HERE was once a boy in the County Mayo; Guleesh was his name.
There was the finest rath a little way off from the gable of
the house, and he was often in the habit of seating himself
on the fine grass bank that was running round it. One night
he stood, half leaning against the gable of the house, and
looking up into the sky, and watching the beautiful white
moon over his head. After he had been standing that way for
a couple of hours, he said to himself: "My bitter grief
that I am not gone away out of this place altogether. I'd
sooner be any place in the world than here. Och, it's well
for you, white moon," says he, "that's turning round,
turning round, as you please yourself, and no man can put
you back. I wish I was the same as you."
Hardly was the word out of his mouth when he heard a great
noise coming like the sound of many people running together,
and talking, and laughing, and making sport, and the sound
went by him like a whirl of wind, and he was listening to it
going into the rath. "Musha, by my soul," says he, "but
ye're merry enough, and I'll follow ye."
 What was in it but the fairy host, though he did not know at
first that it was they who were in it, but he followed them
into the rath. It's there he heard the fulparnee, and the
folpornee, the rap-lay-hoota,
and the roolya-boolya, that
they had there, and every man of them crying out as loud as
he could: "My horse, and bridle, and saddle! My horse, and
bridle, and saddle!"
"By my hand," said Guleesh, "my boy, that's not bad. I'll
imitate ye," and he cried out as well as they: "My horse,
and bridle, and saddle! My horse, and bridle, and saddle!"
And on the moment there was a fine horse with a bridle of
gold, and a saddle of silver, standing before him. He leaped
up on it, and the moment he was on its back he saw clearly
that the rath was full of horses, and of little people going
riding on them.
Said a man of them to him: "Are you coming with us to-night,
"I am surely," said Guleesh.
"If you are, come along," said the little man, and out they
went all together, riding like the wind, faster than the
fastest horse ever you saw a-hunting, and faster than the
fox and the hounds at his tail.
The cold winter's wind that was before them, they overtook
her, and the cold winter's wind that was behind them, she
did not overtake them. And stop nor stay of that full race,
did they make none, until they came to the brink of the sea.
Then every one of them said: "Hie over cap! Hie over cap!"
and that moment they were up in the air, and before
Guleesh had time to remember where he was, they were down on
dry land again, and were going like the wind.
 At last they stood still, and a man of them said to Guleesh:
"Guleesh, do you know where you are now?"
"Not a know," says Guleesh.
"You're in France, Guleesh," said he. "The daughter of the
king of France is to be married tonight, the handsomest
woman that the sun ever saw, and we must do our best to
bring her with us, if we're only able to carry her off; and
you must come with us that we may be able to put the young
girl up behind you on the horse, when we'll be bringing her
away, for it's not lawful for us to put her sitting behind
ourselves. But you're flesh and blood, and she can take a
good grip of you, so that she won't fall off the horse. Are
you satisfied, Guleesh, and will you do what we're telling
"Why shouldn't I be satisfied?" said Guleesh. "I'm
satisfied, surely, and anything that ye will tell me to do
I'll do it without doubt."
They got off their horses there, and a man of them said a
word that Guleesh did not understand, and on the moment they
were lifted up, and Guleesh found himself and his companions
in the palace. There was a great feast going on there, and
there was not a nobleman or a gentleman in the kingdom but
was gathered there, dressed in silk and satin, and gold and
silver, and the night was as bright as the day with all the
lamps and candles that were lit, and Guleesh had to shut his
two eyes at the brightness. When he opened them again and
looked from him, he thought he never saw anything as fine as
all he saw there. There were a hundred tables spread out,
and their full of meat and drink on each table of them,
flesh-meat, and cakes and sweetmeats, and wine and ale, and
every drink that ever a
 man saw. The musicians were at the
two ends of the hall, and they were playing the sweetest
music that ever a man's ear heard, and there were young
women and fine youths in the middle of the hall, dancing and
turning, and going round so quickly and so lightly, that it
put a soorawn in Guleesh's head to be looking at them. There
were more there playing tricks, and more making fun and
laughing, for such a feast as there was that day had not
been in France for twenty years, because the old king had no
children alive but only the one daughter, and she was to be
married to the son of another king that night. Three days
the feast was going on, and the third night she was to be
married, and that was the night that Guleesh and the
sheehogues came, hoping, if they could, to carry off with
them the king's young daughter.
