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Fir Darrig, correctly written means the red man,
and is a member of the fairy community of Ireland, who bears a strong
resemblance to the Shakspearian Puck, or Robin Goodfellow. Like
that merry goblin, his delight is in mischief and mockery; and this
Irish spirit is doubtless the same as the Scottish Red Caps which a
writer in the Quarterly Review (No. XLIV. p. 358.), tracing national
analogies, asserts is the Robin Hood of England, and the Saxon spirit
Hudkin or Hodeken, so called from the hoodakin or little hood wherein
he appeared,— a spirit similar to the Spanish Duende. The Fir Darrig
has also some traits of resemblance in common with the Scotch
Brownie, the German Kobold (particularly the celebrated one, Hinzel.
man), the English Hobgoblin (Milton's " Lubber Fiend "), and the FoUet
of Gervase of Tilbury, who says of the Folletos, "Verba utique hu-
mano more audiuntur et effigies non comparent. De istis pleraque
miracula memini me in vita abbreviata et miraculis beatissimi Antonii
The red dress and strange flexibility of voice possessed by the Fir
Darrig form his peculiar characteristics; the latter, according to Irish
tale-tellers, is like the sound of the waves ; and
again it is compared to the music of angels ;
, the warbling of birds, &c, ; and the usual
address to this fairy is,, do not mock us.
His entire dress, when he is seen, is invariably described as crimson ;
whereas, Irish fairies generally appear in a black hat, a green suit,
white stockings, and red shoes.

Whene'er such wanderers I meete.
As from their night-sports they trudge home,
With counterfeiting voice I greete.
And call them on, with me to roame
Through woods, through lakes.
Through bogs, through brakes j
Or else, unseene, with them I go.
All in the nicke,
To play some tricke.
And frolicke it, with ho, ho, ho ! Old Song.

One stormy night Patrick Burke was seated in
the chimney corner, smoking his pipe quite con-
tentedly after his hard day's work ; his two h'ttle
boys were roasting potatoes in the ashes, while
his rosy daughter held a splinter ' to her mother,
who, seated on a siesteen 2, was mending a rent
in Patrick's old coat ; and Judy, the maid, was
singing merrily to the sound of her wheel, that
kept up a beautiful humming noise, just like the
sweet drone of a bagpipe. Indeed they all seemed
quite contented and happy ; for the storm howled
without, and they were warm and snug within,
by the side of a blazing turf fire. " I was just
thinking," said Patrick, taking the dudeen from
his mouth and giving it a rap on his thumbnail
to shake out the ashes — "I was just thinking
how thankful we ought to be to have a snug bit
of a cabin this pelting night over our heads, for
in all my born days I never heard the like of it."
" And that's no lie for you, Pat," said his wife ;
" but, whisht; what noise is that I hard?'' and
she dropped her work upon her knees, and looked
fearfully towards the door. " The Vargin herself
defend us all ! " cried Judy, at the same time ra-
pidly making a pious sign on her forehead, " if
'tis not the banshee !"
" Hold your tongue, you fool," said Patrick,
" it's only the old gate swinging in the wind ;'*
and he had scarcely spoken, when the door was
assailed by a violent knocking. Molly began to
mumble her prayers, and Judy proceeded to mut-
ter over the muster-roll of saints ; the youngsters
scampered off to hide themselves behind the settle-
bed ; the storm howled louder and more fiercely
than ever, and the rapping was renewed with re-
doubled violence.
" Whisht, whisht ! " said Patrick — " what a
noise ye 're all making about nothing at all. Judy
a-roon, can't you go and see who's at the door?"
for, notwithstanding his assumed bravery, Pat
Burke preferred that the maid should open the
" Why, then, is it me you 're speaking to ? "
said Judy, in the tone of astonishment ; " and is
it cracked mad you are. Mister Burke; or is it,
may be, that you want me to be rund away with,
and made a horse of, like my grandfather was ? —
the sorrow a step will I stir to open the door, if
you were as great a man again as you are, Pat
" Bother you, then ! and hold your tongue, and
I'll go myself." So saying, up got Patrick, and
made the best of his way to the door. " Who's
there ?" said he, and his voice trembled mightily
all the while. In the name of Saint Patrick,
who's there?" '' 'Tis I, Pat," answered a voice
which he immediately knew to be the young
squire's. In a moment the door was opened, and
in walked a young man, with a gun in his hand,
and a brace of dogs at his heels. " Your honour's
honour is quite welcome, entirely," said Patrick ;
who was a very civil sort of a fellow, especially
to his betters. " Your honour's honour is quite
welcome ; and if ye '11 be so condescending as to
demean yourself by taking off your wet jacket,
Molly can give ye a bran new blanket, and ye can
sit forenent the fire while the clothes are drying."
