Category Archives: Kerry

The Legend of Puck Fair

Extract from Legends of Kerry, by T. Crofton Croker and Sigerson Clifford, published by The Geraldine Press, made and printed by the Kerryman Ltd,. Tralee, Co. Kerry.

In olden times the Kingdom of Kerry had ten times as many goats as all the other counties of Ireland rolled into one, for the people believed, and who is to say they were wrong, that children reared on goat’s milk grew up into handsome women and fine strapping men the height of a goalpost. The mountains around Kilorglin were favourite feeding grounds for the goats as some special herb that grew therer was greatly to their liking, for it put extra silk in their coats and added another inch to their horns.

Most of the Killorglin goats, and Killorglin as well, were owned by a rich man called Jenkin Conway, whose ancestors came over with the Elizabethans and he was no great prayer in any Irishman’s beads. Conway’s chief herdsman was Crohan O’Sullivan, and every year when the goats were kidding Crohan sent his son, Danny into the mountains to guard the young goats from the eagles. In those days eagles were as plentiful in Killarney as the picture-postcards are today, and they thought nothing of flying across the few miles to kill a kid for their supper.

Danny had a little cabin on the mountains to give him shelter from the elements, but as he was only fifteen years old he found the life very lonely with no one to talk to up among the roacks and the heather, and he began to imagine all varieties of strange wonders happening around him. Every three or four days when his father came to visit him Danny had a new story for his entertainment.

“Dada, I saw a serpent early this morning crossing the bog below and diving into the Laune. Forty foot long he was if he was an inch, and a mane of foxy hair like a horse growing down his neck”

“That’s the last time you’ll see him alive, son,” the father said. “I’ll put some salt over his tail on my way home and he’ll keep us chewing for a month of Sundays.”

“Dada, I saw a leprachaun yesterday evening, sitting on the rock to the west beyond. Mending old shoes he was and singing away as happy as a wranboy.”

“Ah, you’re no good, Daneen, that you didn’t catch hiom by the back of the neck. That smart little fellow has a pot of gold fat enough to keep us all in clover while grass grows and water flows. You’ll never get on in this world, son, if you don’t listen to your elders, for ’tis they have the thumb of knowledge to their hand like Finn MacCool himself.”

“Dada, what wonder do you think I saw the other day? An eagle the size of a cock of hay flew over from the Church of the Sloo Trees and made for the young kids but I beat him off with my stick. And didn’t he whistle with bad temper and grab a rock between his claws and fly high into the clouds and drop it down upon my head, only I wasn’t there to meet it when it landed.”

“Ah, that must bethe feathered gentleman I saw last Saturday, lad. He swooped down on a three-masted ship in Dingle Bay and flew with it as far as the Skelligs Rocks beyond. You were a lucky garsoon he didn’t grab your-self and land you on the back of the Old Man in the moon above.”

That night after his father had gone home, Danny looked out the door of his little cabin and saw the red eye of a fire winking at him from the blackness at the foot of the mountain. He stole quietly down to it carrying two sticks for protection; an oak cudgel in case of human enemies and a hazel stick to deal with them if they were malignant fairies. When he came near he could hear voices speaking English, and the jingle of horse-harness. He crept closer until he was almost near enough to put a finger on tho two men who were talking at the edge of the camp .

“By this time tomorrow we should be on our way to my Lord Cromwell with the head of Jenkin Conway in a leather satchel,” one of the men said.

“Aye we’ll strike into the town at dawn when their sleep will be heaviest. We must take them by surprise for they outnumber us vastly,” the second man declared.

Danny listened a while longer and then stole quietly away. When he thought himself safe from the strangers, he ran as fast as the wind into Killorglin and rapped at his father’s door. Crohan O’Sullivan opened it and shook his head when he saw Danny on the doorstep.
“What wonder is it this time, garsoon? A big ship with a mast of gold and silver sails floating among the clouds of the sky, maybe?” v

“English horses and soldiers at the foot of the mountain, Dada, and they’re going to attack the town at dawn and kill everyone!”

