The Peistha Discomfited: A Folktale of Drumsna, Ireland

Drumsna - Ireland
Pinpoint Location: Drumsna, County Leitrim / Map data ©2016 Google

This folktale from Drumsna tells the tale of Saint Molua, who saved two swimming boys from a Peistha.

Hardly any lake in Ireland is without its local monster, seldom seen on the surface, but often observed in motion, far down in the depths of the water. One such monster is the Peistha; a malignant demon, bent upon mischief.

St. Molua, who traveled much through Ireland on his mission of founding churches, once visited ancient Drunisneachta (now Drumsna), in the County of Monaghan. As he approached his destination he saw two boys swimming in a neighboring lake. Behind them a monster the size of a boat appeared; ready to devour them.

Not wishing to terrify the boys, St. Molua shouted to them:

“Swim, boys, with all speed towards me, so that I can see who swims the fastest. I will reward the one who arrives first.”

Both boys struck out towards him and soon reached the shore. No sooner had they landed than St. Molua reached them his hand and pulled them to safety. When they looked behind them and saw the monster, which had almost gained upon them, they were greatly frightened by the sight.

Immediately St. Molua raised his staff and struck the Peistha on the breast. The beast gave a terrible roar. One of the boys instantly died of fright. However, the holy man prayed for him, and afterwards he came to life.

St. Molua then pronounced a malison (curse) on the Water Sherrie, ordering it to return and to remain under the waters of the lake until the Day of Judgment.

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