Guleesh and his companions were standing together at the
head of the hall, where there was a fine altar dressed up,
and two bishops behind it waiting to marry the girl, as soon
as the right time should come. Now nobody could see the
sheehogues, for they said a word as they came in, that made
them all invisible, as if they had not been in it at all.
"Tell me which of them is the king's daughter," said
Guleesh, when he was becoming a little used to the noise and
"Don't you see her there away from you?" said the little man
that he was talking to.
Guleesh looked where the little man was pointing with his
finger, and there he saw the loveliest woman that was, he
thought, upon the ridge of the world. The rose and the lily
were fighting together in her face, and one could not tell
which of them got the victory. Her arms and hands were
 like the lime, her mouth as red as a strawberry when it is ripe,
her foot was as small and as light as another one's hand,
her form was smooth and slender, and her hair was falling
down from her head in buckles of gold. Her garments and
dress were woven with gold and silver, and the bright stone
that was in the ring on her hand was as shining as the sun.
Guleesh was nearly blinded with all the loveliness and
beauty that was in her; but when he looked again, he saw
that she was crying, and that there was the trace of tears
in her eyes. "It can't be," said Guleesh, "that there's
grief on her, when everybody round her is so full of sport
"Musha, then, she is grieved," said the little man; "for
it's against her own will she's marrying, and she has no
love for the husband she is to marry. The king was going to
give her to him three years ago, when she was only fifteen,
but she said she was too young, and requested him to leave
her as she was yet. The king gave her a year's grace, and
when that year was up he gave her another year's grace, and
then another; but a week or a day he would not give her
longer, and she is eighteen years old to-night, and it's time
for her to marry; but, indeed," says he, and he crooked his
mouth in an ugly way—"indeed, it's no king's son she'll
marry, if I can help it."
Guleesh pitied the handsome young lady greatly when he heard
that, and he was heart-broken to think that it would be
necessary for her to marry a man she did not like, or, what
was worse, to take a nasty sheehogue for a husband. However,
he did not say a word, though he could not help giving many
a curse to the ill-luck
 that was laid out for himself, to be
helping the people that were to snatch her away from her
home and from her father.
He began thinking, then, what it was he ought to do to save
her, but he could think of nothing. "Oh! if I could only
give her some help and relief," said he, "I wouldn't care
whether I were alive or dead; but I see nothing that I can
do for her."
He was looking on when the king's son came up to her and
asked her for a kiss, but she turned her head away from him.
Guleesh had double pity for her then, when he saw the lad
taking her by the soft white hand, and drawing her out to
dance. They went round in the dance near where Guleesh was,
and he could plainly see that there were tears in her eyes.
When the dancing was over, the old king, her father, and her
mother the queen, came up and said that this was the right
time to marry her, that the bishop was ready, and it was
time to put the wedding-ring on her and give her to her
The king took the youth by the hand, and the queen took her
daughter, and they went up together to the altar, with the
lords and great people following them.
When they came near the altar, and were no more than about
four yards from it, the little sheehogue stretched out his
foot before the girl, and she fell. Before she was able to
rise again he threw something that was in his hand upon her,
said a couple of words, and upon the moment the maiden was
gone from amongst them. Nobody could see her, for that word
made her invisible. The little maneen seized her and raised
her up behind Guleesh, and the king
 nor no one else saw
them, but out with them through the hall till they came to
Oro! dear Mary! it's there the pity was, and the trouble,
and the crying, and the wonder, and the searching, and the
rookawn, when that lady disappeared from their eyes, and
without their seeing what did it. Out of the
door of the palace they went, without being stopped or
hindered, for nobody saw them, and, "My horse, my bridle,
and saddle!" says every man of them. "My horse, my bridle,
and saddle!" says Guleesh; and on the moment the horse was
standing ready caparisoned before him. "Now, jump up,
Guleesh," said the little man, "and put the lady behind you,
and we will be going; the morning is not far off from us
Guleesh raised her up on the horse's back, and leaped up
 himself before her, and, "Rise, horse," said he; and his
horse, and the other horses with him, went in a full race
until they came to the sea.
