Folk Tales of Breffny | Annotated Tale

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

Fairy Gold

IT HAPPENED one time that a poor man dreamt three nights after other of a sack of fairy gold was buried in under the roots of a lone bush and it growing in a field convenient to his house.

               "It may be there is nothing in it," says he to himself. "But I will be digging in that place and if I find a treasure it will be a big reward for the labour."

               He never let on a word of his intentions to any person, nor did he evenly pass any remark on the strange dreams were after coming to him. At the fall of the day he took a loy in his hand and set out for the lone bush. He was not a great while at work before the steel blade struck against a substance that had no feel of clay, and the man was full sure it was not a stone he was after striking against. He wraught hard to bring whatever was in it to light--and what had he only a powerful fine sack of pure gold and splendid jewels.

               He raised it up on his shoulders and set out for home, staggering under the load. It was maybe a hundredweight of treasure he had with him, and he went along planning out the uses of that wealth. Sure the burden was a rejoicement to him and no hardship at all evenly if it had him bent double like an aged and crippled man.

               When he came to his own place he went to the byre, and it was there he put down the sack in front of three cows were standing in the bails. For he was not wishful to be making a display of that splendour before the neighbours all, and it was likely he would find some person within making their cailee. Sure enough when he went in on the door of the house he seen two men sitting by the fire and they in no haste to depart. Now the strangers had the English only, and the people of the house spoke Irish with one another.

               Says himself, using the Gaelic, "I have a beautiful treasure without--bars of fine gold are in it, and jewels would be the delight of a queen of the world."

               "Oh, bring it into the house," says she. "Sure it will rise my heart to be looking on the like; the hunger of it is put on my eyes by your words speaking."

               "I have better wit than to make display of my fortune to every person is living in the land," says he. "Let you content yourself until the two men have departed, and then we'll fetch the sack in from the byre where I left it in front of the cows."

               When the man and woman of the house were shut of the company they went out to the yard, and they fair wild with delight. Himself told the story of the three dreams and the finding of the gold in under the roots of the lone bush.

               "Did you spit on it?" she inquires.

               "I did not," says he.

               With that she allowed he was after making a big mistake.

               "How would that be?" he asks.

               "My father had great knowledge of the like," says herself. "I often heard him tell of how those treasures do be enchanted, and power is on them for to melt away. But if a man was to spit on fairy gold he'd get keeping it surely."

               "Amn't I after bringing it this far," says he, "and the weight of it destroying my shoulders with bruises and pains. Not the least sign of melting was on yon article and it a warrant to bring down the scales at a hundred and more."

               With that they went into the byre, and they seen the three cows were striving to break out of the bails.

               "They are in dread of what's lying there in front," says herself. "The cattle of the world have good wisdom surely, and they do be looking on more nor the eye of man gets leave to behold."

               "Quit raving about the cows," says he. "Look at my lovely sack and it bulging full."

               When the two went up to the head of the bails the woman let a great cry out of her.

               "What are you after bringing to this place from among the roots of the lone bush? It has the movement of life in it--and how could the like be treasure at all!"

               "Hold your whisht, woman," says the husband, and he middling vexed at her words.

               "Will you look at the bag is turning over on the ground?" says she.

               He seen there was truth in her words, but all the while he would not give in to be scared.

               "It is likely a rat is after creeping in," he allows, "and he is having his own times striving to win out."

               "Let you open the sack, and I will be praying aloud for protection on us--for it is no right thing is in it at all," says herself.

               With that he went over and he turned the hundredweight of treasure until he had it propped up against the bails. When he began for to open the bag the cows went fair wild, striving and roaring and stamping to get away from the place entirely.

               The head of a great eel looked out from under the man's hand where he was groping for the treasure. The eyes of it were the colour of flame and as blinding to the sight as the naked sun at noon of a summer's day.

               The man gave one lep that carried him to the door and there the paralysis of dread held him down. Herself let a scream could be heard in the next townland, but she never asked to stir from where she was standing.

               The appearance of the eel twisted itself out of the sack and travelled along the ground, putting the six feet of its length into the awfullest loops and knots were ever seen. Then it reared up its head and neck to stand swaying for a while, a full half of it in the air. The man and woman were convenient to the door but the both were too scared to go out on it; they watched the eel and they seen it twist up round a bail until the head of it was touching the roof. Didn't it break away out through the thatch, and whether it melted off the face of the earth or travelled to other parts was never heard tell. But the likeness of that beast was the whole and only treasure came out of the sack the poor man dug from under the roots of the lone bush where the fairy gold was hid.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Fairy Gold
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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