O’Sullivan’s Punch-bowl: A Folktale of Dinish Island, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Dinish Island (Muckross Lake), County Kerry / Map data ©2017 Google

This folktale from Dinish Island tells the tale of O’Sullivan, who was granted a lake full of whiskey by Fuan Mac Cool.

O‘Sullivan was out in the mountains hunting red deer. Just as he was getting weary, and was wishing for a drop of the cratur to lift his spirits, he noticed the most beautiful stag that ever was seen before or since in this world; big as a colt, with horns like a weaver’s beam, and a collar of real red gold.

Away went the stag, and away went the dogs after him full cry, and O’Sullivan after the dogs. He was determined to kill that beautiful stag; and though he was weary, the sight of that stag put fresh life into him.

A pretty chase it turned out to be, for the stag was enchanted. They came by Macgillicuddy’s Reeks, round by the mountains of the Upper Lake, crossed the river by the Eagle’s Nest, and never stopped until they came to where the punch-bowl is now.

The moon was just setting behind the top of the mountain, shedding her light, broad and bright, over the edge of the wood and down on the lake, which was like a sheet of silver, except where the islands threw their black shadows on the water.

O’Sullivan was fairly ready to drop, and vexed to find his dogs at fault; for there wasn’t a sign of the stag to be found. Seeing there was no use in staying, he whistled his dogs to him and was just going to go home, when, who should he see, but Fuan Mac Cool (Fingal) standing like a big giant on the top of a rock.

“Halt, O’Sullivan! I want to have a word with you.”

O’Sullivan was amazed, and a bit frightened; for Fuan Mac Cool’s voice made the mountains shake like thunder.

“What do you want with me?” says O’Sullivan, putting on a bold face.

“You hunted my stag!” Fuan replied, “If you were anyone else, O’Sullivan, I’d seek vengeance. But I’ll pass it over this time; and, as my stag has led you a pretty dance over the mountains, I’ll even give you a drop of good drink. But take my advice, and never hunt my stag again.”

Then Fuan Mac Cool stamped with his foot, and in the hollow which his foot made in the mountain, there came up a little lake, which tumbled down the rocks, and made a waterfall. When O ‘Sullivan went to take a drink of it, what should it be but real whiskey punch; and it stayed the same way, running with whiskey punch, morning, noon, and night, until the Sasenaghs (Saxons) came into the country, when all at once it was turned to water, though it goes still by the name of O’Sullivan’s Punchbowl.

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