Darby’s Garden: A Folktale of Killarney, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Killarny, County Kerry / Map data ©2017 Google

This folktale from Killarney tells the tale of Darby Mahony, who asked too much of a gracious master and received a just reward.

In the old times the nobility of the country had the power to break a man, or to make a man. And Lord Kenmare was a great man; known to encourage poor people that sought to build a house by granting them long leases.

Now, there was a man called Darby Mahony, and the old Lord Kenmare was good to him. First he gave him, rent free, a piece of ground to build a cabin on, and then he gave him a small patch for his praties, a field for his cow, a piece of bog for his turf, and, finally, a small strip for a haggard. Every inch of this all rent free, or for next to nothing.

Darby Mahony got all these pieces of ground so easy, one after the other, that he thought the next thing he’d ask for would be a fine rich meadow, of twenty acres or upwards, worth more than all he had received before. So, one early morning he walked to the big house, and there he saw the old lord eating his breakfast out under a tree.

“The top of the morning to your lordship!”

“Good morning to you, Darby Mahony, what do you want?”

“I have come this morning in the expectation that your lordship would give me a small bit of waste ground to make a pretty little flower-garden.”

“What ground do you speak of?” asked his lordship.

“They call the buttercup meadow,” Darby replied.

“What, my best meadow!” cried the old lord, “Away with you, Darby Mahony, you impudent scoundrel, away with you, and never let me see your face again.”

The next day the old lord was in his barge upon the lake, and as he was passing the rock now called Darby’s Garden he saw Darby Mahony upon it, fishing.

“Long life to your lordship!” Darby said, “Do not forgot the garden.”

“As you seem to like the spot you’re on there, I give you that rock for your garden, Darby. Next time I come this way, I expect to see a pretty garden growing there with you.”

And Darby’s Garden it is called to this hour.

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  1. The exact location is in Killarney National Park, around the corner from Stag Island, across from Glena Mountain.


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