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Dúchas Schools Collection - Cavan


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The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0966

Stories of Leipreachans and Mermaids

The story on this page has been taken from the Dúchas web site, page 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.
The numbers on the left are original page numbers and are for researchers wishing to find the original page.

Copyright and licence information appears at the bottom of this page.

Page 349
There are not many stories of leipreachans and mermaids in this district, as it is not a seaside district. Mr Patrick MacGovern, Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan once saw two fairies in Arderry Fort, Bawnboy, Co. Cavan.
For a story connected with a bean-Sí (fairy woman), please see '' Local Happenings. '' When people O' or Mac before their surname, are dead or approaching their death a bean-Sí cries.
Stories of leipreachans are very rare in this district.

1st Story.
Mr Patrick Reilly, Culliagh, Bawnboy Co. Cavan saw a little man or leipreachan, not many years ago. The man was going through the fields, and he

P 350
saw a little man not many yards away from him, whistling. He was about the size of a boy of 10 or 12 years of age. He had a broad, old looking face on him.
Mr O' Reilly thought that it was some of the neighbouring children and he stooped to pluck a * thraneen, with which to clean his pipe. When he looked up, the little man was gone.
Thinking that he might have hidden, or fallen someplace, he searched about the fields but did not find him. No doubt, he was very satisfied, and he walked on through the fields to his own home. On his way, he met another man, who asked him did he see a boy, who was whistling * a blade of grass.

P 351
peculiarly, going across the fields. Mr. O' Reilly said he did, and that he never heard the air he was whistling, before. He then told him the way he had disappeared, and the other man was very mystified also. The little man was not seen afterwards. The bean-Sí was often seen in the district, as were also fairies.

2nd Story.
Once, Mr John Dolan (deceased) Teeboy, Bawnboy, Co. Cavan was passing Arderry Fort, Bawnboy, Co. Cavan, late at night, and a live coal rolled down the fort to him, and he lit his pipe with it.
The local name for the Leipreachan in this district is a '' geanncanach. '' He lives in a fort and is usually dressed in

P 352
red, when people see him. He is supposed to be friendly.

3rd Story.
Once, a man caught a lepireachan, and he asked him, where would he find a crock of gold, and the lepireachan said
'' under a bush '', showing him a bush, under which he would get it. The man tied a red rag around the bush,so that he would remember it. When he arose in the morning he went out to dig up the gold but all the bushes in the field were tied with red rags. The man did not know what was the one he sought. Stories like these are common all over the country of leipreachans tricking human beings. The leipreachan's usual

P 353
occupation is making shoes, and he sits under a mushroom making them. He is called a fairy shoemaker.

4th Story
There is supposed to be a mermaid in Bunerky Lake. There is a story told of a man from this district, who saw a mermaid one evening combing her hair and he asked her to marry him. She told him she would, but that she would have to hide her comb, and if he ever got it she would have to turn into a mermaid again and go back to the water. She went home with him and hid her comb in the rafters of an outhouse. One day, the man got the comb, and when he went into the house she was gone.

P 354
county ( Cavan ) called '' béal ?? Conai?? '' or Ballyconnell, and it is supposed to have derived its name from a warrior called Conaill Cearma?, who lived 2000 years before Our Lord's time and Ballyconnell is supposed to be '' The mouth of the ford of Conall. '' Bellaheady Mountain, which is situated near Cavan , is supposed to be his burial place and there is a large mound on the top of it.

Collector: Maureen Byrne
Address: Muineal, Co. Cavan
Informant: Mr M. Byrne
Address: Muineal, Co. Cavan
School: Coratillon
Location: Corratillan, Co. Cavan
Teacher: M. O'Beirn



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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