The Wizard’s Revenge: A Folktale of Dingle, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Dingle, County Kerry / Map data ©2018 Google

This folktale from Dingle tells the story of the wizard Robert Fitzgerald, who sought revenge against those that stole his work.

Near the famous, fish-loving town of Dingle, lived Robert Fitzgerald; a mason by trade, said to have been a freemason, and suspected of being an adept in the black art.

His appearance was by no means attractive, as he was a low, squat, dark-visaged man, with a most unconscionable squint, and long black hair, which in matted locks curled around his brow in huge and forbidding clusters.

This, together with his reputation as a wizard, made him an object of fear and suspicion to the country people, who generally blamed him for any misfortunes which befell them or their cattle; but in his own line of business no one cared to interfere with him, so he was left in the quiet and undisputed possession of the building trade in Dingle.

“I won’t put up with it any longer,” said Mr. Hickson, one morning in a terrible passion; and no wonder, for Fitzgerald, who was doing some mason-work for him, had kept the job on his hands for upwards of six months; and he was to be paid by the day.

“I suppose you think I can’t get anyone to replace you,” he continued, “but you’re mistaken. Two Neils just arrived from the north, so I discharge you this minute, you old sorcerer; let’s see what good the devil —your master— can do you, Fitzgerald.”

Speaking of the devil is never wise, and very seldom much good comes of it, but Fitzgerald made no answer, he only gave a most ominous squint, as he walked away with his trowel in his hand, and his hammer under his arm, wiping his dark forehead with the corner of his leather apron.

Mr. Hickson went to visit Mary Murphy’s house, where the two Neils were lodging.

“Mary, where are the two masons that came to lodge with you?”

“They went out; I will send them your way the moment they come in. But I thought you hired Fitzgerald? It isn’t lucky to cross him.”

“Fitzgerald! I have turned that rascal away, and intend giving the work to the Neils. So, Mary, send them to me, and none of your stories about Fitzgerald and the black art; you are a sensible woman, and ought to see that the fellow is only scheming to keep the work to himself. Goodbye, Mary, but remember not a word.”

Mary, though she remembered very well, couldn’t resist the desire to tell the Neils all about Fitzgerald; for she was a real believer in the power of the black art, and all the stories she had heard of Fitzgerald. When the two Neils came in, she thought it would be a mortal sin to let any harm come to them, so she told them about Mr. Hickson’s work, but advised them to have nothing to do with it.  But the young men, being glad to get employment, only laughed, and set off for the big house.

Things went on well enough for some time, and many people said that all the stories about Fitzgerald were only old women’s pishogues; but those who knew better, shook their heads, and said it was only the calm before the storm.

“Who are that going across the bay, Norah?’ Fitzgerald asked, one fine morning, as he stood at his cabin door, looking at a boat that had just left the shore.

“The Neils are going across to the quarry for stones,” said Norah, an old woman that used to brush up, and take care of Fitzgerald’s cabin.

“The Neils? Norah, bring me a bucket of the salt water.”

Norah did as she was asked, but wondered why he wanted the salt water; so, though she was told to go home, she hid herself in a corner of the loft.

It was a fine morning; the sea was calm, and not as much wind stirring as would serve to fill a whistle, when the unfortunate Neils left the shore. And yet the boat had scarcely reached the middle of the bay, when a terrible whirlwind arose, and the young men were swallowed by the remorseless deep.

Old Norah swore that, at that very time, she saw Fitzgerald take a wooden bowl, and put it floating on the cool of salt water. Muttering over it, the bowl began to spin, and the storm to rise, until at last the bowl was upset. Then Fitzgerald stopped, and said all was right, for the Neils had paid for stealing his work.

Ever after, no one ventured to cross the wizard of Dingle.

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