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Folklore in the Templeorum, Owning and Piltown Districts of south county Kilkenny.


A Definition of Folklore.

"Lore or legend is not simply a collection of amusing and fabulous stories handed down orally from one generation to the next, rather it is  a way of explaining the processes of natures and the mystery of existences by ancient, largely illiterate peoples before the advent of science. A  mythological world picture was common to all ancient cultures across the globe, with variations of different myths occurring across different cultures. For example before Christianity came to Norway, people believed that lightening and thunder happened when the god Thor rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, swinging his hammer." (From The Marrying of Brigit and Christ in the Parish of Templeorum, Introduction (Granagh) 2000, p. 2, by Mary O'Shea.)

Folklore comes within the ambit of lore, myth and legend. In the Gaelic tradition as distinct from the Greek myths, none of it was written down, until the coming of Christianity to Ireland in a more organised way, in the 5th century, with the return of Patrick to Ireland as a missionary. In the centuries which followed, these myths, legends and beliefs, were Christianized. The great mythological sagas such as the Táin Bó Culáige, the story of the contest for possession of the  Brown Bull of Cooley, was committed to manuscript in the post Christian era. In many cases, in the committing of these ancient stories to paper, by the Christian monks, a liberal amount of revisionism was applied to the original story. At its most simple, folklore can be defined as body of stories illustrating the way of life and beliefs of  a people at a given period, in place and time, coming to encompass their culture. The folklore of the Templeorum, Owning and Piltown, districts of south county Kilkenny is both a reflection of its own specific way of life and beliefs and those of the wider Gaelic/Celtic tradition.

As a local historian in my historical research and in my growing up in the south county Kilkenny, I came by many stories. A collection of my folklore stories is deposited in the Department of Folklore at University College Dublin. The manuscripts of the National Schools Collection collected by the Folklore Commission in the 1930s is also there and contains material from the schools in my area. The material on this site is drawn from both my own collection and the latter 1930s Folklore Commission Collection, which I accessed on microfilm at the county library in Kilkenny city. In what comprises folklore - myths, legends, superstitions, beliefs and practices, there is flowing through some recurring motifs or themes. Both on a local level and a wider level, the magical numbers 3, 5, 7, and nine recur, the animal world, magical horses, cows, pigs , bulls, and the black hound, the red haired woman at the well, the banshee, her comb, sightings of fairies, sometimes hurling in raths late at night, the witch like woman who can appear in the guise of a rabbit who steals butter or cream on the eve of 1st of May and the headless  funeral coaches, seen late at night. Lore and legend is not a  set of actual factual truths, if you fail to see beyond this and miss the symbolism, you have missed everything. The symbolism is the wheel on which it turns and spins out to the wider world of recognition. Symbolism is inherent in all early peoples and their cultures. In relaying the selection of stories chosen for inclusion in this site, I attempt to give a short explanation as to what may be the symbolism underlying each story.

Spiral motif, Tybroughney Stone















By Mary O’Shea

Published in Christmas Supplement, Munster Express, December 2005.

As with many counties throughout the country, the county of Kilkenny is rich in lore and legend. The Folklore Commission in the 1930s collected many of them from National School pupils throughout the country, and the Kilkenny scholar John O’Donovan spent his life in the mid 19th century collecting lore. We have the O’Donovan Ordnance Survey Letters for each county. He also contributed to the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquities  of Ireland, then published in Kilkenny.

Apart from human ghosts in the form of the banshee for instance, animals feature frequently in lore and legend. Ancient peoples lived in intimate connection with the natural world around them and depended on it to sustain them through their lives. The early Irish saints in their closeness to nature, had animals as companions, St. Ciaran, for instance is a good example, as a fox and a badger were his helpmates. There is the well known Legend of St. Ciaran, in which his sister who was living with him was devoured by a wolf and he in his great distress knitted back the bones and buried her as a human corpse.