The father laughed and patted Danny on the head. “‘Tisn’t that easy to kill the Killorglin people, son,” he said. “How many soldiers did you see now?” “Around sixty, Dada. They landed in Valentia Island the other day, and they have a boy with a drum, and a man with a brass bugle, and guns and all. And one of the officers said he’d be cutting the head off Jenkin Conway and making a present of it in a leather satchel to his Lord Cromwell.’·

“Faith, this Cromwell mustn’t be too easy to satisfy whoever he is,” Crohan ‘Sullivan asid, “Well, ‘ll tell you what I’ll do so Danny. I have some birdlime in the room beyond that I made yesterday from holly-bark to catch linnets and goldfinches, and I’ll smear it along the road and trap the Sassenachs instead. Off with you now up the muontain for there’s bound to be an eagle or two foraging for food in the morning, and that’s not too far way from this minute.”

Young Danny sighed in sorrow when he saw that his father did n’t believe a tittle of what he said.

“But ’tis the white and shining truth I’m telling you, Dada,” he cried. “Come on up to the mountain and see for yourself.”

“Foot I’ll not plant on the mountain until the say after tomorrow, and if there’s any young goats whipped away by the eagles ’tis your head will be cut from your shoulders and not Jenkin Conway’s. Be off now with you or Ill take an ash plant to put a bit of life in your two legs!” Crohan O’Sullivan warned him.

When Danny reached his cabin on the mountain he gave a low whistle and the Puck goat who was king of the muontain came trotting across to him. Danny caught the Puck by the horns and, followed by all the goats of the mountain, marched towards the camp of the sleeping Crom-wellians. When he came close to it he gave a shout to frighten the deadf, hit the Puck on the rump, and in a minute the regiment of goats were galloping through the camp, filling fhe night with their weird cries, and trampling the soldiers asleep on the grass. The bugler thought the camp was being attacked and blew the alarm, the drummer-boy rattled his kettledrum, and the soldiers exploded their guns. Not since the days of the fighting Fianna was there so much noise and hullabaloo on the mountain, and Kill-orglin was saved, for the Cromwellians, knowing that they could not make a surprise attack any longer, rode back to their ship in the morning.

When the big August fair came around that year the Killorglin citizens remembered the debt they owed to the goats and they made the Puck King of the Fair, and gave a purse of gold to Danny. And a Puck goat has been King every year since, and he’ll be King every year from this on while there’s an O’Sullivan in Killorglin and a goat in the Kingdom of Kerry.

Fair Towns of Ireland, 1834

The Fair towns were very important towns and people walked for miles on a fair day to go to sell their produce. Until the Fair Day people would have no money and so once the produce or the animals were sold then the bills would be paid. The Fair towns in any county were major towns, places the population concentrated on, those that were important because of their fairs in the past may no longer be of any importance in a county today. Listed below are the names of the fair towns in each county as per Wilson’s Directory of Ireland, 1834. This list is also important in that it not only gives us the name sof the towns, but we can see variations on the way they were spelled in 1834 compared to the present spelling.

Ahogill Antrim Ardmoy Ballyclare Ballinagobogh Bridge Ballintoy Ballycarry Ballycastle Ballymena Ballymoney Ballymure Belfast Bernice Broughshane Bushmills Carrickfergus Carmony Clough Connor Craigbilly Crumlin Cushendall Dervock Drimbar Drumadoon Dunloy Dunluce Glenarm Glenavy Kells Larne Lisburn Loughgill Mosside Mounthill Newtowncrommelin Oldstone Parkgate Portglenone Randalstown Rasharkan Roughfort Shanecastle Straid Stranocum Templepatrick Toome Tullamore

Acton Armagh Ballibought Balnaglera Blackwatertown Camlough Charlemont Clare Crosmaglin Cullyhanna Culloville Forkhill Hamilton’s-bawn Jonesborough Johnstown’s bridge Keady Killileagh Loughgall Lurgan Mahery Markethill Middleton Newtownhamilton Pointzpass Portadown Portnorris Richhill Surgowny Tanderagee Tuskinpass

Ballon Borris Carlow town Hacketstown Kiledmond Knockan Knockmill Leighlinbridge Milford Myshall Nurney Orchard Palatinetown Rathvilly Sherwood Slyguff Staplestown St. Mullins Tennehinch Tullow Wells

