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


Your father came, Shaun. He was a servant of the family, like myself—a coachman. But he was wiser than I, and he talked with me and showed me that there was something better for us than to be servants always. We saved all the money that we could, and when we had enough we came here, where your father had lived before, and took a little farm. The luck of O'Donoghue was always with us. We had a good landlord, who asked a fair rent. We both worked hard, we saved more money and took more land, and all our neighbors thought that we were prosperous, and so we were.

"Then came '47. Nobody could be prosperous then. Nobody that had a heart in him at all could even keep what he had saved then. What we had and what our neighbors had belonged to all, and little enough there was of it. It is well for you young people to talk of these times being hard. Harder than some they may be, but good and easy compared with those days of '47 and '48. You talk of injustice and wrong to Ireland! What think you of those times, when every day great ships sailed away from Ireland loaded down with food—corn and bacon, and beef and butter—and Ireland's own people left without the bit of food to keep the life in them? All summer long was the horrible wet weather, and the potatoes rotting in the ground before they'ld be ripe, and never fit to eat. To add to all that was the fever, that killed its thousands, and then the cold. And when the days came again that the crops would grow, many and many of the people were so weak with the hunger and the sickness that they could not work in the fields. Ah! and you call these hard times!

"Those were the bad days for Ireland, those days of '47. Not even the luck of O'Donoghue could make us prosper or give us comforts then. But we lived through the time, as many others did. The poor helped those who were poorer than themselves; the sick tended those who were sicker; the cold gave clothes and fire to those who were colder. The little money that we had saved helped us and some of our neighbors.

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