Tales of the Wicklow Hills

2000 years of history, myth, legend and local stories

ISBN 978-0-9557568-0-1 A5 paperback, 96 pages plus 8 pages colour

Published 2007, second printing 2008

10 euros (free postage Ireland North and South; add 2 euros postage elsewhere)

“The aim of this book is to record in written format the stories and legends of County Wicklow that have largely passed orally from generation to generation over the years.  … Some of the stories in this book are ones that I am sure all of us that are from County Wicklow have heard at some time, but may have forgotten about over the years, while others may be completely new. Whether they are new or familiar, I think that it is very important that they are recorded in this written publication to serve as a permanent record for ourselves and for future generations.”
Ann Ferris, Cathaoirleach, Wicklow County Council

“[The book] expresses and represents Wicklow’s oral and literary heritage in an engaging, vibrant and easily accessible manner. … [Richard displays] an intimate and informed knowledge of the county’s rich cultural tapestry. … [The book] renders accessible a particular sense of that place in a universal manner.”
Béaloideas: The Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society

“It will electrify anyone with a deep love of this part of the world who will be alternately chilled, intrigued or moved by Marsh’s … sit-up-in-bed page turner. For here is a wonderful compendium of ghost stories, myths, legends, folklore and true (or possibly true) tales of buried treasure.”
The Nationalist (County Carlow newspaper)

“Marsh’s style manages to mix an abundance of facts with a lively narration.” Books Ireland

“Every part of Ireland should have its Richard Marsh, and Wicklow is particularly lucky in this regard. He shows us that the heritage of storytelling is expressed in both literary and oral forms, making the landscape and the life of the various communities more colourful in the mind, more adventurous and fulfilling. As such it is of importance to the young as well as to the old, for a Wicklow person should be more interesting and entertaining, more socially expressive, if he or she can represent to the rest of Ireland and to the world a particular sense and a special atmosphere of Wicklow. … Treise le Risteard, an té atá ag oscailt fuinneog na hoidhreachta dúinn agus ag ligint an tsolais isteach! (Power to Richard, who has opened a window on heritage for us and let the light in.)
From the Foreword by the late Dáithí Ó hÓgáin

Contents

The Naming of Baltinglass – An incident in the 1st-century BC story about the Demon Swine of Drebrenn is set in Baltinglass and gives the town its name.

The Melodies of Buchet’s House – Buchet, an inn-keeper involved in the Demon Swine story, is famously generous.

Saint Kevin and Glendalough – Migratory folk tales and local legends have become attached to the 6th-century historical founder of Glendalough.

Fingal Rónáin – 10th-century historical fiction – a tragic soap opera – set in the 7th century.

Feagh McHugh O’Byrne – The last of the Wicklow kings; subject of the ballad “Follow Me Up to Carlow”.

Michael Dwyer – Rebel leader Dwyer prolonged the 1798 Rebellion in Wicklow by remaining at large until 1803. He survives in popular historical legend in Southwest Wicklow but is nearly completely unknown elsewhere.

The Hanging of John Moore – Moore murdered a landowner in 1798; the story survives in oral tradition in the Rathdangan area where it happened.

Hempenstall, “The Walking Gallows” – The facts behind the widely known (in Wicklow) ghost tale featuring an 18th-century vigilante.

The Vale of Avoca

Thomas Moore and the Meeting of the Waters
Bob Pyne
The Avoca “Non-leprechaun”
The Tigroney Ghost
The Cherrymount Fairy
The Avoca Púca
“Me and Thee”
The Mottee Stone
The Fairy Tree
The Violation of a Fairy Fort
The Moving Statue
The Big Snow
Toss Byrne’s Stroke
Jimmy Treacy

Miscellaneous Tales

A Redcross Púca
Poulaphuca
The Ball Moat
“Ned Sheehy of Dromin”
A Mysterious Incident in Rathdangan
The Gates of Heaven (cover photo)
Saint Bridget’s Head Stone
Baltinglass Bell Tower
Shawn Reilly
The Athgreany Stone Circle
“The Night We Riz the Tan”
A Bray Ghost Story
Saint Patrick in Wicklow
A Rathnew Stroke
The Glenmalure Man
(I’ve just found my exact source for “The Glenmalure Man”: The Wicklow People 13 September 1985.) So you know it’s not a lie.

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