Arvagh Bailieborough Ballinagh Ballinacarrig Ballyconnell Ballyhaise Ballyhighland Ballyjamesduff Bawn Belturbet Butlersbridge Cavan town Cootehill Crossdoney Crosskeys Doobally Kilcoguy Killeshandra Kilgola Kilnaleck Kilsub Kingscourt Largy Mountnugent Muff Mullogh Redhill Scraby Shircock Stradone Swadlinbar Tullyvin Virginia

Annacarriga Ardsallas Ballindreat Ballyket Ballyludan Banroe Bodike Bridgetown Broadford Brodagh Bunratty Callaghans Mills Clare town Clonroad Cooreclare Corofin Cratilow Donass Doonbeg Doonmore Enagh Ennis Ennistimon Holyisland Jasper’s pound Jeverstown Killanteel Kilclaren Kildysart Kilfenora Kilkeshen Killaloe Kilmichael Kilrush Kilmurrybricken Kilmurrymacmahon Lisdeen Miltownmalbay Moyarta Moynoe (Ballyglass) Moynoe (Read’s cross) Newmarket O’Brien’s bridge Quin Rosmanaher Scariff Sixmilebridge Spancelhill St. John’s Well Tomgrany Tulla Turloughmore

Ahacross Annegrove Aughadown Ballinakelly Ballinamona Ballinavar Ballinhassig Ballinphellie Ballinspidale Ballybuy Ballnacarrig castle Ballyclough Ballydehob Balligurteen Ballyhooly Ballyheene Ballymacody Ballyvolane Ballyvorney Bandon Banlahan Bantry Barnagrove Bartholomew’s well Blarney Brigown Buttevant Cahirmee Cardriney Carrigalane Carrigtowhill Castlelyons Castlemartyr Castletown Castletownroche Cecilstown Charleville Clonakilty Cloyne Connagh Coolaguragh Cooldorky Coolymurrahoe (Cork city) Cork city Cottersborough Crookstown Currabegland Curras and Maun Dangan Donaghmore Doneraile Downderry Drimoleague Dromagh Dromdeer Droumalagree Duhallow Dunmanway Eirkmacody Enniskeane Fermoy Fivemilebridge Glangowra Glanworth Glenville Gooseberryhill Greenoghs Innishannon Insegeela Kanturk Kilbritton Kilcummer Kildorery Killacounty Killieagh Kilmurrahan Kilmacleran Kilmurry Kiworth Kinsale Knocknacroghery Knucknamariff Lepp Liscarroll Lisgoold Lisnacon Lough of Cork Macroom Magilla Mallow Maslacanlands Masseytown Milford Middleton Millstreet Mitchelsfort Mitchelstown Mogeely Monkstown Mossgrove Mountbeamish Nadrid Newcestown Newmarket Newmill Newtown Oldabbey Oldcastle Oldmillstreet Passage west Rathclare Rathcormuck Rockhill Ross Rostellan Rugsboro’ Shanballymore Shandrum Sixmilewater Skibbereen Timoleague Tracton Transtown Tullilease Youghal

Aghygaults Ardara Ballintra Ballybofey Ballynass Ballyshannon Bonnyfobble Buncrana Burnfoot Cloghanbeg Carrigart Carndonagh Castlefinn Church-hill Convoy Culdaff Donegal town Dunfanaghy Dunkanally Fintown Glenties Killybegs Killigordan Laghey Letterkenny Machremore Malin Manorcunningham Mountcharles Muff Newbridgeglen Newtowncunningham Oldtown Port Pettigo Ramullen Raphoe Rashedog Rathmelton Redcastle Rosnakill St. Johnston’s Stranorlar Tullyodonald

Annadoyne Ardara Ballinahinch Balamagarry Ballow Ballywalter Banbridge Bangor Bryansford Carrowdore Castlereagh Castlewellan Clough Comber Crossgar Donaghadee Donaghmore Down Downpatrick Dromore Dundrum Gilford Grayabbey Greencastle Hillsborough Hilltown Kilkeel Killileagh Killough Kilmore Kircubbin Loughbrickland Narrowwater Newry Newtownards Portaferry Rostrevor Rathfriland Saintfield Scarvaghpass Seaford Sheepbridge Strangford Warrenpoint

Balriggan Ballymore Eustace Balrothery Carrickmines Donnybrook Fieldstown Garristown Kilsallaghan Lusk Newcastle Palmerstown Rathmichael Rathfarnham Rush Saggard Skerries St. Margaret’s Swords Tallaght

