Myself an’ my brother knew a man one time, he was an oul’ gentleman, an’ he was a well-liked man. But he wouldn’t let you shoot a bird or snare a rabbit in his place. He was a terrible humane sort of a man.
He had a big estate, an’ the house was inside in the middle of a grove. An’ ‘twas a weird oul’ place. Oh God, the trees made it very lonesome.
But he was the victim of his own beliefs an’ his own actions because when he didn’t let the locals trap the rabbits they over-populated. They nearly ate him out o’ the place. His estate went to feed the rabbits.
So, faith, he got the message. An’ we used to trap a few rabbits, my brother an’ myself, an’ he approached me one day to know would I go into his estate. I was very friendly with him. He was a nice man, but whimsical, you know.
An’ he said to me, “Mick”, he said, “would you be interested in trapping a handful o’ them rabbits? They have the place overran” says he.
“They have”, says I. “I can see that. An’ the worst feature o’ that, now”, I said, “is that you have inbreeding”.
“Oh God”, he said, “don’t say it!”
“Well”, I said, “that’s the story”.
Now, he was a very nice man, as I say, an’ he said “d’you know what you’ll do for me, now. Snare the rabbits, an’ I’ll see you all right”.
Remember now, money was very scarce that time. That was in the ‘forties. A rabbit’d be a half-crown, two an’ sixpence. A lot o’ money. I made more money out o’ his farm for that six months than he made in ten years.
So, begod, we got a few snares, anyway, myself an’ the brother, an’ set ‘em. An’ we were doing grand.
An’ the next thing, didn’t he arrive one day an’ he said “did ye go after the rabbits?”
I said “we did, but our equipment is kind o’ scanty”.
We hadn’t money to buy the snares with to start out, you see.
“It’ll take us time”.
I was playing for time, too, you can be sure!
“Don’t worry”, says he.
He tackled up his mare, an’ he had a back-to-back trap. An’ there were big wheels on it, nearly six feet high, rubber-tyred. An’ he had this race-mare, an’ she went flying into Limerick – twelve miles. An’ he had a whip an’ a hard hat. An’ didn’t he go into a hardware shop, an’ he bought out what traps was in it, an’ he landed at the door to us.
An’ he said, “now, trap away”.
I thanked him, an’ I took the traps. Lord God, sure we were elected.
But ….. what we did do, we set the traps away from the house, outside the yard, so he wouldn’t hear the rabbits screeching when they’d get caught, you see, because if he did, “Out!” we were gone.
So we trapped away, an’ the first night, we shoved up near the house – ah, ‘twould be about half one – an’ we heard this wailing. An’ the brother was younger than me, but the two of us knew ‘twas herself. An’ she cried for about a mile down along – there was a big stream bounds on the two estates, down within two miles o’ where Shannon Airport is now. An’ she came down along by that stream. An’ ‘tis said that the banshee will never cross a stream.
We pulled in to the gable of an outhouse, an’ she passed within, I’d say, about forty or fifty yards of us. But we didn’t see her. Only heard the crying.
Were we afraid?
All I can tell you is that we weren’t happy. But there was two of us in it. We were two good hardy lads at the time. We weren’t too chicken-hearted at all. There was money making. We had the opportunity an’ the incentive was there.
D’you see, we had a fellow organized. He was a poultry-merchant an’ he had a van, an’ he’d come at three o’ clock every evening to take the rabbits from us into Limerick. We’d get a half-crown apiece for ‘em.
We used take ‘em on bikes, even, cycle in twelve miles into Limerick with ‘em. Come back then an’ set away again.
But we got out of it at about three o’ clock that night. You wouldn’t feel comfortable, you know. But the following night we went again.
No problem. No banshee. For a fortnight, not a sound. An’ faith, we heard the crying again. We weren’t so frightened the second time. But we knew that it wasn’t this fellow, because his family hadn’t ever the reputation o’ having a banshee if they were going to die.
But faith, about two miles farther up there’d a fellow die, all right. An’ they had the name o’ having a banshee, sure enough.
Eddie has been collecting folklore in Co. Clare and further afield for nearly 40 years. Here, Eddie shares some of the stories he has collected on his travels. Print copies of each story appear in his long-running "Folklore Corner" in the Clare County Express.