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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "O'Donoghue"

O'Donoghue

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"There will," the old woman said. "Everything has an end, and so these troubles of ours will end, and all the troubles of Ireland will end, too."

"And why should we believe that?" John asked again. "Wasn't Ireland always the poor, unhappy country, and all the people in it, only the landlords and the agents, and why should we think it will ever be better?"

"Everything has an end," the old woman repeated. "Ireland was not always the unhappy country. It was happy once and it will be happy again. It's not you, John O'Brien, that ought to be forgetting the good days of Ireland, long ago though they were. For you yourself are the descendant of King Brian Boru, and you know well, for it's many times I've told you, how in his days the country was happy and peaceful and blessed. He drove out the heathen and saved the country for his people. He had strict laws, and the people obeyed them. In his days a lovely girl, dressed all in fine silk and gold and jewels, walked alone the length of Ireland, and there was no one to rob her or to harm her, because of the good King and the love the people had for him and for his laws. And you, that are descended from King Brian, ask if Ireland wasn't always the poor, unhappy country."

"But all that was so long ago," said John; "near a thousand years, was it not? Since then it's been nothing but sorrow for the country and for the people. What good is it to us that the country was happy in King Brian's time? Will that help us pay the rent? And how we'll pay the rent when the winter comes, I dunno, and if we don't pay it we'll be evicted."

"Shaun," said his mother, calling him by the Irish name that she used sometimes—"Shaun, we'll not be evicted; never fear that. Things are bad, and they may be worse, but take my word, whatever comes, we'll not be evicted."

"Mother," said the young man, "you never spoke the word, so far as I know, that wasn't true, but I dunno how it'll be this time. We've been workin' all we can and we only just manage to pay the rent and live, and here's the summer over and the winter coming, and how will we pay the rent then?

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