Nuair a bhí mé beag baoideach (cuid 1) - Patrick Campbell

Recording: [Download audio file] [Download AIFF audio file (of processed ‘user’ version)] [Download AIFF audio file (of archive version)]


Nuair a bhí mé beag baoideach ag mo dhaoiní insa bhaile bhí fear ina chónaí i mbaile a dtugann siad Mín na Croise air arbh ainm dó Pádraig Ó Gallchóir. Bhí sé ina chónaí go han-bhocht. Ní rabh maoin, caoirigh nó eallaigh aige nó mórán slí beo ach ag déanamh gléasarthaí[1] beaga, soithí beaga, fá choinne coinneáilt uisce. Lá amháin, fuair sé scéala a ghoil síos go Baile Uí Eaghra a dhéanamh soitheach fá choinne coinneáilt biotáilte, déanamh biotáilte. D'imigh sé agus nuair a bhí sé ag goil fríd an bhaile chuaigh a chos síos i ndíog leis. Ní rabh sé ag fáil a chos tarraingthí[2] leis, agus dúir'[3] sé lena chos féin, "Go rabh tú ag an diabhal," ar seisean, "agus tar aníos as sin."

Fuair sé an chos leis agus d'imigh sé go teach a rabh sé ag goil... go dtí an teach a rabh sé ag goil a dh'obair[4] ann. Nuair a chuaigh sé 'un toighe thosaigh sé ar an ghléas a rabh sé ag goil a dh'obair uirthi agus níor chríochnaigh sé an gléas an lá sin.

Tháinig sé abhaile tráthnóna agus maidin lá harna mhárach d'imigh sé arís. Nuair a bhí sé ag goil trasna ins an áit chéanna chuaigh a chos síos insa díogaidh agus ní rabh dul aige an chos a fháil leis. Bhuel, labhair an rud a bhí thíos insa díogaidh, "Is mise an diabhal," arsa seisean, "agus ní thig leat do chos a fháil leat. Thug tú an chos domhsa inné. Agus is liomsa thú inniu."

"Bhuel," arsa Pádraig, "lig cead domh inniu. Tá mé ag goil a shaothrú páighe lae. Agus déan an giota beag iarainn daod[5] féin anois," arsa Pádraig, "agus gabh isteach in mo phóca agus siúil liom."

"Maith go leor," arsa an diabhal.

Rinn sé an giota iarainn dó féin agus chuaigh sé isteach ina phóca. Chuaigh siad go dtí an teach a rabh sé ag déanamh an ghléas fá choinne coinnéailt na biotáilte, déanamh ghnoithí na biotáilte, agus chríochnaigh an job an lá seo. Nuair a chríochnaigh sé an gléas an lá seo sé an pháighe a fuair sé dhá phíosa toistiúna. Tháinig sé abhaile tráthnóna agus nuair a bhí sí ag teacht ar an bhealach abhaile, smaoitigh[6] sé go rachadh sé a fhad leis an ghabha a bhí ins na Cealla Beaga go bhfaghadh sé fiacail chleith fhorsaidh[7] déanta den ghiota iarainn.

Chuaigh sé a fhad leis an ghabha, agus an chéad bhuille a thug an gabha don ghiota iarainn, d'éirigh sé ina splancacha tineadh ar fud an urláir. Thug an gabha iarraidh buille den chasúr ar Phádraig agus hobair nach muirfe-... nár mharaigh sé Pádraig. Fuair Pádraig bocht (téite) agus thug sé iarraidh ar an bhaile. Nuair a bhí sé ag teacht aníos chuig droichead Fhionn Trá, bhí fear ina sheasamh ar an bhóthar roimhe.


When I was a young lad at home with my people there was a man living in a town called Meenacross whose name was Patrick Gallagher. He was living very poorly. He had no wealth, sheep or cows or much of a living other than making little appliances, little vessels, for holding water. One day, he was called down to Ballyhara to make a barrel for holding spirits, making spirits. He left and when he was going through the town his leg went into a drain. He wasn't able to pull his leg out, and he said to his own leg, "May the devil have you," he said, "and come out of there."

He freed the leg and he went to a house where he was going... to the house he was going to work in. When he went to the house he started on the appliance on which he was going to work and he didn't finish the appliance that day.

He came home in the evening and he left again the following morning. When he was going across in the same place his leg went down into the ditch and he wasn't able to free the leg. Well, the thing that was down in the ditch spoke, "I am the devil," he said, "and you can't release your leg. You gave me the leg yesterday. And you are mine today."

"Well," said Patrick, "let me off today. I am going to earn a day's pay. And make a small piece of iron of yourself now," said Patrick, "and go into my pocket and walk with me."

"Fair enough," said the devil.

He made himself into the little piece of iron and he went into his pocket. They went to the house in which he was making the appliance for keeping the spirits, the spirit-making business, and he finished the job this day. When he finished the appliance this day the pay he got was two forpenny pieces. He came home in the evening and when he was coming home along the way, he thought that he would go as far as the smith who was in Killybegs to get a harrow-pin made out of the bit of iron.