Ballinamallard Belcoo Belleek Brookborough Calaghane Callowhill Churchhill Clubboy Derralin Derrygonnelly Donagh Ederneybridge Enniskillen town Garrison Irvinestown Kesh Lisbellaw Lisnacarrick Lisnakea Maguiresbridge Magheravooly Monea Newtownbutler Roslea Stragowna Tempo Wheathill

Abbeynockmoy Aghrimlands Ahascragh Ardrahin Athenry Ballinakill Ballinamore Ballinasloe Ballymoate Ballymoe Barna Caltragh Cappatogel Castleblakeney Castelhackett Claddagh Claranbridge Claregalway Claremore Clifden Clonbur Clonfert Creggs Derry Mcoughy Drumgriffin Doonmore Dunloe Eyrecourt Fairhill Galway square (East gate) Galway town Gort Headfort Isserkelly Kilconnell Kilcorban Kilcreest Killimore Kilnelag Kiltartan Kiltormerkelly Kinvara Laurencetown Loughrea Meelick Monivea Moylough Mount Bellew bridge Mount shannon Newtowneyre Newtownbellew Oranmore Portumna Renville Tuam Tubberbracken Tuberindonny Tubberpadder Tullindally Turlaghmore Tynagh Whitegate Woodford

Ardfert Ballinclare Ballincleave Ballyheige Beale Beenmore Blenerville Cahirsiveen Castleisland Castelamine Currans Dromkeen Dromoroirk Gleneragh Granshaw Kilfin Kilgobnet Killarney Killorglin Lackeen Listowel Mallahuff Miltown Montanagee Mullahish Nantenane nedeen Rougtybridge Scortaglinny Tarbert Tralee

Athy Ballimaney Ballyonan Ballytore Calvertstown Castledermot Castle Carberry Celbridge Clane French-furs Hortland Johnston’s bridge Killballinerin Kilcock Kilcullen Kilcullenbridge Kildangan Kildare town Kilgowan Kildroughill Kilmeague Kilteel Leixlip Maynooth Monasterevan Moone Naas Narraghmore Newbridge Rathangan Rathbride Redlion inn Russelwood Timolin Tully

Ballylinch Ballynamara Ballicallen Ballyhall Ballyhibbuck Ballyragget Ballytrisna Barrowmount Bawn Bennet’s-bridge Burnchurch Callan Castlecomer Castlemorris Churchland Rower Cloga Coolianta Durrow Fertagh Fiddown Freshford Gore’s-bridge Gowran Graig Graigstown Grayney Innistiogue Johnstown Kells Kilkenny Killiboy Kilmaganny Kilmurry Knockmoyland Knocktopher Listerlin Mullinahow Mullinavat Powerstown Rathbeagh Rathkerran Rosberkon St. John’s Well St. Canice Stroan Templemartin Thomastown Tullaroan Urlingford

Ballyboy Ballicowan Banagher Bernagrotty Birr Ballycumber Brosney Charlestown Claranbridge Cloghan Clonbullock Conegown Clonony Creggan Cullenwayne Dunkerrin Edenderry Ferbane Frankfort Gallen Gleashill Kilcommon Killyon Killeagh Kinety Moneygall Phillipstown Rahillane Shannon Shinrone Tullamore

Ballinamore Carrick-on-Shannon Carrigallen Cashcarrigan Cloone Drumahaire Drumkerran Drumod Drumshanbo Druinsna Jamestown Leitrim Longfield Lurganbridge or Lurganbuy Lurganby Manorhamilton Mohill Newtown Newtowngore Tullaghan Turagh

Abbeyfeale Abbington Adare Almer Anglesborough Ardagh Ardpattrick Askeaton Ballingarry Ballingarrycramer Ballinvreeny Ballymagarrydown Ballybrood Ballyscanlan Bilboa Bruff Brury Caherconlish Cahirellywest Castleconnell Castletown Cluggin Court and Curraheen Croaghburgess Croome Drumcollogher Dromon Fedemore Galbally Glanogra Glin Herbertstown Hospital Kilfennycommon Kilfinan Kilmallock Kilmiddy Kilmore Kilteely Knockaderry Knockany Knocktoran Knocklong Limerick city Lismullane Mountpelier Murroe Nantenant Newcastle Pallasgreen Patrick’s well Portrenard Racahill Rathkeale Shanagolden Singland Spurreboy Stonehall Tubbermurry Tullow Turagh

