ghosts, that every body
believes in, at any rate. Yet some people used to wink and look knowing when
Felix was gostering, for it was observed that he was very shy of
passing the ford of Ahnamoe after nightfall; and that when he was once riding
past the old church of Grenaugh in the dark, even though he had got enough potheen
into him to make any man stout, he made the horse trot so that there was
no keeping up with him; and every now and then he would throw a sharp look out
over his left shoulder.
One night there was a parcel of people
sitting drinking and talking together at Larry Reilly's public [public
house], and Felix was one of the party. He was, as usual, getting on with his bletherumskite
about the fairies, and swearing that he did not believe there were any live
things, barring men and beasts, and birds and fish, and such things as a
body could see, and he went on talking in so profane a way of the "good
people," that some of the company grew timid, and began to cross
themselves, not knowing what might happen, when an old woman called Moirna
Hogaune, with a long blue cloak about her, who had been sitting in the chimney
corner smoking her pipe without taking any share in the conversation, took the
pipe out of her mouth, threw the ashes out of it, spit in the fire, and,
turning round, looked Felix straight in the face.
"And so you don't believe there are
such things as Cluricaunes, don't you?" said she.
Felix looked rather daunted, but he said
"Upon my troth, it well becomes the
like o' you, that's nothing but a bit of a gossoon, to take upon you to
pretend not to believe what your father and your father's father, and his
father before him, never made the least doubt of! But to make the matter
short, seeing's believing, they say; and I that might be your grandmother tell
you there are such things as Cluricaunes, and I myself saw one-there's for
All the people in the room looked quite
surprised at this, and crowded up to the fireplace to listen to her. Felix
tried to laugh, but it wouldn't do; nobody minded him.
"I remember," said she, "
some time after I married my honest man, who's now dead and gone, it was by
the same token just a little afore I lay in of my first child (and that's many
a long day ago), I was sitting out in our bit of garden with my knitting in my
hand, watching some bees that we had that were going to swarm. It was a fine
sunshiny day about the middle of June, and the bees were humming and flying
backwards and forwards from the hives, and the birds were chirping and hopping
on the bushes, and the butterflies were flying about and sitting on the
flowers, and every thing smelt so fresh, and so sweet, and I felt so happy,
that I hardly knew where I was.
When all of a sudden I heard, among some rows
of beans that we had in a corner of the garden, a noise that went tick-tack,
tick-tack, just for all the world as if a brogue-maker was putting on the heel
of a pump. ' Lord preserve us !' said I to myself: ' what in the world can
that be?' So I laid down my knitting, and got up and stole softly over to the
beans, and never believe me if I did not see sitting there before me, in the
middle of them, a bit of an old man not a quarter so big as a new-born child,
with a little cocked hat on his head, and a dudeen in his mouth smoking away,
and a plain old-fashioned drab-coloured coat with big buttons upon it on his
back, and a pair of massy silver buckles in his shoes, that almost covered his
feet, they were so big; and he working away as hard as ever he could, heeling
a little pair of brogues
As soon as I clapt my two eyes upon him, I knew him
to be a Cluricaune; and as I was stout and fool-hardy, says I to him, God save
you, honest man ! that 's hard work you're at this hot day.' He looked up in
my face quite vexed like; so with that I made a run at him, caught a hold of
him in my hand, and asked him where was his purse of money. ' Money?' said he,
' money, indeed ! and where would a poor little old creature like me get money
?' - ' Come, come, said I, none of your tricks: doesn't every body know that
Cluricaunes, like you, are as rich as the devil himself?'