He went to the smith, and the first blow the smith gave the piece of iron, it burst into a shower of sparks all over the floor. The smith tried to hit Patrick with the hammer and very nearly killed Patrick. Poor Patrick was heated(?) and he headed for home. When he was coming up to Fintragh bridge, there was a man standing in the road before him.


= gléasanna. Cf. Úna Uí Bheirn, Cnuasach focal as Teileann (Dublin, 1989), s.v. gléas. (Back)
Cf. tairrnídh in A. J. Hughes, Leabhar mór bhriathra na Gaeilge (Belfast, 2008), 360. (Back)
= dúirt. Cf. Heinrich Wagner, Gaeilge Theilinn (Dublin, 1959; repr. 1979), § 399. (Back)
Cf. Dónall Ó Baoill, An teanga bheo: Gaeilge Uladh (Dublin, 1996), 118. (Back)
= díot. (Back)
= smaointigh. Cf. Maeleachlainn Mac Cionaoith, Seanchas Rann na Feirste (Dublin, 2005), 171. (Back)
= fhoirsidh/fhoirste. Cf. E.C. Quiggin, A dialect of Donegal (Cambridge, 1906), § 278, re forsadh (= foirseadh). (Back)


Parts 1 and 2 of this story combine to form one larger, yet still incomplete, narrative that is essentially a combination of two international folktales, namely ATU 330 The smith and the devil, and ATU 332 Godfather Death. The first folktale normally concerns a man who sells his soul to the devil, but later gives shelter to St Peter, and is granted three wishes in return. He wishes for a fruit tree and a chair, to which people stick until being released by his command. He also wishes for a sack that draws people into it. He outsmarts the devil by tricking him into sticking to the chair and the tree, and by catching him in the sack and beating him. He is released from his contract with the devil, and upon his death, tricks St Peter into granting him access to heaven. The story is extremely popular, and is known in Europe, the Far East, the Americas and South Africa. See Hans Jorg Uther, The types of international folktales: a classification and bibliography (3 vols, Helsinki, 2004). Some of the motifs, such as the devil sticking to a tree, date back to ancient Greece, but the narrative in its current form first appeared in sixteenth-century Italy. See Stith Thompson, The folktale (Berkeley, Ca., 1946), 46. It is one of the most popular folktales in Ireland, with examples having been recorded from almost every part of the country. See Seán Ó Súilleabháin and Rieder Th. Christiansen, The types of the Irish folktale (Helsinki, 1968). In some Irish variants the smith is not admitted to either heaven or hell, and is forced to wander the earth. This tale formed the basis for one of the first novels to be published in Modern Irish, Peadar Ó Laoghaire's Séadna (Dublin, 1904).

The second folktale in question concerns a man who chooses Death as godfather to his child, due to the fact that Death is neutral and treats everyone equally. He is rewarded by being given the ability to forecast a sick person's impending death or recovery. He could see if Death was standing at the head of the bed, or the foot, which would indicate to him the eventual outcome of the illness. He becomes a wealthy and successful doctor as a result, but ends up betraying Death by turning the bed around on one occasion in an attempt to save the life of a wealthy patron. When Death eventually comes to take the dying doctor, there often follows an attempt to cheat fate, but Death ultimately claims his life. The story is often told in combination with other folktales, as is the case here. It has been recorded since at least the fourteenth century, and is popular in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. See Hans Jorg Uther, op. cit. This too is a popular tale in Ireland, with a countrywide distribution. See Seán Ó Súilleabháin and Rieder Th. Christiansen, op. cit.

This narrative contains a number of international folk motifs, including Q115 Reward: any boon that may be asked, D1413.1 Tree from which one cannot descend, and D1825.3.1 Magic power of seeing Death at head or foot of bed and thus forecasting progress of sickness. See Stith Thompson, Motif-index of folk literature (rev. and enlarged ed., 6 vols, Bloomington, Ind., 1955-8).

A version of this story appears in Nollaig Mac Congáil agus Ciarán Ó Duibhín, Glórtha ón tseanaimsir (Gleann an Iolair, 2009), 52-4.

Title in English: When I was a young lad (part 1)
Digital version published by: Doegen Records Web Project, Royal Irish Academy

Description of the Recording:

Speaker: Patrick Campbell from Co. Donegal
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 04-10-1931 at 16:30:00 in Courthouse, Letterkenny. Recorded on 04-10-1931 at 16:30:00 in Courthouse, Letterkenny.
Archive recording (ID LA_1267d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:56 minutes long. Archive recording (ID LA_1267d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:56 minutes long.
Second archive recording (ID LA_1267b1, from a shellac disc stored in Belfast) is 03:56 minutes long. Second archive recording (ID LA_1267b1, from a shellac disc stored in Belfast) is 03:56 minutes long.
User recording (ID LA_1267d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:54 minutes long. User recording (ID LA_1267d1, from a shellac disk stored at the Royal Irish Academy) is 03:54 minutes long.