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Previous story Pluto's hidden castle
The story on this page has been taken from the Dúchas web site, page http://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5082122/5037842/5082239 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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Once there lived a king and queen named Garret and Nora. They had three sons named Roddy, Richie and Ronald. Roddy was a great sportsman and could ride his horse and shoot with his bow and arrow and his horse at full gallop and hardly ever miss his mark.
Richie tended his fathers flocks and herds and cured all diseases by his knowledge of herbs and that was his hobby. Ronald was the
youngest and took no interest in anything only boxing gloves.
Whenever he would meet a likely fellow he would have a spar with him for a few rounds and quit in good friendship and he was always the winner. He was very good at it and was a fine looking fellow
One day the king and queen and three sons were at dinner and Ronald asked his father who would get the crown after his day. '' It will go to the bravest of you three ''
'' How will that be known '' ?
" This way "" says the king whoever goes out and brings me King Speir's treasure will get the crown '' Well if I go, '' says Roddy '' the larder will soon be empty '' for Roddy always kept it well filled. '' And if I go '' says Richie '' your herds will go down by disease for want of
my care ''
'' That's all true '' says the queen.
'' Well '' says Ronald '' I'll go and bring the greatest treasure to you ''
'' We'll let you go if you like for you
were not much use here, and if Speirs kills you you will not want the crown ''
‘’ That's as much as to say that I would be no loss ''
'' Oh Ronald no matter what your father says I love you as much as any of your brothers and it would grieve me very much, and it would be a great loss ''
'' Well I'm off tomorrow morning and if I'm not back in a year and a month you will know that I am dead ''
'' Oh don't say that Ronald I hope you will be back before that ''
'' Maybe I will mother and we will have a glad meeting, for you are the only one that seems to care whether I do or not '' '' Oh it is so dangerous' don't venture your life ''
'' Oh, I'm going to bring home the treasure, or never come back myself ''
'' Well good luck to you ''. So Ronald started next day. The queen was in great grief. The king was hard hearted in a way. He kept the rough side out till he saw that all was lost. He made no fuss about Ronald but he felt it. Ronald was gone and there was no way
of hearing from anyone once they left your sight. Ronald travelled as fast as he could, not knowing the direction the treasure was in and very few if any could give a guess as to the wearabouts. That didn't daunt Ronald He dashed on in the hope he would come across it sooner or later. The first day the journey brought him a long way from home for Ronald was a great walker. The shades of night were coming and no house to be seen. '' Begorra, '' says Ronald '' I'll have to lie out this night anyway. ''
So he was looking for a cosy place to lie down. He saw a clump of bushes in front of him, and headed for it. He went round it, and found an inlet in the clump like a green lane (into the heart of the clump) This place will do me for the night. ''
So he opened the provisions sack which his mother had well filled for him. He refreshed himself and lay down. He slept till morning early and to his surprise there was a little man standing near him. He wore a three cocked hat and a jacket of crimson colour
and boots to his knees, and deep blue trousers all very richly embroidered, and to all appearance, seemed like gold. Ronald was greatly surprised for he was the first man he met since leaving home. '' In the name of all that's charming where did you come from '' ?
'' That's what I'll not tell you, but I'll tell you what brought me here. ' It was to keep guard over you while you slept. ''
'' That's very strange how would you know that I was here and you say to guard me from what? '' From being eaten by the wolves. ' Do you not know this is wolves territory '' ?
'' And would not the wolves eat you as well as me? '' They surely would only I was able to frighten. '' The little man had something in his hand that was very bright. '' Well I'd like to know how you could frighten a flock of wolves. ''
'' Aye and it would frighten you too at night if you didn't know what it was. ''
'' The little man turned round, and Ronald was surprised to see the beautiful yellow ringlets of hair that hung down his back. Well you are a very pretty little man, says Ronald. '' Don't bother me about that it does not count much when
I'm too small. ''
'' Oh '' says Ronald the small man is often bitter than the big one. '' ' That's true, but I want
to show you how I kept the wolves off last night. He lifted up the bright shaft he had in his hand. It had a flat flange on the end of it like a fan, and he gave it several scrapes with another bright little instrument, and out from the fan flew such a variety of flames, red, yellow, green and blue. It was so quick that it made Ronald jump to his feet and draw back. The little man says
'' Don't be alarmed it will do you no harm.'' When Ronald came to himself he was lost in admiration at the beauty of the colours. '' Well’’ says Ronald, that was well fit to keep back the wolves indeed.