"Hie over cap!" said every man of them.
"Hie over cap!" said Guleesh; and on the moment the horse
rose under him, and cut a leap in the clouds, and came down
They did not stop there, but went of a race to the place
where was Guleesh's house and the rath. And when they came
as far as that, Guleesh turned and caught the young girl in
his two arms, and leaped off the horse.
"I call and cross you to myself, in the name of God!" said
he; and on the spot, before the word was out of his mouth,
the horse fell down, and what was in it but the beam of a
plough, of which they had made a horse; and every other
horse they had, it was that way they made it. Some of them
were riding on an old besom, and some on a broken stick, and
more on a bohalawn or a hemlock-stalk.
The good people called out together when they heard what
"Oh! Guleesh, you clown, you thief, that no good may happen
you, why did you play that trick on us?"
But they had no power at all to carry off the girl, after
Guleesh had consecrated her to himself.
"Oh! Guleesh, isn't that a nice turn you did us, and we so
kind to you? What good have we now out of our journey to
France. Never mind yet, you clown, but you'll pay us another
time for this. Believe us, you'll repent it."
"He'll have no good to get out of the young girl," said the
little man that was talking to him in the palace before
 that, and as he said the word he moved over to her and
struck her a slap on the side of the head. "Now," says he,
"she'll be without talk any more; now, Guleesh, what good
will she be to you when she'll be dumb? It's time for us to
go—but you'll remember us, Guleesh!"
When he said that he stretched out his two hands, and before
Guleesh was able to give an answer, he and the rest of them
were gone into the rath out of his sight, and he saw them no
He turned to the young woman and said to her:
"Thanks be to God, they're gone. Would you not sooner stay
with me than with them?" She gave him no answer. "There's
trouble and grief on her yet," said Guleesh in his own mind,
and he spoke to her again: "I am afraid that you must spend
this night in my father's house, lady, and if there is
anything that I can do for you, tell me, and I'll be your
The beautiful girl remained silent, but there were tears in
her eyes, and her face was white and red after each other.
"Lady," said Guleesh, "tell me what you would like me to do
now. I never belonged at all to that lot of sheehogues who
carried you away with them. I am the son of an honest
farmer, and I went with them without knowing it. If I'll be
able to send you back to your father I'll do it, and I pray
you make any use of me now that you may wish."
He looked into her face, and he saw the mouth moving as if
she was going to speak, but there came no word from it.
"It cannot be," said Guleesh, "that you are dumb.
 Did I not
hear you speaking to the king's son in the palace to-night?
Or has that devil made you really dumb, when he struck his
nasty hand on your jaw?"
The girl raised her white smooth hand, and laid her finger
on her tongue, to show him that she had lost her voice and
power of speech, arid the tears ran out of her two eyes like
streams, and Guleesh's own eyes were not dry, for as rough
as he was on the outside he had a soft heart, and could not
stand the sight of the young girl, and she in that unhappy
He began thinking with himself what he ought to do, and he
did not like to bring her home with himself to his father's
house, for he knew well that they would not believe him,
that he had been in France and brought back with him the
king of France's daughter, and he was afraid they might make
a mock of the young lady or insult her.
As he was doubting what he ought to do, and hesitating, he
chanced to remember the priest. "Glory be to God," said he,
"I know now what I'll do; I'll bring her to the priest's
house, and he won't refuse me to keep the lady and care
her." He turned to the lady again and told her that he was
loth to take her to his father's house, but that there was
an excellent priest very friendly to himself, who would take
good care of her, if she wished to remain in his house; but
that if there was any other place she would rather go, he
said he would bring her to it.
She bent her head, to show him she was obliged, and gave him
to understand that she was ready to follow him any place he
was going. "We will go to the priest's house, then," said
he; "he is under an obligation to me, and will do anything I
 They went together accordingly to the priest's house, and
the sun was just rising when they came to the door. Guleesh
beat it hard, and as early as it was the priest was up, and
opened the door himself. He wondered when he saw Guleesh and
the girl, for he was certain that it was coming wanting to
be married they were.
