In olden days there lived in a magnificent castle near the centre of Ireland a rich chieftain named Ruairi with his wipe Manissa and their three sons, Sean, Aindreas and Brian.
There was another member of the household who was regarded as one of the family and who was loved by all.This was Maire who had been nurse to the mother and afterwards to the three boys. She was very clever. Indeed it was believed she was friends with the fairies and knew some of their secret ways.
They were a happy family. Each of the sons had many precious possessions. Sean was a talented artist. Among all his work that which he treasured most was a picture of his parents which he had painted when he was quite young. Aindreas, a musician, was the owner of a splendid small harp. To Brian belonged a precious gold chain that had been in the possession of the family through centuries.
These treasures were kept among others on a large table in a room at the uppermost part of the house.
One lovely day in spring the family went to visit friends who lived at some distance from their home. They were to spend a few days with them. Maire accompanied them.The other members of the staff were given a free time during their absence.Great care was taken to secure all entrances to the castle against robbers or intruders of any kind.
At some distance from the castle there was a strange little house known as ‘The Black Witch’s Den’. It was situated on a narrow road remote from any other dwelling or building of any kind.
The witch, a small, thin, wizened old creature was the terror of the people for miles round. All in the neighbourhood were careful to bolt their doors when they had occasion to go from home. It was said she cast cruel spells on anyone who came her way. She saw with delight that the inmates of the castle were about to leave their home. Oh! what treasure would now be hers! But how was she to gain an entrance to the castle?
Written by Sinéad Bean Uí DeValera.