MacCorkill's Scottish - Folklore III

Scone's Scottish and Celtic Internet Book

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Scottish History and Culture
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Folklore of the Gaels III

presented by Sconemac

A Man from Roundstone:
One night I was out on the boat with another man, and we saw a big ship near us with about twenty lights. She was as close to us as that rock (about thirty yards), but we saw no one on board. And she was like some of the French ships that sometimes come to Galway. She went on near us for a while, and then she turned towards the shore and then we knew that she was not a right ship. And she went straight on to the land, and when she touched it, the lights went out and we saw her no more.

There was a comrade of mine was out one night, and a ship came after him, with lights, and she full of people. And as they drew near the land, he heard them shouting at him and he got afraid, and he went down and got a coal of fire and threw it at the ship, and in a minute it was gone.

A Schoolmaster:
A boy told me last night of two men that went with poteen to the Island of Aran. And when they were on the shore they saw a ship coming as if to land, and they said, "We'll have the bottle ready for those that are coming." But when the ship came close to the land, it vanished. And presently they got their boat ready and put to sea. And a sudden blast came and swept one of them off. And the other saw him come up again, and put out the oar across his breast for him to take hold of it. But he would not take it but said, "I'm all right again now," and sank down again and was never seen no more.

John Nagle:
For one there's on the land there's ten on the sea. When I lived at Ardfry there was never a night but there was a voice heard crying and roaring, by them that were out in the bay. A baker he was from Loughrea, used to give short weight and measure, and so he was put there for a punishment.

I saw a ship that was having a race with another go suddenly down into the sea, and no one could tell why. And afterwards one of the Government divers was sent down to look for her, and he told me he'd never as long as he'd live go down again, for there at the bottom he found her, and the captain and the saloon passengers, and all sitting at the table and eating their dinner, just as they did before.

A Little Girl:
One time a woman followed a boat from Galway twenty miles out, and when they saw that she was some bad thing, wanting some of them, they drowned her.

Mrs. Casey:
I was at home and I got some stories from a man I had suspected of having newses. And he told me that when he was a youngster he was at a height where there used to be a great many of them. And all of a sudden he saw them fly out to where a boat was coming from Duras with seaweed. And they went in two flights, and so fast that they swept the water away from each side the boat, and it was left on the sand, and this they did over and over, just to be humbugging the man in the boat, and he was kept there a long time. When they first rose up, they were like clouds of dust, but with all sorts of colours, and then he saw their faces turned, but they kept changing colour every minute [5]. Laughing and humbugging they seemed to be.

My uncle that used to go out fishing for mackerel told me that one night some sort of a monster came under the boat and it wasn't a fish, and it had them near upset.

At an evening gathering of Inishman, by a Son of the House:
There was a man on this island was down on the beach one evening with his dog, and some black thing came up out of the sea, and the dog made for it and began to fight it. And the man began to run home and he called the dog, and it followed him, but every now and again it would stop and begin to fight again. And when he got to the house he called the dog in and shut the door, and whatever was outside began hitting against the door but it didn't get in. But the dog went in under the bed in the room, and before morning it was dead.

The Man of the House:
A horse I've seen myself on the sea and on the rocks - a brown one, just like another. And I threw a stone at it, and it was gone in a minute. We often heard there was fighting amongst these. And one morning before daybreak I went down to the strand with some others, and the whole of the strand, and it low tide, was covered with blood.

Colman Kane: I knew a woman on this island and she and her daughter went down to the strand one morning to pick weed, and a wave came and took the daughter away. And a week after that, the mother saw her coming to the house, but she didn't speak to her.

There was a man coming from Galway here and he had no boatman. And on the way he saw a man that was behind him in the boat, that was putting up the sail and taking the management of everything, and he spoke no word. And he was with him all the way, but when the boat came to land, he was gone, and the man isn't sure, but he thinks it was his brother.

You see that sand below on the south side. When the men are out with the mackerel boats at early morning, they often see those sands covered with boys and girls.

There were some men out fishing in the bay one time, and a man came and held on to the boat, and wanted them to make room for him to get in, and after a time he left them. He was one of those. And there was another of them came up on the rocks one day, and called out to Martin Flaherty that was going out and asked what was his name.

There's said to be another island out there that's enchanted, and there are some that see it. And it's said that a fisherman landed on it one time, and he saw a little house, and he went in, and a very nice-looking young woman came out and said, "What will you say to me?" and he said, "You are a very nice lady." And a second came and asked him the same thing and a third, and he made the same answer. And after that they said, "You'd best run of your life," and so he did, and his curragh was floating along and he had but just time to get into it, and the island was gone. But if he had said "God bless you," the island would have been saved.

