An seanduine agus an dlítheamhnach - Eoin Ó Cianáin

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Seanduine[1] agus an dlítheamhnach[2].

Bhí seanduine insa tír seo agus bhí a lán airgid aige. Agus bhí sé comh... an oiread sin spéis aige ins an airgead go gcoinneochadh sé é ar thábla insa... aige[3] fuinneog a rúm agus choinneochadh sé ag tiontó an airgid ar ais agus ar aghaidh ag amharc air oíche agus lá. Agus bheadh coinneal aige (shuífeadh sé thaire leis[4] ansin). Agus bhí aon oíche amháin is bhí dlítheamhnach óg a bhí... a tháinig 'na mbaile[5] in éis a chuid foghlama a fháil. Agus deir sé, "Saoilim go dtiocfadh liom cása maith a dhéanamh as an tseanduine siúd."

Chuaigh sé agus bhí mála leis agus chuir sé a lámh isteach agus tharraing sé an t-airgead uilig (a bhí aige) isteach insa mhála. Agus bhí caefa[6] leis faoina ascaill agus wig. Agus chuir sé an chaefa agus an wig air. Agus d'amharc an seanduine amach air 'air a... 'air[7] a bhí sé in éis an t-airgead a thabhairt leis. Agus bhí an chaefa air agus an wig is d'amharc sé air. "Veh, veh, veh, veh," a deir sé leis an... leis an tseanduine.

Fuaigh an seanduine ar buile ansin ar maidin lá arna mhárach agus fuaigh sé a dh'amharc fán airgead agus, "Caithfidh mé goil 'uig an dlítheamhnach agus fios a fháil goidé mar (gheobhas mé amach) an t-airgead seo."

Bhuel, mac dearthára[8] dó féin a bhí insa dlítheamhnach seo agus níl duine ar bith ar chóir duid a ghoil 'uige ach mac do dearthára.

"Bhuel, b'fhéadar[9] gur chóir domh tryáil a thabhairt dó."

Chuaigh sé 'uige mac an dearthára ansin ar maidin lá harna mhárach. Agus, "Chaill mé mo chuid airgid aréir. Rógaire inteacht siúlach agus níl[10] a fhios agam goidé mar a gheobhas mé é."

"Má thig ar a fháil ar chor ar bith, gheo' mise duid é."

'Air a bhí sé ag goil 'na mbaile an tráthnóna leis an airgead dhropáil sé an wig i bpoll uisce an áit a dtabharfadh an fear ab fhoisce dófa a chuid caiple chun deoch a fháil ann. Agus 'air a tháinig na police amach a chuartú ansin cá rabh an gadaí nó cá hé a rabh an t-airgead aige, fuair siad an wig insa... insa pholl, agus thug siad an wig leofa agus cha rabh rud ar bith nas[11] siúráilte ná gurbh é an fear sin a thug an t-airgead leis, fear maol comharsnaigh a bhí acu. Agus thug siad an fear leofa agus thug siad roimhe leis[12] an bhreitheamh é (ag déanamh cur síos ar shon tabhairt an airgid leofa).

Tháinig a chása ar aghaidh agus mhionnaigh sé leis an wig agus dúirt sé (gurbh é a fuair an) wig (...) é a fuair a chuid airgid go siúráilte.

"Bhuel, tá an cása go holc," arsa an breitheamh, arsa seisean. "An dóigh leis an fhear shaibhir seo?"

"Fan go bhfeice mé," arsa an dlítheamhnach, arsa seisean, "tá rud inteacht a'msa[13] le ráit ansin fost'."

Fuair sé... Fuair sé greim ar an wig a bhí ina... Bhí wig 'na luí ar an tábla agus bhí an chaefa aige faoina ascaill agus chuir sé an chaefa air agus chuir sé an wig air agus d'amharc sé ina... isteach in aghaidh an tseanduine mar a rinn sé nuair a bhí sé in éis an t-airgead a thabhairt leis agus deir sé leis an tseanduine, "Veh, veh, veh, veh."