So I pulled out a
knife I had in my pocket, and put on as wicked a face as ever I could (and, in
troth, that was no easy matter for me then, for I was as comely and
good-humoured a looking girl as you'd see from this to Carrignavar), - and
swore if he didn't instantly give me his purse, or show me a pot of gold, I'd
cut the nose off his face. Well, to be sure, the little man did look so
frightened at hearing these words, that I almost found it in my heart to pity
the poor little creature. ' Then,' said he, 'come with me just a couple of
fields off, and I'll show you where I keep my money.' So I went, still holding
him in my hand and keeping my eyes fixed upon him, when all of a sudden I
heard a whiz-z behind me. There! there !' cried he, ' there's your bees
all swarming and going off with themselves.' I, like a fool as I was, turned
my head round, and when I saw nothing at all, and looked back at the
Cluricaune, I found nothing at all at all in my hand, for when I had the ill
luck to take my eyes off him, he slipped out of my hand just as if he was made
of fog or smoke, and the sorrow the foot he ever came nigh my garden
The popular voice assigns shoe-making as
the occupation of the Cluricaune, and his recreations smoking and
drinking. His characteristic traits are those which create little sympathy or
regard, and it is always the vulgar endeavour to outwit a Cluricaune,
who however generally contrives to turn the tables upon the self-sufficient
mortal. This fairy is represented as avaricious and cunning, and when
surprised by a peasant, fearful of his superior strength, although gifted with
the power of disappearing if by any stratagem, for which he is seldom at a
loss, he can unfix the eye which has discovered him.
In the Irish Melodies this point of
superstition is thus happily explained-
" Her smile when beauty granted,
I hung with gaze enchanted,
Like him the sprite,
Whom maids by night,
Oft meet in glen that 's haunted
Like him too beauty won me;
But while her eyes were on me,
If once their ray
Was turn'd away,
O ! winds could not outrun me."
Mr. Moore, in a note on these words,
apparently with more of gallantry than skill in "fairie lore,"
doubts his own knowledge of the Leprechan or Cluricaune, in consequence of the
account given by Lady Morgan, which though unquestionably her ladyship is
" a high authority on such subjects," it will be seen can be
reconciled without much difficulty, as it is but the tricking sequel of a
Cluricaune adventure, should his endeavour to avert the eye prove
The Cluricaune is supposed to have a
knowledge of buried treasure, and is reported to be the possessor of a little
leather purse, containing a shilling, which, no matter how often expended, is
always to be found within it. This is called Spre na Skillenagh, or, the
Shilling Fortune. Spre, literally meaning cattle, is used to signify a dower
or fortune, from the marriage portion or fortune being paid by the Irish, not
in money, but in cattle. Sometimes the Cluricaune carries two purses, the one
containing this magic shilling, the other filled with brass coin; and, if
compelled to deliver, has recourse to the subterfuge of giving the latter, the
weight of which appears satisfactory, until the examination of its contents,
when the eye being averted, the giver of course disappears.
"Gostering," which occurs in the
text, may be explained as boasting talk. The reader is referred to the edition
published by Galignani (Paris, 1819), of Mr. Moore's Works, for an
illustration, vol. iv. p.270.
"Poor, Dermot! go along with your
You might as well pray at a jig,
Or teach an old cow pater noster,
Or whistle Moll Row to a pig !"
Dudeen signifies a little stump of a pipe.
Small tobacco-pipes, of an ancient form, are frequently found in Ireland, on
digging or ploughing up the ground, particularly in the vicinity of those
circular entrenchments, called Danish forts, which were more probably the
villages or settlements of the native Irish. These pipes are believed by the
peasantry to belong to the Cluricaunes, and when discovered are broken, or
other wise treated with indignity, as a kind of retort for the tricks which
their supposed owners had played off.
In the Anthologia Hibernica, Vol. i. p. 352
(Dublin, 1793), there is also a print of one, which was found at
Brannockatown, county Kildare, sticking between the teeth of a human skull;
and it is accompanied by a paper, which, on the authority of Heradotus (lib.
1. Sec. 36), Strabo (lib. vii. 296), Pomponius Mela (2), and Solinus (c. 15),
goes to prove that the northern nations of Europe were acquainted with
tobacco, or an herb of similar properties, and that they smoked it through
small tubes - of course, long before the existence of America was known.
These arguments, in favour of the
antiquity of smoking, receive additional support from the discovery of several
small clay pipes in the hull of a ship, found somewhere about ten years since,
when excavating under the city of Dantzig. Like those interesting remains of
ancient vessels, one of which (discovered the same year in a bog in the north
of Ireland) was so barbarously destroyed by the peasantry, and like that dug
out from an old branch of the river Rother in Kent, and recently exhibited in
London, the vessel at Dantzig must, from its situation, have lain undisturbed
for many centuries.