Bellaghy Castledawson Churchtown Clady Coleraine Cross Curran Desertmartn Dungiven Feeny Figivee Garvagh Killowen Kilrea Lisane Londonderry Moneymore Magherafelt Mahera Mahoolan Muff Newtown-Limavady Parke Portglenone Swatteragh Tubbermore Tryadd

Ardagh Ballymahon Barry Bonlahy Cullyvore Drumlish Edgesworthstown Granard Killashee Lanesboro’ Newt. Forbes Shanmulla St. Johnstons St. Johnstown Tashiny

Annagassan Ardee Castletown Collon Drumcashel Dundalk Dunleer Foggart Lurgangreen Mulaghcrew Rochdale

Aglare Ardnaree Aughagown Ball Ballaghaderin Ballina Ballincostello Ballindangan Ballinrobe Ballively Ballyhane Ballyhaunis Ballivary Bangorerris Bauceysbarn Belcarra Belmullet Binghamstownerris Bionneconlan Brize Bunfinglass Cappakerrane Caracastle Castleaken Castlebar Castletownlands Clare Classagh Crossmolina Donamona Fortfield Foxford Gallowshill Glarn Hollymount Keelogues Killala Kilmain Kilternagh Lisloughery Louisburgh Loughmask Melcomberegis Minola Moyne Neale Newtowngrove Newportpratt Rakestreet Rathfran Rues Shrule Straid Swineford Tallagherris Tulrahan Turlogh Westport

Ardeath Armabrega Ashbourne Athboy Balliver Ballybogan Bectivebridge Belgree Carlanstownbridge Crossakeale Culmullen Drumconra Duleek Dunboyne Dunshaughlin Garretstown Grenanstown Kells Kildalky Kilmainham Wood Longwood Mulpheddar Navan Nobber Oldcastle Rathmolion Ratoath Skreen Slane Summerhill Trim Warrenstown

Ballinode Ballitrain Ballibay Carrickmacross Castleblayney Castleshane Clones Drum Emyvale Glasslough Knockboy Monaghan town Newbliss Rockcorry Scotstown Smithsboro’ Tedounet

Abbeyleix Aghaboe Ballicmoyler Ballinakill Ballybrittas Ballylinan Ballyroan Birchwood Borris-in-Ossory Castlebrack Castletown Clonaslee Castle Cuff Cullenagh Cullihill Donaghmore Dysart Errill Garindinny Graigue Maryboro’ Mayo Mountmellick Mountrath Pike of Rushall Portarlington Rathdowney Stradbally Timohoe Tinnehinch

Ardsallagh Athleague Ballinagrave Ballimurry Ballinafad Ballinlough Ballintubber Ballyfarnon Ballylegue Belonlagh Boyle Brideswell Castleplunkett Castlerea Castlesampson Cootehall Croghan Dangan Elphin Frenchpark Fuerty Glinsk Grevisk Keadne Kilcorky Knockacroghery Leckcarrow Loughlin Miltownpass Mount-talbot Newmarket Rockfield Roscommon town St. John’s Well Strokestown Tarmonbarry Tulsk

Ardnaglass Ballasodare Ballinacarrow Ballinahatty Ballintogher Ballymoate Banada Bellaghy Beltra Bunnidane Bunninaden Carney Carricknagat Castlebaldwin Cliffony Collooney Curry Drinaghanbeg Dromore Easky Enniscrone Farinaharpy Jameswell Newtown Quiguboy Roslee Sligo town Templehouse Tobbercorry Tubberscanavan

Ardfinan Ballingarry Ballyclerihan Ballyporeen Ballysheehane Borrisoleigh Burrisokane Cahir Cappagh Clanoulty Cashel Castleotway Carrick-on-suir Clogheen Cloughjordan Cloneen Clonmel Cullen Drum Dundrum Dunhill Emly Feathard Glynn Golden Gormanstown Grange Grangemockler Graystown Holycross Kilcash Kilcooly Killenaule Kilfeacle Killenaule Kilnockin Knockharding Lisinisky Mulinahone Mullough Nenagh New Bermingham Newinn Newport Pallis Roscrea Roesgreen Silvermines Templemore Templetoohy Thurles Tipperary town Toomavara Tubberhaney Tyrone Williamstown

