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Seeing is Believing

THERE'S a sort of people whom every one must have met with some time or other; people that pretend to disbelieve what, in their hearts, they believe and are afraid of. Now Felix O'Driscoll was one of these. Felix was a rattling, rollicking, harum-scarum, devil may-care sort of fellow, like - but that's neither here nor there: he was always talking one nonsense or another; and among the rest of his foolery, he pretended not to believe in the fairies, the cluricaunes, and the phoocas; and he even sometimes had the impudence to affect to doubt of ghosts, that every body believes in, at any rate. Yet some people used to wink and look knowing when Felix was gostering, for it was observed that he was very shy of passing the ford of Ahnamoe after nightfall; and that when he was once riding past the old church of Grenaugh in the dark, even though he had got enough potheen into him to make any man stout, he made the horse trot so that there was no keeping up with him; and every now and then he would throw a sharp look out over his left shoulder.

One night there was a parcel of people sitting drinking and talking together at Larry Reilly's public [public house], and Felix was one of the party. He was, as usual, getting on with his bletherumskite about the fairies, and swearing that he did not believe there were any live things, barring men and beasts, and birds and fish, and such things as a body could see, and he went on talking in so profane a way of the "good people," that some of the company grew timid, and began to cross themselves, not knowing what might happen, when an old woman called Moirna Hogaune, with a long blue cloak about her, who had been sitting in the chimney corner smoking her pipe without taking any share in the conversation, took the pipe out of her mouth, threw the ashes out of it, spit in the fire, and, turning round, looked Felix straight in the face.

"And so you don't believe there are such things as Cluricaunes, don't you?" said she.

Felix looked rather daunted, but he said nothing.

"Upon my troth, it well becomes the like o' you, that's nothing but a bit of a gossoon, to take upon you to pretend not to believe what your father and your father's father, and his father before him, never made the least doubt of! But to make the matter short, seeing's believing, they say; and I that might be your grandmother tell you there are such things as Cluricaunes, and I myself saw one-there's for you, now.

All the people in the room looked quite surprised at this, and crowded up to the fireplace to listen to her. Felix tried to laugh, but it wouldn't do; nobody minded him.

"I remember," said she, " some time after I married my honest man, who's now dead and gone, it was by the same token just a little afore I lay in of my first child (and that's many a long day ago), I was sitting out in our bit of garden with my knitting in my hand, watching some bees that we had that were going to swarm. It was a fine sunshiny day about the middle of June, and the bees were humming and flying backwards and forwards from the hives, and the birds were chirping and hopping on the bushes, and the butterflies were flying about and sitting on the flowers, and every thing smelt so fresh, and so sweet, and I felt so happy, that I hardly knew where I was. When all of a sudden I heard, among some rows of beans that we had in a corner of the garden, a noise that went tick-tack, tick-tack, just for all the world as if a brogue-maker was putting on the heel of a pump. ' Lord preserve us !' said I to myself: ' what in the world can that be?' So I laid down my knitting, and got up and stole softly over to the beans, and never believe me if I did not see sitting there before me, in the middle of them, a bit of an old man not a quarter so big as a new-born child, with a little cocked hat on his head, and a dudeen in his mouth smoking away, and a plain old-fashioned drab-coloured coat with big buttons upon it on his back, and a pair of massy silver buckles in his shoes, that almost covered his feet, they were so big; and he working away as hard as ever he could, heeling a little pair of brogues As soon as I clapt my two eyes upon him, I knew him to be a Cluricaune; and as I was stout and fool-hardy, says I to him, God save you, honest man ! that 's hard work you're at this hot day.' He looked up in my face quite vexed like; so with that I made a run at him, caught a hold of him in my hand, and asked him where was his purse of money. ' Money?' said he, ' money, indeed ! and where would a poor little old creature like me get money ?' - ' Come, come, said I, none of your tricks: doesn't every body know that Cluricaunes, like you, are as rich as the devil himself?' So I pulled out a knife I had in my pocket, and put on as wicked a face as ever I could (and, in troth, that was no easy matter for me then, for I was as comely and good-humoured a looking girl as you'd see from this to Carrignavar), - and swore if he didn't instantly give me his purse, or show me a pot of gold, I'd cut the nose off his face. Well, to be sure, the little man did look so frightened at hearing these words, that I almost found it in my heart to pity the poor little creature. ' Then,' said he, 'come with me just a couple of fields off, and I'll show you where I keep my money.' So I went, still holding him in my hand and keeping my eyes fixed upon him, when all of a sudden I heard a whiz-z behind me. There! there !' cried he, ' there's your bees all swarming and going off with them-selves.' I, like a fool as I was, turned my head round, and when I saw nothing at all, and looked back at the Cluricaune, I found nothing at all at all in my hand, for when I had the ill luck to take my eyes off him, he slipped out of my hand just as if he was made of fog or smoke, and the sorrow the foot he ever came nigh my garden again."


