In conclusion, I have endeavored, with what success has been already determined by the voice of my own country, to give a panorama of Irish life among the people—comprising at one view all the strong points of their general character—their loves, sorrows, superstitions, piety, amusements, crimes, and virtues; and in doing this, I can say with solemn truth that I painted them honestly, and without reference to the existence of any particular creed or party.
Ned M’Keown’s house stood exactly in an angle, formed by the cross-roads of Kilrudden. It was a long, whitewashed building, well thatched and furnished with the usual appurtenances of yard and offices. Like most Irish houses of the better sort, it had two doors, one opening into a garden that sloped down from the rear in a southern direction. The barn was a continuation of the dwelling-house, and might be distinguished from it by a darker shade of color, being only rough-cast. It was situated on a small eminence, but, with respect to the general locality of the country, in a delightful vale, which runs up, for twelve or fourteen miles, between two ranges of dark, well-defined mountains, that give to the interjacent country the form of a low inverted arch. This valley, which altogether, allowing for the occasional breaks and intersections of hill-ranges, extends upwards of thirty miles in length, is the celebrated valley of the “Black Pig,” so well known in the politico-traditional history of Ireland, and the legends connected with the famous Beal Dearg.*
* The following extract, taken from a sketch by the author called “The Irish Prophecy-man,” contains a very appropriate illustration of the above passage. “I have a little book that contains a prophecy of the milk-white hind an’ the bloody panther, an’ a foreboding of the slaughter there’s to be in the Valley of the Black Pig, as foretould by Beal Derg, or the prophet wid the red mouth, who never was known to speak but when he prophesied, or to prophesy but when he spoke.”
“The Lord bless
an’ keep us!—an’ why was he
called the Man
with the Red Mouth, Barney?”
“I’ll tell you that: first, bekase he always prophesied about the slaughter an’ fightin’ that was to take place in the time to come; an’, secondly, bekase, while he spoke, the red blood always trickled out of his mouth, as a proof that what he foretould was true.”
“Glory be to God!
but that’s wondherful all out. Well,
“Ay, an’ Beal Deig, or the Red Mouth, is still livin’.”
“Livin! why, is he a man of our own time?”
“Our own time! The Lord help you! It’s more than a thousand years since he made the prophecy. The case you see is this: he an’ the ten thousand witnesses are lyin’ in an enchanted sleep in one of the Montherlony mountains.”
“An’ how is that known, Barney?”