Torc Waterfall: A Local Legend of Cloghereen, Ireland

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

This Local Legend from Cloghereen was collected by Thomas Crofton Croker some time before 1852. It tells the tale of Larry Hayes, who could not keep a secret. 

A long time ago the world was full of all sorts of enchantment and bedevilment; so that a decent man could hardly show his nose out of doors, with the good people and spirits, and phookas. For, if a man was to vex one of them, he might as well throw himself at once into the middle of Poul an Iffrin.

About that time, there lived at Cloghereen, a strong farmer by name Larry Hayes, a decent man he was, but everything was going wrong in the world with him. As misfortune would have it, he couldn’t put a cow or sheep upon his little farm, but he was sure to find them in the morning all torn and smashed to bits. Poor Larry was surprised what could have done him so much mischief, for he didn’t think there was a creature in the world owed him the least grudge in life.

At last, he determined to watch the farm for one night, though he was mighty frightened at the thoughts of the good people and the spirits. But, seeing there was no help for it, out he went at the dead hour of the night. He wasn’t long walking about the field, when, what should he see but a man standing close beside him, which took a great start out of him, for he didn’t know how he came there.

Larry gathered his courage and began to talk to the man, when, all at once, as they were talking together, the man vanished away, and a big wolf stood before him. Larry was half dead at the sight; however, he blessed himself with the sign of the cross, and then his courage came again.

“In the name of God and the queen of heaven,” he said, “who are you? and where’s the man was here this minute?”

With that, the wolf began to speak.  “I’m the man,” says he, “I’m enchanted, and it was I that killed your sheep, and I couldn’t help it, but if you’ll follow me, and do my bidding, I’ll make a rich man of you. You needn’t be afraid, for no harm shall come to you.”

After some consideration, Larry said he would, and the wolf brought him up the glen to the big black rock, where the waterfall is now. He opened a door in the rock and took Larry into an elegant parlour, where he was changed all at once from a wolf into a beautiful young man. After giving Larry plenty of beef and mutton and whisky punch, he took and showed him a room full of gold, and gave him a big bag of it. You may be sure Larry was glad to get the gold, and gladder still when he was told to come for more as often as he pleased.

“Only,” said the enchanted man, “don’t let a mortal know anything you saw tonight. If you keep the secret for seven years, you’re a made man, and everything will prosper with you; but if you tell it to anyone, I’ll be destroyed, and so will you.”

“Never fear me,” said Larry, and he made the best of his way home with the bag of gold.

“All the neighbours wondered to see Larry Hayes grow so rich all at once, and without any reason for it; and so did his wife Nell Flanigan, she often asked him to tell her where he got the gold, but all to no purpose. So, one night, she followed him, and saw him go into the rock, for she was determined to satisfy her curosity. Oh, the women bangs all for curosity! Well, when he came out, she taxed him with wanting to keep the secret from his own wife, and the mother of his children; and, to make a long story short, she tazed him so with her leeching, that he was obliged to tell her the whole story.

Immediately, the wolf appeared on the top of the rock. “You’re done for now, Larry Hayes,” he roared in a voice of thunder, that made the mountain shake again and again, and then he went up in a flame of fire to Poul an Iffrin, on the top of Mangerton, where, he no sooner plunged into the lake, than the water burst a hole through the side of the bowl, and, running down the mountain like lightning, covered the rock with the foam of its fall.

Larry Hayes and his wife had enough to do to get out of the way of the water; and, in a short time, he became poorer than ever, till, at last, he had to travel the country with a bag on his back, like a poor Buckaugh as he was.

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  1. A man called Colonel Herbert did his best to find the gold once. He turned the course of the fall (you can still see the cut he made in the mountain). He claimed he only wanted to turn a mill with the water out of the Devil’s Punchbowl, and have a view of the fall from his parlour windy. But the locals believed this an attempt to blindfold the people; for, when he couldn’t find the door in the rock, or the cave full of gold, he just let the stream take its own course again.


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