Irish Fairy Tales, by William Butler Yeats

The Fairy Greyhound

Paddy M’Dermid was one of the most rollicking boys in the whole county of Kildare. Fair or pattern3 wouldn’t be held barring he was in the midst of it. He was in every place, like bad luck, and his poor little farm was seldom sowed in season; and where he expected barley, there grew nothing but weeds. Money became scarce in poor Paddy’s pocket; and the cow went after the pig, until nearly all he had was gone. Lucky however for him, if he had gomch (sense) enough to mind it, he had a most beautiful dream one night as he lay tossicated (drunk) in the Rath4 of Monogue, because he wasn’t able to come home. He dreamt that, under the place where he lay, a pot of money was buried since long before the memory of man. Paddy kept the dream to himself until the next night, when, taking a spade and pickaxe, with a bottle of holy water, he went to the Rath, and, having made a circle round the place, commenced diggin’ sure enough, for the bare life and sowl of him thinkin’ that he was made up for ever and ever. He had sunk about twice the depth of his knees, when whack the pickaxe struck against a flag, and at the same time Paddy heard something breathe quite near him. He looked up, and just fornent him there sat on his haunches a comely-looking greyhound.

‘God save you,’ said Paddy, every hair in his head standing up as straight as a sally twig.

‘Save you kindly,’ answered the greyhound — leaving out God, the beast, bekase he was the divil. Christ defend us from ever seeing the likes o’ him.

‘Musha, Paddy M’Dermid,’ said he, ‘what would you be looking after in that grave of a hole you’re diggin’ there?’

‘Faith, nothing at all, at all,’ answered Paddy; bekase you see he didn’t like the stranger.

‘Arrah, be easy now, Paddy M’Dermid,’ said the greyhound; ‘don’t I know very well what you are looking for?’

‘Why then in truth, if you do, I may as well tell you at wonst, particularly as you seem a civil-looking gentleman, that’s not above speaking to a poor gossoon like myself.’ (Paddy wanted to butter him up a bit.)

‘Well then,’ said the greyhound, ‘come out here and sit down on this bank,’ and Paddy, like a gomulagh (fool), did as he was desired, but had hardly put his brogue outside of the circle made by the holy water, when the beast of a hound set upon him, and drove him out of the Rath; for Paddy was frightened, as well he might, at the fire that flamed from his mouth. But next night he returned, full sure the money was there. As before, he made a circle, and touched the flag, when my gentleman, the greyhound, appeared in the ould place.

‘Oh ho,’ said Paddy, ‘you are there, are you? but it will be a long day, I promise you, before you trick me again’; and he made another stroke at the flag.

‘Well, Paddy M’Dermid,’ said the hound, ‘since you will have money, you must; but say, how much will satisfy you?’

Paddy scratched his conlaan, and after a while said —

‘How much will your honour give me?’ for he thought it better to be civil.

‘Just as much as you consider reasonable, Paddy M’Dermid.’

‘Egad,’ says Paddy to himself, ‘there’s nothing like axin’ enough.’

‘Say fifty thousand pounds,’ said he. (He might as well have said a hundred thousand, for I’ll be bail the beast had money gulloure.)

‘You shall have it,’ said the hound; and then, after trotting away a little bit, he came back with a crock full of guineas between his paws.

‘Come here and reckon them,’ said he; but Paddy was up to him, and refused to stir, so the crock was shoved alongside the blessed and holy circle, and Paddy pulled it in, right glad to have it in his clutches, and never stood still until he reached his own home, where his guineas turned into little bones, and his ould mother laughed at him. Paddy now swore vengeance against the deceitful beast of a greyhound, and went next night to the Rath again, where, as before, he met Mr. Hound.

‘So you are here again, Paddy?’ said he.

‘Yes, you big blaggard,’ said Paddy, ‘and I’ll never leave this place until I pull out the pot of money that’s buried here.’

‘Oh, you won’t,’ said he. ‘Well, Paddy M’Dermid, since I see you are such a brave venturesome fellow I’ll be after making you up if you walk downstairs with me out of the could’; and sure enough it was snowing like murder.

‘Oh may I never see Athy if I do,’ returned Paddy, ‘for you only want to be loading me with ould bones, or perhaps breaking my own, which would be just as bad.’

”Pon honour,’ said the hound, ‘I am your friend; and so don’t stand in your own light; come with me and your fortune is made. Remain where you are and you’ll die a beggar-man.’ So bedad, with one palaver and another, Paddy consented; and in the middle of the Rath opened up a beautiful staircase, down which they walked; and after winding and turning they came to a house much finer than the Duke of Leinster’s, in which all the tables and chairs were solid gold. Paddy was delighted; and after sitting down, a fine lady handed him a glass of something to drink; but he had hardly swallowed a spoonful when all around set up a horrid yell, and those who before appeared beautiful now looked like what they were — enraged ‘good people’ (fairies). Before Paddy could bless himself, they seized him, legs and arms, carried him out to a great high hill that stood like a wall over a river, and flung him down. ‘Murder!’ cried Paddy; but it was no use, no use; he fell upon a rock, and lay there as dead until next morning, where some people found him in the trench that surrounds the mote of Coulhall, the ‘good people’ having carried him there; and from that hour to the day of his death he was the greatest object in the world. He walked double, and had his mouth (God bless us) where his ear should be.

3 A merry-making in the honour of some patron saint.

4 Raths are little fields enclosed by circular ditches. They are thought to be the sheep-folds and dwellings of an ancient people.

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/y/yeats/william_butler/irish-fairy-tales/part1.6.html

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02