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when I went out of the house the girl from next door looked at me some way strange, and then she told me two boys were drowned, and then she told me one of them was my own. Held down, they said he was, by something underneath. They had him followed there.
It wasn't long after he died I woke one night, and I felt some one near, and I struck the light, and there I saw his shadow. He was wearing his little cap, but under it I knew his face and the colour of his hair. And he never spoke, and he was going out the door and I called to him and said, “O Martin, come back to me, and I'll always be watching for you !” And every night after that I'd hear things thrown about the house outside, and noises. So I got afraid to stop in it, and I went to live in another house, and I told the priest I knew Martin was not dead, but that he was still living.
‘And about eight weeks after Catherine dying I had what I thought was a dream. I thought I dreamt that I saw her sweeping out the floor of the room. And I said, “ Catherine, why are you sweeping ? Sure you know I sweep the floor clean and the hearth every night.” And I said, “Tell me where are you now?” and she said, “I'm in the forth beyond.” And she said, "I have a great deal of things to tell you, but I must look out and see are they watching me.” Now, wasn't that very sharp for a dream ? And she went to look out the door, but she never came back again.
And in the morning, when I told it to a few respectable people they said, “Take care but it might have been no dream but herself that came back and talked to you.” And I think it was, and that she came back to see me and to keep the place well swept.
'Sure we know there were some in the forth in the old times, for my aunt's husband was brought away into it, and why wouldn't they be there now? He was sent back out of it again, a girl led him back and told him he was brought away because he answered to the first call, and that he had a right only to answer to the third. But he didn't want to come home. He said he saw more people in it than he ever saw at a hurling, and that he'd ask no better place than it in high heaven.'
Mystics believe that sicknesses and the elements do the will of spiritual powers, but Mrs. Joyce had not heard this, and so could only deny that her children had died of consumption or were drowned by the unaided waters. Her aunt's husband was doubtless called by a voice into the fort, and he went at the first call, instead of waiting, as the country people say all should, for the third call, which it seems cannot be called except by the living; and doubtless wandered about there in a dream and a sleep until it seemed in his dream that a girl of the others' led him out of the fort and he awoke. Next to
children women after childbirth are held to be in most danger. I hear often of a year in which many were taken out of South Galway. A man about Tillyra said to me: 'It's about four
teen years since so many young women were brought away after their child being born. Peter Regan's wife of Peterswell, and James Jordan's wife of Derreen, and Loughlin's wife of Lissatunna-hundreds were carried off in that year. They didn't bring so many since then; I suppose they brought enough then to last them a good while.' And a man near Gort says: “And it's not many years ago that such a lot of fine women were taken from Gort very sudden after childbirth -fine women. I knew them all myself.'
These women are taken, it is believed, to suckle children who have been made captive or have been born from the loves of spirits for mortals. Another man from near Gort says : ‘Linsky the slater's mother was taken away, it's always said. The way it's known is, it was not long after her baby was born, but she was doing well. And one morning very early a man and his wife were going in a cart to Loughrea one Thursday for the market, and they met some of those people, and they asked the woman that had her child with her, would she give a drink to their child that was with them. And while she was doing it they said, “We won't be in want of a nurse to-night; we'll have Mrs. Linsky of Gort.” And when they got back in the evening, Mrs. Linsky was dead before them.'
A fisherman from Aasleagh showed a correspondent, who was sailing along by the Killeries, a spot on the side of Muel Rae where there was a castle 'haunted by evil spirits' who were often heard 'making a noise like screeching and crying and howling and singing,' and 'Peter's brother's wife' was there; 'she was taken in her labour. It was an evil spirit that was in her, she couldn't bring it to the birth alive. In the morning when her crying was done they went to see her. There wasn't a bit of her there.' Evil spirits had 'fetched her away, and they took the sack of potatoes to put her in, and the potatoes were running all over the road even down to the water. She's there shut up to nurse the queen's child. A fine creature she was.' The tales of fishermen are full of the evil powers of the world.
The old woman who lives on the bog near Tuam says : ‘There are many young women taken by them in childbirth. I lost a sister of my own in that way. There's a place in the river at Newtown where there's stones in the middle you can get over by, and one day she was crossing, and there in the middle of the river, and she standing on a stone, she felt a blow on the face. And she looked round to see who gave it, and there was no one there, so then she knew what had happened, and she came to my mother's house, and she carrying at the time. I was but a little slip at that time, with my books in my hand coming from the school, and I ran in and said, “Here's Biddy coming," and my mother said, “What would bring her at this time of the day?” But she came in and sat down on a chair, and she opened the whole story. And my mother, seeing she got a fright, said to quiet her, “It was
only a pain you got in the ear, and you thought it was a blow." " Ah,” she said, “I never got a blow that hurted me like that did."
And the next day and every day after that, the ear would swell a little in the afternoon, and then she began to eat nothing, and at the last her baby wasn't born five minutes when she died. mother used to watch for her for three or four years after, thinking she'd come back, but she never did.'
Many women are taken, it is believed, on their marriage day, and many before their babies are born, that they may be born among the others. A woman from the shore about Duras says: 'At Aughanish there were two couples came to the shore to be married, and one of the new-married women was in the boat with the priest, and they going back to the island. And a sudden blast of wind came, and the priest said some blessed words that were able to save himself, but the girl was swept.'
