Skeheen-a-Vibo: A Folktale of Muckross, Ireland

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

This folktale from Muckross tells the tale of Shane-Bawn-a Croohoore, who underwent a great trial to become the first abbot of the local Abbey.

There lived in the neighbourhood of Slieve Loughera, a man called Croohoore Bawn, who owned a great deal of land, cattle, and sheep. He had one son, who was called Shane-Bawn-a Croohoore.

Shane-Bawn-a Croohoore was a promising youth, and his uncle, who was a priest, took a great fancy to him; so he sent him to Rome to study.

Arriving in Rome, Shane was lodged in a monastery. He studied hard, which made the other students so jealous that they searched for opportunities to disgrace Shane. They saw their chance shortly after Shane became a priest, when the promising Irishman noticed one of the students shaving himself on a Monday.

“If you wish to live long, don’t shave on a Monday,” Shane said.

“What makes you say that?” the student asked.

“It’s an old Irish saying.”

As soon as he had done shaving, the student ran to the abbot, and told him what Shane said; claiming it was a great crime for a priest to believe such things, let alone bringing old Irish pishogues (charms) to Rome.

The abbot went and told the pope; and the pope ordered Shane to return to Ireland. There he was to search for a place called Skeheen-a-Vibo, where he was instructed to build an abbey. But as penance for his crime he wasn’t allowed to ask anyone where it was.

Shane travelled a long time in search of Skeheen-a-Vibo, until at last he came to the village of Cloghereen, at the foot of Mangerton mountain; there, as he was sitting on a rock, he overheard two girls talking.

“Did you see my goats anywhere?” one girl asked.

“They’re up at Skeheen-a-Vibo.” the other replied.

Shane rejoiced, and followed the girl to where she found the goats. There he gathered all the masons in the country, and began to build the Abbey; but no matter how fast they build during the day, all their work was thrown down by the devil at night.

This continued for a long time, until Shane was ready to give up. That very night, the noise of a great battle was heard in the air. The next morning, when Shane got up, the Abbey was nearly completed. It was the blessed angels that did the work, and they would have finished it entirely if Shane hadn’t cried out in surprise.

Gathering the friars, Shane became the first abbot of Muckross Abbey.

If you enjoyed reading this local legend from Muckross, 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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