Folk-Lore/Volume 5/Cursing-Stones in Counties Fermanagh, Cavan, etc.

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Not many years ago, but it seems to have died out now, there was a system of cursing in common vogue in Fermanagh with tenants who had been given notice to quit. This was: they collected, from all over their farms, stones. These they brought home, and having put a lighted coal in the fireplace, they heaped the stones on it as if they had been sods of turf. They then knelt down on the hearth-stone, and prayed that as long as the stones remained unburnt every conceivable curse might light on their landlord, his children, and their children to all generations. To prevent the stones by any possibility being burnt, as soon as they had finished cursing, they took the stones and scattered them far and wide over the whole country. Many of the former families of the county are said now to have disappeared on account of being thus cursed.

Near Black Lion, at the extreme north of the co. Cavan, there is a cursing-stone. It is a large horizontal slab, with twelve or thirteen bullâns or basins cut in it, and in each bullân, save one, there is a large round stone. The cursor takes up one of the stones and places it in the empty basin—and so on, one after another, till all have been gone over. During the movement he is cursing his enemy, and if he removes all the stones without letting any one of them slip (no easy operation, on account of their form), his curses will have effect, but not otherwise. If he lets one slip, the curses will return on his own head. In South-West Donegal (I forget the name of the place) there is a somewhat similar cursing-stone, except that it has only five bullâns. In Castle Forward deer-park it is said that there was another cursing-stone of this type, but some years ago it was dismantled, and half the horizontal slab carried away. Castle Forward is on the road from Newtown Cunningham to Londonderry, near the eastern mearing of the co. Donegal.