National Folklore Collection
The story on this page has been taken from the Dúchas web site, page http://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5082122/5037942/5082525 and pages following. An image of the original manuscript can be viewed on the Dúchas page as well as more detailed information about the informant and recorder of the story.
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One time there was a widow and she had a son called Jack. They were very poor. Jack made up his mind that he would go and seek his fortune but his mother would not let him go.
At last she consented to let him a few days before he went, he went out into a field and he cut a stick about the size of a spear.
He put it into the same shape as a spear. Then he went over to a place where there were a good deal of flies and he hit all of them with one stroke of the wooden spear.
He counted the dead flies one by one and he got one hundred and sixty. Then he wrote on the spear
'' This spear is able to kill one hundred and sixty men with one stroke. The next day Jack set out. He travelled one day and he found no work. On the second day he came to a great big castle and he asked for work. The man of the house came out and he saw the wooden spear with Jack. When he saw what was written on it he bought Jack in
and he said he had work for him to do. Jack asked what work had he for him to do.
The man said he was building a large house on his farm and when his men would build part of it in the day that part that would be knocked down that night and he would have to watch to see who was knocking it down. He told Jack he would give him a great reward if he killed the person that was knocking it down. He told Jack to rest himself and that when night would come he would have to go to the place where the house was being built and watch there When night came Jack went to the place and hid himself behind a ditch close to the house.
When he was a while there three big giants came and they began to knock down the wall with their shoulders
Then Jack threw a stone and it hit one of the giants
'' Stop throwing '' says he to the other brother
'' I'm not throwing '' says he.
Then Jack threw another stone and it hit the same giant and says the giant
'' if you do that again you will be killed by my hand ''
'' I'm not throwing '' says he.
Then Jack threw
another stone and it hit the same giant and without saying another word he killed the other giant with his axe. Then two remained and these two buried their brother.
They did not knock down any more of the wall that night. Jack went back to his master in great humour and told him what had happened. His master praised him.
Jack went to bed, and stayed in bed until the next night Then he rose and went to the same place beside the house that was being built When he was a while there the two giants came and they began to knock down the wall. Jack threw a stone and it hit one of the giants and says the giant
'' You are beginning the same tricks as my brother last night''
'' I'm not throwing stones ''
Then Jack threw another stone and says the giant
'' if you do that again I will cut off your head the same as your other brother last night. The third time is the charm.''
Jack threw another stone and the giant got up without saying another word and killed his brother with his axe. Jack was in a great hurry to get back to his master to tell him what
had happened. He got up to go but the giant saw him and caught him and brought him back.
He asked him what was he doing there and Jack said he was going to seek his fortune and that he lay down there to sleep and that they awoke him shouting.
'' Nevertheless'' says the giant
'' you must come with me but first we must bury this man ''
Jack did so and he asked no questions. The giant brought him to his castle and he told him he had work for him to do. He told him he had a good many horses in the stable and that there were three men guarding them. He had to take a horse out of the stable unnoticed by them. If he failed in this he would be killed.
That day Jack went to a neighbouring man. This man had a public house. Jack told him what he had to do. The man told him he would help him.
He gave him a bottle of whisky and put a drug in it He told Jack to go to the stable and say that it was a cold night to the men that were guarding it.
Then he told him to talk to them a while and
to offer them a drink out of the bottle but to pretend that he was drinking a drop first
ack did as he was told and when he was a while talking to the men he took out the bottle and pretended that he was drinking a drop first. Then the three took a drop and before long they fell fast asleep. Jack took one of the horses out and hid it in another place. When morning came Jack told the giant that he brought out one of the horses unnoticed by the men. The giant told him he had another job for him to do. He told him he would he would have to pull the sheet from under him in the bed that night and that if he found him doing this he would shoot him. That day Jack went to the neighbour man and he told him he would help him. That night the two of them went to a graveyard and they opened a grave and took out a corpse out of the grave. They went to the castle and went up on the roof beside the chimney They tied the corpse to a rope and they began to put it up and down the chimney The giants heard this and he thought it was Jack coming down the chimney to
take the sheet off the bed. '' Begorra I have him this time '' says he.
He went down and fired up the chimney with his gun and Jack and the other man let the corpse down on the floor. The giant thought he was after shooting Jack and he went out to the garden and buried the corpse. Jack came down the chimney and took the sheet off the bed and went out on the chimney again . When the giant came in he missed the sheet off the bed and he knew the truth then. '' Begorra he will not get off the next time '' says he. The next day he brought Jack out and the two of them killed a calf. He told Jack that they were going to have a challenge to see which of them would eat most of the calf. The giant went into the house and Jack made a sack out of the skin of the calf that was killed. He put it inside his coat and then he went in and they began to eat. When Jack would eat one spoonful he would put six or seven into the sack that was inside his coat. At last the giant was able to eat no more and Jack ate on. The giant was not able to walk he ate so much and Jack pretended to be
the same. Then Jack took a knife and ripped the sack open and all he had eaten fell on the floor. Jack said he was better and able to run like a hair.
e told the giant to do the same and the giant did so and dropped dead at Jack's feet Now this giant's mother was alive and when she saw that Jack was the means of killing her three sons she said she would kill him. She put on a big pot of lead to boil and you would have to get up on a big stool to look into the pot it was that high up. She told Jack to get up on the stool to see when it would be boiling. When it would boil he was to tell her and she made up her mind that when Jack would say it was boiling she would put him up on the stool to make sure it was boiling and then she would throw him into and he would be burned. She went into another room waiting for it to boil Jack knew that it was a plan to kill him. She asked him was it boiling and Jack said it wasn't. She got tired waiting for it to boil and she went and got up on the stool to
look into the pot and Jack threw her into it and killed her. He went home and told his master all that had happened. His master was very glad to see him. He gave him a reward of two hundred and fifty pounds and told him to go home to his mother that he did not need him anymore.
Collector: Mary Brady Meenaghan
Informant: Patrick Brady Meenaghan
Teacher : T. O'Grady
Thanks to Bernadette McGovern who transcribed this and a great many other pages of the The Schools' Collection, from the National Folklore Collection Archives.
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