Upper Bunratty, the fields being covered with them, but, when it broke up, the "troops" dispersed, and no bands were seen at any distance from the rendezvous. A rat was "heard talking with the Devil" in the grave of an unpopular person before 1875, but how the holders of this curious conversation were identified was never stated. I have met a belief in speaking rats in eastern Clare and among fishermen at Kilkee.
Hedgehog.—This animal is reputed to steal apples and suck cows and eggs, so that it is persecuted and called grainoge (little ugly thing).
Birds.—A pair of ravens roosted in a top window of the round tower of Iniscatha (Scattery) early in the last century. The birds were said to escort their young, when fully fledged, across the Shannon to Carrigfoile Castle in Kerry, and not to let them return to the island. Scaldcrows (roystons) are considered unlucky, and much feared. The old Irish regarded them as incarnations of the war-goddess Bodbh. Birds as omens have already been noted. The bat is looked on as a sort of bird, and it is ominous of death for it to fly at one's face. The entry of a robin into a house is a death omen near Tulla, but elsewhere a sign of good fortune. Although swans are so plentiful that I have often seen more than forty together in Inchiquin and other lakes, the only folklore associated with them seems to be a tale of swan-maidens at Inchiquin. The hunting of the wren has been described in Section XIV.
Fishes.—It was regarded as a custom among the fishermen of Kilrush and Scattery that no one should go fishing for three days after the arrival of the herring shoals, but, when the first day dawned, a crowd of boats was always discovered, and much quarrelling resulted. As the shoals arrived, a mass used to be celebrated on the shore at Kilmurry, Ibrickan, to secure good
- Dublin University Magazine, vol. xviii., p. 546.
- Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. x.; Revue Celtique, vol. i.; Joyce, Social History of Ireland, vol. i., p. 267.
- Vol. xxi., p. 190.
- Ante, pp. 206-7, and Plate IX.
- Hely Button, Statistical Survey of the County of Clare (1808), pp. 228, 259.