Sconemac's, The Evil Eye II

Scone's Scottish and Celtic Internet Book

Scottish Highlands and Islands Partnership

Scottish History and Culture

by Nancy MacCorkill, F.S.A. Scot USA

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The Evil Eye II

by

Sconemac

The Evil Eye II
Folklore of the Irish & Highland and Island Scots


The Evil Eye II - The Touch - The Penalty


"Some friendly Teydmena, sorry to see my suffering plight, said to me: 'This is because thou hast been eye-struck-what! you do not understand 'eye-struck'? Certainly they have looked in your eyes, Khalil. We have lookers (God cut them off!) among us, that with their only (malignant) eye-glances may strike down a fowl flying; and you shall see the bird tumble in the air with loud shrieking kdk-kd-kd-kd-kd. Well'ah their looking can blast a palm-tree so that you shall see it wither away. These are things well ascertained by many faithful witnesses.' " Doughty's : Travels in the Arabian Desert.

There is one visit I have always been a little remorseful about. It was in Mayo where I had gone to see the broken walls and grass-grown hearthstone that remain of the house where Raftery the poet was born. I was taken to see an old woman near, and the friend who was with me asked her about "Those." I could see she was unwilling to speak, and I would not press her, for there are some who fear to vex invisible hearers; so we talked of America where she had lived for a little while. But presently she said, "All I ever saw of them myself was one night when I was going home, and they were behind in the field watching me. I couldn't see them but I saw the lights they carried, two lights on the top of a sort of dark oak pole. So I watched them and they watched me, and when we were tired watching one another the lights all went into one blaze, and then they went away and it went out." She told also one or two of the traditional stories, of the man who had a hump put on him, and the woman "taken" and rescued by her husband, who she had directed to seize the horse she was riding with his left hand.

Then she gave a cry and took up her walking stick from the hearth, burned through, and in two pieces, though the fire had seemed to be but a smouldering heap of ashes. We were very sorry, but she said "Don't be sorry. It is well it was into it the harm went." I passed the house two or three hours afterwards; shutters and door were closed, and I felt that she was fretting for the stick that had been "America and back with me, and had walked every part of the world," and through the loss of which, it may be, she had "paid the penalty."

I told a neighbour about the doctor having attended a man on the mountains~nd how after some time, he found that one of the children was sick also, but this had been hidden from him, because if one had to die they wanted it to be the child.

"That's natural," he said. "Let the child pay the penalty if it has to be paid. That's a thing that might happen easy enough."

I was told by M. McGarity:
There was a boy of the Cloonans I knew was at Killinane thatching Henniff's house. And a woman passed by, and she looked up at him, but she never said, "God bless the work." And Cloonan's mother was in the road to Gort and the woman met her and said, "Where did your son learn thatching?" And that day he had a great fall and was brought home hurt, and the mother went to Biddy Early. And she said, "Didn't a red-haired woman meet you one day going into Gort and ask where did your son learn thatching? And didn't she look up at him as she passed? It was then it was done." And she gave a bottle and he got well after a while."

Some say the evil eye is in those who were baptized wrong, but I believe it's not that, but if, when a woman is carrying, some one that meets her says, "So you're in that way," and she says, "The devil a fear of me," as even a married woman might say for sport or not to let on, the devil gets possession of the child at that moment, and when it is born it has the evil eye. M

argaret Bartly:
There was a woman below in that village where I lived to my grief and my sorrow, and she used to be throwing the evil eye, but she is in the poorhouse now - Mrs. Boylan her name is. Four she threw it on, not children but big men, and they lost the walk and all, and died. Maybe she didn't know she had it, but it is no load to any one to say "God bless you." I faced her one time and told her it would be no load to her when she would see the man in the field, and the horses ploughing to say "God bless them," and she was vexed and she asked did I think she had the evil eye, and I said I did. So she began to scold and I left her. That was five years ago, and it is in the poor-house in Ballyvaughan she is this two years; but she can do no harm there because she has lost her sight.

Mrs. Nelly of Knockmogue:
There was a girl lived there near the gate got sick. And after waiting a long time and she getting no better the mother brought in a woman that lived in the bog beyond, that used to do cures. And when she saw the girl, she knew what it was, and that she had been overlooked. And she said, "Did you meet three men on the road one day, and didn't one of them, a dark one, speak to you and give no blessing?" And she said that was so. And she would have done a cure on her, but we had a very good priest at that time, Father Hayden, a curate, and he used to take a drop of liquor and so he had courage to do cures. And he said this was a business for him, and he cured her, and the mother gave him money for it.