Certain animals symbolise an unlucky or even evil influence, the snake/serpent is an almost universal symbol of temptation, of the Devil. Partiularly in the Judea/Christian tradition. For instance in south Kilkenny, St. Patrick is said to have banished with his crozier a serpent who lived in the river running through the wood of Glenbower, near Owning. At the waterfall, the red stones are stained by the blood of St. Patrick’s donkey as he cut a knee crossing the river. It is on a donkey that Jesus Christ,  that the founder of Christianity rode in triumph into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The donkey is said to have the outline of the Cross on his back from this association with Christ. The donkey symbolises goodness, a good omen.

Cattle and horses are the subjects of sagas and myths, not only confined to the Celtic canon of legend but feature in the legends of other cultures across the globe.  In occurance the cow and the bull, take predominance. For instance St. Brigit was reared on the milk of a red eared cow. In the Ulster Cycle sagas a collection of Irish epic prose stories, belonging to a group called the Tåin, or the Cattle Raid of Cooley, feature the brown Brown Bull, the Donn and the White Bull of Cooley. It is a story of cattle rustling, political strife between Ulster and Connaught, and the ambition of Queen Meabh to subdue Ulster and have the Brown Bull of Cooley. This ancient saga was written down in the 12th century by Christian scribes and was given a Christian interpretation, with a liberal doppling of revisionism.

Moving to the Near East, Indians personified all aspects of nature and spirituality in the form of their numerous deities. The best loved deity of Krishna the cowherd, eight incarnation of Vishnu. He lives as child in the forest surrounded by childhood friends, by cows and by peacocks. He dances with his lover, the divine Radha, and togehter they share perfect spiritual love. Followers of Krishna offer him their unconditional devotion as the one Supreme God. The cow is sacred in India.

In outer Mongola, among the Khalkha tribe, ther eis a belief that their origin is  due to the love of a shamanic nature spirit and a cow. The first Khalka was born from a cow and raised on her creamy milk, and left to the tribe a natural inclination towards cattle rearing and nomadic life. The married women of this tribe wear their hair parted in the middle, combed outwards, and stiffened with mutton fat, in the form of  a long pair of horns. Their dresses are notable for the high projections that they wear on their shoulders, resembling the shoulder blades of cattle.

In the Irish context,  these stories were handed down orally, as the ancient Irish committed nothing to paper, so it was in the early Christian era and especially, in the 12th century that most of these sagas and legends were written down, and given the Christian slant, imbued with a Christian moral instruction. Here under are stories from south county Kilkennny

An Unclean Beast.

In the parish of Kilcolumb, barony of Ida, there is an elevation called Con-bhuidhe, which got its name from the following legend. It comes from the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick. St. Patrick travelled through the plains of Ossory, on his conversion and to see what progress his predecessor St. Ciaran had made. He came to a remarkable hill, then called Cnoc-na-radharc, - hill of the sights or views, and he resolved to build a church there. Patrick set about the work, and collected a number of labourers and others to help him. While the work was progressing, a woman who lived in the adjacent village of Ballincrea, sent St. Patrick a present of an animal cooked in a dish for his dinner. After he viewed the animal for some time, he formed the view that it was an unclean beast, and, moreover, as he had found some of the inhabitants of the area ill-instructed in Christianity, and others stubborn pagans, he concluded that the present was sent to insult him. So he laid down the dish upon a large stone, he knelt down upon the same stone, and prayed to God to restore life to whatever animal had been cooked. A yellow hound sprang from the dish and ran in the direction of the conflux of the Three Waters. St. Patrick ordered the workmen to kill it, and they followed the hound with spades, pick-axes, shovels, and  crow-bars. A mile away they overtook it and killed it. They buried it on the side of the road, and over its grave sprang a white-thorn, called “The Little Thorn of the Hound.”  All the stones from a one mile distant of this white-thorn show the track of the hound’s feet, and one stone contains a hollow which is said to be the impression of St. Patrick’s knee. This hollow is filled with water and is regarded as being sacred.

