Teigue of the Lee: A Folktale of Carrigrohan, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Carrigrohan, County Cork / Map data ©2017 Google

This folktale from Carrigrohan tells the tale of Teigue and those who attempted to catch a glimpse of him.

“I can’t stay in the house — I won’t stay in it for all the money in old castle Carrigrohan — to be abused night and day by things unseen, and then, if I’m angry, to be laughed at with a great roaring ho, ho, ho!

John Sheehan, who spoke these words, was a new servant of the old manor-house of Carrigrohan. He had only been employed three days ago, but in that short time he had been abused and laughed at by a hollow voice which sounded as if a man spoke with his head in a cask.

The Carrigrohan mansion had an air of desolation; it was situated on a lawn, which had nothing to break its uniform level, save a few tufts of narcissuses and a couple of old trees. It stood at a short distance from the road, it was upwards of a century old, and time was doing his work upon it; its walls were weather-stained in all colours, its roof showed various white patches. Within there was an air of gloom; of departed greatness.

It required all the exuberance of youth to remove the impression, almost amounting to awe, with which one trod the huge square hall, paced along the gallery which surrounded the hall, or explored the long rambling passages below stairs. The ballroom, as the large drawing-room was called, and several other apartments, were in a state of decay.

“I’ll not stay here,” said John.

“Ho, ho, ho!”

John ran to the hall window, as the laughter came from immediately outside, but he saw no-one. He had scarcely placed his face at the pane of glass, when he heard another “Ho, ho, ho!” coming from behind him. Quick as lightning he turned his head, but no living thing was to be seen.

“Ho, ho, ho!” shouted a voice that now appeared to come from the lawn before the house. “You’ll not see Teigue! Never! Mind your business and lay the cloth; there’s company to dinner from Cork today.”

“I’ll not stay here another day,” repeated John.

“Hold your tongue, and stay where you are quietly, and don’t even think about stealing anything from Mr. Pratt, as you did Mr. Jervois’ spoons.”

John Sheehan was confounded by this knowledge on the part of his invisible persecutor.

“I’ll watch you at dinner, John!”

John had recovered himself as dinner-time approached and several guests arrived. They were all seated at table, and had begun to enjoy the excellent meal, when a voice was heard from the lawn.

“Ho, ho, ho, surely you won’t forget Teigue?”

“Who is that?” asked Mr. Pratt’s brother, an officer of the artillery.

“That is Teigue,” said Mr. Pratt, laughing.

“Who is this Teigue?” enquired another gentleman.

“We don’t know. His voice sometimes sounds almost in my ear, but I can never see him. He visits occasionally, and sometimes stays away a long time. He has never done any harm; once, when he broke a plate, he brought back a new one exactly like it.”

“Extraordinary,” agreed several of the company.

“How did he get a plate without being seen?”

“We put his dinner outside the window. As soon as we turn around it is gone, but if we watch he will not touch it.”

“How does he know that you are watching?”

“He either knows or suspects.”

“I’ll catch him,” said colonel Pratt, “when he speaks again.”

“Ho, ho, ho!” shouted Teigue. “you’re not even a soldier anymore!”

“You scoundrel!” exclaimed the colonel, “I’ll make you show yourself.”

Snatching up his sword from a corner of the room, he sprang out of the window upon the lawn. Others of the party followed him, and the remainder rose and went to the windows.

“Come, colonel,” said Mr. Bell, “let’s catch this impudent rascal.”

“Ho, ho! Mr. Bell, Teigue is right here, why don’t you catch him?”

“Show your face, you scoundrel!” shouted the colonel.

“Ho, ho, ho! Can you see the wind, colonel? Finish your dinner.”

“If you’re upon the earth I’ll find you, villain!” said the colonel, while an unearthly shout of derision seemed to come from behind an angle of the building.

They followed the sound, which was continued at intervals along the garden wall, but could discover no human being. At last both stopped to draw breath, and in an instant, almost at their ears, sounded the shout.

“Ho, ho, ho! colonel Pratt, do you see Teigue now? — do you hear him? — Ho, ho, ho! you’re a fine colonel to follow the wind. Ho, ho, ho! what a fool you are. Do you think Teigue is going to show himself to you? Follow me if you can, soldier! — ho, ho, ho!”

The colonel was enraged — he followed the voice over hedge and ditch, alternately laughed at and taunted by Teigue, until at length he found himself at the top of a cliff. Below flowed the part of the river Lee which, from its great depth, and the blackness of its water, received the name of Hell-hole.

The colonel was out of breath, and mopping his forehead with his handkerchief. The voice, which seemed close at his feet, exclaimed — “Leap after me! Ho, ho, ho! Teigue is going for a swim!”

The voice seemed to be descending amongst the trailing ivy and brushwood which grew along cliff nearly from top to bottom, yet it was impossible that any human being could have found footing.

“Too afraid to take the leap? Ho, ho, ho! what a brave soldier you are. Goodbye then, I’ll see you again in ten minutes, at the house.”

A heavy plunge into the water was heard. The colonel stood still, but no sound followed, and he walked slowly back to the house, half a mile from the Crag.”

“Well, did you see Teigue?” said his brother, whilst his nephews, scarcely able to smother their laughter, stood by.

“Give me some wine,” muttered the colonel. “The fellow carried me all round and round, until he brought me to the edge of the cliff, and then down he went into Hell-hole, telling me he’d be here in ten minutes.”

“Ho, ho, ho! colonel, and here I am! Teigue never lies. Give me a drink and some dinner, and then good night to you all.”

A plate of food was placed on the lawn under the window. Everyone kept watch, and the plate remained undisturbed for some time. But when they got tired and relaxed their attention, they soon saw the empty plate lying on the grass. Teigue was heard no more that evening.

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