Sconemac's, The Evil Eye IV

Scone's Scottish and Celtic Internet Book

Scottish Highlands and Islands Partnership

Scottish History and Culture

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

"another page in my book"

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The Evil Eye



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

Mrs. Casey:
There was a woman down by the sea that had a very severe time when her baby was born, and they did not think she or the baby would live after. So the husband went and brought Father Rivers and he said, "Which would you sooner lose-the wife or the child - for one must go?" And the husband said, "If the wife is taken I might as well close the door." And then Father Rivers said, "She's going up and down like the swinging of a clock, but for all that I'll strive to keep her for you, but maybe you must lose two or more." So he read some prayers over her, and the next day the baby died, and a fine cow out in the field, but the woman recovered and is living still. But Father Rivers died within two years. They never live long when they do these cures, because that they say prayers that they ought not to say.

There's Father Heseltine of Killinan has lost his health and no person knows where he is. They say he's gone abroad because he did a cure on one of his sisters.

Mrs. Cassius:
A young mare I lost. It was on the 15th August, something came on it in the field, and it did no good, and the son was tending it. And on St. Colman's Day he was taken with a weakness in the chapel that they had to bring him home, and he did not go fasting to the chapel. He got well, but the mare died. I didn't mind that, I knew something must go, and it was better the mare to go than the son.

There were many said, the mare not to have died there would be no chance for him. So I am well content, for whatever way we'll struggle we might get another mare. But a person to go, there is no one for you to get in his place.

A County Galway Magistrate:
That time I was laid up at Luke Manning's they sent for Father Heseltine to "read a gospel" over me. He said when he came in, "You'll lose something tonight." I heard him say this, but what he read over me I don't know, it seemed a sort of muttering. At all events I got well after it, and the next morning, a sheep was found dead.

Pat Hayden:
My father was gardener here at Coole in the time of Mrs. Robert's grandfather. He was sick one time, and he thought to go to the friars at Esker for a cure, and he asked Mr. Gregory for the loan of a horse, and he bade him to take it. So he saddled and bridled the horse, and he set out one morning and went to the friars, and whatever they did they cured him, and he came back again. But in the morning the horse was found dead in the stable. I suppose whatever they took off him they put upon the horse. And when Mr. Gregory came out in the morning, "How is Pat?" he says to one of the men. "Pat is well," says he, "but the horse he brought with him is dead in the stable." "So long as Pat is well," said Mr. Gregory, "I wouldn't mind if five horses in the stable were dead."

Mrs. Manning:
There was a friar in Esker could do cures. Many I've seen brought to him tied in a cart, and able to walk home after. Father Callaghan he was. There was one man brought to him, wrong in his head he was, and he cured him and he gave him some sort of a Gospel rolled up, and bid him to put it about his neck, and never to take it off. Well, he went to America after that and was as well as another and got work, and sent home £10 one time to Father Callaghan he was that grateful to him.

But one day in America he was shaving, and whether he cut the string or that he took it off I don't know, but he laid the charm down on a table. And when he looked for it again, if he was to burn the house down he couldn't find it. And it all came back on him again, and he was as bad as he was before.

So the wife wrote home to Father Callaghan, and he sent out another thing of the same sort; and bid him wear it, and from the time he put it on, he got well again. A priest has the power to do cures, but if he does he can keep nothing, one thing will die after another.

Biddy Early could do the same thing, she had to cast the sickness on some other thing-it might be a dog or a goat or a bird.

Priests can do cures if they will, but they are afraid to do them because their stock will die, and because they are afraid of loss in the otherworld as well as in this. There's a neighbour of your own lost his milch cow the other day for a small one he did - Father MuIhall that is.

There was Father Rivers was called in to a woman that was bad, between Roxborough and Dunsandle. And he said to the father, "which would you sooner keep, the wife or the child?" And he said, "Sure I'd sooner have the wife than all of the world." So Father Rivers went in and cured her so that she got well, but he put whatever she had on the son, so that he grew up an idiot. Harmless he used to be, not doing much. Well, when he came to twenty years, the mother said, "Come outside into the field, and cut the eyes of a few stone of potatoes for me." But he took up the graip that was at the door and made at her to kill her. And she ran in and shut the door, and then he made for the window and broke it. And at that time Mr. Singleton from Ceramina was passing by, and he stopped and called some men and they took him and took the graip from him, and he was brought away to Ballinasbe Asylum, but he didn't live more than six months after. Waiting all that time he was to do his revenge, but hadn't the power to do it till the twenty years were up.

There is a man that is living strong and well in the village of LochIan and that has sixteen or seventeen children, and one time something came on him and he wore away till there was no more strength in him than in that thraneen. And there was an old woman used to be doing cures with herbs) and he sent for her, and she went out into the field and she picked two or three leaves of a plant she knew of. And as she was carrying it through the fields to the house she fell dead.

And his strength came back to him when the death fell on her and he was as well and as strong as ever he was. I will bring you three of those leaves if I have to walk two miles-three-cornered leaves they are (penny royal). No harm will come upon me, for I am nothing but an old hag. Before sunrise they must be picked, and the best day to do it is a Friday.