Magical Horses.

In a place called Tinnahoe, there is a small lake, out of which horses of a black colour, were seen to emerge. These are enchanted horses, and a man versed in the art of catching these beautiful animals, caught a mare. She remained with him until she had seven foals. As the man who had her, used the halter with which he caught for common purposes and scolded the animal herself, called her ugly names and mentioned the name of the devil, he lost her. As soon as she heard the name of the evil one she neighed seven times, broke loose from his grasp, and ran towards the lake, followed by her seven foals. Mac Oda, the owner, saw the mare and her foals plunge into the water according to their age.

There is a field, a hilly one, in the townland of Raheen, in which magical white horses were seen. A group of  young lads were crossing this field after stealing apples in an orchard a mile away, when out of nowhere, a herd of white horses began to chance after them. They ran with fright and lost their apples in the rush away from these horses. Only when they had crossed the stream in the bog, leading into the Mountain Grove wood, did the horses disappear into thin air. The field is said to a haunted one.

Horses pull headless coaches and hearses late at night. Sightings of these are quite common in lore stories. A field called “The Mass Path” field is the location of many sightings of such coaches, late at night, in the townland of Raheen.

Hound Sightings.

The hound, be he either yellow or black features in many stories. In the townland of Raheen, again, he crosses a Mass path and old roadway, at the spot where an old mansion house or colloquially called “Shireley’s Castle,” stands. A man is believed to have been murdered here by his brother, tumbled out of a boat in a field in the front of the castle, where there was an artificial lake. Several people encountered this strange hound, bearing his white teeth. On one occasion this hound tried to block the path of a man going over to Templeorum village to call the priest to a dying person. And on another occasion the hound halted in front of a passer-by, bearing his white teeth and exclaiming: Mo Cailin Deas Crua na mbó. My beautiful young girl who is milks the cows.

A group of men who had been playing cards late into the night in Miltown, were chased from the vicinity of Muckalee graveyard all the way to Mullinbeg by a more than one black hound.


Rabbit Omen.

A woman living in a small house in Potstown, up Owning hill, near O’Neill’s mill, was said to be a witch. One morning on the 1st of May, she came into the cowhouse of a neighbour and was caught stealing cream. She escaped by changing herself into the form of a rabbit. This woman is said to have stolen cream and butter from many farmers. Even though she had only one cow herself and a few hens, she was never short of milk, butter or eggs, all year round.

 Note: These two stories are taken from my own collection and from the 1930s Folklore Commission Collection from pupils of the National Schools of Templeorum, Owning and Piltown. In both these stories, some of the common motifs occur. In the first story, above, we have the magical white horses of the Otherworld, white horses feature in Tír na óng, the Land of Everlasting youth, from which Fionn returns and is changed into an old man, all grey hairs and wrinkles. The hound appears, this mythical canine may symbolise the Hound of Cuchaláinn. Sometimes this hound is associated with a tragic death, such as that of a murder. The struggle between Saint Patrick and the unclean beast shows us the influence of Christianity, the unclean beast can be interpreted as symbolising the "pagan" or pre-Christian world of beliefs and obviously, Saint Patrick symbolises Christianity, the "true God" and his and its struggle with the pre-Christian beliefs of early Christian Ireland. In the story of the seven bishops in a basket, we have a similar theme, and there is the echo of Moses' basket in the Old Testament. The wolf is the demon beast in relation to Saint Ciaran. The magical number 7 is prominent in the bishops' story. The woman  who turns into a rabbit on May Eve to harm steal people's cream and butter and to make their cows dry is part of the canon of superstitions associated with 1st May, Bealtine, in the old "Celtic" calandar. The "Celtic" or "pagan" pre-Christian year was divided thus:

