Seeing people

The father of a family came home one evening after a hard day’s stacking. He was tired and wanted to rest; but his wife insisted he bring the cow to the bull in the 20 acres Moate’s Meadows field in Orpen’s Demesne at Monksgrange.

Mr Butler the Protestant minister lived in Orpen’s and he owned the bull. There was a cover charge for the services of the bull, which was paid to the minister. But they wanted to use the bull without permission, or payment.

Recognising there would be a terrible row if he was discovered, the man brought a workman by the name of Kavanagh with him. The pair travelled along as quietly as it is possible to do with a cow until they got to the field at Moate’s Meadow where the bull was in residence. They let the cow into the field and hoped consummation would be completed as soon as possible with positive results.

However, they soon realised there were people in the field, beside themselves, though none were intent on illicit coupling between beasts, nor had any interest in it either.

In this case, the bull’s field was full of silent soldiers of long ago marching up and down with swords at their sides.

Whatever about the cowman’s need to protect his charge and bring her safely home; Kavanagh the workman did not feel any obligation to stand there until the marching soldiers and their weapons arrived where he was standing, rooted to the spot.

Kavanagh fled the field, as any reasoning person might reasonably be expected to do when faced with a more numerous body of men and he with nothing to face them with beyond a single wondering cow.

The cow’s owner, unable to manage a bull and a cow and keep watch for an aroused owner and a field of armed marching spectres had to withdraw from the encounter and bring the unfulfilled cow back home again.

There was a boreen beside the field and this he used as a sure way home. As he led the cow along he fancied he saw a frightened face peering out from a bush at him.

It was Kavanagh who had taken cover in the bush after deciding he would be unable to outrun the soldiers if they gave chase with upright swords.

He stopped and said to Kavanagh that for two pins, he’d knock the head off him for running away.

If he had, the sight of  a headless helper running back through the field might have frightened even the ranks of ghostly marching soldiers.

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Extracted from Wexford Folk Tales by Brendan Nolan

published by History Press Ireland


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