Custom Search

Site Index | Kids | Kitchen | Shopping | Poetry | Weddings | Travel | Basic Irish | Quotes | Books | Music | Movies | Trivia | Blessings | Links| Jokes |

 

News Page

History Page
Traditions, folklore, history and more. If it's Irish, it's here. Or will be!

"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
-Edmund Burke

Home Page



Kids Page


Kitchen Recipe Page


Quotes

Library: Books, Movies, Music

Prints & Photos

Poetry

Jokes


Irish Wedding



Shops Ireland


Bunús na Gaeilge
(Basic Irish)


Circle of Prayer

Blessings


Trivia Contest

Did You Know?


Himself/Herself

Write to Us

Readers Write..

Links/Link to Us

Advertise with us

Awards & Testimonials

Submissions Guide


Help keep us free
Throughout the site you will see many items available for purchase from well-known merchants such as Amazon. Not interested in what we're featuring? It doesn't matter. Click on any link and then shop for whatever you wish - we will still get credit, if you buy something.
Thanks for your help.



   

Index of All Children's Stories

Kids' Ireland Library

The Countess Kathleen O'Shea
Edited and adapted by Bridget Haggerty*

NOTE: Not recommended for very young children

A very long time ago, there suddenly appeared in old Ireland two unknown merchants of whom nobody had ever heard, and who nevertheless spoke the language of the country with the greatest perfection.

At the inn where they stayed, an effort was made to discover what they were about, but it was in vain; they led a silent and retired life. And whilst they stayed there, they did nothing but count over and over again out of their money-bags pieces of gold, whose yellow brightness could be seen through the windows of their lodging.

"Gentlemen," said the landlady one day, "how is it that you are so rich and could help the poor hungry people and yet you do nothing.

"Fair hostess," replied one of them, "we didn't like to give money to the honest poor, in dread we might be deceived by make-believe paupers. Let want knock at our door, we shall open it."

The following day, when the rumour spread that two rich strangers had come, ready to give out their gold; a crowd besieged their dwelling; but the faces of those who came out were widely different. Some looked piously sad, others looked terribly ashamed; more than a few looked very frightened.

Here was the truth of it - the merchants traded in souls for the devil. A soul of an old wan was worth twenty pieces of gold, not a penny more; for the devil had had time to make his valuation. The soul of a matron was valued at fifty, when she was handsome, and a hundred when she was ugly. The soul of a young maiden fetched an extravagant sum; the freshest and purest flowers are the dearest.

At that time there lived in the city, a beautiful countess by the name of Kathleen O'Shea. She was the idol of the people and and an angel to the poor. As soon as she learned what these terrible merchants were doing, she called to her butler.

"Patrick," said she to him, "how many pieces of gold in my coffers?"

"A hundred thousand."

"How many jewels?"

"The money's worth of gold."

"How much property in castles, forests, and lands?"

"Double the rest."

"Very well, Patrick; sell all that is not gold; and bring me the account. I only wish to keep this mansion and the land that surrounds it."

Two days afterwards the orders of the pious Kathleen were carried out and the treasure was distributed to the poor in proportion to their wants. This, says the tradition, did not suit the purposes of the evil merchants , who found no more souls to purchase. Aided by a vile servant, they broke into the mansion of the noble lady and stole from her the rest of her treasure. In vain she struggled with all her strength to save the contents of her coffers; but the diabolical thieves were the stronger. If Kathleen had been able to make the sign of the Cross, adds the legend, she would have put them to flight, but her hands were tied. The theft was successfully completed.

Now, when the famished poor called on the plundered Kathleen to help them; alas, to no good: she was unable to relieve their misery and she had to abandon them to the temptation offered by the evil traders.

Meanwhile, but eight days had to pass before grain for the bread and hay for the cows and pigs would arrive in abundance from the western lands. Eight days was a long, long time, when there was such a terrible shortage of food in the city. Eight days required an immense sum to buy what little food there was; the poor should either perish in the agonies of hunger, or, denying their faith, sell for mere money, their immortal souls, the richest gift from the bounteous hand of Almighty God. And Kathleen had nothing left to give. She passed many hours in tears and mourning, but then she stood up, determined to carry out an idea that had come into her head. She went to the merchants who traded in souls. "What do you want?" they said.
"You buy souls?" "Yes, a few still, in spite of you. Isn't that so, angel - or is it saint , with the eyes of sapphire?"