"Guleesh, Guleesh, isn't it the nice boy you are that you
can't wait till ten o'clock or till twelve, but that you
must be coming to me at this hour, looking for marriage, you
and your sweetheart? You ought to know that I can't marry
you at such a time, or, at all events, can't marry you
lawfully. But ubbubboo!" said he, suddenly, as he looked
again at the young girl, "in the name of God, who have you
here? Who is she, or how did you get her?"
"Father," said Guleesh, "you can marry me, or anybody else,
if you wish; but it's not looking for marriage I came to
you now, but to ask you, if you please, to give a lodging in
your house to this young lady."
The priest looked at him as though he had ten heads on him;
but without putting any other question to him, he desired
him to come in, himself and the maiden, and when they came
in, he shut the door, brought them into the parlour, and put
"Now, Guleesh," said he, "tell me truly who is this young
lady, and whether you're out of your senses really, or are
only making a joke of me."
"I'm not telling a word of lie, nor making a joke of you,"
said Guleesh; "but it was from the palace of the king of
France I carried off this lady, and she is the daughter of
the king of France."
 He began his story then, and told the whole to priest, and
the priest was so much surprised that he could not help calling
out at times, or clapping his hands together.
When Guleesh said from what he saw he thought the girl was
not satisfied with the marriage that was going take place in
the palace before he and the sheehogues broke it up, there
came a red blush into the girl's cheek, and he was more
certain than ever that she had sooner be as she was—badly
as she was—than be the married wife of the man she hated.
When Guleesh said that he would be very thankful to the
priest if he would keep her in his own house, the kind man said
he would do that as long as Guleesh pleased, but that he did
not know what they ought to do with her, because they had no
means of sending her back to her father again.
Guleesh answered that he was uneasy about the same thing,
and that he saw nothing to do but to keep quiet until they
should find some opportunity of doing something better. They
made it up then between themselves that the priest should let on
that it was his brother's daughter he had, who was come on a
visit to him from another county, and that he should tell
everybody that she was dumb, and do his best to keep every
one away from her. They told the young girl what it was they
intended to do, and she showed by her eyes that she was obliged
Guleesh went home then, and when his people asked him where
he had been, he said that he had been asleep at the foot of
the ditch, and had passed the night there.
There was great wonderment on the priest's neighbours at the
girl who came so suddenly to his house without any
 one knowing where she was from, or what business she had there.
Some of the people said that everything was not as it ought
to be, and others, that Guleesh was not like the same man
that was in it before, and that it was a great story, how he
was drawing every day to the priest's house, and that the
priest had a wish and a respect for him, a thing they could
not clear up at all.
That was true for them, indeed, for it was seldom the day
went by but Guleesh would go to the priest's house, and have
a talk with him, and as often as he would come he used to
hope to find the young lady well again, and with leave to
speak; but, alas! she remained dumb and silent, without
relief or cure. Since she had no other means of talking, she
carried on a sort of conversation between herself and
himself, by moving her hand and fingers, winking her eyes,
opening and shutting her mouth, laughing or smiling, and a
thousand other signs, so that it was not long until they
understood each other very well. Guleesh was always thinking
how he should send her back to her father; but there was no
one to go with her, and he himself did not know what road to
go, for he had never been out of his own country before the
night he brought her away with him. Nor had the priest any
better knowledge than he; but when Guleesh asked him, he
wrote three or four letters to the king of France, and gave
them to buyers and sellers of wares, who used to be going
from place to place across the sea; but they all went
astray, and never a one came to the king's hand.
This was the way they were for many months, and Guleesh was
falling deeper and deeper in love with her every day, and it
was plain to himself and the priest that
 she liked him. The
boy feared greatly at last, lest the king should really hear
where his daughter was, and take her back from himself, and
he besought the priest to write no more, but to leave the
matter to God.
