Folk Tales of Breffny | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Kate Ellen's Wake

KATE Ellen lived by her lone for her husband was employed overseas. She was a strange sort of a creature, pale and scared looking, with one blue eye in her head and the other one grey. She had some kind of disease that came at her with a fluttering in her heart. Sometimes she would die of it for a couple of hours, and all the while she was dead she'd be dreaming she was drowning.

               There was a fort not a many perches distant from my poor Kate Ellen's house, and that was a noted place for the Good People to be out diverting themselves. Moreover it was well known to the neighbours that herself used to be away with them, but she allowed there was no truth in the report. Now it happened of a May eve that a young child seen her, and she milking the cushogues along with a score of the fairies. Another night a man on his way from a distant fair found her on the road before him riding with the little horseman.

               One day Kate Ellen came into the kitchen of a friend's house, and she stopped there chatting for an hour's time. She allowed that she'd surely die in a short space for the disease was making great ravages and the doctors could take no hold of it at all.

               "No person can give me the least relief in the world," says she. "And I'll be making but the one request of my friends and neighbours, let there be no whiskey at the wake."

               "Sure the like was never heard tell of before," says the woman of the house. "What use would there be in a dry wake?"

               "Maybe no use at all, as you are after saying," answers Kate Ellen. "But let you pay heed to my words or there's like to be a queer story told at the end of time."

               "'Tis the raving of death is on you, my poor creature," says the woman of the house. "Sure you'll be the beautiful corpse and every one of us paying our best respects to the same."

               Not a long after Kate Ellen was found in her own house and she lying dead on the floor. All the friends and neighbours gathered in for the wake, and what had they along with them only a beautiful jar of the best whiskey. They could not think to give in to the arrangement herself set out, that they'd remain in the place with a parching drouth for company.

               The whole party were sitting round, and the jar of itself was in the middle of the floor. There came a noise and shouting on the street, like as if there was a powerful assembly of people without; and then a great battering on the windows. The door opened wide and the disturbance came into the kitchen, yet no person sitting there seen a heth that was not in it from the start. It was a queer gathering surely, for the friends and neighbours of the dead were silent and still, and the crying went round them on the air.

               After a while didn't the jar of whiskey let a lep out of it and begin for to roll on the floor. It was turned again and every drop teemed from it before the watching eyes. Yet no person seen the Good People were handling the drink and roving through the house. Then the disturbance passed from the kitchen, and away down the field, whatever was last for to go closed the door behind all.

               A man stood up and he says: "This is no right gathering surely, and we would do well to be gone."

               With that another opens the door, and all made ready to depart. But when they looked out and seen the fort all thronged with lights they grew fearful to quit the house.

               There was the powerfullest laughter and cheering down among the thorn trees of the circle, and there came a blast of the loveliest music--fiddles and pipes and voices singing.

               "It is the Good People are having the whole beautiful wake down there beyond," says a man. "Sure it is well known Kate Ellen was in league with themselves."

               "By the powers, it is more like a wedding they are conducting this hour," says another.

               "Come on away home," says a third, "what enticement is on us stop when the drink is gone from us to the fairies are fiddling with joy!"

               But they bid him depart by his lone, for the rest were in dread of passing the fort before day. He was a bold, daring sort of a man, and it's likely he'd have gone only for his brother taking a hold of his coat.

               "You'll be taken by the Good People," says he, "and they in great humour after whipping off with the whiskey before our eyes."

               Sure it was more nor horrid wonderful that Kate Ellen had understanding for to know what might be taking place on the night of her departure from home. Maybe it's in agreement she was to be going for good with the fairies and not to her grave at all.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Kate Ellen's Wake
Tale Author/Editor: Hunt, Bampton
Book Title: Folk Tales of Breffny
Book Author/Editor: Hunt, Bampton
Publisher: Macmillan and Co.
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1912
Country of Origin: Ireland
Classification: unclassified

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