School: Béal Átha 'n Fheadha (B.)

Location:
Ballina, Co. Mayo
Teacher:
D. P. Ó Cearbhaill

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The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0146, Page 515

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There was (were) once two young men that was (were) going to mass one Sunday morning. At the same time they had a mile of a country road to go before they reached the church. As they were passing along a (yound) young man came out before them and asked them into a field near-by for a game of cards. One of them gave consent and the other went to mass.

They both went into a field and sat down. The man that asked him in took out a pack of cards. So they both began playing until the boy, that was going to mass lost all his money. He asked him to play for his boots and clothes, he asked him to play for his arms. They he played for his whole body. Then he had no more. He asked him to play for his soul. The boy was so enticed he gave consent and the devil won it also. As it was he that was playing the cards he told him then that he could have his own clothes back as he got what he wanted that was his soul. He asked him then did he know whom he was playing with. The boy said he did not know. “Well” he said “I am the devil. I have your whole soul and body won. I will give you one year and a day to find out the Green Man of Knowledge”.
He went home heartbroken for not being said by the boy in not going to mass. Next morning he rose early and took to the road. He was travelling for eleven months without finding him. No one (coucl) could give him any account of the Green Man of Knowledge. He began to travel on again until he seen (saw) a light in the distance. He kept walking on until he came as far as the light. He came as far as a castle. He knocked at the door and it was opened by a man. The man asked what his business was and he told the man he was in search of the Green Man of Knowledge. The man said “You have to come to another castle before you find the Green Man of Knowledge.”
He was travelling day and night until the boots of his feet was (were) worn. Then he came to another castle and he knocked at the door and it was opened by an old man. He asked him what he wanted. He told him he was in search of the Green Man of Knowledge. He told him that the next castle he would meet that he would meet him there. Before he started on his journey the old man brought him in to the castle and gave him food and drink and gave him a bed to rest him for the night as the old man knew that the boy had a long journey before him next day.
Next morning the boy rose very early and when he came down stairs there was a lovely breakfast of all sorts laid before him on the table. So when he had finished he thanked the old man and set off on his journey in search of the Green Man of Knowledge. He walked on, and, on until he seen (saw) a light far off. It wasn’t long until he reached the light. When he reached the castle he knocked at the door. It was opened by a man and he asked was it there the Green Man of Knowledge lived. The man said it was. The man went away and came back in a few minutes and told him that he would see him in the morning. He was brought into the castle and got food and drink. Also there was a bed prepared for him.
The Green Man of Knowledge had three daughters. The youngest one of them came to the boy and told him not to sleep in the bed that was prepared for him as it was a trap that was laid for him. He sat up all night and never went in to bed. Next morning The Green Man of Knowledge was surprised when he met him alive “When you have your breakfast taken I want you to clean a stable. I want it finished at twelve o clock today and if you haven’t it done at that time your head will be on the block.”
He started cleaning out the stable. No matter how he cleaned it(,) it still remained the same. He was that fatigued he gave it up as hopeless. The same girl that told him not to sleep in the bed came into the stable and sat on a seat that was nearby. She told him to leave his head on her lap and to take a rest. He was so tired is that he fell asleep. When he awakened he was surprised to see it so clean before him.
“When my father comes in he will put you to a lot of question to find out how you cleaned the stable, but no matter how he questions or threatens you don’t tell him that I was here or it will cost me my life.” She went out and shortly after her father the Green Man of Knowledge came into the stable. He was surprised to see how clean it was. After he told him that was his task done for that day but that he would have another one to(o) for him the next day.
That night when he was going to bed the same girl came to him again and told him not to lie in the bed and also told him that her father was going to get him to climb the highest tree in the garden, to take three eggs out of a bird’s nest. And she told him that she would make a ladder out of her ten fingers. “And if you miss one step when you are coming down with the eggs I will lose one of my fingers.”
Next day he was showed (shown) the tree he had to climb. She placed her ten fingers as ten rungs in the ladder. She then told him not to attempt to miss one or she would lose one of her fingers. So he started to climb the ladder.
So he reached the nest alright and got the eggs but in coming down he missed the last step. He brought the eggs safe and gave them to the Green Man of Knowledge. The girl came to him again and told him that there were three sisters of them in it and that her father was going to get a hand of each one of them out in three separate holes so that the boy couldn’t discern which of them the hand belonged to. Then she showed him her hand and there was a finger missing and he knew at once that he was the cause of it by missing one of the rungs in the ladder when he was coming down from the bird’s nest. Then she said to him. “This is the hand I will put out” showing him the hand with the missing finger. “Then you’ll know which of us to choose.”
Next day the hands were put out for him to choose from. The boy choosed the hand of the missing finger. Her father was standing by and when he seen (saw) the one he choosed he got into an awful rage. Then he guessed who was aiding him as this girl had more power and enchan(t)ments than any of her two sisters and he ordered his head to be cut off in the morning.
The boy was in a terrible way. That night he was locked up and he sat down thinking and waiting when the girl came to him again and told him not to worry that she would have two horses ready at daybreak to take the two of them to the boy’s father’s and mother’s home.
Next morning the two of them set off on their (journing) journey. When the girls’ father found they were gone he set off with an army of men on horseback. When the girl and boy were a long distance off the girl told the boy to look behind him to see if there was anybody coming. And when he did so he told her that he saw an army of men riding on horseback coming behind them. The girl told him to take a drop of sweat from the horse and told him to fling it behind him and when he did so there appeared a big ocean and when the horsemen came up to it and were trying to cross it the boy and the girl got farther away.
When they were riding a good while she told him to look behind again and when he did so he told her he seen (saw) the army of men coming close behind them and she told him to take a bit of wood from the horses ear and to fling it behind him as far as he could and when he did so a great big thick wood appeared and the trees were so close together that no one could pass through them. And when the horsemen came up to it they could not pass through them, they had to go back again for saws and hatche(t)s to cut the trees to make a path through and again they had that done the boy and girl were landed in the boy’s home.
The day they landed the day and the year were up and he went straight to the field where the devil and himself had the game of cards. He had to go to meet the devil there as that was the bargain he made with him on the day he sent him looking for the Green Man of Knowledge, that he was to meet him there when he would find him.
So he was there before him and the devil told him that he had won and he went home happy and himself and the girl got married and he never played cards again.

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Collector
Val Muldowney
Gender
male
Informant
Mrs Broderick
Relation
grandparent
Gender
female
Occupation
shoemaker's wife
Address
Ballina, Co. Mayo
Informant
Mrs Mc Guigan
Gender
female
Age
73
Address
Ballina, Co. Mayo
Language
English