Folk Tales of Breffny | Annotated Tale

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Tillage in the Fort, The

THERE was a man in these parts, and he thought it hard to see a square inch of ground go to loss. He had a small wee farm on the top of a windy hill, and there was a fort on the sweetest of the fields. He couldn't pass by but he'd think of how much potatoes might be grown within in the circle. Well with the dint of consideration didn't he finally decide for to plant it.

               He never let on to his wife, but away out with the loy, and he made great work before the fall of night. When he came in he carried a lengthy thorn root in his hand.

               "What are you holding?" asks herself.

               "An old thorn I hoked out of the ground," says he. "I brought it in for the fire."

               "Is it making gaps in the quick hedges you are?" she asks.

               "Not at all," says he. "I have the circle beyond rooted up for to set potatoes in it."

               "Is it the fort!" says she.

               When she heard what he was after doing she began for to roar and to cry.

               "It is destroyed we are in this ill hour," she lamented. "The Good People will be following us surely with the black wrath of vengeance and spite. Never before did I hear of a man setting spuds in a fort."

               "Quit raving," says he.

               "Many and many's the time I have seen them, they riding down by the hill; their fiddles and fifes I have heard, their shouts and their laughs. But I had no cause for a dread till it come on me now," she replies.

               With that herself took the thorn from the fire, where he was after casting it down; she left it out on the door of the house.

               "Let their branch stop beyond on the street," says she, "the way they will not be entering here and they seeking for to bring it away."

               In the black darkness of midnight there came the awfullest cry on the street, on past the house and into the byre. Then a great lamentation came from the cows and the ass.

               "The creatures are a killing this night," says herself.

               The man rose out of his bed and he kindled a light. He had the heart to go out to the beasts to see what ailed them at all. There was no loss on the cows nor the ass, and the cry and the shouting were gone.

               He went back to the house, but not a long was he in before the very same trouble rose in the byre. Out with him again to make sure what was wrong, and he found not a single heth astray.

               He was back in his bed when a third cry passed on the wind. The ass let a roar was more nor horrid lonesome, and the cows were stamping and roaring with dread. All the while there was nothing in it when the master went out.

               There was no sound more until hard on the break of day. A laugh that was hateful to hear passed the house, and a hand struck hard on the window.

               Himself rose early, and he opened the door. What did he see only the ass lying dead on the street, and the two cows were destroyed in the byre.

               "'Twas the fairies, surely," says he. "And they brought this destruction upon me for hoking a hole in their farm."

               "It's a powerful great price they're after charging you for the hire of a small piece of ground," says herself, coming out. "But the thorn stick is gone off the street where I threw it last night, and if that had remained in the house they'd have murdered ourselves."

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Tillage in the Fort, The
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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