" Thank you, Pat," said the squire, as he wrapt
himself, like Mr. Weld, in the proffered blanket. ^
*' But what made you keep me so long at the
door ? "
" Why, then, your honour 'twas all along of
Judy, there, being so much afraid of the good
people ; and a good right she has, after what hap-
pened to her grandfather — the Lord rest his
soul ! "
" Why, then, your honour must know that
Judy had a grandfather ; and he was ould Diar-
mid Bawn, the piper, as personable a looking
man as any in the five parishes he was ; and he
could play the pipes so sweetly, and make them
spake to such perfection, that it did one's heart
good to hear him. We never had any one, for
that matter, in this side of the country like him,
before or since, except James Gandsey, that is
own piper to Lord Headley — his honour's lord-
ship is the real good gentleman — and 'tis Mr.
Gandsey's music that is the pride of Killarney
lakes. Well, as I was saying, Diarmid was Judy's
grandfather, and he rented a small mountainy
farm ; and he was walking about the fields one
moonlight night, quite melancholy-like in himself
for want of the tohaccy ; because, why, the river
was flooded, and he could not get across to buy
any, and Diarmid would rather go to bed without
his supper than a whiff of the dudeen. Well,
your honour, just as he came to the old fort in
the far field, what should he see ? — the Lord
preserve us ! — but a large army of the good
people, 'coutered for all the world just like the
dragoons ! ' Are ye all ready ?' said a little fel-
low at their head dressed out like a general. * No ;*
said a little curmudgeon of a chap all dressed in
red, from the crown of his cocked hat to the sole
of his boot. ' No, general,' said he : ' if you
don't get the Fir darrig a horse he must stay be-
hind, and ye '11 lose the battle."
" ' There ' Diarmid Bawn,' said the general,
pointing to Judy's grandfather, your honour,
' make a horse of him.'
" So with that master Fir darrig comes up to
Diarmid, who, you may be sure, was in a mighty
great fright ; but he determined, seeing there was
no help for him, to put a bold face on the matter ;
and so he began to cross himself, and to say some
blessed words, that nothing bad could stand before.
" ' Is that what you'd be after, you spalpeen ? *
said the little red imp, at the same time grinning
a horrible grin ; * I'm not the man to care a straw
for either your words or your crossings.' So, with-
out more to do, he gives poor Diarmid a rap with
the flat side of his sword, and in a moment he was
changed into a horse, with httle Fir darrig stuck
fast on his back.
" Away they all flew over the wide ocean, like
so many wild geese, screaming and chattering all
the time, till they came to Jamaica ; and there
they had a murdering fight with the good people
of that country. Well, it was all very well with
them, and they stuck to it manfully, and fought
it out fairly, till one of the Jamaica men made
a cut with his sword under Diarmid's left eye,
and then, sir, your see, poor Diarmid lost his tem-
per entirely, and he dashed into the very middle
of them, with Fir darrig mounted upon his back,
and he threw out his heels, and he whisked his
tail about, and wheeled and turned round and
round at such a rate, that he soon made a fair
clearance of them, horse, foot, and dragoons. At
last Diarmid's faction got the better, all through
his means ; and then they had such feasting and
rejoicing, and gave Diarmid, who was the finest
horse amongst them all, the best of every thing.
" ' Let every man take a hand of tohaccy for
Diarmid Bawn,' said the general; and so they
did; and away they flew, for 'twas getting near
morning, to the old fort back again, and there
they vanished like the mist from the mountain.
" When Diarmid looked about the sun was
rising and he thought it was all a dream, till he
saw a big rick of tohaccy in the old fort, and felt
the blood running from his left eye : for sure
enough he was wounded in the battle, and would
have been hilt entirely, if it was n't for a gospel
composed by Murphy that hung about his
neck ever since he had the scarlet fever ; and for
certain, it was enough to have given him another
scarlet fever to have had tlie little red man all
night on his back, whip and spur for the bare life.