Should the reader feel inclined to doubt
any part of Moirna Hogaune, anglice, Mary Hogan's relation, it will not
be difficult to obtain an account of her adventure with the Cluricaune, and
many other even more wonderful tales from her own lips; as Moirna is well
known, and is, or at least was living within the last six months, not far from
the ford of Ahnamoe, alluded to in the text, which is considered to be a
favourite haunt of the fairies. This information may perhaps be acceptable to
Mr. Ellis, the able and judicious editor of Brand's Popular Antiquities; for
in one of his notes on that valuable work, he says,
"l made strict inquiries after
fairies in the uncultivated wilds of Northumberland, but even there I could
only meet with a man who said that he had seen one that had seen
fairies. Truth is hard to come at in most cases; none, I believe, ever
came nearer to it in this than I have."
Ahnamoe, correctly written Ath na bo,
signifies "the ford of the cow." It is a little clear stream, which,
crossing the Carrignavar road, divides two farms, situated about seven miles
north-east of Cork.
Grenaugh, or Greenagh, is a ruined church,
seven or eight miles north-west of Cork, concerning which, and that of
Garrycloyne, not far distant, marvellous tales of the Tam O' Shanter class are
told without end. From the autograph of a respectable farmer, named Rilehan,
who resides in this neighbourhood, and who attests the veracity of the story,
the following is copied verbatim.
"There did eight men, and one of them
is a tenant of mine now, go to the churchyard of Garrycloyne, which was
wrongful of them, thinking to cut sticks to tresh oats with, and the young
osier they began to cut the first, showed that it was all on fire, like the
burning bush; and all the trees about them in the churchyard were the same,
and in the road from the church; so being frightened, they went back without
ever the stick or the switch. But they set to the work again, in the latter
end of the next night, at the coming on of the morning, and they cut a tree
out of the churchyard, and brought it away with them; it was all on fire,
until they came to the river, and then it went up in the sky from them roaring
like a mad bull ! They never got such a fright or shock; and they were not the
better of that night's work for two months after."
Some particulars respecting the ancient
vessels, mentioned in the above note [at page 177], are worth preservation, as
this remarkable series of discoveries seems not to be generally known.
Of the ancient vessel found in Kent, an
account has been preserved in a little pamphlet sold at the place of
exhibition; and a beautiful lithographic print by Mr. J. D. Harding of the
excavation was published by Messrs. Rodwell and Martin.
In August 1813, the remains of a vessel
were discovered in Ballywilliam Bog, about a mile from Portrush, in the
liberties of Coleraine. From the examination of the size and form of the ribs
and planks, it was supposed that she carried from forty to fifty tons.
Notwithstanding the injuries of time, the outside planks measured an inch and
a quarter in thickness; of them, however, only small pieces could be traced.
Some of the ribs were eight inches broad, five deep, and seven or eight feet
long, and many of them exceeded this measurement considerably ; - neither keel
nor mast could be discovered.
These remains were torn up and carried off
before the particulars were fully investigated. The timber was all oak, and
several car loads of it were drawn away
This ship was found in a moat about forty
feet in diameter, composed of stones and clay, but chiefly of moss, fifteen
perches from the shore of the bog; the bog has been all cut away round this
mount, which was between six and eight feet in height ; - some silver coins of
Edward III. were also found in it, and several bones, which crumbled on being
exposed to the air.
On the 8th December following, in digging
a new sluiceway at the upper end of the Fairwater, at Dantzig, a ship was
found buried in the ground, at the depth of about twenty feet. She measured
from stem to stern, in the inside, fifty-four feet, and in breadth near twenty
feet. A box of tobacco-pipes was found, all whole, with heads about the size
of a thimble, and tubes from four to six inches in length. - The ship was
built of oak; her planks about twenty inches broad, full of tree-nails, and no
iron about her, except her rudder bands. A boat was found near, which had
fallen to pieces. Many human bones were in the hold, both fore and aft; and it
is supposed that the vessel had been lost in some convulsion of nature, before the foundation of the city, upwards of five hundred years ago, as the
place had been so long built over.