"Today I am come to offer you a bargain," replied she.

"What?"

"I have a soul to sell, but it is costly."

"What makes it so precious? The soul, like the diamond, is appraised by its transparency."

"It is mine."

The two emissaries of the devil were startled. Their fingers clutched like claws under their gloves of leather; their black eyes sparkled; the soul, pure, spotless, angelic soul l of the Countess Kathleen O'Shea - it was a priceless acquisition!

"Beauteous lady, how much do you ask?"

"A hundred and fifty thousand pieces of gold."

"Sign this paper and it's yours" replied the traders, and they gave Kathleen a parchment sealed with black, which she signed with a shudder.

The sum was counted out to her.

As soon as she got home she said to the butler, "Here, distribute this; with this money that I give you the poor can tide over the eight days that remain, and not one of their souls will be sold."

Afterwards she shut herself up in her room, and gave orders that none should disturb her.

Three days passed; she called nobody, she did not come out.

When the door was opened, they found her cold and stiff; she was dead of grief.

But the sale of this soul, so noble in its charity, was declared null and void by the Lord; for she had saved her fellow-citizens from hunger on earth and the eternal fires of hell.

After the eight days had passed, numerous vessels brought into famished Ireland immense provisions. Hunger was no longer possible. As to the two traders, they disappeared from the inn without a trace and no-one knew what became of them. But the fishermen of the Blackwater pretend that they are chained together in a prison under the sea by order of the devil, until they shall be able to render up the soul of Countess Kathleen O'Shea, which escaped from them.

* NOTE: This story first appeared in an Irish newspaper many, many years ago. No-one seems to know who wrote it or when.

Images:
Countess: Shauna, Princess of Blarney Castle From the Franklin Mint
http://www.franklinmint.com

Kids Reading - from All Posters
Any purchase made helps to support our site (and the Irish Culture & Customs fairytale). Thank you.


 

Tue, Aug 26, 2014

Hedge Schools

Did you know that in Ireland, a long time ago, it was against the law under English rule for an Irish man or woman to be a teacher? But, the Irish have always had a love of learning, so they did whatever they could to educate their children. They created secret places where teachers could teach their students in safety. These became known as "Hedge Schools" because they were often tucked away under hedges in the countryside. Other secret places were under ruined walls, in dry ditches by the roadside, or in old barns. Most of these schools didn't have books, paper or pencils, so the children learned their lessons by listening to the teacher and then repeating the words of the lesson. In this way, many children learned Irish history, traditions, mathematics, even languages such as Latin and Greek!

Click for More Culture Corner.


Fill out your email address to receive our Free Newsletter!
Powered by YourMailinglistProvider.com

"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb



The Last Wolf in Ireland
by Elona Malterre

In Ireland in the 1780s, a young boy and girl who find a wolf's den in the forest vow to protect the animals from the superstitious townspeople and the greed of the hunters. Rave reviews including this one from Booklist:
"Convincing characters, tense action, and powerful conflicts makethis book an outstanding choice."
To learn more or to purchase, please click The Last Wolf in ireland.



Children's Irish Dictionary
by Hippocrene Books

As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.


A lovely collection of well known Irish songs from the turn of the twentieth century. This album was created as a gift to MaryLee's Nana, Rose Burke Duval. The first half are songs well known to grandparents and the second half are original and traditional songs for children.

Click here for Irish Songs.



 

Site Index | Kids | Kitchen | Shopping | Poetry | Weddings | Travel | Basic Irish
Quotes |
Books | Music | Movies | Trivia | Blessings | Links | Jokes |

  All contents copyright © 2001 through 2011 inclusive - all rights reserved.
March 4, 2011
   
Rollover button Images:
Wedding LaRose, Kids Reading & Kitchen Apples and Tea from All Posters prints.
The information provided on this site is offered as-is, without warranty. This site's owners, operators, authors and partners disclaim any and all liability from the information provided herein.
Any trademarks or registered trademarks on this site are the property of their respective owners.