"Ó, sin an rógaire," arsa seisean, "a thug mo chuid airgid (leis)."

Agus, "(an) gcluin tú sin aige, a bhreitheamh," arsa an... arsa an dlítheamhnach, arsa seisean. "Mhionnaigh sé ar an fhear... ar fhear," arsa seisean, "tá bomaite ó shoin. Agus mhionnaigh sé ormsa anois. Agus mionnóchaidh sé ortsa an darna fear," arsa seisean, "mur nde-... ndéanfaidh tú rud inteacht leis."

"Dhéanaim[14] dismiss ar an... ar an chása!" arsa seisean. "Tá an seanuine ar baoth."


The old man and the lawyer.

There was an old man in this land and he had a lot of money. And he was so... he was so obsessed with the money that he used to keep it on a table in... at the window of his room and he used to flip the money from head to tail looking at it day and night. And he had a candle [and] he would sit over it then (?). And one night there was a young lawyer who was... who had come home after finishing his studies. And he said, "I think I could make a good case out of that old man."

He went with a bag and he put his hand inside and he put all the money he had(?) into the bag. And he had a cap under his arm and a wig. And he put the cap on and the wig. And the old man looked out at him when he had taken the money. And he had the cap on and the wig and he looked at him. "Veh, veh, veh, veh," he said to the... to the old man.

The old man became enraged then the next morning and he went to look for the money and, "I have to go to a lawyer to find out how I will get (?) this money."

Well, this lawyer was his own nephew and there is no better person to go to than your nephew.

"Well, maybe I should try him out."

He went to his nephew then the following morning. And, "I lost my money last night. Some wandering rogue and I don't know how I'll get it (back)."

"If it can be found at all, I'll get it for you."

When he was going home in the evening with the money he dropped the wig in a water hole where the man who lived nearest to them used to bring his horses for a drink. And when the police came out looking to find the robber or whoever had the money, they found the wig in the... in the hole, and they took the wig with them and nothing was more certain but that it was that man who stole the money, their bald neighbour. And they took the man off and they brought him before the judge describing how he took the money (?).

The case went ahead and he swore about(?) the wig and he said it was he who had (?) the wig (...) it was he who had had the money surely.

"Well, it's a difficult case," said the judge. "Does the rich man think so?"

"Wait till I see," said the lawyer, "I have something to say about that too."

He took... He took hold of the wig that was in his... There was a wig lying on the table and he had the cap under his arm and he put the cap on and he put the wig on and he looked at... in the face at the old man like he did after taking the money and he said to the old man, "Veh, veh, veh, veh."

"Oh, that's the rogue," he said, "who took my money."

And, "do you hear what he's saying, judge," said the... said the lawyer. "He swore it was the man... the man," he said, "a moment ago. And he swore it was me just now. And he will swear it was you as well," he said, "if you don't... if you don't do something."

"I dismiss the case!" he said. "The old man is raving."


Leg. sean-nduine? Cf. Dónall Ó Baoill, An teanga bheo: Gaeilge Uladh (Dublin, 1996), 148: sean’uine 'an old man'; seanduine 'an old person' (Tír Chonaill). (Back)
= dlíodóir. (Back)
= ag (Back)
= thairis. Cf. Gerard Stockman and Heinrich Wagner, 'Contributions to a study of Tyrone Irish,' Lochlann 3 (1965), 43-235: 162. (Back)
= chun an bhaile. Cf. Éamonn Ó Tuathail, Sgéalta Mhuintir Luinigh (Dublin, 1933), xxxiii: ag goil ’na mbaile 'going home'; ag goil ’na bhaile 'going to town'. (Back)
= caidhp. Cf. caif in Patrick S. Dinneen, Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla (Dublin, 1927; repr. 1996). Cf. Heinrich Wagner and Colm Ó Baoill, Linguistic atlas and survey of Irish dialects (4 vols, Dublin, 1958-69), vol. 4, 290, n. 5. (Back)
= nuair. Cf. Emrys Evans, 'The Irish dialect of Urris, Inishowen, Co. Donegal', Lochlann, 4 (1969), 1-130: 80. (Back)
Leg. dreathra? (Back)
= b’fhéidir. Cf. Stockman and Wagner, op. cit., 148. (Back)
Leg. (Cha)n fhuil? (Back)
= níos. Cf. Ó Baoill, op. cit., 146. (Back)
= roimh. Cf. Art Hughes, 'Gaeilge Uladh', in Kim McCone et al., Stair na Gaeilge (Maigh Nuad, 1994), 611-60: 658. (Back)
= agamsa. Cf. Stockman and Wagner, op. cit., 210. (Back)
= déanaim. Cf. Stockman and Wagner, op. cit., 118. (Back)