This woman was drowned, doubtless. Every woman who dies about her marriage day is believed to die, I think, because a man of 'the others' wants her for himself. Next after a young child and a woman in childbirth, a young, handsome and strong man is thought in most danger. When he dies about his marriage day he is believed to die, I think, because a woman of the others' wants him for herself. A man living near Coole says: 'My father ? Yes, indeed, he saw many things, and I'll tell you a thing he told me, and there's no doubt in the earthly world about it. It was when they lived in Inchy they came over here one time to settle a marriage for Peter Quin's aunt. And when they had the marriage settled they were going home at dead of night. And a wedding had taken place that day, of one Merrick from beyond Turloughmore, and the drag was after passing the road with him and his party going home. And in a minute the road was filled with men on horses riding along, so that my father had to take shelter in Carthy's big haggard. And the horsemen were calling on Merrick's name. And twenty-one days after he lay dead. There's no doubt at all about the truth of that, and they were no riders belonging to this world that were on those horses.'
The hurling was the game of the gods in old times, and the others' are held everywhere to-day to delight in good hurlers and to carry them away. A man by the sea-shore near the ConDemara hills in western Galway says: “There was a man lived about a mile beyond Spiddal, and he was one day at a play, and he was the best at the hurling and the throwing and at every game. And a woman in the crowd called out to him,
“ You're the strongest man that's in it." And twice after that a man that was beside him and that heard that said, saw him pass by, with his coat on, before sunrise. And on the fifth day after he was dead. He left four or
VoL, XLII-No. 251
five sons, and some of them went to America, and the eldest of them married and was living in the place with his wife. And he was going to Galway for a fair, and his wife was on a visit to her father and her mother on the road to Galway, and she bid him to come early, that she'd have commands for him. So it was before sunrise when he set out, and he was going up a little side road through the fields to make a short cut, and he came on the biggest fair he ever saw, and the most people in it, and they made a way for him to pass through. And a man with a big coat and a tall hat came out from them and said, “ Do you know me?” And he said, “Are you my father?” And he said, “ I am, and but for me you'd be sorry for coming here, but I saved you; but don't be coming out so early in the morning again.” And he said, “It was a year ago that Jimmy went to America.” And that was true enough. And then he said, “And it was you that drove your sister away, and gave her no peace or ease, because you wanted the place for yourself.” And he said, “That is true.” And he asked the father, "Were you all these years here ?" And he said, “I was. But in the next week I'll be moved to the west part of Kerry, and four years after that my time will come to die.” It was the son himself told me all this.'
This man was taken according to the traditional philosophy because someone praised him and did not say God bless him,' for the admiration of a sinner may, it says, become the admiration of 'the others,' who do many works through our emotions, and become as a rope to drag us out of the world.
They take the good dancers too, for they love the dance. Old Langan, a witch doctor on the borders of Clare, says : There was a boy was a splendid dancer. Well, one night he was going to a house where there was a dance. And when he was about half way to it, he came to another house where there was music and dancing going on. So he turned in, and there was a room all done up with curtains and with screens, and a room inside where the people were sitting, and it was only those that were dancing sets that came to the outside room. So he danced two or three sets and then he saw that it was a house they had built up where there was no house before for him to come into. So he went out, but there was a big Hagstone at the door, and he stumbled on it and fell down. And in a fortnight after he was dead.'
I know a doctor who met one day among the Burren Hills the funeral of a young man he had been attending some time before. He stopped and asked the sister why he had not been sent for of late, and she said, 'Sure you could do nothing for him, doctor. It's well known what happened, him such a grand dancer, never home from a wedding or a wake till three o'clock in the morning, and living as he did beside a forth. It's they that have him swept.
All the able-bodied, however, should fear the love of the gods. A man who lives by Derrykeel, on the Clare border, says of a friend and neighbour of fifty years ago : We were working together, myself and him, making that trench you see beyond to drain the wood. And it was contract work, and he was doing the work of two men, and was near ready to take another piece. And some of the boys began to say to him, “It's a shame for you to be working like that, and taking the bread out of the mouth of another,' and I standing there. And he said he didn't care what they said, and he took the spade and sent the scraws out flying to the right and to the left. And he never put a spade into the ground again, for that night he was taken ill and died shortly after. Watched he was and taken by them.'
Even the old and feeble should not feel altogether safe. I have been told at Coole that there was a man on this estate, and he sixty years, and he took to his bed and the wife went to Biddy Early, a famous wise woman of whom I have many stories, and said, “It can't be by them he's taken. What use would he be to them, being so old ?” And Biddy Early is the one that should know, and she said, “Wouldn't he be of use to them to drive their cattle ? ”
But all are not sad to go. I have heard 'there were two men went with poteen to the island of Aran. And when they were on the shore they saw a ship coming as if to land, and they said, “We'll have the bottle ready for those that are coming.” But when the ship came close to land it vanished. And presently they got their boat ready and put out to sea. And a sudden blast came and swept one of them off. And the other saw him come up again, and put out the oar across his breast for him to take hold of it. But he would not take it, but said, “ I'm all right now," and sank down again, and was seen no more.'
There is indeed no great cause why any should fear anything ex in the parting, for they expect to find there things like the things they have about them in the world, only better and more plentiful. A man at Derrykeel says: “There was a woman walking in the road that had a young child at home, and she met a very having a baby in his arms. And he asked would she give it a drop of breast milk. So she did, and gave it a drink. And the old man said, “It's well for you you did that, for you saved your cow by it; but to-morrow look over the wall into the field of the rich man that lives beyond the boundary, and you'll see that one of his was taken in the place of yours.” And so it happened.'
Mrs. Colahan of Kiltartan says: “There was a woman living on the road that goes to Scahanagh, and one day a carriage stopped at her door and a grand lady came out of it, and asked would she come and give the breast to her child. And she said she wouldn't leave her own children, but the lady said no harm would happen them, and brought her away to a big house, but when she got there she