But how did you know about my being here, or what right had you to protect me from the wolves. I never did anything for you. I don't know you.'' '' No you don't but there is one that knows you and sends me to watch over me all the night. ''
'' Well it was wonderful good of that person, and wonderful good of you, too. I would like to know who was so kind, an careful of me. '' '' Oh that person is watching for you this long time, and you will see that person before you get to your destination. ''
'' I know well where you are going, to take Speir's great treasure, and a hard task it
is, for there is a wall all round his court-yard twenty feet high, that you could not climb or any other man, for the wall is as smooth as calm water. So you will find it a hard task. ''
'' Maybe '' says Ronald, '' I'll never get into it at all .''
'' Oh you will if you take directions from a friend you will meet. ''
'' And please may I ask who is you my dear friend. '' The queen calls me Mercury because I do all her messages. '' And was it she that sent you to protect me ? ''
'' It was .''
'' Well long may she reign. She must be a very good queen. ''
'' And when you go to your journey's end you will see her, and she will help you, for without her help you would never return, and now set off for we talked too long, so we part company. ''
'' Are you coming my way? ''
'' No, I have another message to do. You might see me again, if all goes well, goodbye. ''
Ronald fixed himself as he could, for he thought he was going to meet a queen, so he set out for his days journey. For the third day he travelled on in great spirits when he thought that a queen was glad to meet him. He pushed on till it was like sun-set. '' This far '' he says
'' and no sign of Speir's castle.''
He went on and soon came to poles of oak. '' By this and by that but I'll get up in a tree
or the wolves won't get at me. And Ill look for one that I won't fall out of if I go to sleep. '' Ronald went into the wood for that purpose, and came on a very nice walk and was going on looking for a tree that would suit him, when he looked in front of him and saw a figure coming towards him. He stood still, and the figure came on as if she was floating on air, and came up to him. She wore a high fitting cap of rich blue velvet with a gold band round it and mitres of gold pointing to the top of the cap like a crown. She wore a long tartan of the same colour ornamented with gold and silver. She was tall and beautiful, so grand that Ronald could not speak. She spoke first, '' Oh Ronald I am a good while waiting for you''.
'' Oh most beautiful queen I am not worthy to speak to you, for you must be the queen of beauty. '' '' If you perform your task you will see one far superior to me. ''
'' I don't think it possible. ''
'' Time will tell. So you came here to take Speir's treasure? ''
'' Yes my father told me if I succeed in bringing him the treasure, he will give me his crown and throne. ''
'' Well you will succeed, and you will release a prisoner that will reward you
beyond expectations.'' '' But I see there is no entrance into it. '' '' Well I am going to help you. Meet me at twelve o' clock tonight, and I will have all things ready, and you must do as I tell you, or if you don't you will fail. '' '' Oh madam I will mark my life, and if needs be lose it for you. ''
'' Very well, you are a brave prince, '' Ronald was counting the hours till he would meet the queen again. So at last the time came and she was there to the minute. Ronald said '' This wall, or whatever it is no man could climb. ''
We must look for the underground passage that will let me in as far as the great gate.'' She brought him to a spot where the grass was withered.
'' That's it '' says the queen, '' Now you are a strong man, and you can lift. '' Ronald did as he was told, and up came the whole grass and the cover. '' Now Ronald, the great gates are locked, and there are two mastiff dogs, one on each side. They are fierce brutes, and are chained. They each can come as far as the middle of the gate. They can meet there and tear to pieces anyone that they do not know. So there will be no notice taken when you go to the gate. So now put
out your hand. '' Ronald did as he was told and the queen put a strap around his wrist. '' And now '' says she when you go to the gates, take this phiral (and when you are at the gate) put one drop out of this, on one of the links, and it will break by strength of your finger and thumb, and then take off the chains, reach for the strap that the little bags are hanging from and put your arm through the bars of the gate. By that the dogs will be furious to get at you. Hit them on the head with the little bag, and they will not trouble you any more. Be cautious and don't miss your aim. '' Ronald followed his directions to the letter. He put his arm through and hit both just across the eyes, and they fell to the ground dead. Then he took the link in his fingers, and the great strong link broke like a bit of rotten twig. '' Now we are in '' says the queen, '' What next, '' ? says Ronald. To reach the prisoner and get her out before the melee begins. Come follow me. '' They went out and round to the back part of the castle, and there was a window with a light through the shutters. There was no glass. It was parchment that was used to let in the light, and keep
out the cold in those times. The queen opened a stone door that seemed to be in the wall, and took out a stick, and handed to to Ronald '' Stretch that '' she said. It was a long rod, that could stretch out like a telescope and when it was stretched out it reached to the window. She tapped quietly and the window opened in halves, and to Ronald's astonishment the face that looked out was so beautiful, that he, for a moment, forgot his work and its danger. The queen whispered, '' Mercury ,'' and the little man was standing beside Ronald. The queen opened the stone door again, and took out a rope ladder, fastened it by a loop, and put it on the point of the long rod. '' Here Mercury hand that to Diana, '' and so he did, and the lovely young lady fixed it inside and Mercury was in the room in five seconds, and brought down a box, and put it into the stone press. The queen said '' That will be safe till the melee is over. Speir knows nothing about that press. This castle was my father's, and Speir brought a great troop of his pirates, and tuned him out, and he fought till he was killed. That's my daughter Diana. Speir seized her and wanted her to be his wife. It was only yesterday that he went to her and said
he would wait no longer for her concent. She begged one day more. He said that would not be much, and he granted it, but he said that if she played him false his dagger would pierce her heart. He would do that sooner than let anyone else have her. So you see we are only just in time to save her from that terrible villain. ''
''' Well '' says Ronald, when I meet him he will never threaten her again. By the was has he any retainers? ''
'' He has '' said the queen, but they are all away on a plundering expedition. He is here himself and his bully Hercules. He is a very big strong fellow, and does whatever Speir's wants him to do. You will have to frighten him, and Speir's too. '' I will do that and be proud of having to do it. '' '' Well all right '' says the queen, but Ronald take warning Speirs is no weakling, and fights with a long spear, so mind yourself for he is strong but you must fight him and win your bride. ''
'' Is she to be my bride '' ? says Ronald, '' Yes '' says the queen.