The popular voice assigns shoe-making as the occupation of the Cluricaune, and his recreations smoking and drinking. His characteristic traits are those which create little sympathy or regard, and it is always the vulgar endeavour to outwit a Cluricaune, who however generally contrives to turn the tables upon the seif-sufficient mortal. This fairy is represented as avaricious and cunning, and when surprised by a peasant, fearful of his superior strength, although gifted with the power of disappearing if by any stratagem, for which he is seldom at a loss, he can unfix the eye which has discovered him.

In the Irish Melodies this point of superstition is thus happily explained-

" Her smile when beauty granted,
I hung with gaze enchanted,
Like him the sprite,
Whom maids by night,
Oft meet in glen that s haunted
Like him too beauty won me;
But while her eyes were on me,
If once their ray
Was turn'd away,
O ! winds could not outrun me."

Mr. Moore, in a note on these words, apparently with more of gallantry than skill in "fairie lore," doubts his own knowledge of the Leprechan or Cluricaune, in consequence of the account given by Lady Morgan, which though unquestionably her ladyship is " a high authority on such subjects," it will be seen can be reconciled without much difficulty, as it is but the tricking sequel of a Cluricaune adventure, should his endeavour to avert the eye prove unsuccessful.

The Cluricaune is supposed to have a knowledge of buried treasure, and is reported to be the possessor of a little leather purse, containing a shilling, which, no matter how often expended, is always to be found within it. This is called Spre na Skillenagh, or, the Shilling Fortune. Spre, literally meaning cattle, is used to signify a dower or fortune, from the marriage portion or fortune being paid by the Irish, not in money, but in cattle. Sometimes the Cluricaune carries two purses, the one containing this magic shilling, the other filled with brass coin; and, if compelled to deliver, has recourse to the subterfuge of giving the latter, the weight of which appears satisfactory, until the examination of its contents, when the eye being averted, the giver of course disappears.

"Gostering," which occurs in the text, may be explained as boasting talk. The reader is referred to the edition published by Galignani (Paris, 1819), of Mr. Moore's Works, for an illustration, vol. iv. p.270.

"Pob, Dermot! go along with your goster,
You might as well pray at a jig,
Or teach an old cow pater noster,
Or whistle Moll Row to a pig !"

Dudeen signifies a little stump of a pipe. Small tobacco-pipes, of an ancient form, are frequently found in Ireland, on digging or ploughing up the ground, particularly in the vicinity of those circular entrenchments, called Danish forts, which were more probably the villages or settlements of the native Irish. These pipes are believed by the peasantry to belong to the Cluricaunes, and when discovered are broken, or other wise treated with indignity, as a kind of retort for the tricks which their supposed owners had played off.

A sketch of one of these pipes is annexed. 

In the Anthologia Hibemica, Vol. i. p. 352 (Dublin, 1793), there is also a print of one, which was found at Brannockatown, county Kildare, sticking between the teeth of a human skull; and it is accompanied by a paper, which, on the authority of Heradatus (lib. 1. Sec. 36), Strabo (lib. vii. 296), Pomponius Mela (2), and Solinus (c. 15), goes to prove that the northern nations of Europe were acquainted with tobacco, or an herb of similar properties, and that they smoked it through small tubes - of course, long before the existence of America was known.