Samháin, the time of the dead, the dying of the old year and the beginning of the new on 1st of November. Christianity Christianises it into All Souls, the 1st of February, Imbólog, very much associated with saint Brigit, whose person incorporates in one, the pre-Christian goddess of fertility, of the arts, of poetry and of metal work, and the Christian nun, saint, whose feast day is marked on 1st February by among other things, the making of Brigit's Cross, made of twisted wreaths in the shape of a crucifix, it marks the beginning of Spring and re-growth, Beáltine, 1st of May, when May bushes were erected, consisting of  hawthorns or sceachts, decorated with eggs shells and ribbons, marking the beginning of summer, and on 1st August the great harvest festival of Lúghnasa, honouring the old God, Lugh, the god of light and fecundity. May was Christianised to the month of the Blessed Virgin, indeed, the Virgin Mary and Brigit are closely linked in early Christianity and the month of August is the month of the Assumption on the 15th of the month, marking the reception of the Blessed Virgin, mother of Christ into heaven, welcomed by her son.





Seven Bishops In A Basket.

Mary O'Shea

Taken from The Marrying of Brigit and Christ in the Parish of Templeorum, (Granagh) 2000.

The lore collected from the national schools of Templeorum, Harristown, Garrygaug, Tobernabrone, and Piltown in 1938 by the Folklore Commission, is on microfilm at Kilkenny library. It is needless to say a fascinating collection of material collected by the pupils from their grandparents and old neighbours. In compiling this booklet this writer read them closely. The following legend comes from a pupil of Owning school. It is heavily symbolic and transcends the merely local.

A man lived with his wife on the hill near Kilkieran. He emigrated for a time, when he returned home he discovered that he had seven sons. Infuriated he put them into a basket, to carry them to the Lingaun river, where he intended to drown them. On his way he met a priest who asked him what had he in the basket. He replied: "pups." The priest lifted the cover and saw the infants, he admonished the man,  took the infants away, he reared and educated them. Each of the seven infants became a bishop. These seven infants were said to have been born at the one birth.

On their way back from Rome, while walking by Granny Castle, the Countess Granny sees them, she orders her servant to kill them so as to get any gold chalices being carried with them. Her servant chases them as far as Lismatigue, a townland adjoining Harristown, some seven or eight miles from Granny. They are murdered at a place called The Ford of the Heads, near the moat at Lismatigue. Near the moat also are the remains of an old church and graveyard. They are said to have been buried at Kilkieran and or at Ahenny, underneath the High Crosses which sprang up overnight over their graves. In the district of Mullinavat, there is a place called Bishops' Mountain, where it is said three bishops were murdered and three stones sprang up overnight over their graves. These stones are likely to be three standing stones which are the remains of a stone circle, a place of Celtic worship. Different versions of similar type legends occur in more than one district. The springing up of stones miraculously or magically overnight over graves might be something of pre-Christian significance associated with important personages such as Celtic priests and transferred in early Christian times to Catholic bishops.

This is a story or legend carrying more than one symbol. Behind the legend is the story of a man who returned home from abroad to find that his wife had committed adultery, having maybe twins not seven infants as this would have been biologically impossible without fertility pills and he decided to take revenge by drowning the innocent infants. The intervention of the priest represents the intervention of Christ who represents Christianity which abhors revenge and looks after the innocent. We note that number seven is a Celtic magic number, this being an ancient Irish legend.

There is an Old Testament Biblical element in the presence of the basket. Moses immediately springs to mind, a Jew who is a universal symbol of liberation and leadership. He led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt, the venerated images being the burning bush, the parted sea, the dry rock  bursting with water and manna.

Rameses II (reign 1279-1213 BC), was threatened by the growth of the Israelite population and so he ordered the killing of all new born males by throwing them into the Nile river. Moses' mother kept her baby hidden for three months in a basket and then set him adrift. The story of the baby in the basket is a favourite among Hebrew scholars and it is part of an ancient type of legend handed down from one generation to another. Pharoh's daughter, an Egyptian, adopts the child in the basket and calls him Moses. The name is connected to a Hebrew verb indicating that she drew him from water. It should be noted that Jesus or Christ was in danger of being beheaded as a first born male infant by a jealous and power-hungry ruler of the time, Herod.

