Legend of the
Little Weaver by
You see, there was a Waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in Duleek here,
hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous man he was, by all
accounts. He had a wife, and of coorse they had childhre, and small
blame to them, and plenty of them, so that the poor little Waiver was
obleeged to work his fingers to the bone a'most, to get them the bit
and the sup; but he did'nt begridge that, for he was an industherous
crayther, as I said before, and it was up airly and down late wid him,
and the loom was never standin' still. Well, it was one mornin' that
his wife called to him, and he sittin' very busy throwin' the shuttle,
and, says she, "Come here," says she, "jewel, and ate the breakquest,
now that it's ready." But he niver minded her, but went on workin': So
in a minit or two more says she, callin' out to him again, 'Arrah! lave
off slavin' yourself, my darlin', and ate your bit of breakquest while
it is hot."
"Lave me alone," says he, and he dhruv the shuttle faster nor before.
Well, in a little time more, she goes over to him where he sot, and,
says she, coaxin' him like, "Thady, dear," says she, "the stirabout
will be stone cowld, if you don't give over that weary work and come
and ate it at wanst."
"I'm busy with a patthern here that is brakin my heart." says the
Waiver, "and intil I complate it, and masther it intirely, I won't
"Oh, think of the illigant stirabout, that'll be spilte intirely."
"To the divil with the stirabout," says he.
"God forgive you," says she, "for cursing your good breakquest."
"Aye, and you too," says he,
"Troth, you're as cross as two sticks this blessed morning, Thady,"
says the poor wife, "and it's a heavy handful I have of you when you
are craked in your temper; but stay there if you like, and let your
stirabout grow cowld, and not one o' me'll ax you agin," and with that
off she went, and the Waiver, sure enough. was mighty crabbed, and the
more the wife spoke to him the worse he got, which, you know, is only
Well, he left the loom at last, and wint over to the stirabout, and
what would you think but when he luked at it, it was as black as a
crow; for you see it was the hoighth o' summer, and the flies lit upon
it to that degree, that the stirabout was fairly covered with ihem.
"Why then bad luck to your impidence," says the Waiver, "would no place
sarve you but that? and is it spiling my breakquest yez are, you dirty
And with that, being altogether craked tempered at the time, he lifted
his hand, and he made one great slam at the dish of stirabout, and
killed no less than threescore and tin flies at the one blow. It was
threescore and tin exactly, for he counted the carcasses one by one,
and laid them out on a clane plate, for to view them.
Well, he felt a powerful spirit risin' in him, when he seen the
slaughter he done at one blow, and with that he got as consaited as the
very dickens, and not a stroke more work he'd do that day, but out he
wint, and was fractious and impidint to everyone he met, and was
squarin' up into their faces and sayin':
"Look at that fist! that's the fist that killed threescore and tin at
With that all the neighbors thought he was cracked, and faith the poor
wife herself thought the same, when he kem home in the evenin', after
shpendin' every rap he had in dhrink, and swaggering about the place,
and lookin' at his hand every minit.
"Indade an' your hand is very dirty, sure enough, Thady jewel," said
the poor wife, and thrue for her, for he rowled into a ditch comin'
home, "you'd betther wash it, darlin'." "How dare you say dirty to the
greatest hand in Ireland," says he, going to bate her.
"Well, it's not dirty," says she.
"It's throwin' away my time I have been all my life," says he, "livin'
with you at all, and stuck at a loom nothin' but a poor Waiver, whin
it's Saint George or the Dhraggin I ought to be, which is two of the
sivin champions of Christendom."
"Well, suppose they christened him twice as much," says the wife,
"sure, what's that to us?"
"Don't put in your prate." says he, "you ignorant shtrap," says he,
"you're vulgar, woman,—you're vulgar—mighty vulgar; but I'll have
nothin' more to say to any dirty snakin' trade agin—divil a more
waivin' I'll do."
"Oh, Thady dear, and what'll the childre do then!"
"Let them go and play marvels," said he.
"That would be but poor feedin' for them, Thady."
"They shan't want for feedin'," says he, "for it's a rich man I'll be
soon, and a great man too."
"Usha, but I'm glad to hear it, darlin'—though I donna how it's to be,
but I think you had betther go to bed, Thady."'
"Don't talk to me of any bed, but the bed of glory, woman," says he—
lookin' mortial grand.
"Oh, God sind we'll all be in glory yet," says the wife, crassin'
herself, "but go to sleep, Thady, for this present."
"I'll sleep with the brave yit," says he.
"Indeed, and a brave sleep will do you a power o' good, my darlin',"
"And it's I that will be the knight!" says he.
"All night, if you plaze, Thady," says she.
