The Fairy Cure

Patrick Kennedy
1891 (2nd Edition)


We have related the adventures of a woman in the Duffrey, who had been called on at a late hour to assist the lady of a fairy chief in a trying situation. The person about whom we are going to speak was also a sage-femme and in that capacity was summoned by a dark rider to aid his lady, who was on the point of adding to the Sighe population of the country.

For nearly a year before that time, Nora's daughter, Judy, had been confined to her bed by a sore leg, which neither she, nor the neighbouring doctor, nor the fairy-man,[1] could "make any hand of."

The calling up of the old woman, the ride behind the Fir Dhorocha, and the dismounting at the door of an illuminated palace, all took place as mentioned in the tale above alluded to. In the hall she was surprised to see an old neighbour, who had long been spirited away from the haunts of his youth and manhood, to the joyless, though showy life of the Sighe caverns. He at once took an opportunity, when the "Dark man" was not observing him, to impress on Nora the necessity of taking no refreshment of any kind while under the roof of the fairy castle, and of refusing money or any other consideration in any form. The only exception he made was in favour of cures for diseases inflicted by evil spirits or by fairies.

She found the lady of the castle in a bed with pillows and quilts of silk, and in a short time (for Nora was a handy woman) there was a beautiful little girl lying on the breast of the delighted mother. All the fine ladies that were scattered through the large room, now gathered round, and congratulated their queen, and paid many compliments to the lucky-handed Nora. "I am so pleased with you," said the lady, " that I shall be glad to see you take as much gold, and silver, and jewels, out of the next room, as you can carry." Nora stepped in out of curiosity and saw piles of gold and silver coins, and baskets of diamonds and pearls, lying about on every side, but she remembered the caution, and came out empty-handed. "I'm much obleeged to you, my lady," said she, "but if I took them guineas, and crowns, and jewels home, no one would ever call on me again to help his wife, and I'd be sittin' wud me hands acrass, and doin' nothin' but dhrinkin' tay and makin' curtchies (courtesies), an' I'd be dead before a year 'ud be gone by."

"Oh dear!" said the lady, "what an odd person you are! At any rate, sit down at that table, and help yourself to food and drink." "Oh, ma'am, is it them jellies, an' custhards, an' pasthry you'd like to see me at? Lord love you! I would'nt know the way to me mouth wud the likes; an' I swore again dhrinkin' after a time I was overtaken wud the liccor when I ought to be mindin' a poor neighbour's wife." "Well, this is too bad. Will you even condescend to wear this shawl for my sake?" "Ach, me lady, would you have the dirty little gorsoons roaring after me, an' may be pelting me with stones, when I'd be going through the village?" "Well, but what should hinder you from living in this castle all your life with me, eating and drinking, and wearing the best of everything?" "Musha, ma'am, I'd only be the laughin' stock o' the fine ladies and gentlemen. I'd have no ould neighbour to have a shanachus (gossip) wud, and what 'ud the craythurs of women do for me in me own place, when their time 'ud be come?" "Alas! alas! is there any way in which I can show you how grateful I am for your help and your skill?" "Musha, indeed is there, ma'am. My poor girshach, Jude, is lying under a sore leg for a twelvemonth, an' I'm sure that the lord or yourself can make her as sound as a bell if you only say the word. " "Ask me anything but that, and you shall have it." "Oh, lady, dear, that's giving me everything but the thing I want." "You don't know the offence your daughter gave to us, I am sure, or you would not ask me to cure her." "Judy offend you, ma'am! Oh, it's impossible!" "Not at all; and this is the way it happened.

"You know that all the fairy court enjoy their lives in the night only, and we frequently go through the country, and hold our feasts where the kitchen, and especially the hearth, is swept up clean. About a twelvemonth ago, myself and my ladies were passing your cabin, and one of the company liked the appearance of the neat thatch, and the whitewashed walls, and the clean pavement outside the door, so much, that she persuaded us all to go in. We found the cheerful turf fire shining on the well-swept hearth and floor, and the clean pewter and delft plates on the dresser, and the white table. We were so well pleased, that we sat down on the hearth, and laid our tea-tray, and began to drink our tea as comfortably as could be. You know we can be any size we please, and there was a score of us settled before the fire.

"We were vexed enough when we saw your daughter come up out of your bedroom, and make towards the fire. Her feet, I acknowledge, were white and clean, but one of them would cover two or three of us, the size we were that night. On she came stalking, and just as I was raising my cup of tea to my lips, down came the soft flat sole on it, and spilled the tea all over me. I was very much annoyed, and I caught the thing that came next to my hand, and hurled it at her. It was the tea-pot, and the point of the spout is in the small of her leg from that night till now." "Oh, lady, darlint! how can you hold spite to the poor slob of a girl, that knew no more of you being there, nor of offending you, that she did of the night she was born?" "Well, well; now that is all past and gone I believe you are right. At all events, you have done so much for me, that I cannot refuse you anything. Take this ointment, and rub it where you will see the purple mark, and I hope that your thoughts of me may be pleasant."

Just then, a messenger came to say that the lord was at the hall door waiting for Nora, for the cocks would be soon a-crowing. So she took leave of the lady, and mounted behind the dark man. The horse's back seemed as hard and as thin as a hazel stick, but it bore her safely to her home. She was in a sleepy state all the time she was returning, but at last she woke up, and found herself standing by her own door. She got into bed as fast as she could, and when she woke next morning, she fancied it was all a dream. She put her hand in her pocket, and there, for a certainty, was the box of ointment. She stripped the clothes off her daughter's leg, rubbed some of the stuff on it, and in a few seconds she saw the skin bursting, and a tiny spout of a tea-pot working itself out. Poor Judy was awake by this, and wondering what ease she felt in her leg. I warrant she was rejoiced at the story her mother told her. She soon received health and strength, and never neglected to leave her kitchen so nice when she was going to bed, that Rich Damer himself might eat his dinner off the floor. She took good care never to let her feet stray over it again after bed-time, for fear of giving offence to her unseen visitors.

End of this Story


[1] The worthy who possessed skill in curing all maladies inflicted by the "Good People," sympathetic ointments and charmed draughts being the chief articles in his pharmacopoeia.