Polly Mac Garry of Leitrim

Polly Mac Garry lived in Columcille, Co. Longford a long time ago.  

One day a widow woman went out to look at her cattle.  As she stood at her gate she saw a procession coming up the road from the direction of Co. Leitrim.  It moved towards the gate where she was and she saw that those at the head of the procession were carrying a small coffin.  When they passed they laid the coffin on the ground and then moved on up the road out of sight.  She noticed that all this was done in complete silence, so she knew that it was the Good People that had passed.

When they had gone the widow went over to the coffin and inside she found a tiny baby girl dressed in a silken robe of white and gold.  She was a fine healthy baby and the widow took her home and reared her with her own children. 

 Some seven years later the widow wished to buy a horse and the little girl said she should buy a young filly and then they could have two horses or perhaps more than two.  With this in mind, they went to the fair of Arvagh and bought a filly which proved very lucky and had many fine foals.  

While at the fair, they met a woman from County Leitrim who recognised the little girl as her own daughter and to prove her claim she said that the little girl had a birth-mark between her shoulder blades.  Even though the strange woman was right, Polly as they had called her insisted on remaining with her foster mother.  She grew up a very pretty girl with fair golden hair and married one of her foster brothers, so she was known as Polly Mac Garry.

She was well-known as a wise woman even when she was young, and as she got older people came to ask her advice and help, though some people said that it was not lucky to associate with her.  When people came to consult her she was able to know where they had come from and she made up a medicine with herbs and unsalted butter. 

Everybody who was made sick by the fairies would go to Polly and she would be able to cure them because she knew everything the fairies knew.  People also consulted her about sick animals, and she had the power to heal nearly all animal diseases.  Once when a man had a sick mare he said to his wife at breakfast that he would ask Polly to cure her.

'I won't have that County Leitrim witch about the place' said his wife 'The like of her is never lucky.'

Nevertheless the husband went to Polly and said:

'Polly, would you come up sometime and look at that mare of mine?  I'm a bit afraid she won't do.'

'I will not' replied Polly, 'you know and I know what that wife of yours said about me this morning.'

So Polly did not go and the mare died.

Women who were married and did not have any children would consult Polly and she was able to help them often.  Polly would bake a cake which she would give to the patient.  The patient took the cake and ate a piece of it every night for nine nights before retiring to bed.  If she told anyone or if anyone saw her eating the cake the cure would not work.  When the women had babies after consulting Polly it was seen that they were always girls.

Note:  The purported origins of Polly Mac Garry are almost identical to those given for Moll Anthony another fairy healer.


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