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The Pooka of Murroe

The unfortunate hero of this narrative was returning home one night along an avenue which lay between a hedge and a wood, the trees of which stood so close that the boughs interlaced. He was not naturally subject to superstitious fears, but he could not be otherwise than frightened after advancing some distance, on hearing a rustling in the boughs overhead, keeping pace with his own progress. Looking up, he was terrified by the appearance of a dark object visible through the foliage and boughs where they were not too close, and the outline dimly defined by the obscure light of the sky. The form was that of a goat, and it kept nearly over his head, springing from bough to bough as his shaking limbs carried him forward. The only encouraging idea that occurred to him was, that he would soon be at the border of the wood, and that in all probability the evil thing would trouble him no further. After what seemed a very long time, though it probably occupied but a few minutes, he was under the last tree; but while hoping for the cessation of his torment, the dreadful thing in the full caparison of a he-goat dropped on his shoulders, and bent him down on all fours!

He retained his senses, and merely strength enough to creep on painfully, labouring the while under such a sensation of horror as perhaps none can comprehend except those who have endured the visitation of the nightmare. He could not afterwards form any idea of the time occupied by his staggering home under the fearful burden. His family heard the noise as of a body falling against the door. It was at once opened, and the poor head of the family was found lying across the entrance insensible. They brought him in, laid him before the fire, had his hands chafed, water thrown on his face, &c., till he recovered consciousness. He was confined to his bed for two or three weeks with pains and stiffness in his bones and joints, as if he was suffering under a severe attack of rheumatism As there was no intentional deception on the victim's side, perhaps the delusion and illness may be accounted for by his lying insensible for some time in a damp place, and being called on while in that state by that dreadful visitant the nightmare.

The Pooka's head-quarters in Ireland are Carrig-a-Phooka, west of Macroom, Castle Pooka, near Doneraile, and, the island of Melaan, at the mouth of the Kenmare river, a locality dreaded by sailors and fishers at night, or in bad weather, the most frightful noises being heard there at these times.

The Lubber fiend, Lubberkin, or Lurdane, of the old English poets, seems to be related to our Celtic Lurigadan, by name at least; but our variety is not noted for household duty, unless making a beast of himself in the cellar pass for such. The Fear Dearg (Red Man) is indeed fond of a comfortable hearth in winter, and using the tobacco-pipe left on the hob for his need. He occasionally shows himself to members of the family, but does not like to be looked at too curiously. He likewise takes food, which is thoughtfully left aside for him, and his continued presence in a house brings good fortune with it. Croker says that this little red-capped and red-coated power heads the native forces against the fairies of foreign parts; and if any mortals come in their direct course, they will for the nonce bridle and saddle them, and convert them into special war-horses, rewarding them by "hands" of tobacco or other delicacies when the fight is done.


The supernatural agent of the next legend will not fit comfortably in any of the divisions of the spiritual world made by Grimm, Croker, Keightley, and others. He would be the Lubber-Fiend of Milton, or the Brownie of Scotland, or the Kobold of the North, but for once having been a "christened man." Every one up to the mere alphabet of fairy lore, knows that the pooka does not condescend to household drudgery, but his townsfolk would give the sprite in question no other name; and in consequence, the present editor of the tale does not feel entitled to take any liberties with it. A girl of Kilcock thus related the story to us.


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