School: Achadh Mhaoláin (roll number 9254)

Aghawillin, Co. Leitrim
Mrs Prior
The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0226, Page 441

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The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0226, Page 441

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  1. XML School: Achadh Mhaoláin
  2. XML Page 441
  3. XML “Billeting Rats”

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  1. Until about twenty or thirty years ago it was a common occurance for rats to be "billeted". They went around in "batches" and there were up to one hundred in some batches. They seemed to be trained just like soldiers.
    The leader was a large grey rat much larger than any of the army and he always led the way.
    There were certain people who could "billet" rats and there weren't many in a county. A person might have to go miles in order to get a man to do this job. It was done by writing some words on a piece of paper (some say in Latin) and giving it to the leader of the rats and then he and all the rest of them left and went to wherever they were sent.
    They also had to be sent to a place as good or better as the previous one. If not they would not go.
    Often if there was a granary or a good barn the rats took up their abode there and if not they went to the dwelling house.
    The man for "billeting" had nothing to do but write the words on the paper and as soon as he went into the house where the rats were the leader of them immediately came out. He then handed him the piece of paper and no sooner did take it than the whole army gathered from every hole and corner around him and off they went.
    Some say that the leader walked in front and the others walked in two's after him and others say that they took the full breadth of the road and walked in about two
    (continues on next page)
    Transcribed by a member of our volunteer transcription project.
    Evelyn A. Gallagher
    Patrick Gallagher
    Drumcullion, Co. Leitrim