Altmore Ardstranbridge Augher Aughnacloy Ballygawley Ballinmagorey Ballinscally Balnakety Benburbe Beragh Caledon Carland Carnteel Carrickmore Castlecaulfield Castledergh Clady Cookstown Clogher Coagh Dergbridge Donelong Donoughmore Dromore Drumquin Dunaghy Dungannon Dunymana Fintona Fivemiletown Frederickstown Gorten Grange Killeter Killen Machrecregan Mounthamilton Moyne Newtownsaville Newtownstewart Omagh Orrator Pomeroy Seskinore Sixmilecross Stewartstown Strabane Trillic

Affane Annestown Ballinamultina Ballyduff Ballygunner Ballykeerogue Cappoquin Carrickbeg Clashmore Clonagam Conna Drumana Drumcannon Dungarvan Faithleg Ferrypoint Gardenmorris Kilcomragh Kilgobnet Kilmacthomas Kilstownlaurence Knuckboy Lismore Modiligo Mountaincastle Newton at Silvermines Passage Stradbally Tallow Tramore Two-mile-bridge Waterford city Whitechurch Windygap

Athlone Ballinahown Ballymore Ballynacargy Balbarna Balnalack Castlepollard Castletowndelvin Castletowngeoghan Churchtown Clonmallon Collinstown Coole Coolnahay Dunower Empor Finea Fore Freemarket Glasson Grangemore Keney Kilbeggan Kilgarvan Kilkennywest Killear Killucan Kinnegad Killvalley Multifarnham Miltown Moate Moyvore Mullingar Noughwell Rathconrath Rathowen Rathwire Scartanpatrick Tyrellspass

Adamstown Ballycannow Ballyhack Banoge Birchgrove Blackwatertown Broadway Camolin Cairn Castlebridge Clahaman Clonegall Clonroach Coolgrenny Couracloe Croshue Crosstown Curragraige Enniscorthy Ferns Fethard Gorey Harrow Killinick Killuran Kilmuckbrifge Kilener Lady’s Island Limric Mocorry Monamullin Moneyhore Nash Newross Newtownbarry Oulart Oylegate Ragorey Ramsgrange Scar Scarawalsh Scarvagh Taghmon Tintrin Tomhaggard Wexford town

Aghrim Arklow Ashford Ballinacor Ballinderry Baltinglass Blessington Bray Calary Carnew Coolkenno Coolattin Coolboy Cronroe Donard Downs Dunlavin Hollywood Kilcoole Kilranelagh Kiltegan Macreddin Newcastle Newtownmountkennedy Rathdrum Rathsallagh Redcross Sevenchurches Shillelagh Stradford-on-Slaney Tinahely Togher Wicklow town

Materials and Luck

Certain materials were considered unlucky and should not be used in building a house. Some types of white stones are included in this category (cloch scáil in Co. Kerry; cloch éibhir in Co.’s Galway and Mayo). A tale from Ballyferriter in the Dingle peninsula tells of a family who had nothing but bad luck until the ghost of a long dead grandfather appears to the head of the household and told him that a white stone was built into the house wall; once this stone was removed the families luck changed for the better. Some held that white stone’s attract lightening.

Also, the stones from an old ruined house could not be used in the building of any house although there was no objection to a house such as that being used as a byre or shed, and the stones from the walls of old houses could be unsed in erecting farm buildings. The use of stolen material would definitely bring bad luck!

A Galway tradition says that a stone which falls from the hands of a mason or his helpers, while they are at work on a wall must not be used in masonry, by fallingthe stone has become unlucky and if used may cause the wall to collapse. Should a wall fall down or scaffolding collapse, or any other untoward happening, while a house was being built then , doubts might arise as to whether the unseen-world had not in some way been offended, and a series of such minor disasters might even cause the abandonment of the building as something too dangerously unlucky to be continued.

Attainment of the highest point in the building often called for some special note or celebration. The highest point was generally considered to be either the top of the gable or the top of the main chinmey.

