FROM the town of Fermoy, famous for the excellence of its bottled ale, you may plainly see the mountain of Cairn Chierna. It is crowned with a great heap of stones, which, as the country people remark, never came there without "a crooked thought and a cross job." Strange it is, that any work of the good old times should be considered one of labour; for round towers then sprung up like mushrooms in one night, and people played marbles with pieces of rock that can now no more be moved than the hills themselves.
This great pile on the top of Cairn Thierna was caused by the words of an old woman, whose bed still remains -- Labacally, the hag's bed -- not far from the village of Glanworth. She was certainly far wiser than any woman, either old or young, of my immediate acquaintance. Jove defend me, howeverr, from making an envious comparison between ladies; but facts are stubborn things, and the legend will prove my assertion.
O'Keefe was Lord of Fermoy before the Roches came into that part of the country; and he had an only son -- never was there seen a finer child; his young face filled with innocent joy was enough to make any heart glad, yet his father looked on his smiles with sorrow, for an old hag had foretold that this boy should be drowned before he grew up to manhood.
Now, although the prophecies of Pastorini were a failure, it is no reason why prophecies should altogether be despised. The art in modern times may be lost, as well as that of making beer out of the mountain heath which the Danes did to great perfection. But I take it, the malt of Tom Walker is no bad substitute for the one; and if evil prophecies were to come to pass, like the old woman's, in my opinion we are far more comfortable without such knowledge.
"Infant heir of proud Fermoy,
Fear not fields of slaughter
Storm and fire fear not, my boy,
But shun the fatal water."
These were the warning words which caused the chief of Fermoy so much unhappiness. His infant son was carefully prevented all approach to the river, and anxious watch was kept over every playful movement. The child grew up in strength and in beauty, and every day became more dear to his father, who, hoping to avert his doom, which, however, was inevitable, prepared to build a castle far removed from the dreaded element.
The top of Cairn Thierna was the place chosen; and the lord's vassals were assembled and employed in collecting materials for the purpose. Hither came the fated boy; with delight he viewed the laborious work of raising mighty stones from the base to the summit of the mountain, until the vast heap which now forms its rugged crest was accumulated. The workmen were about to commence the building, and the boy, who was considered in safety when on the mountain, was allowed to rove about at will. In his case, how true are the words of the great dramatist:
"--Put but a little water in a
And it shall be, as all the ocean,
Enough to stifle such a being up."
A vessel which contained a small supply of water, brought there for the use of the workmen, attracted the attention of the child. He saw, with wonder, the glitter of the sunbeams within it; he approached more near to gaze, when a form resembling his own arose before him. He gave a cry of joy and astonishment, and drew back; the image drew back also, and vanished. Again he approached; again the form appeared, expressing in every feature delight corresponding with his own. Eager to welcome the young stranger, he bent over the vessel to press his lips; and losing his balance, the fatal prophecy was accomplished.
The father in despair abandoned the commenced building, and the materials remain a proof of the folly of attempting to avert the course of Fate.