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.

St Patrick and the blacksmith

SCHOOL: Clochar na Trócaire, Cappamore | ADDRESS: Cappamore, Co. Limerick

Proud Irish Heritage- Saint Patrick of Ireland and the Blacksmith.
St. Patrick and The Blacksmith

When St. Patrick first came to Ireland, he came as a slave and was put minding sheep on the hills of Antrim. He had a vision and was told that a ship was waiting for him and he went away.

Years afterwards, he came back as a priest and in his travels, he came along by Kerry and Co. Limerick heading for Galway. When he was coming out by Anacotty, the ferule fell off his stick and he went into Tom Noonan the Blacksmith and he got a new ferule on his stick.

He went on his journey and when he was coming near Galway town, the ferule fell off his stick again.

He met a man and he asked him if there was any Blacksmith near by, that would put a ferule on his stick. The man told him that there was one old Blacksmith near by but he was afraid that the old man would not have the way of putting the ferule on his stick, that he was a terrible drunkard and had no iron or turf.

“That’s the very man I want “, said St. Patrick and he went straight to the old forge and found the Blacksmith shoeing an ass for an old man.

He asked him would he oblige him by putting a ferule on his stick. The Blacksmith said he had no ferule nor iron to do a job like that. “Never mind “, said St. Patrick, “Gather up the old dust (?) that’s there and blow it up”.

The Blacksmith looked at him seriously as if (he?) meant that it couldn’t be done.

That very instant a big fire lit up and St. Patrick went over to corner of the forge and kicked some dust and found a bit of iron and put it in the fire.

The old Blacksmith got it ready and had a lovely ferule on St. Patrick’s stick in about ten minutes. St. Patrick asked him how much was the job. The Blacksmith said he would take nothing, as he seemed to have great power.

St. Patrick pressed him very hard to take something but he wouldn’t. When he was going away he said he would give him any three gifts he would wish for.

The Blacksmith said “The young boys take down that sledge to the field throwing it as a weight and never bring it back”.

St. Patrick said “Anyone that will catch that sledge will stick to it and will not be able to let go of it, until you take it from them”.

The other was. He had an old chair which was generations old, and all the boys used to come in at night and no place would do them only to sit down on the old chair. St. Patrick said “that anyone that would sit on that old chair in the future would stick to it and would not be able to get up until he were raised off it”.

The other was that he was a terrible drunkard and could not keep a penny in his pocket without spending it on drink. St. Patrick said that any penny that would go into his pocket in the future would not come out only for something good.

Then St. Patrick went away and the Blacksmith thanked him.

The Blacksmith started his work again to finish shoeing the ass for the old man. Who should come in but the Old Devil, and told him that he came to take him away.

“Very well”, said the Blacksmith “Lift up that sledge and help me to finish my work”.

So the Devil lifted up the sledge and started to work. He got tired of sledging, and when he tried to leave it down he could not. It was stuck to his hands. So the Blacksmith left the Devil sledging away for he couldn’t let go.

The Blacksmith finished his work and went in home and cut his dinner, and when he came out the Devil was sledging away. The Devil said he would give him a hundred pounds and twelve more months to live.

“All right”, said the Blacksmith, “it’s a bargain”. Then he let the Devil go.

That night, he got drunk, and had a great night for all the boys came and danced. They had plenty to eat. The boys said it was the best night they ever had.

He bought clothes for his wife children. They lived very well for three months, and when the money was gone, they were in poverty again.

When the year was up the Devil arrived again and said “Come on Jack” “alright”, said he, “Sit down here for a minute, until I eat something”.

So the Devil sat down on the old chair, and stuck to it.

When Jack was ready, the Devil said, “Come on”. He tried to stand up but he couldn’t. “You have me again “, said the Devil, “I suppose there’s only one way out of it to give you another hundred pounds and to leave you live for twelve more months “.

The Devil gave Jack the money and he let him go free again.

So it was the same story, Jack spent all the money on drink. He never put any of it in his pocket for fear he couldn’t spend it.

After another year, the Devil came again and Jack went away with him.

When they were going along the road the Devil said to Jack, “Do you see that horse? I will turn myself into a horse like him”. So he jumped over the ditch and turned himself into a horse.

They went on a bit farther and Jack said to the Devil “Do you see that ass? I bet you, you won’t turn yourself into an animal like him”.

Jack knew that the Devil couldn’t do that, because the ass had a cross on his back. He had him there. “What’s smaller” said the Devil, “I will turn myself into a mouse”.

“I bet you won’t,” said Jack, “and run up the leg of my pants and into my pocket”.

The Devil didn’t know about Jack’s gifts, did so. He got stuck in Jack’s pocket,and couldn’t come out.

Jack went into the next farmer’s house, and got the loan of a pants and folded up his own, leaving the Devil inside in the pocket.

He went to the nearest mill, and threw the pants into it, and gave the Devil a terrible squeeze, but it did not kill him. In rage, he flew to Tipperary and took a bit out of a hill and which is now called the Devil’s Bit, and then he flew to Cashel and let the stone drop there and it is now called The Rock of Cashel.

When the Blacksmith died, he was sent to Hell for all the drinking he did when he was alive, but the devil wouldn’t let him in because he was afraid after all the times he tricked him, so the Devil gave him a red lamp, and he goes throughput the country and he is called “Jacky the Lantern”.


The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0521, Page 055” by Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

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