In northwest Connaught, the top of the gable was regarded as the highest point of the house and may have been because there were no stone chinmeystacks in many houses in the area in former times. The stone that crowns the gable was known as “”cloch an phréacháin”, the crow’s stone. When this was set in position the owner of the house called the workmen together and provided them with a drink of whiskey or póitín, or, at the very least, tea. In Louisburgh, County Mayo, the neighbours gathered on this occasion and were entertained by fiddlers. An informant from Co. Mayo reports: “”For some reason, which so far I have not found out the cloch phréacháin was never finished. The mason would leave some opening or space around it without finishing with mortar, he would deliberately use up the mortar so that he would not have sufficient to plaster around the stone, or if he had enough mortar he would, when the work was almost finished accidentally (mar dheadh!) tumble the bucket of mortar and say “”We must leave that!”” or some words to that effect.”” (From The Luck of the House, Information from Mr. Mícheál Mac Énrí, Bangor Erris, Co. Mayo.)

At Inistiogue in county Kilkenny, the mason marked a cross on the plaster of the highest point of the gable. A religious medal, a piece of blessed palm, or a little bottle of holy water, was tied to the ridge pole as soon as it was set in a number of places.

In some northern counties the custom was to erect a flag or a substitute for one when the building of a new house had reached the chimney stage. This reminded the owner that some incentives would speed up completion of the work. i.e. some refreshment or gratuity should be given to the builders. This custom was widely established in County Down, from where it appears to have spread to county Antrim, Derry and westwards to Fermanagh. Gailey (The thatched houses of Ulster, Gailey, Alan; Ulster Folklife, 7 (1961), 16-17: The Ulster Tradition, Folk Life, 2 (1964), 28-29) who recorded this custom in Ulster, concluded that it is of fairly recent origin in Ireland. The same Custom seems to have spread to other parts of the country. In Louth, a red flag was flown to indicate a victory for the men who were building the house and once it was up the owner treated the men.

An old shirt was hoisted on a pole in Sligo town, in Limerick an old piece of white cloth was tied on a stick like a flag and displayed on the highest point, and in Dublin an old pair of trousers was flown.

In other places where the main chimney was regarded as the highest point, the first fire was laid on the hearth, and the workers in places in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary expected to be treated to drinks or some other form of minor celebration. The same custom is reported from Beltra, county Sligo and Carrigtee, county Monaghan. From county Monaghan too we hear of the placing of a bone on top of the newly completed chimney.

From the Castleblayney district of county Monaghan we are told that ‘when a house was built up as far as the ridge board it was custom to have a party to celebrate the occasion. All the friends, family and neighbours were invited A night of feasting, dancing and story telling was spent. It was known as a ‘topping up party’. Another source from Monaghan says that this occurred when the wall-plate was reached.

Care was taken to begin the building of the house on a lucky day. Lucky days depended on local tradition, also in taking possession of a new house the timing was very important. This could not take place during Lent. It seems that Friday was a lucky day to move, and Monday in general an unlucky day, although there is an old saying which restricts this: “”a move to the north on Friday, to the south on Monday, or to the west on Tuesday never brought any luck in its train.”” While Dean Jonathan Swift says “”Friday and Childermas day are two cross days in the week and it is impossible to have good luck in either of them”” Irish tradition agrees with Dean Swift as regards Childermas Day: this is the 28th of December, the feast of the Holy Innocents, which in Irish is known as ‘Lá na Leanbh’ (Day of the Children), but also as Lá Crosta na Bliana, ‘the cross day of the year’ when no work of any kind should begin.

Munster Volunteer Registry, 1782, Co. Kerry

Kerry Legion Cavalry January 1779
Major Commanding Rowland Bateman
Captain Rowland Bateman jun.
Lieutenant Richard Yielding
Cornet Edward Gorham
One Troop. Uniform – Scarlet, faced black, edged white, silver epaulets, white buttons; furniture, goatskin, edged black

Woodford Rangers
Colonel William Townsend
Captain – ??
Lieutenant ??
Cornet ??