"None o' your coaxin'," says he, "I'm detarmined on it, and I'll set
off immediately, and be a knight arriant."
"A what?" says she.
"A knight arriant, woman."
"Lord be good to me, what's that?" says she.
"A knight arriant is a rale gintleman," says he, "goin' round the world
for sport, with a swoord by his side, takin' whatever he plazes for
himself, and that's a knight arriant," says he.
Well sure enough, he wint about among his neighbors the next day, and
he got an owld kettle from one, and a saucepan from another, and he
took them to the tailor, and he sewed him up a suit of tin clothes like
any knight arriant, and he borrowed a pot lid, and that he was very
partikler about, bekase it was his shield, and he wint to a friend
o' his, a painther and glazier, and made him paint on his shield in big
"I'M THE MAN OF ALL MIN THAT KILLED THREESCORE AND TIN AT A BLOW."
"When the people sees that," says the Waiver to himself, "the sorra
one will dar' for to come near me."
And with that he found the wit to scour out the small iron pot for him
for says he, "it will make an illigant helmet—and when it was done, he
put it on his head, and the wife said, "Oh murther, Thady jewel, is it
puttin' a great heavy iron pot on your head you are, by way iv a hat?"
"Sartainly," says he, "for a knight arriant should always have a
weight on his brain."
"But, Thady dear," said the wife, "there's a hole in it, and it can't
keep out the weather."
"It will be the cooler," says he, puttin' it on him,—"besides, if I
don't like it, it is aisy to stop it up with a wisht o' straw, or the
like o' that."
"The three legs of it looks mighty quare, stickin up," says she.
"Every helmet has a spike stickin' out o' the top of it," says the
Waiver, "and if mine has three, it is only the grandther it is"
"Well," says the wife, getting bitther at last, "all I can say is, it
isn't the first sheep's head was dhressed in it."
"Your sarvent ma'am," says he; and off he set.
Well, he was in want of a horse, and so he wint to a field hard by,
where the miller's horse was grazin' that used to carry the ground corn
around the counthry.
"This is the idintical horse for me," says the Waiver, "he is used to
carryin' flour and male; and what am I but the flower o' shovelry in a
coat of mail; so that the horse won't be put out of his way in the
But as he was ridin' him out of the field, who should see him but the
"Is it stalin' my horse, you are, honest man?" says the miller.
"No," says the Waiver, "I am only goin, to exercise him," says he, "in
the cool o' the evenin', it will be good for his health."
"Thank you kindly," said the miller, "but lave him where he is, and
you'll obleege me."
"I can't afford it," says the Waiver, running his horse at the ditch.
"Bad luck to your impidence," says the miller. "you've as much tin
about you as a thravelin' tink but youv'e more brass. Come back here,
you vagabone," says he.
But he was late;—away galloped the Waiver, and tuk the road to Dublin,
for he thought the best thing he could do was to go to the King o'
Dublin (for Dublin was a grate place then, and had a king iv its own),
and he thought maybe the King o' Dublin would give him work. Well, he
was four days goin' to Dublin, for the baste was not the best, and the
roads worse, not all as one was now; but there was no turnpike then,
glory be to God! whin he got to Dublin he wint shtraight to the palace,
and whin he got into the coort yard, he let his horse go and graze
about the place, for the grass was growin' out betune the stones:
everythin' was flourishin' thin in Dublin, you see.
Well, the king was lookin' out in his dhrawin' room, for divarshun,
whin the Waiver came in, but the Waiver purtended not to see him, and
he wint over to a stone sait under the windy—for you see there was
stone sates all round about the place for the accommodation of the
people, for the king was a dacent obleegin' man,—well, as I said, the
Waiver wint over and lay down on one of the sates, just undher the
king's windy, and purtended to go asleep: but he tuk care to turn out
the front of his shield that had the letthers an it—well, my dear,
with that the king calls out to wan of the lords of his coort that was
shtandin' behind him, howldin' up the skirt iv his coat, accordin' to
raison, and says he:
"Look here," says he, "what do you think of a vagabone like that,
comin' under my very to nose go to sleep? It's thrue I'm a very good
king," says he, "and I 'commodate the people by having sates for them
to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and contimplation of seein' me
here lookin' out o' my drawing room windy for divarsion; but that is no
raison they're to make a hotel iv the place, and come and sleep here.
Who is it at all?" says the king.
"Not a one o' me knows, plaze your majesty."
"I think he must be a furriner," says the king, "bekase his dress is
"And doesn't know manners, more betoken," says the lord.