It was by herbs that woman used to do cures, and whatever power she got in the gathering of them, she was able to tell what would happen. But she was in great danger all her life from gathering the herbs, for they don't like any one to be cured that they have put a touch on.

Mrs. Clerey:
I can tell you what happened to two sons of mine. A woman that passed by them said, "You've often threatened me by night, and my curse is on you now." And the one answered her back but the other didn't. And after that they both took sick, but the one that didn't answer her was the worst. And they pined a long time. And I brought the one that was so bad over to Kilronan to the priest and he read over him. It was a lump in his mouth he had, that you could hardly put down a spoonful of milk, and there was a good doctor there and he sliced it, and he got well. But the priest often told me that but for what he did for him he would never have got well. For there's no doubt there's some in the world it's not well to talk with.

The time my son got the pain, he came in roaring and said he. got a stab in the knee. It was surely some evil thing that put it on him. There are some that have the evil eye, and that don't know it themselves. Father McEvilly told me that. He said a woman that was carrying, and that was not married, but that got married while she was carrying, she might put the evil eye on you, and not know it at all. And he said anyway it would be no great load to say "God bless you" to any one you might meet.

The priests can do cures if they like, but those that have stock don't like to be doing it, Father Folan won't do it, but Father McEvilly would.

One time my brother got a great pain, and my father sent me to Father Gallagher, to ask could he cure and read the Mass of the Holy Ghost over him. But when I asked him he called out, "I won't do that, I won't read for any one. He was afraid to go as far as that for fear it might fall on his stock, that he had a great deal of.

James Fahey:
Do you think the drohuil is not in other places besides Aran? My mother told me herself that she was out at a dance one evening, and there was a fine young man there and he dancing till be had them all tired; and a woman that was sitting there said "He can do what he likes with his legs," and at that instant he fell dead. My mother told me that herself, and she heard the woman say it, and so did many others that were there.

Frank McDaragh:
There's none can do cures well in this island like Biddy Early used to do. I want to know of some good man or woman in that line to go to, for that little girl of my own got a touch last week. Coming home from Mass she was, and she felt a pain in her knee, and it ran down to the foot and up again, and since then the feet are swelled, you might see them.

Mrs. Meade:
And about here they all believe in the faeries-and I hear them say-but I don't give much heed to it-that Mrs. Hehir the butcher's sister that died last week-but I don't know much about it. But anyhow she was married three years, and had a child every year, and this time she died. And when the coffin was leaving the house, the young baby began to scream, and to go into convulsions, for all the world as if it was put on the fire.

Another says about this same woman~ Mrs. Hehir: It's overlooked she was when she went out for a walk with a scholar from the seminary that is going to be a priest, and she without a shawl over her head. It's then she was overlooked; they seeing what a fine handsome woman she was, she was took away to be nurse to themselves.

Mrs. Quade:
A great pity it was about Mrs. Helhr and she leaving three young orphans. But sure they do be saying a great big black bird flew into the house and around about the kitchen-and it was the next day the sickness took her.

The Doctor:
Mrs. Hehirs was a difficult case to diagnose, and I could not give it a name. At the end she was flushed and delirious; and when one of the women attending her said, "She looks so well you wouldn't think it was herself that was in it at all," I knew what was in their minds. Afterwards I was told that the day the illness began she had been churning, and a strange woman came in and said, "Give me a bold of the staff and I'll do a bit of the churning for you." But she refused and the woman said, "It's the last time you'll have the chance of refusing anyone that asks you" and went out, and she was not see again, then or afterwards.

J. Madden:
There's one thing should never be done, and that's to say "That's a fine woman," or such a thing and not to say "God bless her." I never believed that till a man that lives in the next holding to my own told me what happened to a springer he had. She was as fine a creature as ever you seen, and one day a friend of his came in to see him, and when he was going away, "That's a grand cow," says he, but he didn't say "God bless it." Well, the owner of the cow went into the house and he sat down by the fire and lit a pipe, and when he had the pipe smoked out he came out again, and there she was lying down and not able to stir. So he remembered what happened and he went after his friend, and found him in a neighbour's house. And he brought him back with him, and made him go into the field and say, "God bless it," and spit on the cow. And with that she got up and walked away as well as before.

