Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/376

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340 Collectanea.

suspected family coming to the well, and sprang out and bade the newcomers keep away. The parties quarrelled, and were rein- forced, as the news spread, by all the women, children, dogs, and sympathisers of both families. At last guns and hay-forks were brought, and blood was on the point of being shed, when some one found that midnight had passed, and the contestants at once went home. The cattle gave good milk all that year, and the well was watched on succeeding May Eves with equally good results. The bitterness is said to have died out round the well some years ago, but is still apparent between the households in other matters.25

A charm to cure "slow churning" has already been described.^^ In 1892 a horrible case of stirring milk with a dried human hand in order to " bring butter " was reported from the Kilkee district, but I could never learn the details. A similar practice somewhat earlier, near Oola on the borders of Limerick and Tipperary, was brought to light after the death of a farmer by a quarrel, ending at the sessions, between his three sons for the possession of the ghastly object.

The method of "taking butter" practised near Craigbrien, to the south of Ennis, was to take a hair from the tail of each _of the victim's cows on May morning, twist the hairs together, and dip them in the milk.^'^ I heard of a protective knotting of seven hairs in each cow's tail near Edenvale in the same district, and of a magic dashing of water over the churn when the butter was slow to come, — an excellent natural aid in hot weather. The greasy substance called " May butter," lying on the grass with the dew, was used for milk charms near Clonlara. I heard of it more definitely at Kenry, County Limerick, where a woman gathered it in her apron, and a hare was seen rolling and rubbing itself in the " May butter"; the hare, when pursued, turned into a local witch. If you come into a house where churning is in progress, you should always "put your hand to the churn," i.e. give a few strokes

'■^•^ So told to me by the late Hugh Massy Westropp, who, as nearest magis- trate, had to intervene to keep the peace on more than one occasion, and was called up to the well on one May Eve.

^Vol. xxi., pp. 195-6, as told by the late Miss W. Westropp of Fortanne.

^ So late Mrs. Stacpoole of Edenvale.