(Knockfierna: Called by the people of the country 'Knock
Dhoinn Firinne,' the mountain of Donn
of Truth. This mountain is very high, and may be seen for several miles round;
and when people are desirous to know whether or not any day will rain, they
look at the top of Knock Firinn, and if they see a vapour or mist there, they
immediately conclude that rain will soon follow, believing that Donn (the lord
or chief) of that mountain and his aerial assistants are collecting the
clouds, and that he holds them there for some short time, to warn the people
of the approaching rain. As the appearance of mist on that mountain in the
morning is considered an infallible sign that, that day will be rainy, Donn is
called 'Dona Firinne,' Donn of Truth. "- Mr. Edward O'Reilly)
IT is a very good thing not to be any way in
dread of the fairies, for without doubt they have then less power over a
person ; but to make too free with them, or to disbelieve in them altogether,
is as foolish a thing as man, woman, or child can do.
It has been truly said, that "good manners are no
burthen," and that " civility costs nothing;" but there are
some people foolhardy enough to disregard doing a civil thing, which, whatever
they may think, can never harm themselves or any one else, and who at the same
time will go out of their way for a bit of mischief, which never can serve
them; but sooner or later they will come to know better, as you shall hear of
Carroll O'Daly, a strapping young fellow up out of Connaught, whom they used
to call, in his own country, " Devil Daly."
Carroll O'Daly used to go roving about from one place to
another, and the fear of nothing stopped him; he would as soon pass an
churchyard or a regular fairy ground, at any hour of the night, as go from one
room into another without ever making the sign of the cross, or saying, "
Good luck attend you, gentlemen."
It so happened that he was once journeying, in the county
of Limerick, towards " the Balbec of Ireland," the venerable town of
Kilmallock; and just at the foot of Knockfierna he overtook a respectable
looking man jogging along upon a white pony. The night was coming on, and they
rode side by side for some time, without much conversation passing between
them, further than saluting each other very kindly; at last, Carroll O'Daly
asked his companion how far he was going?
Not far your way," said the farmer, for such his
appearance bespoke him; " I'm only going to the top of this hill
"And what might take you there," said O'Daly,
"at this time of the night?"
"Why then," replied the farmer," if you
want to know; 'tis the good people."
The fairies, you mean," said O'Daly.
" Whist! whist!"
said his fellow-traveller, " or you may be sorry for it;" and he
turned his pony off the road they were going towards a little path which led
up the side of the mountain, wishing Carroll O'Daly good night and a safe
That fellow," thought Carroll, " is about no
good this blessed night, and I would have no fear of swearing wrong if I took
my Bible oath, that it is something else beside the fairies, or the good
people, as he calls them, that is taking him up the mountain at this hour. The
fairies!" he repeated, " is it for a well shaped man like him to be
going after little chaps like the fairies! to be sure some say there are such
things, and more say not; but I know this, that never afraid would I be of a
dozen of them, ay, of two dozen, for that matter, if they are no bigger than
what I hear tell of."
Carroll O'Daly, whilst these thoughts were passing in his
mind, had fixed his eyes steadfastly on the mountain, behind which the full
moon was rising majestically. Upon an elevated point that appeared darkly
against the moon's disk, he beheld the figure of a man leading a pony, and he
had no doubt it was that of the farmer with whom he had just parted company.
A sudden resolve to follow flashed across the mind of
O'Daly with the speed of lightning: both his courage and curiosity had been
worked up by his cogitations to a pitch of chivalry; and, muttering
"Here's after you, old boy!" he dismounted from his horse, bound him
to an old thorn tree, and then commenced vigorously ascending the mountain.
Following as well as he could the direction taken by the
figures of the man and pony, he pursued his way, occasionally guided by their
partial appearance: and, after toiling nearly three hours over a rugged and
sometimes swampy path, came to a green spot on the top of the mountain, where
he saw the white pony at full liberty grazing as quietly as may be.
O'Daly looked around for the rider, but he was nowhere to be seen; he,
however, soon discovered close to where the pony stood an opening in the
mountain like the mouth of a pit, and he remembered having heard, when a
child, many a tale about the "Poul-duve," or Black Hole of
Knockfierna; how it was the entrance to the fairy castle which was within the
mountain; and how a man whose name was Ahern, a land-surveyor in that part of
the country, had once attempted to fathom it with a line, and had been drawn
down into it and was never again heard of; with many other tales of the
"But," thought O'Daly, "these are old
woman's stories; and since I've come up so far, I'll just knock at the
castle door and see if the fairies are at home."
No sooner said than done; for, seizing a large stone, as
big, ay, bigger than his two hands, he flung it with all his strength down
into the Poul-duve of Knockfierna. He heard it bounding and tumbling about
from one rock to another with a terrible noise, and he leant his head over to
try and hear when it would reach the bottom, - and what should the very stone
he had thrown in do but come up again with as much force as it had gone down,
and gave him such a blow full in the face, that it sent him rolling down the
side of Knockfierna, head over heels, tumbling from one crag to another, much
faster than he came up. And in the morning Carroll O'Daly was found lying
beside his horse; the bridge of his nose broken, which disfigured him for life
; his head all cut and bruised, and both his eyes closed up, and as black as
if Sir Daniel Donnelly had painted them for him.
Carroll O'Daly was never bold again in riding alone near
the haunts of the fairies after dusk; but small blame to him for that; and if
ever he happened to be benighted in a lonesome place, he would make the best
of his way to his journey's end, without asking questions, or turning to the
right or to the left, to seek after the good people, or any who kept company
Source: Thomas Crofton
Croker - Fairy Legends and Traditions, first published 1825.
republished by: Collins Press, Cork, 1998.