The numbers three and seven feature in the Book of Job in the Old Testament, Job has three daughters, three comforters, and seven sons. In the mythology and in the literature of many cultures these two numbers occur frequently, not least in the East and Near East. Their occurrence is not fully explainable. 

 In 1814 workmen engaged in repairs at Lismore Castle County Waterford, came across a walled up passage where there was hidden a wooden box, wherein was a crozier and an old vellum manuscript, the remains of the so called Book of Lismore. This book contains lives of saints written in Irish with a good dollop of legend thrown in for good measure. A mixture of the factual and the imaginative, again heavily symbolic. Brigit is one of the saints featured. Among the personages who came to visit her during her lifetime were the seven bishops who were on the hill east of Leinster. Brigit ordered a certain man of her household to go and catch fish for the guests. The man in the attempt to catch a seal was dragged over the sea to the shore of Britain, the seal made its way back.  British fishermen gave a boat to Brigit's fisherman when he told them of his difficulty. When he crossed the sea he found his seal on the shore of the sea of Leinster and took it back to Brigit. It was accounted one of Brigit's miracles and the fishermen of Britain sang her praises widely.

The basket of Moses is also a symbol of fecundity or plenty. Many legends have within them a universal element, the story of the seven bishops is a rich blend of the Celtic, the early Christian and the Jewish. It is this wider resonance and symbolism which gives it its real force. We can also see that lawlessness and robbery are not just a feature of modernity or modern day living.





A story.

A long time ago there lived a sportsman who hunted every day. This day as he went out with his horse to hunt he said to his friends and servants that he would beat the Devil today. As he was riding along a gentleman rode in front of him with his horse. In the evening he invited him to tea. When they had finished they played a game of cards. As they were playing one of the cards fell and this gentleman went to pick it up. As he was about to pick it up he saw the "epub" of a hound and people say that the Devil has one "epub". They sent for a priest to drive out the Devil. When the priest arrived at the house he drove the Devil through the slates of the house. Whilist the Devil was flying through the slates he tumbled down a great number of slates. The next day a mass was said. They went to put up the slates but as they put them up they were falling down. At last he had to put a sheath of glass on top of the house. The house is still to be seen in Kilkenny.

Written by Mary Joe O'Shea, Raheen a pupil of Templeorum N.S., collected from her father Thomas O'Shea.


Weather Lore.

A watery sun donates rain. When the sun is red in the sky in the morning it is a sign of bad weather. Red in the evening is a sign of good weather. A mackerel sky is a sign of wet weather. A circle around the moon is sign of rain. A cloudy sky denotes rain. Rainbow in the morning is a sign of rain. Rainbow in the night is a sign of good weather. "Rainbow in the morning is a sailor's warning. Rainbow in the night is a shepard's delight." When a pinkish flame comes from he fire it is a sign of rain. When the swallows fly low it denotes good weather. When the curlew screams it foretells bad weather.

Written by Patrick Culleton of Ashtown, pupil of Templeorum N.S. It does not say from whom he collected the material, presumably his parents or old neighbours.

Local Cures.

People sought cures in many deserted places long ago. A doctor was very seldom sent for or required as the people cured their ailments with herbs. Many of the medical remedies used at present were not known by the old people.

A person whose surname was Walsh or Cahill, his blood was employed to cure wild fire. The blood of a black cat was used also for this disease. To heal a cut a cobweb was applied, after which the cut was soon healed. For warts many cures were employed, the slime of a snail being the commonest, after which the snail was hung on a hawthorn bush and left to wither. When the snail withered the wart withered also. A frog was sometimes used to cure toothache. A burned alder stick was used to heal ringworm.