These arguments, in favour of the antiquity of smoking, receive additional support from the discovery of several small clay pipes in the hull of a ship, found somewhere about ten years since, when excavating under the city of Dantzig. Like those interesting remains of ancient vessels, one of which (discovered the same year in a bog in the north of Ireland) was so barbarously destroyed by the peasantry, and like that dug out from an old branch of the river Rother in Kent, and recently exhibited in London, the vessel at Dantzig must, from its situation, have lain undisturbed for many centuries.

Should the reader feel inclined to doubt any part of Moirna Hogaune, anglice, Mary Hogan's relation, it will not be difficult to obtain an account of her adventure with the Cluricaune, and many other even more wonderful tales from her own lips; as Moirna is well known, and is, or at least was living within the last six months, not far from the ford of Ahnamoe, alluded to in the text, which is considered to be a favourite haunt of the fairies. This information may perhaps be acceptable to Mr. Ellis, the able and judicious editor of Brand's Popular Antiquities; for in one of his notes on that valuable work, he says,

"l made strict inquiries after fairies in the uncultivated wilds of Northumberland, but even there I could only meet with a man who said that he had seen one that had seen fairies. Truth is hard to come at in moat cases; none, I believe, ever came nearer to it in this than I have."

Ahnamoe, correctly written Ath na bo, signifies "the ford of the cow." It is a little clear stream, which, crossing the Carrignavar road, divides two farms, situated about seven miles north-east of Cork.

Grenaugh, or Greenagh, is a ruined church, seven or eight miles north-west of Cork, concerning which, and that of Garrycloyne, not far distant, marvellous tales of the Tam O' Shanter class are told without end. From the autograph of a respectable farmer, named Rilehan, who resides in this neighbourhood, and who attests the veracity of the story, the following is copied verbatim.

"There did eight men, and one of them is a tenant of mine now, go to the churchyard of Garrycloyne, which was wrongful of them, thinking to cut sticks to tresh oats with, and the young osier they began to cut the first, showed that it was all on fire, like the burning hush; and all the trees about them in the churchyard were the same, and in the road from the church; so being frightened, they went back without ever the stick or the switch. Rut they set to the work again, in the latter end of the next night, at the coming on of the morning, and they cut a tree out of the churchyard, and brought it away with them; it was all on fire, until they came to the river, and then it went up in the sky from them roaring like a mad bull ! They never got such a fright or shock; and they were not the better of that night's work for two months after."


Some particulars respecting the ancient vessels, mentioned in the above note [at page 177], are worth preservation, as this remarkable series of discoveries seems not to be generally known.

Of the ancient vessel found in Kent, an account has been preserved in a little pamphlet sold at the place of exhibition; and a beautiful lithographic print by Mr. J. D. Harding of the excavation was published by Messrs. Rodwell and Martin.

In August 1813, the remains of a vessel were discovered in Ballywilliam Bog, about a mile from Portrush, in the liberties of Colerain. From the examination of the size and form of the ribs and planks, it was supposed that she carried from forty to fifty tons. Notwithstanding the injuries of time, the outside planks measured an inch and a quarter in thickness; of them, however, only small pieces could be traced. Some of the ribs were eight inches broad, five deep, and seven or eight feet long, and many of them exceeded this measurement considerably ; - neither keel nor mast could be discovered.

These remains were torn up and carried off before the particulars were fully investigated. The timber was all oak, and several car loads of it were drawn sway

This ship was found in a moat about forty feet in diameter, composed of stones and clay, but chiefly of moss, fifteen perches from the shore of the bog; the bog has been all cut away round this mount, which was between six and eight feet in height ; - some silver coins of Edward III. were also found in it, and several bones, which crumbled on being exposed to the air.

On the 8th December following, in digging a new sluiceway at the upper end of the Fairwater, at Dantzig, a ship was found buried in the ground, at the depth of about twenty feet. She measured from stem to stern, in the inside, fifty-four feet, and in breadth near twenty feet. A box of tobacco-pipes was found, all whole, with heads about the size of a thimble, and tubes from four to six inches in length. - The ship was built of oak; her planks about twenty inches broad, full of tree-nails, and no iron shout her, except her rudder bands. A boat was found near, which had fallen to pieces. Many human bones were in the hold, both fore and aft; and it is supposed that the vessel had been lost in some convulsion of nature, be-fore the foundation of the city, upwards of five hundred years ago, as the place had been so long built over.

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