"I'll go and circumspect him myself," says the king,—"folly me," says
he to the lord, waivin' his hand at the same time in the most
Down he wint accordainly, followed by the lord, and whin he wint over
to where the Waiver was lyin', sure the first thing he seen was his
shield with the big letthers an it, and with that says he to the lord
"by dad," says he, "this is the very man I want."
"For what, plaze your majesty?" says the lord.
"To kill that vagabone dhraggin'," says the king.
"Sure, do you think he could kill him," says the lord, "whin all the
stoutest lords in the land wasn't aquil to it, but never kem back, and
was ate up alive by the cruel desaiver."
"Sure, don't you see there," says the king pointin' at the shield,
"that he killed threescore and tin at one blow, and the man that done
that I think is a match for anything."
So with that he went over to the Waiver and shook him by the shoulder
for to wake him, and the Waiver rubbed his eyes as if just wakened, and
the king says to him: "God save you," says he.
"God save you kindly," says the Waiver, purtendin' he was quite
unknowst who he was spakin to.
"Do you know who I am?" says the king, "that you make so free, good
"No indade," says the waiver, "you have the advantage of me."
"To be sure I have," says the king, mighty high; "sure, aint I the king
o' Dublin," says he.
The Waiver dropped down on his two knees forninst the king, and says
he, "I beg God's pardon and yours for the liberty I tuk, plaze your
holiness I hope you'll excuse it."
"No offence," says the king, "get up, good man. And what brings you
here," says he.
"I'm in want of work, plaze your rivirence," says the Waiver.
"Well, suppose I give you work?" says the king.
"I'll be proud to sarve you, my lord," says the Waiver.
"Very well," says the king, "you killed threescore and tin at one blow,
I undershtan'," says the king.
"Yis," says the Waiver, "that was the last thrifle o' work I done, and
I'm afeard my hand'll go out o' practice if I don't get some job to do,
"You shall have a job to do immidiately," says the king. "It's not
threescore and tin or any fine thing like that, it is only a blaguard
dhraggin, that is disturbin' the counthry and ruinating my tinanthry
wid aitin' their powlthry, and I'm lost for want of eggs," says the
"Troth, thin plaze your worship," says the waiver, "you look as yellow
as if you'd swallowed twelve yolks this minit."
"Well, I want this dhraggin to be killed," says the king. "It will be
no throuble in life to you; and I am only sorry that it isn't betther
worth your while, for he isn't worth fearin' at all; only I must tell
you that he lives in the county Galway, in the middle of a bog, and he
has an advantage in that."
"Oh, I don't value it in the laste," says the Waiver, "for the last
three-score and tin I killed was in a soft place."
"When will you undhertake the job, then?" says the king.
"Let me at him at wanst," says the Waiver.
"That is what I like," says the king, "you're the very man for my
money," says he.
"Talkin' of money," says the waiver, "by the same token I'll want a
thrifle o' change from you for my thravellin' charges."
"As much as you plaze," says the king, and with the word, he brought
him into his closet, where there was an owld stockin' in an owld chest,
burstin' wid golden guineas.
"Take as many as you plaze," says the king, and sure enough, my dear,
the little waiver stuffed his tin clothes as full as they could howld
"Now I'm ready for the road," says the waiver.
"Very well," says the king; "but you must have a fresh horse," says he.
"With all my heart," says the waiver, who thought he might as well
exchange the miller's owld garron for a betther.
And maybe its wondthering you are, that the Waiver would think of goin'
to fight the dhraggin afther what he heerd about him, whin he was
purtendin' to be asleep; but he had no sitch notion, all he intended
was to fob the goold; and ride back to Duleek with his gains and a good
horse. But you see, 'cute as the Waiver was, the king was 'cuter still;
for these high quolity, you see, is great desaivers; and so the horse
the Waiver was put an was learned an purpose, and, sure, the minit he
was mounted, away powdhered the horse, and the divil a toe he'd go but
right down to Galway.
Well, for four days he was goin' ever more, antil at last the Waiver
seen a crowd o' people runnin' as if owld Nick was at their heels, and
they shoutin' a thousand murdhers, and cryin' "The dhraggin, the
dhraggin!" and he couldn't stop the horse nor make him turn back, but
away he pelted right forninst the terrible baste that was comin' up to
him, and there was the most nefarious smell o' sulphur, savin' your
presence, enough to knock you down; and, faith, the Waiver seen he had
no time to lose, and so he threw himself off the horse, and made to a
three that was growin' nigh hand, and away he clambered up into it as
nimble as a cat; and not a minit had he to spare, for the dhraggin kem
up in a powerful rage, and he devoured the horse, body and bones, in
less than no time; and thin he began to sniffle and scent about for the
Waiver, and at last he clapt his eye on him, where he was, up in the
three, and says he:
"In troth you might as well come down out o' that," says he, "for I'll
have you as sure as eggs is mate."