Many people visited holy wells to cure sore eyes. Some applied the water to their eyes while others drank it.

Written by Nancy Moran of Kilmogue, collected from her father Edward Moran.

Note: The above two stories, with others, were published in Parish of Templeorum, a Historical Miscellany, (Granagh) 1999, by Mary O'Shea. The stories are written down as they were spoken orally, as I do with the stories in my own collection, in order to preserve the way of telling, the colloquial expression and dialect. So excuse the sometimes improper English and grammar.



 More Stories Collected in the 1930s.

Local Cures.

Bowers of Cloncunny can cure any kind of disease. Mansel Bowers has cures and collects herbs for the diseases. To cure a pain in the back, he boils ground ivy. Patrick Oakey, Clonmore, can cure warts. Using an alder stick, he cuts as many holes in it as there are warts on the person. He then bruises them. The warts will go away. He also says some prayers. Patrick Cahill could cure wildfire. He ties a cord tightly around the top of the finger and pricks it. Then he rubs the blood on the wildfire. There is  a man named Eaton Bowers that can cure dropsy. old tea will cure sore eyes. White paper would stop blood. Patrick Walsh Mooncoin stops blood, or bleeding. Mrs. Walsh Fiddown could cure yellow jaundice. St. Patrick's leaf will cure a cut.

My Home District.

I live in the townland of Raheen in the parish of Templeorum and the Barony of Iverk. Raheen comes from the Irish word ráithin. It means the little rath. There are twelve families in Raheen. Their surnames are - Larkins, Daniels, Browns, Powers, Walshs, Fitzgeralds, Murphys, Fitspatricks and O'Sheas. The population is forty people. There are four old people in the townland and their surnames are Mrs. Damiels whose age is 94, Mr. Daniels who is 72. There is a ruin of an old house in Raheen. Holden was the man's name that lived in it. There are a few hills in Raheen and a river which divides Raheen from Ballygown.

From Mary Joe O'Shea, Raheen, Piltown, County Kilkenny. Collected from her father Tom O'Shea.

Funny Stories.

There lived in Harristown a boy who was very poor. One day as he was coming home from school he went to a smith's forge for shelter from the rain. Whilst the boy was inside the smith was making shoes. On the fire was a red hot iron. The smith told the boy he would give him a shilling of he would lick it. The boy taking the shilling licked it and walked out with it. When the smith saw what the boy had done, he became  very angry and told the boy to come back with it. But the boy never returned.

In olden times people used to get up early to go to the fairs. One morning very early a man was going to a fair. he met a funeral. The last in the crowd was his sister who had been buried four months before. She had not much clothes on her. He asked her why she had not much clothes on her. She told him that the person to whom he gave her clothes, pawned them. He was to go and get them and get a mass said for her. So he did and never saw her again.

From Sean Carroll, Brenor, Piltown, County Killkenny. Collected from his father, John Carroll.

Note: In every district in the country, there were certain people who had old cures for various animal and human ailments, handed down to them from generation to generation, going back in time. How deeply the seeker believed in the cure determined its success or failure. The story featuring the smith echoes back to the sacred nature of smith in ancient Ireland. Forge water was said to have curative powers. The smith was a member of the priviliged aés dána class in ancient times, along with poets, brehons, druids, priests and wheel-rights. The carrying out of a dying person's wishes and the respect shown to the dead is a theme of the last story above.


Former National School, Templeorum, now parish hall


Stories from website author's own Collection.


Haunted Muckalee.

Muckalee church remains and graveyard is a circular site situated between the townlands of Miltown and Garrygaug. The site is early Christian, whose patron saint is Saint Canice. A family named Reddy lived near the graveyard. They had to block the window of their house which faced the graveyard as lat at night a light could be seen. Often a funeral was held late at night and headless coaches leading a funeral late at night wee also observed.