An Old Army Man:
I knew a man had charms for headache and for toothache and other things, and he did a great many cures, but all his own children began to die. So then he put away the charms, and made a promise not to do cures for others again; and after that he lost no more children.

Priests can do cures as well as Biddy Early did, and there was a man of the neighbours digging potatoes in that field beyond, and a woman passed by, and she never said anything. And presently the top of his fingers got burned off, and he called out with the pain, a blast he got from her as she passed. Often he'd come into this house, and crying out with the hurt of the pain. And at last he went to the priests at Esker, and they cured him, but they said, "Your own priests could have done the same for you." And when he came back there were two cows dead.

And the same thing when Carey's wife-that is a tenant of your own- was sick, they called in Father Gardiner and he cured her, and he told them to watch by her for two or three days. And then the priest went out to see the stabling, and Carey with him, for Carey had always a pair of good horses. And when they went into the stable, the horses were dead before them.

It was Flaherty gave his life for my sister that was his wife. When she fell sick he brought her to Biddy Early in the mountains beyond. And she cured her the first time. But she said, "If you bring her again, you'll pay the penalty." But when she fell sick again he brought her, but he stopped a mile from the house. But she knew it well, and told the wife where he was, and that time the horse died. But the third time she fell sick he went again, knowing full well he'd pay the penalty; and so he did and died. But she was cured; and married one O'Dea afterwards.

The priests know well about these things, but they won't let on to have seen them, and the people don't much like to be telling them about them. But there was Father Gallagher that did cures by means of them, and at last he got a touch himself, and was sent for a while to an asylum, and now he has promised to leave them alone. Fallen angels some say they are. I know a man that saw them hurling up there in Hanlon's field. Red caps they wore and looked very diminutive, but they were hurling away like Old Boots.

The way the bad luck came on Tom Hurley was when a cow fell sick on him and lay like dead. He had a right to leave it or to kill it; but the father-in-law cut a bit off the leg of it and it rose again, and they sold it for seven pounds at the fair of Tubber. But he had no luck since then, but lost four or five head of cattle, near all that he owned.

There was a man did a cure on his son that came from America sick. He didn't like to see him ailing, and one night he did the cure. But before sunrise the sight of one of his eyes was gone.

A Mountainy Man:
There's some people living about three miles from here on Slieve-Mor, and they came from the North at the time of the famine, and they can do cures, but they don't like to say much about it - for the people of the North all have it. Their names are natural, McManus, and Irwin and Taylor. There's one of them gave a cure for a man that was sick, and he grew better, but a calf died. And the son was going to him again, but the mother said: "Let him alone, let him die, or we'll lose all the stock"; for she'd sooner have the husband die than any other beast. So the son was out and he met the man, and he said, "It is to me you're coming?" And the son said it was, for he didn't like to tell about what his mother said or about the death of the calf. So the man got him a bottle, and said he'd come home with him, but when they were on the road they met some one that spoke of the death of the call. So when the man heard that, he was angry and he said, "If I knew that I wouldn't have helped you," and he broke the bottle against the wall. So the father died, and the wife kept the stock - a very unkind woman she was.

There was a woman of my village never put a shoe on her feet from the time of her birth till the time of her death. Doing a penance she said she was. And she never married and would never eat meat

As to cures, there's none can do them like the priests can, if they will. There was a woman I knew, and her little boy was sick and couldn't move. And she got the priest to come and do a cure on him, but no one knew what he did. And often he said to the woman: "You have a horse and a pony, and which do you value the most?" And she said she valued the pony the most. And next day the horse had died, but the little boy got well.

A Man of the Islands:
There's an old woman here now-there she is passing the road-that does cures with herbs. But last year she got a sore hand and she had to go to the hospital, and before she came back they took two fingers off her. And there's no luck about bone-setters either. There's one here on the island and a good many go to him. But he had but one son and he never did any good, and now he's gone away from him.

John Curtis:
When Father Callan was a curate he did a cure for me one time for my cattle, and I gave him half a sovereign in his hand for it, in this road. It was the time I had so much trouble, and my brothers trying to rob me, and but for our landlord I wouldn't have kept the farm. And all my stock began to die. There was hardly a day I'd come out but I'd see maybe two or three sheep lying there in the field with froth at their mouths, and they turning black. The same thing was happening Tommy Hare's stock, and he went to Father Callan and he came to the house and read some sort of a Mass and took the sickness off them. So then I went to him myself, and he said he'd read a Mass m the chapel for me, and so he did. And the stock were all right from that time, and the day he came to see them and that I gave him the money, there ran a dog out of Roche's house and came behind the priest and gave him a bite in the leg, that he had to go to Dublin to cut it out. Why did the dog do it? He did it because he was mad when he saw the stock getting well. And weren't the Roches queer people that they wouldn't kill the dog when the priest wanted it, the way he'd be in no danger if the dog would go mad after?

Nancy MacCorkill, F.S.A. Scot USA,
Author, Poet,
Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland
Sources: Carmichael, and DeSilva O'Grady interviews.M



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