However, there was the tobaccy heaped up in a
great heap by his side ; and he heard a voice, al-
though he could see no one, telling him, ' That
'twas all his own, for his good behaviour in the
battle ; and that whenever Fir darrig would want
a horse again he 'd know where to find a clever
beast, as he never rode a better than Diarmid
Bawn/ That*s what he said, sir."
" Thank you, Pat," said the squire ; " it cer-
tainly is a wonderful story, and I am not sur-
prised at Judy's alarm. But now, as the storm
is over, and the moon shining brightly, I'll make
the best of my way home." So saying, he dis-
robed himself of the blanket, put on his coat, and,
whistling his dogs, set off across the mountain ;
while Patrick stood at the door, bawling after
him, " May God and the blessed Virgin preserve
your honour, and keep ye from the good people ;
for 'twas of a moonlight night like this that Diar-
mid Bawn was made a horse of, for the Fir dar-
rig to ride."


The kitchen of some country houses in Ireland
presents in no ways a bad modern translation of
the ancient feudal hall. Traces of clanship still
linger round its hearth in the numerous depend-
ants on " the master's" bounty. Nurses, foster-
brothers, and other hangers on, are there as mat-
ter of right, while the strolling piper, full of mirth
and music, the benighted traveller, even the
passing beggar, are received with a hearty wel-
come, and each contributes planxty, song, or su-
perstitious tale, towards the evening's amusement.
An assembly, such as has been described, had
collected round the kitchen fire of Ballyrahen-
house, at the foot of the Galtee mountains, when,
as is ever the case, one tale of wonder called forth
another; and with the advance of the evening
each succeeding story was received with deep
and deeper attention. The history of Cough na
Looba's dance with the black friar at Rahill, and
the fearful tradition of Count an Hr morriv (the
dead man's hollow), were listened to in breath-
less silence. A pause followed the last relation,
and all eyes rested on the narrator, an old nurse
who occupied the post of honour, that next the
fireside. She was seated in that peculiar position
which the Irish name " Currigguib," a position
generally assumed by a veteran and determined
story-teller. Her haunches resting upon the
ground, and her feet bundled under the body;
her arms folded across and supported by her knees,
and the outstretched chin of her hooded head
pressing on the upper arm ; which compact ar-
rangement nearly reduced the whole figure into
a perfect triangle.
Unmoved by the general gaze, Bridget Doyle
made no change of attitude, while she gravely
asserted the truth of the marvellous tale con-
cerning the Dead Man's Hollow ; her strongly
marked countenance at the time receiving what
painters term a fine chiaro obscuro effect from the
" I have told you," she said, " what happened
to my own people, the Butlers and the Doyles, in
the old times ; but here is little Ellen Connell
from the county Cork, who can speak to what
happened under her own father and mother's roof
— the Lord be good to them ! "
Ellen, a young and blooming girl of about
sixteen, was employed in the dairy at Bally-
rahen. She was the picture of health and rustic
beauty ; and at this hint from nurse Doyle, a deep
blush mantled over her countenance ; yet, al-
though " unaccustomed to public speaking," she,
without further hesitation or excuse, proceeded
as follows : —
" It was one May eve, about thirteen years ago,
and that is, as every body knows, the airiest day
in all the twelve months. It is the day above all
other days," said Ellen, with her large dark eyes
cast down on the ground, and drawing a deep sigh,
" when the young boys and the young girls go
looking after the Drutheen, to learn from it
rightly the name of their sweethearts.
" My father, and my mother, and my two
brothers, with two or three of the neighbours,
were sitting round the turf fire, and were talking
of one thing or another. My mother was husho-
ing my little sister, striving to quieten her, for she
was cutting her teeth at the time, and was mighty
uneasy through the means of them. The day,
which was threatening all along, now that it was
coming on to dusk, began to rain, and the rain
increased and fell fast and faster, as if it was
pouring through a sieve out of the wide heayens ;
and when the rain stopped for a bit there was a
wind which kept up such a whistling and racket,
that you would have thought the sky and the
earth were coming together. It blew and it blew
as if it had a mind to blow the roof off the cabin,
and that would not have been very hard for it to
do, as the thatch was quite loose in two or three
places. Then the rain began again, and you could
hear it spitting and hissing in the fire, as it came
down through the big chimhley,
" ' God bless us,' says my mother, * but 't is a
dreadful night to be at sea,' says she, * and God
be praised that we have a roof, bad as it is, to
shelter us.'