"Divil a foot I'll go down," says the Waiver.
"Sorra care I care," says the dhraggin, "for you're as good as ready
money in my pocket this minit; for I'll lie undher this tree" says he,
"and sooner or later you must fall to my share."
And sure enough he sot down, and began to pick his teeth with his tail,
afther the heavy breakquest he made that mornin' (for he ate a whole
village, let alone a horse) and he got dhrowsy at last, and fell
asleep; but before he wint to sleep, he wound himself all round about
the three, all as one as a lady windin' ribbon round her finger, so
that the waiver could not escape.
Well, as soon as the Waiver knew he was dead asleep, by the snorin' of
him—and every snore he get out of him was like a clap o' thunder—that
minit the Waiver began to creep down the three as cautious as a fox,
and he was very nigh hand the bottom, whin bad cess to it, a thievin'
branch he was dipindin' an bruk, and down he fell right a top of the
dhraggin: but if he did good luck was an his side, for where should he
fall but with his two legs right acrass the draggin's neck, and my
jew'l, he laid howlt o' the baste's ears, and there he kept his grip,
for the dhraggin wakened and endayvored for to bite him, but, you see,
by raison the Waiver was behind his ears, he could not come at him, and
with that, he endayvored for to shake him off; but the divil a stir
could he stir the waiver; and though he shuk all the scales in his
body, he cud not turn the scale agin the Waiver.
"By the hokey, this is too bad, intirely," says the dhraggin; "but if
you won't let go," says he, "by the powers o' wild fire, I'll give you
a ride that'll astonish your sivin small sinses, my boy;" and with
that, away he flew like mad, and where do you think did he fly? by dad,
he flew straight for Dublin, divil a less. But the Waiver bein' an his
neck was a great disthress to him, and he would rather have had him an
inside passenger; but anyway he flew and he flew till he kem slap up
agin the palace of the king, or bein' blind with the rage he never seen
it, and he knocked his brains out; that is, the small trifle he had, and
down he fell spacheless. An' you see, good luck would have it, that the
king o' Dublin was lookin' out in his dhrawin room windy for divarshun,
that day also, and whin he seen the Waiver ridin' an the fiery dhraggin
(for he was blazin' like a tar barrel) he called out to his coortyers to
come and see the show.
"By the powdhers of war here comes the knight arriant," says the king
"riding the dhraggin that's all a fire, and if he gets into the palace
yis must be ready with the fire ingines [Footnote: Showing the antiquity
of these machines.] says he" for to put him out.
But whin they seen the dhraggin fall outside, they all run down stairs
and scampered into the palace yard for to circumspect the curiosity;
and by the tune they got down, the Waiver had got off the dhraggin's
neck, and, running up to the king, says he,
"Plaze your holiness," says he, "I did not think myself worthy of
killin' this facetious baste, so I brought him to yourself for to do
him the honor of decripitation by your own royal five fingers. But I
tamed him first, before I allowed him the liberty for to dar' to appear
in your royal prisance, and you'll oblige me if you'll just make your
mark upon the onruly baste's neck."
And with that the king, sure enough, drew out his swoord and took the
head off the dirty brute, as clane as a new pin. Well, there was
great rejoicin' in the coort that the dhraggin was killed, and says the
king to the little Waiver, says he.
"You are a knight arriant as it is so it would be no use for to knight
you over agin; but I will make you a lord," says he.
"Oh Lord!" says the Waiver, thunderstruck like at his own good luck.
"I will," says the king, "and as you're the first man I ever heerd tell
of that rode a dhraggin, you shall be called Lord Mount Dhraggin," says
"And where's my estates? plaze your holiness," says the Waiver, who
always had a sharp look out after the main chance.
"Oh, I didn't forget that," says the king, "It's my royal pleasure to
provide well for you, and for that raison I make you a present of all
the dhraggins in the world, and give you power over thim from this
out," says he.
"Is that all?" says the Waiver.
"All?" says the king, "why you ongrateful little vagabone, was the like
ever given to any man before?"
"I believe not indeed," says the Waiver: "many thanks to your Majesty."
"But that is not all I do for you," says the king; "I'll give you my
daughter too in marriage," says he.
Now you see that was nothin' more than what he promised the Waiver in
his first promise; for by all accounts the king's daughter was the
greatest dhraggin ever was seen, and had the divil's own tongue, and a
beard a yard long, which she purtinded was put an her by way of a
penance, by Father Mulcahy, her confissor; but it was well known was in
the family for ages, and no wondher it was so long, by raison of that