O’Donoghue’s Enchantment: A Folktale of Killarney, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Killarney (Loch Leane), County Kerry / Map data ©2017 Google

This folktale from Killarney tells the story of O’Donoghue’s attempt to restore his youth through the use of black magic.

mighty rich and powerful was O’Donoghue. He kept a brave house in the old castle of Ross; and it is said he was the wisest man of his time, who could do wonders by the power of the black art. However, for all his power he couldn’t help growing old.

Fearing death, he strived to make himself young again. He went to the top of his castle, and shut himself up in a room, with his black book, for nearly seven weeks. Nobody knew what he was doing all that time, or how he lived, until, at the end of the seven weeks, he called for his wife.

“You must cut me to pieces, and put me into that tub, lock the door, and in seven weeks time you’ll find me alive and well, but no bigger than a three-years-old child.”

“I will,” she said.

“First a small trial; for if you get frightened, all will be lost,” he said, taking his black book. “I’m going to read, and if you cry out at anything you see, I’ll be taken away forever.”

While he was reading, the most frightful things in the world appeared, and there was a noise as if the whole castle was going to pieces. The lady, however, stood it out for a long time, until she saw her own child lying dead on the table before her; then she was frightened in earnest and gave a great shriek.

The castle shook like a leaf, and O’Donoghue, leaping out of the window, disappeared in the waves of Loch Lane. His horse, his table, and his library may be seen at different parts of the lake turned into stone.

O’Donoghue himself was enchanted, and now lives at the bottom of the lake.

If you enjoyed reading this local legend from Killarney, then please consider keeping it alive by sharing it with your friends. You can find many more Irish folktales by visiting our dedicated collection.

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