Book of stories

Wexford Folk Tales

Tea drinking  in Wexford can be a dangerous pastime

WEXFORD has a rich heritage of myths and legends which is uniquely captured in this collection of traditional tales from across the county that will immerse you in a Wexford that some say is past and others say is all around you, still.

Three Geese
A tailor allows his contrary wife to be lowered alive into a grave where clods of earth are thrown in upon her casket, rather than give in to  an argument over geese.

The strangeness of tea
A woman of unconventional beauty beguiles a half Sir with a special tea of her own until he decides he will marry her and hang the consequences. On the Blasket Islands off Kerry the first shipwrecked tea to wash ashore is used to die homemade clothes.

Cat killer
A titled bridegroom tries to catch rabbits for the bridal feast. He returns home empty-handed and meets a white cat upon the road. He throws a stone at the cat and forfeits his future.

A soft step
Oonagh Matthews was a smooth-faced and a handsome young girl, by all accounts; but light in the head, and fond of flatteryThe machinations of Alaster Henry the son of a big house was to lead to her undoing.

Marriage of a man and a woman
There was a lot to be considered before rushing into marriage in the old days in Wexford. Liam was in his 70s when he took a notion that he might like a young wife about the house, and a few childer as well.

Widow woman
Biddy Horan married three time, the first time to a man she said he was the father of her unborn child. Then, three husbands later John Langan  from Passage East stepped into her life.

140-year-old man
A Bannow man was 100 years old the last time he swore to love his new wife until death did them part. She passed away before him. He would have lived much longer than 140 years himself only for what happened to him on a day he went to town on business.

Peggy Edwards’ rats
Cow paths became tracks and they became roads and years later Peggy Edwards travels the roads to market. One night she takes shelter in a cabin. When darkness falls the rats appear to feed.

Four wise brothers
Four brothers vie with one another in silliness. They lose a cheeses and fail to find it. They marry and build houses beside one another, Then they find one is missing on the count.

Half-wits and other fools
Dick Shones Fuar believes a good meal for a full grown man is a stone of potatoes and a dozen head of herrings. Pat Neil’s father is taken up by a flying demon but escapes. A woman tries to catch the sun in a sieve and is helped by a passing stranger.

Dizzy woman
A Forth man travels to Dublin for an inheritance and is never seen again. A woman from Tacumshane falls down in a faint when she sees a sight from atop a hill.

The woman that swore
Katty Clarke of Tobinstown was happy in the possession of a fine boy, until one unlucky day, when she had not time to say her morning prayers, and fate took an interest in her life.

Money for nothing
A man sent home by a captured cluricaun for a shovel returns to find a field of ragwort awaiting him. An apple seller enroute to market believes she has bested a little man until her apples begin to fall upon the road.

Treasures of Wexford
Ploughman Pat Walsh was rooted to the spot when he managed to pull up a large stone. For underneath was a crock of gold sovereigns. In other places, treasure is buried and demons and spells are left behind to ward off seekers.

Grave happenings
In Taghmon, a man named Auld Jim “rose a body” for a farmer to sell to dissecting surgeons. A grave robber was surprised by other thieves while he was in the grave. He arose from the grave to the consternation of the fresh set of thieves.

The Hell of drink
Ballinaclash man Ned Murphy goes to Hell and returns with a report of what he has seen. Prayers are said for the repose of the soul of Killisk man Ped Bolger who was reportedly drowned on the Lusitania. Sad enough, until a telegram arrives to say he is in hospital in Cork and not dead at all.

Seeing the dead
Jack Whitty and his brother and another man are on Burrow Strand salvaging tallow from a storm when Jack finds a drowned sailor that will not stay still. In the early 19th century Midi Twomey guards Slieverue graveyard every night, until one night he hears the clanking of chains.

Finding people in a field
At Foulksmills a sheepman hears people in a night-time field and awakens the next morning miles away. At Monksgrange, a man tries to steal a cover for his cow from a minister’s bull but flees the field as marching soldiers from another time bear down on him.

Tramping to a wake
At a wake house in the Boker in Wexford town a corpse sits upright to terrorize the mourners. Dead Johnny Doran is placed on a door and raised to the rafters so the life of the house can continue during his wake.

Hallowe’en trickery
Phil Connors empties his house of card players so the spirits of the dead can return to his house. But the card players return instead to play a trick on the gullible householder.

Dancing in darkness
Why is that the devil always seemed to appear at dances where many people made do with a warm bottle of minerals consumed through a straw along with the sharing of a small packet of sugared biscuits with pals.

Faust at the forge
An old nun was so holy the devil tempted her where she lived without bringing her to a mountain. In Carrickbyrne, a blacksmith watches as a stranger approaches to strike a bargain with him.

 Hurling days at Lough Cullen
A cross-country football match was played between Kilmacow and Vanrog. The number of players on each side was thirty, more or less.
Each team from the opposing parishes strove to end the game by gaining possession of the other’s village.

Arrival of the Antichrist
Seeing not one but four antichrists on the road outside of her house near the village of Kilmore drove a woman to her knees and her beads.

Crossing the water
Well-heeled lawyers are brought face-to-face with the elemental nature of life as they defy local conditions to sally forth upon the water. A woman challenges travellers at a stream that crosses a road.

Flying into a hedge
30-year-old Denys Corbett-Wilson attempts to cross from Britain to Ireland in a slim-bodied Bleriot XI monoplane and ends up atop the hedge at Enniscorthy with a broken propeller, but happy with his April 22, 1912 feat.

Tomfarney land attack
In the 1830s two men Nicholas Jackman and John Redmond, were hanged by the Crown for a land-agitation issue that typified the passion of the times.

Tragedy at sea on St Martin’s Eve
Wherever people live by the sea, stories of tragedies will come ashore to haunt the living. In Wexford, a fishing tragedy of some 300 years ago is still alive today.

Sea stories
A rich woman with ambition for her sons sends them to trade for treasure. Returned, they cannot find a safe place to come ashore.  A strange trading ship anchors in Barrow Bay and invites locals to a party aboard. A party with a difference. On another beach, salvage men see a strange site.

Sea people
A morruach comes ashore and remains on land until her husband attacks her sea kin. A land bull, a cow and a calf leap into the sea where they are said to have turned into sea rocks, still there today.

Going away
Catherine Somers says farewell to her three sons as they emigrate to America. They write home, dutifully. Then, the village reader is unavailable and a chancer steps in to read the latest Letter from America.

Wexford is a place of boundless story and legend that reaches out to tantalise and intrigue those hearing these stories for the first time.


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