Royal Tralee Volunteers, January 4th 1779
Colonel Sir Barry Denny, bart.
Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Morris
Major George Gun
Captain Robert Hickson
Captain Edward Collis
First lieutenant Nathaniel Payne
First Lieutenant Robert Helleard
Second Lieutenant William Weeks
Adjutant John Lewis Fitzmaurice
Chaplain May Denny
Surgeon Robert Collis
Quartermaster Christopher Helleard
Secretary William graves
Two companies- one grenadier, one light. Uniform: Scarlet, faced deep blue, edged white, yellow buttons, gold lace epaulets and wings

Kerry legion, January 1779
Colonel Arthur Blennerhasset
Lieutenant-Colonel James Ponsonby
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Herbert
Major William Blennerhasset
Major William Godfrey
Captain Uriah Sealy
Captain Arthur Herbert
Captain Richard Meredith
Captain Thomas Blennerhasset
Captain Anthony Godfrey
Captain Whitwell Butler
Captain John Markham
Lieutenant John Sanders
Lieutenant Edward Herbert
Lieutenant Edward Blennerhasset
Lieutenant Richard blennerhasset
Lieutenant John Godfrey
Ensign Francis Fitzgerald
Adjutant and Secretary John Hurley
Chaplain John Blennerhasset
Surgeon Thomas Connell
Quartermaster Garret Barry
Seven companies. One grenadier, five battalion, one light. Uniform: Scarlet, faced black, edged white, white buttons

Killarney Foresters, 1779
Captain Commandant Thomas Galway

Gunsborough Union, 1779
Colonel George Gun

Miltown Fusileers
Major Commandant William Godfrey

Laune Rangers
Colonel Rowland Blennerhasset

Dromore Volunteers
Colonel John Mahony

The Rose of Tralee by William Mulchinock

The pale moon was rising above the green mountain,
The sun was declining beneath the blue sea;
When I strayed with my love to the pure crystal fountain,
That stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee.
She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

The cool shades of evening their mantle were spreading
And Mary all smiling sat listening to me;
The moon through the valley her pale rays were shining
When I won the heart of the Rose of Tralee.
She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

On the far fields of India, mid war’s bloody thunder,
Her voice was a solace and comfort to me,
But the cold hand of death has now torn us asunder
I’m lonely tonight for my Rose of Tralee.
She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

Kerry Dance

Oh! The days of the Kerry dancing, oh! The ring of the piper’s tune,
Oh! For one of those hours of gladness, gone, alas! Like youth, too soon!
When the boys being to gather in the glen of a summer nigh,
And the Kerry piper’s tuning made us long with wild delight.

Oh! To think of it, oh! To dream of it, fills my heart with tears;
Oh! The days of the Kerry dancing, oh! The ring of the piper’s tune;
Oh! for one of those hours of gladness, gone, alas! Like youth, too soon.

Time goes on and the happy years are dead,
And one by one the merry hearts are fled;
Silent now is the wild and lonely glen,
Where the bright glad laugh will echo ne’er again.

Only dreaming of days gone by, in my heart I hear
Loving voices of old companions, stealing out of the past once more –
And the sound of the dear old music, soft and sweet as in days of yore,
When the boys began to gather in the glen of a summer night,
And the Kerry piper’s tuning made us long with wild delight.

Was there ever a sweeter colleen in the dance than Eily More?
Or a prouder lad than Thady, as he boldly took the floor?
“Lads and lasses to your places, up the middle and down again,”
Ah! The merry-hearted laughter ringing through the happy glen.

I’m lonesome since I crossed the hills and o’er the moor that’s sedgy;
With heavy thoughts my mind is filled, since I have parted with Peggy.
Whene’er I turn to view the place, the tears doth fall and blind me,
When I think on the charming grace of the girl I left behind me.

The hours I remember well when next to see doth move me;
The burning flames in my heart doth tell, since first she owned she loved me.
In search of someone fair and gay, several doth remind me;
I know my darling loves me well, though I left her far behind me.

The bees shall lavish, make no store, and the dove become a ranger;
The fallen water cease to roar, before I’ll ever change her.
Each mutual promise faithfully made by her whom tears doth blind me,
And bless the hour I pass away with the girl I left behind me.

My mind her image full retains, whether asleep or waking;
I hope to see my jewel again, for her my heart is breaking.
But if ever I chance to go that way, and that she has not resigned me,
I’ll reconcile my mind and stay with the girl I left behind me.