" I don't, to be sure, recollect all this, mistress
Doyle, but only as my brothers told it to me, and
other people, and often have I heard it ; for I
was so little then, that they say I could just go
under the table without tipping my head. Any-
way, it was in the very height of the pelting and
whistling that we heard something speak outside
the door. My father and all of us listened, but
there was no more noise at that time. We waited
a little longer, and then we plainly heard a sound
like an old man's voice, asking to be let in, but
mighty feeble and weak. Tim bounced up, with-
out a word, to ask us whether we 'd like to let
the old man, or whoever he was, in — having al-
ways a heart as soft as a mealy potato before the
voice of sorrow. When Tim pulled back the bolt
that did the door, in marched a little bit of a shri-
velled, weather-beaten creature, about two feet
and a half high.
" We were all watching to see who 'd come in,
for there was a wall between us and the door ;
but when the sound of the undoing of the bolt
stopped, we heard Tim give a sort of a screech,
and instantly he bolted in to us. He had hardly
time to say a word, or we either, when the little
gentleman shuffled in after him, without a God
save all here, or by your leave, or any other sort
of thing that any decent body might say. We
all, of one accord, scrambled over to the furthest
end of the room, where we were, old and young,
every one trying who 'd get nearest the wall, and
farthest from him. All the eyes of our body were
stuck upon him, but he didn't mind us no more
than that frying-pan there does now. He walked
over to the fire, and squatting himself down like a
frog, took the pipe that my father dropped from
his mouth in the hurry, put it into his own, and
then began to smoke so hearty, that he soon filled
the room of it.
" We had plenty of time to observe him, and
my brothers say that he wore a sugar-loaf hat
that was as red as blood : he had a face as yellow
as a kite's claw, and as long as to-day and to-
morrow put together, with a mouth all screwed
and puckered up lik^ a washer-woman's hand;
little blue eyes, and rather a highish nose ; his
hair was quite grey and lengthy, appearing under
his hat, -and flowing over the cape of a long scar-
let coat, which almost trailed the ground behind
him, and the ends of which he took up and planked
on his knees to dry, as he sat facing the fire. He
had smart corduroy breeches, and woollen stock-
ings drawn up over the knees, so as to hide the
kneebuckles, if he had the pride to have them ;
but, at any rate, if he hadn't them in his knees he
had buckles in his shoes, out before his spindle legs.
When we came to ourselves a little we thought
to escape from the room, but no one would go first,
nor no one would stay last ; so we huddled our-
selves together and made a dart out of the room.
My little gentleman never minded any thing of
the scrambling, nor hardly stirred himself, sitting
quite at his ease before the fire. The neighbours,
the very instant minute they got to the door,
although it still continued pelting rain, cut gutter
as if Oliver Cromwell himself was at their heels ;
and no blame to them for that, anyhow. It was
my father, and my mother, and my brothers, and
myself, a little hop-of-my>thumb midge as I was
then, that were left to see what would come out
of this strange visit ; so we all went quietly to
the lahhig^y scarcely daring to throw an eye at
him as we passed the door. Never the wink of
sleep could they sleep that live-long night, though,
to be sure, I slept like a top, not knowing better,
while they were talking and thinking of the little
" When they got up in the morning every thing
was as quiet and as tidy about the place as if no-
thing had happened, for all that the chairs and
stools were tumbled here, there, and everywhere,
when we saw the lad enter. Now, indeed, I for-
get whether he came next night or not, but
anyway, that was the first time we ever laid eye
upon him. This I know for certain, that, about
a month after that he came regularly every night,
and used to give us a signal to be on the move,
for 't was plain he did not like to be observed.
This sign was always made about eleven o'clock ;
and then, if we 'd look towards the door, there
was a little hairy arm thrust in through the key-
hole, which would not have been big enough, only
there was a fresh hole made near the first one,
and the bit of stick between them had been
broken away, and so 'twas just fitting for the lit-
tle arm.
