Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/488

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452 Collectanea.

the domestic hen. The " soft egg laid by the cock " was looked on with suspicion, and so was the egg of the bat, which was even unlucky to find, and could be used for malignant charms.

Stoat. — In Clare the stoat is always called " weazel." A cor- ruption of the strange Irish name Feasdg (the little beard) is as often used, even by English speakers, as the whishshoge or whush- shoge. The creature was equally disliked and respected. It is wished " Good morning, ma'am," by some, and generally saluted by raising the hat on meeting ; but others spit and cross them- selves. It is regarded as peevish and persistent ; " as cross as a bag of weazels " is a proverb in east Clare, while Finn is compared to a weazel in the pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne. I have heard many stories about its revengefulness " when its nest is killed," and of one of its persistent attempts to get at a corpse in a house in south-east Clare, rather, it was thought, for magical pur- poses than from hunger. Old belief ascribed to the animal the power of poisoning. At Carnelly a labourer told that when cutting a meadow near the " Druids' Altar " ^^ he killed a young weazel. Soon afterwards his wife brought him his dinner and a can of sour milk. While they talked, she cried out that a weazel was spitting into the can, but the man laughed and drank the milk. Soon afterwards he got violent gripes, and gave himself up for lost. The doctor had great difficulty in persuading him to try any remedy, and his wife was almost scandalized by his recovery. A similar tale was told at my old home, Attyflin, in which young weazels were not killed but put on a wisp of grass safely in a bush. The parents were seen spitting into the milk, but, on finding the young ones safe, they returned and upset the can.^^ go "even the weazel has justice." Both stories probably originated in the animal's love for milk.

Rat. — A Clare woman told me that a man whose love was rejected by a girl living in Limerick city died, and his soul went into a rat and used to bite her throat until she had to emigrate. ^^ The rat tried to follow her and was drowned, and so the persecution ended. A curious " parliament of rats " was held near Durra in

^ Mrs. O'Callaghan of Maryfort and others. ^^ Late Hugh Massy Westropp. " Mrs. M. MacCormick.