Fergus O'Mara and the Demons

Patrick Weston Joyce

At length he arrived at his house; the door lay half-open, for the family were inside expecting him home, listening with wonder and affright to the approaching noises; and he bounded in through the doorway and fell flat on his face. That instant the door—though no one was near—was shut violently, and the bolts were shot home. They hurried anxiously round him to lift him up, but found him in a deathlike swoon. Meantime the uproar outside became greater than ever; round and round the house it tore, a roaring whirlwind with shouts and yells of rage, and great trampling, as if there was a whole company of horsemen. At length however the noises seemed to move away farther and farther off from the house, and gradually died out in the distance. At the same time the storm ceased, and the night became calm and beautiful.

The daylight was shining in through the windows when Fergus recovered from his swoon, and then he told his fearful story; but many days passed over before he had quite recovered from the horrors of that night. When the family came forth in the morning there was fearful waste all round and near the house, trees and bushes torn from the roots, and the ground all trampled and torn up. After this the revelry of the demons was never again heard from the rock; and it was believed that they had left it and betaken themselves to some other haunt.

But if Fergus no longer feared the demons of the rock he thought to himself that there were other demons, noiseless indeed, but quite as dangerous, who were quietly watching their opportunity to tempt him from his duty and get him into their power. And from that time forth he was more watchful than ever to keep himself on the straight path. Above all, he was so fearful of losing Mass that he never could be persuaded to wait for his family, but was always seen striding vigorously along the mountain path that led to Lissanaffrin, even before the rest of the congregation had started from their homes.