Fitzgerald and Daniel O' Donohue
WHEN the blind man had finished, my host said: "There's many a story about that same Daniel O'Donohue, a fairy chief and King of Lochlein: Lochlein is the old name of the upper lake of Killarney. I used to hear many of those stories when I was young, but not one can I think of now. Sometimes the fairy chief was called O'Donohue of the Glen. There is a Knight of the Glen, too, near Killarney, and maybe he is the O'Donohue, for O'Donohue had a steed of the bells which the Black Thief was striving to steal, and so had the Knight of the Glen; but however that may be, I will tell you this:
"There was an old man named Fitzgerald, who lived in a neighbouring village. He was very fond of his garden, and spent all his time in it. One summer he had a beautiful field of 'white pink' potatoes. Once he had a fit of sickness, and was three days in bed. While the old man was keeping the bed the blight came on his potatoes and withered them.
"The saying was at that time that the fairies of Ulster were stronger than the fairies of Munster, and so they drove blight from Ulster to Munster.
"The fourth night the old man rose from his bed and crept out to take a look at his potato field, for his heart was in it. The night was very bright, the sky clear, and the moon full. He saw, sure enough, that the blight had come on his potatoes and destroyed them. He went into the house, took his blackthorn stick, and sat over the fire, and whittled it here and there. Then he went into the field with his bare head and feet, spat on his hand, took a firm grip on the slick, and, brandishing it, cried out time after time, as loud as he could, rushing the while from one end of the garden to the other: 'Daniel O'Donohue, come and take me with you tonight to the fairies and show me the man among them who destroyed my potatoes. I'll go with you to-night and to-morrow night and every night, if you'll bring me back to this spot again.'
"All the men and boys gathered around outside the ditch and listened to him, and he went on in this way a long while, calling on the chief fairy, Daniel O'Donohue, King of Lochlein, and challenging all the fairies of Ulster, and promising, if he couldn't do for them all himself, he had neighbours who would go with him and help him.
"At that time," said the host, "there wasn't a man in ten who didn't believe in the fairies and think that it was they who caused the blight, so they listened to the old man as he went on challenging the fairies of the North, offering his help to Daniel O'Donohue."
"The old man Fitzgerald was a strong believer in O'Donohue and the fairies," said I; "but have you ever known cases where fairies caused profit to one man and loss to another?" "I know just such a case," said he, "and here it is for you:
"About forty years ago there lived in this very town, and not half a mile from where we are sitting, a man named John Hanifin. He was a strong farmer, and had a large herd of cows; the cows were driven up every morning to the milking ground, a large open space in front of the house. In the centre of this space a large tub was placed, into which each servant girl poured her pail of milk as she filled it. One morning the tub was turned over and the milk spilled: the same thing happened the second morning and the third. No matter how they watched, or how careful they were, the milk was spilled always.
"Hanifin's wife was very angry, and scolded the girls so severely that they were in dread of her, and watched the tub more closely each morning; but if they did, their watching was useless. At the height of the milking the tub was turned over always and the milk lost.
"One morning, when Hanifin was going to call the herder to drive the cows to be milked he passed near an old fairy fort that was on the road between the house and the pasture, and just as he called to the herder he heard a child crying inside the fort: it was crying for a drink, and the woman said: 'Be quiet a while; Hanifin's cows are going home; we'll soon have milk in plenty'
"Hanifin listened, but, like a wise man, said nothing. He went home, and while the milking was going on himself watched the tub and never let his eyes off it, and watched all that was going on in the yard. This morning, as a maid was finishing the milking, a cow ran at a heifer that was walking across the yard near the tub, pushed her against the tub, and overturned it. Out came Hanifin's wife, scolding and blaming the girls. But Hanifin stopped her, saying, "Tis no fault of the girls; they can't help it; I'll try and manage this.'
"He kept his mind to himself, said nothing to any one. The following morning he went as usual to call the herder to drive up the cows, and, hearing the child crying in the fort, he, like the brave man that he was, went inside the fort. He saw no one, but he said:
'A child is crying for milk. A cow of mine will calve to-morrow. I'll let no one milk that cow: you can do what you like with her milk.'
"The tub was not turned over that morning, and never again was it turned over. When the cow calved Hanifin's wife herself was going to milk her, but Hanifin said, 'Leave her alone, I'll see to that matter.' The woman insisted, and went out to milk. To her amazement she found the cow milked and stripped already.
"The woman grew angry, thought that some of her neighbours were taking the milk from her; but Hanifin said he knew all about it, and to leave the cow with him.
"Hanifin was going on well for two years, prospering in every way, and he taking good care of the cow and never letting a girl or a woman milk her. Whenever the wife tried to milk the cow she found her stripped.
"Hanifin was a very soft-hearted man; some of his neighbours got into trouble, and he went security for them. At last, when they were not able to pay their debts, the creditors came on Hanifin, and there was an order against him for the whole amount.
"The bailiff came one day to drive off the cattle. Hanifin went to the fairy fort and said: 'I'm going to lose all my cattle, but I'll try to keep the cow I gave you and feed her still, so that the child may have milk.'
"Three bailiffs came and went down to the pasture across the field, but when they drove the cows up as far as the old fairy fort each bailiff was caught and thrown hither and over by people he couldn't see; one minute he was on one side of a ditch and the next minute on the other side. They were so roughly handled and bruised that they were hardly alive, and they not seeing who or what was doing it. The cattle, raising their tails, bawled and ran off to the pasture. The bailiffs, sore and wounded, went home and complained that people had abused and beaten them; 'that Hanifin, of course, put them up to it,' They were so cut and bruised that they had to give some account, and were ashamed to tell the truth.
"The following morning ten policemen and bailiffs went to take Hanifin's cattle, but when they were driving them up and got as far as the fort they were thrown head over heels, hither and over till they were terribly cut and beaten, and pitched into thorny bushes and holes till they were fools. The cattle, seeing this, took fright, bawled, raised their tails, and ran back to the pasture. The officers were barely able to leave the place. Never again did police or bailiff meddle with Hanifin's cows. The creditors never collected the money."