The stories told on these pages are from  a collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren in Ireland in the 1930s. 
The children recorded (over&nbsp740,000 handwritten pages) of this material from their parents, grandparents and neighbours.

These are their stories in their own words.

Jack the robber

SCHOOL: Breac-chluain | ADDRESS: Brackloon, Co. Galway

Irish Stories from Long Ago - Proud Irish Heritage
Jack The Rouge

A poor old man lived on the edge of a demesne in a little hut with his son, Jack. Jack was a great rogue and was known by the name of ‘Jack the Robber’. The gentleman who lived on the demesne and who was also the poor old man’s landlord did not want Jack about the place because he was such a rogue.

He told the old man that Jack should be banished. The old man was very troubled because he loved his son. He pleaded with the gentleman for him.

The gentleman agreed to leave Jack if he was successful in three tests he was to set for him.
On a certain day the gentleman would send out two men to plough with a pair of horses. One man was to have the reins and the other man was to have the horses by the bridles. Jack would have to steal the horses from the two men and if he failed he would have to leave immediately.

The poor old man was very troubled because he knew Jack would not be able to do this. However he went home and told Jack.

Jack dressed himself and went to town. He knew a man that had a pair of pet rabbits and he bought them. He came back and lay concealed beside the fence where the men were ploughing. When they were near the fence he let away one of the rabbits. The man that had the reins ran after him to catch him. Then Jack let the second rabbit go and the other man followed him. When both men were in the hollow out of sight Jack jumped out and unyoked the horses and galloped into the gentleman’s yard.

When the gentleman saw this he sent for Jack’s father.

Jack had succeeded in the test he said but he would set him a stiffer one.
This time he would have a horse in a stable. He would have one man riding on the horse and another man holding the horse’s bridle; Jack would have to steal the horse. The old man was very troubled going home because he thought Jack would not be able to do this. However he told Jack.

Jack went to town again and drank two glasses of whiskey.
He bought two bottles of whiskey and put one in each of his coat pockets. He arrived back quietly to the gentleman’s yard. There was a sow pig that was near having bonhams in a sty close by; Jack went in and lay with the sow. Now and again he gave a ‘Prioch’ to the sow and she screamed. The men in the stable heard her and one said to the other that he should look at her.

One man went out to see the sow and found Jack. He came back and told the other man. Poor Jack he said is abroad with the sow and he is very drunk and almost frozen with the cold. We should bring him into the fire. The two men carried in Jack and placed him beside the fire in the stable.

After a time they saw the two bottles. They took one each and drained them to the dregs. After a time they were drunk and fell asleep. Jack stood up and brought the horse out of the stable and gave him up to the gentleman. The gentleman sent for his father again. Jack has succeeded again he said but I will set him another test and a stiffer one. He will have to steal the sheet from under my wife and myself tonight he said. The old man was very troubled because he thought Jack could not possibly succeed this time. However he went home and told Jack.

Jack went to town again and drank a few glasses of whiskey. Then he went to a graveyard close by. Sometime before that there was a boy that resembled Jack very much buried in the graveyard.
Jack raised the corpse and brought it with him to the gentleman’s house. In the middle of the night he lat the corpse down the chimney into the gentleman’s room. The gentleman was not asleep but sitting on the side of the bed with a loaded revolver in his hand. When the corpse came down the chimney he fired at him. The corpse fell on the floor and the gentleman thought it was Jack in the darkness and was glad that he had him shot.

He took the corpse on his back and went out in the garden to bury him. While he was gone out Jack came down the chimney. The wife thought it was her husband and was pulling in to make place for him in the bed. Jack pulled the sheet from under her and unknown to her. I think he said I will go out and put more clay on Jack and he escaped up the chimney.

After a time the gentleman returned. Why didn’t you put clay enough on him she asked when you were out the first time. It’s now I’m returning said he. But you were here a few minutes ago said his wife. I bet said her husband it was Jack. He lighted a candle and he saw that the sheet was gone. He sent for the old man and told him that Jack could remain about the place as long as he liked. He sold the property himself and left the district altogether.


The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0001, Page 406” by Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

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