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The Legend of Lough Gur

Larry Cotter had a farm on one side of Lough Gur in the county of Limerick and was thriving and industrious and could have lived quietly and soberly but for the misfortune that came on him:

He had as nice a bit of meadow-land down by the water-side, as ever a man would wish for; but nothing would grow there, and no one could tell how. One year after the other it was all ruined, but not a single stone of the stone wall surrounding the field was disturbed; neither could his neighbours' cattle have been guilty of the trespass, for they were fettered. Still, the grass of the meadow was destroyed, and it was a great loss to Larry.

"What in the world will I do?" said Larry Cotter to his neighbour, Tom Welch, who was a decent fellow himself.

Welch replied, "The times are bad, no doubt, but maybe if you keep watch by night you might make out all about it. Mick and Terry, my two boys, will watch with you."

Accordingly, next night, Larry Cotter and Welch's two sons, placed themselves in a corner of the meadow. A full of the moon was shining beautifully on the lake, which was as calm as the sky itself; not a cloud was to be seen anywhere, nor a sound to be heard but the cry of the corncreaks answering one another across the water.

"Boys, boys!" whispered Larry, "look there! look there! But don't make any noise, nor stir a step till I say the word."

They looked, and saw a great fat cow that was followed by seven milk-white heifers on the smooth surface of the lake towards the meadow.

"Now, boys " said Larry Cotter when he saw the fine cow and her seven white heifers coming into the meadow, "get between them and the lake if you can, and, no matter who they belong to, we'll just put them into the pound."

But the cow must have overheard Larry speaking, for down she went in a great hurry to the shore of the lake, and into it with her, before all their eyes: away made the seven heifers after her. But the boys got down to the bank before them and could soon drive the heifers up to Larry Cotter.

Larry drove the seven heifers to the pound; but after he had them there for three days and could hear of no owner, he took them out and put them up in a field of his own. There he kept them. They were thriving well with him till one night the gate of the field was left open. In the morning the seven heifers were gone. Larry could not get any account of them afterwards, nor could he make the grass of the field grow. Wherever the heifters came from or who they belonged to, he could not find out. So he took to drink, and it was the drink that killed him, they say.

[From Myths and Legends of Ireland by Samuel Lover and Thomas Croker]


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