The Kiltartan History Book

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Seven Short Plays

Cuchulain of Muirthemne

Gods and Fighting Men

Poets and Dreamers

A Book of Saints and Wonders



The Ancient Times Goban, the Builder A Witty Wife An Advice She Gave Shortening the Road The Goban's Secret The Scotch Rogue The Danes The Battle of Clontarf The English The Queen of Breffny King Henry VIII. Elizabeth Her Death The Trace of Cromwell Cromwell's Law Cromwell in Connacht A Worse than Cromwell The Battle of Aughrim The Stuarts Another Story Patrick Sarsfield Queen Anne Carolan's Song 'Ninety-Eight Denis Browne The Union Robert Emmet O'Connell's Birth The Tinker A Present His Strategy The Man was Going to be Hanged The Cup of the Sassanach The Thousand Fishers What the Old Women Saw O'Connell's Hat The Change He Made The Man He Brought to Justice The Binding His Monument A Praise Made for Daniel O'Connell by Old Women and They Begging at the Door Richard Shiel The Tithe War The Fight at Carrickshock The Big Wind The Famine The Cholera A Long Remembering The Terry Alts The '48 Time A Thing Mitchell Said The Fenian Rising A Great Wonder Another Wonder Father Mathew The War of the Crimea Garibaldi The Buonapartes The Zulu War The Young Napoleon Parnell Mr. Gladstone Queen Victoria's Religion Her Wisdom War and Misery The Present King The Old Age Pension Another Thought A Prophecy




"As to the old history of Ireland, the first man ever died in Ireland was Partholan, and he is buried, and his greyhound along with him, at some place in Kerry. The Nemidians came after that and stopped for a while, and then they all died of some disease. And then the Firbolgs came, the best men that ever were in Ireland, and they had no law but love, and there was never such peace and plenty in Ireland. What religion had they? None at all. And there was a low-sized race came that worked the land of Ireland a long time; they had their time like the others. Many would tell you Grania slept under the cromlechs, but I don't believe that, and she a king's daughter. And I don't believe she was handsome either. If she was, why would she have run away? In the old time the people had no envy, and they would be writing down the stories and the songs for one another. But they are too venemous now to do that. And as to the people in the towns, they don't care for such things now, they are too corrupted with drink."


"The Goban was the master of sixteen trades. There was no beating him; he had got the gift. He went one time to Quin Abbey when it was building, looking for a job, and the men were going to their dinner, and he had poor clothes, and they began to jibe at him, and the foreman said 'Make now a cat-and-nine-tails while we are at our dinner, if you are any good.' And he took the chisel and cut it in the rough in the stone, a cat with nine tails coming from it, and there it was complete when they came out from their dinner. There was no beating him. He learned no trade, but he was master of sixteen. That is the way, a man that has the gift will get more out of his own brain than another will get through learning. There is many a man without learning will get the better of a college-bred man, and will have better words too. Those that make inventions in these days have the gift, such a man now as Edison, with all he has got out of electricity."


"The Goban Saor was a mason and a smith, and he could do all things, and he was very witty. He was going from home one time and he said to the wife 'If it is a daughter you have this time I'll kill you when I come back'; for up to that time he had no sons, but only daughters. And it was a daughter she had; but a neighbouring woman had a son at the same time, and they made an exchange to save the life of the Goban's wife. But when the boy began to grow up he had no wit, and the Goban knew by that he was no son of his. That is the reason he wanted a witty wife for him. So there came a girl to the house one day, and the Goban Saor bade her look round at all that was in the room, and he said 'Do you think a couple could get a living out of this?' 'They could not,' she said. So he said she wouldn't do, and he sent her away. Another girl came another day, and he bade her take notice of all that was in the house, and he said 'Do you think could a couple knock a living out of this?' 'They could if they stopped in it,' she said. So he said that girl would do. Then he asked her could she bring a sheepskin to the market and bring back the price of it, and the skin itself as well. She said she could, and she went to the market, and there she pulled off the wool and sold it and brought back the price and the skin as well. Then he asked could she go to the market and not be dressed or undressed. And she went having only one shoe and one stocking on her, so she was neither dressed or undressed. Then he sent her to walk neither on the road or off the road, and she walked on the path beside it. So he said then she would do as a wife for his son."

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