So they passed the time for a year, until there came a day
when Guleesh was lying by himself on the grass, on the last
day of the last month in autumn, and he was thinking over
again in his own mind of everything that happened to him
from the day that he went with the sheehogues across the
sea. He remembered then, suddenly, that it was one November
night that he was standing at the gable of the house, when
the whirlwind came, and the sheehogues in it, and he said to
himself: "We have November night again to-day, and I'll
stand in the same place I was last year, until I see if the
good people come again. Perhaps I might see or hear
something that would be useful to me, and might bring back
her talk again to Mary"—that was the name himself and the
priest called the king's daughter, for neither of them knew
her right name. He told his intention to the priest, and the
priest gave him his blessing.
Guleesh accordingly went to the old rath when the night was
darkening, and he stood with his bent elbow leaning on a
grey old flag, waiting till the middle of the night should
come. The moon rose slowly, and it was like a knob of fire
behind him; and there was a white fog which was raised up
over the fields of grass and all damp places, through the
coolness of the night after a great heat in the day. The
night was calm as is a lake when there is not a breath of
wind to move a wave on it, and there was no sound to be
heard but the cronawn of the insects that would
 go by from
time to time, or the hoarse sudden scream of the wild-geese,
as they passed from lake to lake, half a mile up in the air
over his head; or the sharp whistle of the golden and green
plover, rising and lying, lying and rising, as they do on a
calm night. There were a thousand thousand bright stars
shining over his head, and there was a little frost out,
which left the grass under his foot white and crisp.
He stood there for an hour, for two hours, for three hours,
and the frost increased greatly, so that he heard the
breaking of the traneens under his foot as often as he
moved. He was thinking, in his own mind, at last, that the
sheehogues would not come that night, and that it was as
good for him to return back again, when he heard a sound far
away from him, coming towards him, and he recognised what it
was at the first moment. The sound increased, and at first
it was like the beating of waves on a stony shore, and then
it was like the falling of a great waterfall, and at last it
was like a loud storm in the tops of the trees, and then the
whirlwind burst into the rath of one rout, and the
sheehogues were in it.
It all went by him so suddenly that he lost his breath with
it, but he came to himself on the spot, and put an ear on
himself, listening to what they would say.
Scarcely had they gathered into the rath till they all began
shouting, and screaming, and talking amongst themselves; and
then each one of them cried out: "My horse, and bridle,
and saddle! My horse, and bridle, and saddle!" and Guleesh
took courage, and called out as loudly as any of them: "My
horse, and bridle, and saddle! My horse, and bridle, and
saddle!" But before the word was well out
 of his mouth,
another man cried out: "Ora! Guleesh, my boy, are you here
with us again? How are you getting on with your woman?
There's no use in your calling for your horse to-night. I'll
go bail you won't play such a trick on us again. It was a
good trick you played on us last year?"
"It was," said another man; "he won't do it again."
"Isn't he a prime lad, the same lad! to take a woman with
him that never said as much to him as, 'How do you do?'
since this time last year!" says the third man.
"Perhaps he likes to be looking at her," said another voice.
"And if the omadawn only knew that there's an herb growing
up by his own door, and if he were to boil it and give it to
her, she'd be well," said another voice.
"That's true for you."
"He is an omadawn."
"Don't bother your head with him; we'll be going."
"We'll leave the bodach as he is."
And with that they rose up into the air, and out with them
with one roolya-boolya the way they came; and they left poor
Guleesh standing where they found him, and the two eyes
going out of his head, looking after them and wondering.
He did not stand long till he returned back, and he thinking
in his own mind on all he saw and heard, and wondering
whether there was really an herb at his own door that would
bring back the talk to the king's daughter. "It can't be,"
says he to himself, "that they would tell it to me, if there
was any virtue in it; but perhaps the sheehogue didn't
observe himself when he let the word slip
 out of his mouth.
I'll search well as soon as the sun rises, whether there's
any plant growing beside the house except thistles and
He went home, and as tired as he was he did not sleep a wink
until the sun rose on the morrow. He got up then, and it was
the first thing he did to go out and search
well through the grass round about the house, trying could
he get any herb that he did not recognise. And, indeed, he
was not long searching till he observed a large strange herb
that was growing up just by the gable of the house.
