IrelandI was serving my time to the cattle trade, with a man the name of Lynch -- God be good to him! I suppose I was no more than twelve years of age at the time. 'Twas a very out of the way place and mountainy.
Well, not far from my master's house there was a family of the Brogans. 'Twas the will of God that Mrs. Brogan took sick, and there was a baby born, but the poor woman died. Well, the sister, a younger girl than the woman that died, came to nurse the child. After some time she began to look very delicate and uneasy. The naghbours were beginning to talk amongs themselves about her, and it came to Brogan's ears, and, begor, it made him vexed. So he asked the sister what was up with her.
"Well, John," says she, "I did not like to tell you, but Ellie" -- that was the name of the dead woman -- "comes every night, and takes the baby and nurses it, and goes away without a word."
"By my word," says John, "she is not dead at all, but taken, and I will watch her to-night."
Good enough, he remained up, and about 12 o'clock in she came, and he put his arms around her, but as he said, felt no substance.
"You can't keep me now," says she, "for I'm married agin; but if you come to the Bottle Hill field to-morrow night, there will be about 40 of us goin' t'words Blarney, and we will all be on horses, with our husbands. All the horses will be white, and I and my man will be last. Bring a hazel stick woud [with] you and strike the horse on the right side, and I will fall off. Just as I fall, ketch me with all your might. You will know my man, for he is the only one of them that has a red head."
Well, he went, and he must have a great heart, for on they come, gallopin' like mad. Just as the man with the red head's horse came he stood one-side and struck. She fell and he gripped her like iron. Well, such a hullabaloo as there was, was never heard, and all the other men makin' game of the red-headed man.
Well, he brought her home, and they lived for years after, and had a good family, and were the happiest people around the place. I often see some of her children; of course they are all married now, and gone here and there, but that's as true as my name is Tim Brosnan.
- Source: "Folk-Tales from County Limerick collected by Miss D. Knox,"
Folk-Lore: A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, &
Custom (London: Folk-Lore Society, 1917), v. 28, pp. 218-219.
- Knox's source: Told by Tim Brosnan, Dungeagan, County Kerry.
- I have retained Knox's spelling.
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