This humorous story of a lawyer stealing from and outwitting a miser, appears twice in the Doegen collection, once as the current version, and again as 'An fear aosta agus a chuid airgid', by the same informant. It is not clear whether this could be considered an example of a miscellaneous international folktale, ATU 1525 The master thief, since there is such a wide variety of stories categorised under this title. See Hans Jorg Uther, The types of international folktale: a classification and bibliography (3 vols, Helsinki, 2004). It may be vaguely associated with an Aesopic fable about a miser and his gold. In Aesop's version, a miser has his gold stolen from a secret hiding place, and is advised to imagine it is still there, because he never made use of it in any case. See Karl Halm, Fabulae Aesopicae collectae (Leipzig, 1852), 198. The current tale appears in a printed collection of stories by the same storyteller, directly alongside a version of the Aesopic fable mentioned above, in which the miser's lawyer is the one who advises him to imagine he still had the gold. See Éamonn Ó Tuathail, Sgéalta Mhuintir Luinigh (Dublin, 1933), 84-7. Possible motifs appearing in the story include K311.16 Thief disguised as girl and K1836 Disguise of man in woman’s dress. The Aesopic fable is related to motif J1061.4. Miser’s treasure stolen. See Stith Thompson, Motif-index of folk literature (rev. and enlarged ed., 6 vols, Bloomington, Ind., 1955-8).

The idea of a miser being tricked or outwitted for his money is one that was common in eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century popular culture. There are a number of comic operas and plays written on the theme dating from this period. See John Denison Champlin, Cyclopedia of music and musicians (New York, 1885), 90. It is also a common narrative in broadside ballads and chapbooks of the time. See T. A. Martin, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 20 (Bristol, 1897), 50. See also William Coolidge Lane, Catalogue of English and American chapbooks and broadside ballads in Harvard College Library (Cambridge, 1905), 106. Finally, a play entitled 'The Miser Outwitted', where a miser is tricked out of his money, was first performed in Dublin in 1848. See David Beasley, 'Major John Richardson's "The Miser Outwitted" discovered', Theatre Research in Canada 7 (1986), 3-10. It is not known if this material may have influenced the oral tradition, but it does at any rate testify to the popularity of the theme in Europe at the time.

A version of this story appears in Nollaig Mac Congáil and Ciarán Ó Duibhín, Glórtha ón tseanaimsir (Gleann an Iolair, 2009), 19-21.

Title in English: The old man and the lawyer
Digital version published by: Doegen Records Web Project, Royal Irish Academy

Description of the Recording:

Speaker: Eoin Ó Cianáin from Co. Tyrone
Person who made the recording: Karl Tempel
Organizer and administrator of the recording scheme: The Royal Irish Academy
In collaboration with: Lautabteilung, Preußische Staatsbibliothek (now Lautarchiv, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Recorded on 24-09-1931 at 11:30:00 in Queen's University, Belfast. Recorded on 24-09-1931 at 11:30:00 in Queen's University, Belfast.
Archive recording (ID LA_1210d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:24 minutes long. Archive recording (ID LA_1210d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:24 minutes long.
Second archive recording (ID LA_1210b1, from a shellac disc stored in Belfast) is 03:25 minutes long. Second archive recording (ID LA_1210b1, from a shellac disc stored in Belfast) is 03:25 minutes long.
User recording (ID LA_1210d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:22 minutes long. User recording (ID LA_1210d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:22 minutes long.