'' Oh '' says Ronald, '' that gives me the strength of a lion , and the sooner we meet the better. ''
At that moment the queen rang the great bell. Then there was a whistle, and the blast of a horn. The
whistle was for rousing the dogs, but they were asleep forever, and out came Speirs with his long spear. He held it at the charge, and his head turned back. He rushed at Ronald and Ronlad rushed at him. As he dashed at Speirs with the sword (that the queen gave him) he dashed the spear one side, and with his left hand, he hit Speirs under the chin, and with the one blow, he dislocated Speir's neck. He fell dead, and as he did Hercules came running to make short work of Ronald. He came between Ronald and the house door, where there was a stone pillar with sharp corners on it. He made a dash for Ronald, but Ronald was too quick for him. Ronald had more faith in his fists than he had in weapons. So he made a cut a Hercules, and made a deep gash across his eyebrow, and with his left hand he hit him in the face, and down went the great bully. As he fell his head struck the sharp corner of the pillar, and split his head in two, and he never got up. The queen was standing by all the time and then her voice rang out.
'' Well done Ronald you are worth your weight in gold and diamonds. You have won your bride like a noble prince. Mercury bring Diana here
and so he did. When Diana came Ronald advanced and bowed to her, and she said.
'' Brave Ronald, you have saved me from a cruel death, for I would die before I would marry that awful beast. ''
'' Oh beautiful lady I am more than rewarded for my little fight, when you begin to acknowledge my trifling service. ''
'' Oh why shouldn't I be in your debt for all my life-time. Now the queen says '' Here is your liberator, place your hand in his, and I betroth you now and forever. ''
'' I am the happiest man that ever was born. ''
'' Well let me see what the treasure is like and the cattle and treasure are yours. This castle and grounds were my father's, so we are only regaining our own.''
Diana and Ronald linked into the castle. The queen knew all parts of it, and the store of treasure was wonderful, but Ronald turned to Diana '' The treasure is nothing to me, here indeed is my treasure '' grasping Diana's hand '' I want no more . ''
'' But you have to bring treasure to your father. ''
'' I do not care much whether I do or not. He does not care much about me. ''
'' Oh but you must bring it to him. ''
'' Whatever you, my queen say is law to me, but I would like to see my mother. ''
Well we will all go and see her, and
bring some of the valuable things with us. '' '' And when will we go ? '' Any time, '' I will put a care-taker in the castle till we come back. ''
'' Well we are off tomorrow, for my mother is dear to me, and I want to show her my treasure and that is Diana beyond all the treasure of the world to me. '' So next day they started and soon arrived at the old king's palace. The meeting of Ronald and his mother was very affectionate, but when she saw the young bride she was astonished at her beauty. The old king says '' you are a brave fellow, and you must get my crown and throne. ''
'' No, thank you father, I don't want it, you can give it to any of my brothers. I have got the greatest prize I could ever dream of or look for. There is the treasure I promised to bring you. ''
'' Well I say again you are a brave fellow, and I wish you and your beautiful bride all the good luck and happiness in the world. ''
So they remained for the night, and went back to their own castle. Roddy and Richy were very sorry that they didn't seek Speir's treasure but they were late. The queen and Ronald, and his charming bride took up their abode in the castle of their father and Mercury was still the queen's page. So their life was all pleasure, and
their task all play, and they basked in the sunshine all their day.
Informant: William Hunt
No other details given
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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