A Fisherman on Kilronan Pier:
I don't give in to these things myself, but they'd make you believe them in the middle island. Mangan, that I lodged with there, told me of seeing a ship when he was out with two other men, that followed them and vanished. And he said one of the men took to his bed from that time and died. And Doran told me about the horse he saw, that was in every way like a horse you'd see on land. And a man on the south island told me how he saw a calf one morning on the strand, and he thought it belonged to a neighbour, and was going to drive it up to his field, when its mother appeared on the sea, and it went off to her.

They are in the sea as well as on the land. That is well known by those that are out fishing by the coast. When the weather is calm, they can look down sometimes and see cattle and pigs and all such things as we have ourselves. And at nights their boats come out and they can be seen fishing, but they never last out after one o'clock.

The cock always crows on the first of March every year at one o'clock. And there was a man brought a cock out with him in his boat to try them. And the first time when it crowed they all vanished. That is how they were detected.

There are more of them in the sea than on the land, and they sometimes try to come over the side of the boat in the form of fishes, for they can take their choice shape.

Pat O'Hagan:
There was two fine young women - red-haired women - died in my village about six months ago. And I believe they're living yet. And there are some have seen them appear. All I ever saw myself was one day I was out fishing with two others, and we saw a canoe coming near us, and we were afraid it would come near enough to take away our fish. And as we looked it turned into a three-masted ship, and people in it. I could see them well, dark-coloured and dressed like sailors. But it went away and did us no harm.

One night I was going down to the curragh, and it was a night in harvest, and the stars shining, and I saw a ship fully rigged going towards the coast of Clare where no ship could go. And when I looked again, she was gone.

And one morning early, I and other men that were with me, and one of them a friend of the man here, saw a ship coming to the island, and he thought she wanted a pilot, and put out in the curragh. But when we got to where she was, there was no sign of her, but where she was the water was covered with black gulls, and I never saw a black gull before, thousands and crowds of them, and not one white bird among them. And one of the boys that was with me took a tarpin and threw it at one of the gulls and hit it on the head, and when he did, the curragh went down to the rowlocks in the water-up to that-and it's nothing but a miracle she ever came up again, but we got back to land. I never went to a ship again, for the people said it was on account of me helping in the Preventive Service it happened, and that if I'd hit at one of the gulls myself, there would have been a bad chance for us. But those were no right gulls, and the ship was no living ship.

The Old Man in the Kitchen:
It's in the middle island the most of them are, and I'll tell you a thing that I know of myself that happened not long ago. There was a young girl, and one evening she was missing, and they made search for her everywhere and they thought that she was drowned or that she had gone away with some man. And in the evening of the next day there was a boy out in a curragh, and as he passed by a rock that is out in the sea there was the girl on it, and he brought her off. And surely she could not go there by herself. I suppose she wasn't able to give much account of it, and now she's after going to America [6].

And in Aran there were three boys and their uncle went out to a ship they saw coming, to pilot her into the bay. But when they got to where she was, there was no ship, and a sea broke over the canoe, and they were drowned, all fine strong men. But a man they had with them that was no use or of no account, he came safe to land. And I know a man in this island saw curraghs and curraghs full of people about the island of a Sunday morning early, but I never saw them myself. And one Sunday morning in my time there were scores and scores lying their length by the sea on the sand below, and they saw a woman in the sea, up to her waist, and she racking her hair and settling herself and as clean and as nice as if she was on land. Scores of them saw that.

There's a house up there where the family have to leave a plate of potatoes ready every night, and all's gone in the morning [7].

They are said to have all things the same as ourselves under the sea, and one day a cow was seen swimming as if for the headland, but before she got to it she turned another way and went down. And one time I got a small muc-warra (porpoise) and I went to cut it up to get what was good of it, for it had about two inches of fat, and when I cut it open the heart and the liver and every bit of it were for all the world like a pig you would cut up on land.

There's a house in the village close by this that's haunted. My sister was sitting near it one day, and it empty and locked, and some other little girls, and they heard a noise in it, and at the same time the flags they were sitting on grew red-hot, that they had to leave them. And another time the woman of the house was sick, and a little girl that was sitting by the fire in the kitchen saw standing in the door the sister of the woman that was sick, and she a good while dead, and she put up her arm, as if to tell her not to notice her. And the poor woman of that house, she had no luck, nothing but miscarriages or dead babies. And one child lived to be nine months old, and there was less flesh on it at the end of the nine months than there was the day it was born. She has a little girl now that's near a year old, but her arm isn't the size of that, and she's crabbed and not like a child as she should be. Many a one that's long married without having a child goes to the fortune-teller in Galway, and those that think anything of themselves go to Roundstone.


Interviews From Carmenia Galadica
Presented by Scone, Nancy MacCorkill
Author, Poet, Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland



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