John McManus:
They can only take a child or a horse or such things through the eye of a sinner. If his eye falls on it, and he speaks to praise it and doesn't say "God bless it," they can bring it away then. But if you say it yourself in your heart, it will do as well.

There was a man lived about a mile beyond Spiddal, and he was one day at a play, and he was the best at the hurling and the throwing and every game. And a woman of the crowd called out to him, "You're the straightest man that's in it." And twice after that a man that was beside him and that heard that said, saw him pass by with his coat on before sunrise. And on the fifth day after that he was dead.

He left four or five sons and some of them went to America and the eldest of them married and was living in the place with his wife. And he was going to Galway for a fair, and his wife was away with her father and mother on the road to Galway and she bid him to come early, that she'd have some commands for him to do. So it was before sunrise when he set out, and he was going over a little side road through the fields, and he came -on the biggest fair he ever saw, and the most people in it. And they made a way for him to pass through and a man with a big coat and a tall hat came out from them and said, "Do you know me?" And he said, "Are you my father?" And the man said, "I am, and but for me you'd be sorry for coming here, but I saved you, but don't be coming out so early in the morning again." And he said, "It was a year ago that Jimmy went to America. And that was time enough." And then he said, "And it was you that drove your sister away, and gave her no fortune." And that was true enough.

One time there was two brothers standing in a gap in that field you're looking at. And a woman passed by, I wouldn't like to tell you her name, for we should speak no evil of her and she's dead now,-the Lord have mercy on her. And when she passed they heard her say in Irish, "The devil take you," but whether she knew they were there or not, I don't know. And the elder of the brothers called out, "The devil take yourself as well." But the younger one said nothing. And that night the younger one took sick, and through the night he was calling out and talking as if to people in the room. And the next day the mother went to a woman that gathered herbs, the mother of the woman that does cures by them now, and told her all that happened.

And she took a rag of an old red coat, and went down to the last village, and into the house of the woman that had put it, the evil eye, on him. And she sat there and was talking with her, and watched until she made a spit on the floor, and then she gathered it up on the rag and came to the sick man in the bed and rubbed him with it, and he got well on the minute.

It was hardly ever that woman would say "God bless the work" as she passed, and there were some would leave the work and come out on the road and hold her by the shoulder till she'd say it.

A Man on the Boat.
There are many can put on the drohuil. I knew a child in our village and a neighbour came in and said, "That's a fine child"; and no sooner was he gone than the child got a fit. So they brought him back and made him spit on the child and it got well after. Those that have that power, I believe it's born with them, and it's said they can do it on their own children as well as on ours.

There was a boy called Faherty, nephew to Faherty that keeps the licensed house, and he was a great one for all games, and at every pattern, and whenever anything was going on. And one time he went over to Kilronan where they had some sports, and it the 24th of June. And they were throwing the weight, and he took it up and he threw it farther than the police or any that were there; and the second time he did the same thing. And when he was going to throw it the third time, his uncle came to him and said "It's best for you to leave it now; you have enough done." But he wouldn't mind him, and threw it the third time, and farther than they all.

And the next year at that time on the 24th of June, he was stretched on his bed, and he died. And some one was talking about the day he did so much at Kilronan, and the father said:

"I remember him coming into the house after that, and he put up his arm on the dresser as if there was something ailed him." And the boy spoke from his bed and said, "You ought to have said 'God bless you' then. If my mother had been living then she'd have said it, and I wouldn't be lying here now."

There were two other fine young men died in the same year, and one night after, the three of them appeared to a sick man, Jamsie Power, on the south island, and talked with him. But they didn't stay long because, they said, they had to go on to the coast of Clare.

My own first-born child wasn't spared. He was born in February and all the neighbours said they never saw so fine a child. And one night towards the end of March, I was in the bed, and the child on my arm between me and the wall, sleeping warm and well, and the wife was settling things about the house. And when she got into bed, she wanted to take the child, and I said, "Don't stir him, where he's so warm and so well"; but she took him in her own arm. And in the morning be was dead. And up to the time he was buried, you'd say he wasn't dead at all, so fresh and so full in the face he looked.

Presented by Nancy MacCorkill, F.S.A. Scot USA
Author, Poet,
Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland
Source: Taken from Carmichael's Interviews with the elederly Celts in The Wester Isles & O'Grady's Interviews with the same type people.

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