Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/69

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Collectanea. 5 1

under his ear, and his face permanently distorted.^ It is said that the magistrate, in consequence of the strong local belief in the possibility of such injury, regarded the farmer's act as one of bona fide self-defence, and advised him to end the grievance by satisfying the damaged would-be practitioner of the black art with a sum of money.

Sacrificing black cocks and beasts. — Besides the rites of the " cursing stones," avowedly malignant ceremonies have been performed at two, if not three, places in East Clare. At Carnelly, near Clare Castle, at an unknown period remote even in 1840, " a black cock, without a white feather," was offered to the Devil on the so-called "Druid's altar," — two fallen pillars near an earthen ring beside the avenue, — to avenge the sacrificer on an enemy, but in this case it brought an equivalent misfortune on the sacrificer himself The Duchess de Rovigo, an heiress of the last Stamer of Carnelly, used the story, combined with irrelevant family legends and pseudo-archaeology, in a poem dated 1839, but I obtained it, as given above, from a more reliable source, her mother, in 1875 and 1882, as well as from my brothers and sisters, who heard it in " tlie forties." When I was at the dolmen near the house at Maryfort in 1869, an old servant, Mrs. Eliza Egan {m'e Armstrong), said to me, — " Don't play at that bad place where the dhrudes [druids], glory be to God !, offered black cocks to the Devil ! " Possibly a legend like that at Carnelly hung round the place at that time, but I found none in later years. The third case, however, admits of no doubt. It occurred in 1879, not very far from the place last mentioned. A "black beast" was cut into quarters and offered at the four corners of a field to bring ill luck on the owners. It was locally believed to have been offered to Satan, but this was indignantly denied by the reputed offerers of the unhallowed sacrifice. I heard this from many persons in the immediate neighbourhood, (including one member of the family against whom the charm was directed), from 1879 onwards. Local feeling is, or was recently, so strong that I do not publish the names and fuller details in my possession.

^ This rite is referred to by Sir Samuel Ferguson in Lays of the Western- Gael, — "Daily in the mystic ring they turned the maledictive stones," ("Burial of King Cormac ").