A Curse on Kilmogue.

The townland of Kilmogue is named after Saint Mogue, who was abbot of Ferns and patron of the early Christian small church and monastery at Kilmogue. The remains of church and graveyard fence were taken down in the 18th century and remains left in Grant's, now O'Shea's haggard. There was a hermit monk's cell in a rath, nearby.

Two monks in the Middle Ages were walking from Kilmogue to Jerpoint Abbey, by an old roadway which went from Kilmogue, through Lismatigue and came out at Castlemorris or Aghavillar, to Knocktoper and to Thomastown, when they were waylaid and robbed. Hence a curse fell on Kilmgue.

Sightings of Two Dead Sisters.

A named Anty Higgins of Templeorum townland, a place named High Street, was closing her door one night when she saw two sisters of a her neighbour, Frank Walsh, walk up the road together. Nothing unusual in that you might say, except they were dead with some years in America. It was not unusual to hear of sightings of dead people who died in America back in their native place after dying. Old people could tell you several such stories.

The Banshee's Comb.

I never heard the Banshee myself. She is supposed to follow certain families. A baby died in agony a mile from our home, in a house on the side of the road. My father told us that just after it died, an unmerciful keen was heard outside. Sometimes cats bawling late at night sounded like her. A dog keening late at night is a sign that someone from the house or related to the house is about to died or that someone far away, even in another country, who once came from the house, has died.

My father told me that a week after his mother dying in 1917, they found a strange comb outside her bedroom window, downstairs, in the morning. Everyone was certain that no one in the house had put it there. The Banshee came during the night and put it there. It wasn't like any of the combs used by ordinary people.

The Leg of a Cock.

Superstitions played a central role in the lives of rural people down to the 1950s/1960s, even, in some areas. Many a family had vicious rows over spells etc, especially around 1sy May. We were digging out spuds one time and we found eggs on a drill. Our father was fearful. It was probably a bird to happened to lay them there. If a person could be blamed he would not be regarded highly afterwards by us.

A woman from Ashtown, which is bordering Kilmogue, visited another woman in Kilmogue. She brought a currant cake in a bag which was customary. They had a great chat. The visitor killed a cock for food a few days before, however, one of his legs found its way, somehow, into the bag with the currant bread. When the visitor was gone, the woman of the house looked to see what she had brought and was livid to find a dead cock's leg in the bag. She thought that she was deliberately bringing her bad luck by leaving it behind. They fell out over it. The Civil War was nothing to the row that took place.

Note: Lights late at night in graveyards and mysterious late night funerals are commonly found in the folklore repertoire. The dead and their place of rest was surrounded by all kinds of superstitions and mysticism. If a soul was not at rest for some reason, maybe buried in a place not of their wishes, they came come back to haunt the people. Respecting a dying person's wishes was regarded as a must and sacred duty. Otherwise haunting and bad luck would follow. The Banshee is a mysterious  otherworld creature, described as being heard without been seen, more often than the other way around. She is said to follow certain Gaelic families with the prefix O or Mac before their surnames. After the displacement of the Gaelic lords by the English and the Flight of the Earls in 1607, she is sometimes seen as a protector and lamenter for lost Irish. She might be an otherworld pre-Christian goddess, who has changed and come down to us as the Banshee, the foreteller of a death in a  family. The Banshee's comb is a familiar motif found in stories relating to her. It is an object not to be touched by human hands. It, too, may foretell an imminent death in the family. The cock, in folklore, has flying about him many superstitions. His crowing early in the morning can signify a bad omen if heard too often in the one week. In the story of Christ's betrayal and denied by Peter three times, the cock crows three times as Christ predicted he would when Peter was about to deny him. Potatoes in Ireland are known as spuds.


Seven Bishops   Weather Lore  Local Cures  Funny Stories  Kilmogue 

Banshee's Comb  Cock  Bishop's mountain



©Mary O'Shea 2006


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