" The Fir darrig continued his visits, never
missing a night, as long as we attended to the
signal ; smoking always out of the pipe he made
his own of, and warming himself till day dawned
before the fire, and then going no one living knows
where : but there was not the least mark of him
to be found in the morning; and 'tis as true,
nurse Doyle, and honest people, as you are all
here sitting before me and by the side of me, that
the family continued thriving, and my father and
brothers rising in the world while ever he came
to us. When we observed this, we used always
look for the very moment to see when the arm
would come, and then we'd instantly fly off with
ourselves to our rest. But before we found the
luck, we used sometimes sit still and not mind the
arm, especially when a neighbour would be with
my father, or that two or three or four of them
would have a drop among them, and then they
did not care for all the arms, hairy or not, that
ever were seen. No one, however, dared to speak
to it or of it insolently, except, indeed, one night
that Davy Kennane — but he was drunk — walked
over and hit it a rap on the back of the wrist: the
hand was snatched off like lightning; but every
one knows that Davy did not live a month after
this happened, though he was only about ten days
sick. The like of such tricks are ticklish things
to do.
" As sure as the red man would put in his arm
for a sign through the hole in the door, and that
we did not go and open it to him, so sure some
mishap befel the cattle: the cows were elf- stoned,
or overlooked, or something or another went wrong
with them. One night my brother Dan refused
to go at the signal, and the next day, as he was
cutting turf in Crogh-na-drimina bog, within a
mile and a half of the house, a stone was thrown
at him which broke fairly, with the force, into
two halves. Now, if that had happened to hit
him he'd be at this hour as dead as my great
great-grandfather. It came whack-slap against
the spade he had in his hand, and split at once
m two pieces. He took them up and fitted them
together and they made a perfect heart. Some
way or the other he lost it since, but he still has
the one which was shot at the spotted milch cow,
before the little man came near us. Many and
many a time T saw that same ; 'tis just the shape
of the ace of hearts on the cards, only it is of a
dark-red colour, and polished up like the grate
that is in the grand parlour within. When this
did not kill the cow on the spot, she swelled up;
but if you took and put the elf-stone under
her udder, and milked her upon it to the last
stroking, and then made her drink the milk, it
would cure her, and she would thrive with you
ever after.
" But, as I said, we were getting on well
enough as long as we minded the door and watched
for the hairy arm, which we did sharp enough
when we found it was bringing luck to us, and
we were now as glad to see the little red gentle-
man, and as ready to open the door to him, as we
used to dread his coming at first and be frightened
of him. But at long last we throve so well that
the landlord — God forgive him — took notice of
us, and envied us, and asked my father how he
came by the penny he had, and wanted him to
take more ground at a rack-rent that was more
than any Christian ought to pay to another, seeing
there was no making it. When my father — and
small blame to him for that — refused to lease the
ground, he turned us off the bit of land we had,
and out of the house and all, and left us in a wide
and wicked world, where my father, for he was a
soft innocent man, was not up to the roguery and
the trickery that was practised upon him. He
was taken this way by one and that way by an-
other, and he treating them that were working
his downfall. And he used to take bite and sup
with them, and they with him, free enough as
long as the money lasted; but when that was
gone, and he had not as much ground, that he
could call his own, as would sod a lark, they soon
shabbed him off. The landlord died not long
after ; and he now knows whether he acted
right or wrong in taking the house from over our
" It is a bad thing for the heart to be cast
down, so we took another cabin, and looked out
with great desire for the Fir darrig to come to us.
But ten o'clock came and no arm, although we
cut a hole in the door just the moral (model) of
the other. Eleven o'clock ! — twelve o'clock ! —
no, not a sign of him : and every night we
watched, but all would not do. We then travelled
to the other house, and we rooted up the hearth,
for the landlord asked so great a rent for it from
the poor people that no one could take it ; and
we carried away the very door off the hinges,
and we brought every thing with us that we
thought the little man was in any respect partial
to, but he did not come, and we never saw him
" My father and my mother, and my young
sister, are since dead, and my two brothers, who
could tell all about this better than myself, are
both of them gone out with Ingram in his last
voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, leaving me
behind without kith or kin/'
Here young Ellen's voice became choked with
sorrow, and bursting into tears, she hid her face
in her apron.