He went over to it, and observed it closely, and saw
 that there were seven little branches coming out of the stalk,
and seven leaves growing on every brancheen of them; and that
there was a white sap in the leaves. "It's very wonderful,"
said he to himself, "that I never noticed this herb before.
If there's any virtue in an herb at all, it ought to be in
such a strange one as this."
He drew out his knife, cut the plant, and carried it into
his own house; stripped the leaves off it and cut up the
stalk; and there came a thick, white juice out of it, as
there comes out of the sow-thistle when it is bruised,
except that the juice was more like oil.
He put it in a little pot and a little water in it, and laid
it on the fire until the water was boiling, and then he took
a cup, filled it half up with the juice, and put it to his
own mouth. It came into his head then that perhaps it was
poison that was in it, and that the good people were only
tempting him that he might kill himself with that trick, or
put the girl to death without meaning it. He put down the
cup again, raised a couple of drops on the top of his
finger, and put it to his mouth. It was not bitter, and,
indeed, had a sweet, agreeable taste. He grew bolder then,
and drank the full of a thimble of it, and then as much
again, and he never stopped till he had half the cup drunk.
He fell asleep after that, and did not wake till it was
night, and there was great hunger and great thirst on him.
He had to wait, then, till the day rose; but he determined,
as soon as he should wake in the morning, that he would go
to the king's daughter and give her a drink of the juice of
As soon as he got up in the morning, he went over to the
priest's house with the drink in his hand, and he never
 felt himself so bold and valiant, and spirited and light, as he
was that day, and he was quite certain that it was the drink
he drank which made him so hearty.
When he came to the house, he found the priest and the young
lady within, and they were wondering greatly why he had not
visited them for two days.
He told them all his news, and said that he was certain that
there was great power in that herb, and that it would do the
lady no hurt, for he tried it himself and got good from it,
and then he made her taste it, for he vowed and swore that
there was no harm in it.
Guleesh handed her the cup, and she drank half of it, and
then fell back on her bed and a heavy sleep came on
 her, and she never woke out of that sleep till the day on the morrow.
Guleesh and the priest sat up the entire night with her,
waiting till she should awake, and they between hope and
unhope, between expectation of saving her and fear of
She awoke at last when the sun had gone half its way through
the heavens. She rubbed her eyes and looked like a person
who did not know where she was. She was like one astonished
when she saw Guleesh and the priest in the same room with
her, and she sat up doing her best to collect her thoughts.
The two men were in great anxiety waiting to see would she
speak, or would she not speak, and when they remained silent
for a couple of minutes, the priest said to her:
"Did you sleep well, Mary?"
And she answered him: "I slept, thank you."
No sooner did Guleesh hear her talking than he put a shout
of joy out of him, and ran over to her and fell on his two
knees, and said: "A thousand thanks to God, who has given
you back the talk; lady of my heart, speak again to me."
The lady answered him that she understood it was he who
boiled that drink for her, and gave it to her; that she was
obliged to him from her heart for all the kindness he showed
her since the day she first came to Ireland, and that he
might be certain that she never would forget it.
Guleesh was ready to die with satisfaction and delight. Then
they brought her food, and she ate with a good appetite, and
was merry and joyous, and never left off talking with the
priest while she was eating.
After that Guleesh went home to his house, and stretched
 himself on the bed and fell asleep again, for the force of
the herb was not all spent, and he passed another day and a
night sleeping. When he woke up he went back to the priest's
house, and found that the young lady was in the same state,
and that she was asleep almost since the time that he left
He went into her chamber with the priest, and they remained
watching beside her till she awoke the second time, and she
had her talk as well as ever, and Guleesh was greatly
rejoiced. The priest put food on the table again, and they
ate together, and Guleesh used after that to come to the
house from day to day, and the friendship that was between
him and the king's daughter increased, because she had no
one to speak to except Guleesh and the priest, and she liked
So they married one another, and that was the fine wedding
they had, and if I were to be there then, I would not be
here now; but I heard it from a birdeen that there was
neither cark nor care, sickness nor sorrow, mishap nor
misfortune on them till the hour of their death, and may the
same be with me, and with us all!
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