Johnswell, Kilkenny

Abstract: A collection of folklore and local history stories from Johnswell, Kilkenny (school) (Johnswell, Co. Kilkenny), collected as part of the Schools' Folklore Scheme, 1937-1938 under the supervision of teacher D. Ó h Éigceartaigh.

Original reference: 0863/1

In collection The Schools’ Collection : County Kilkenny schools

  1. An old lady named Mary Kennedy, who lived in the village of Johnswell all her life, used to tell that the last king... (p. 001)
  2. In Muchalee near where the waterworks stands now there is a Moat. Old people say that there is a treasure of gold buried in it. (p. 002)
  3. In a field belonging to Hogans of Gaulstown there is supposed to be hidden treasure guarded by a white bull with three heads. (p. 003)
  4. Once upon a time there lived a man named John Purcell. (p. 004-005)
  5. One day Andy Murphy was going from Bournafea to Kilkenny to buy himself a pair of boots, he had fourteen shillings in his pocket for the boots. (p. 006)
  6. Some years ago there lived a man and his wife on a mountain about six miles from Kilkenny. (p. 007-008)
  7. Seamus was a shoemaker by trade but he was very lazy. He wished to make money without having to work for it. (p. 008-009)
  8. One time it happened that two brothers named John and Pat Dowling lived together in an old house. (p. 010-011)
  9. Once upon a time there was a beautiful lady named Brigid Purcell who lived at a place called Flagmount. (p. 011-012)
  10. Nearly a hundred years ago two robbers lived in the hills between Ballyfoyle and Johnswell. (p. 012)
  11. Without title (p. 013)
  12. Once upon a time there lived a robber named Freney. He lived at Freneystown. (p. 014)
  13. Once upon a time there lived a man named Humppy Back and he lived near Doyle's house and he had gold and he buried it under one of Doyle's piers the one at the right hand side. (p. 015)
  14. There is a spring well right under a tree that grows at the bottom of Mount Casey hill and near the spring there was a house in which seven Bishops were born. (p. 016)
  15. Once upon a time there lived two Giants in Cantwellscourt. One of them was called Clug and the other Crug. (p. 017-019)
  16. One night a man dreamt that there was a crock of gold at the back of Wat Byrnes in Frynestown. (p. 019-020)
  17. One day a gentleman was going out to hunt and when mounting his horse he said he would ride again the devil this day. (p. 020-021)
  18. Along time ago a man and his wife lived in a house in Tullabroin. One night the woman of the house was called to the window by an old withered little woman. (p. 022)
  19. Once upon a time a man and his wife were coming from town. The moon was shining brightly. (p. 023)
  20. A story is told about Cantwells court castle about a turfman and Cromwell. It is said that when Cromwell's soldiers tried to take the castle they could not. (p. 023-024)
  21. One night a boy about twelve years old was coming home from his Aunt's house. It was dark when he was leaving the house and he had to go across fields. (p. 024-025)
  22. A long time ago Ireland was full of robbers and in this part of the country there were three men who did a lot of stealing and hiding it from time to time in different places. (p. 025-026)
  23. In Kilfarney there once lived a woman by the name of Biddy Ross. She was a very bad woman and when she died the people said she would go to hell. (p. 026-027)
  24. In Sandyfords Court there is a castle where people lived long ago. One of the families that lived in the castle had two hounds which they reared under ground. (p. 028)
  25. Once upon a time there lived a man and woman named Dan and Kitty Hynes. They lived at Coolcullen. They were very poor. (p. 029-030)
  26. Once apon a time there was a girl minding her cow on the road. There was a woman living on the same road. She told the little girl to tell her when the cow would calf. (p. 031-032)
  27. Once upon a time a man and his wife lived in a small little house. They had one son and they were very poor. They used bushes for a door in the house. (p. 033-034)
  28. One night a man was going for a ramble. He went astray and where did he go only into Gaulstown rath. He met with a little man very busy cutting sticks. (p. 035)
  29. A man was going home and he had to pass through a rath. When he was passing through it he saw an old boot and he made fun of the boot. (p. 036)
  30. Once upon a time there were two men named John Treacy and John Byrne leaning against the wall of their cottage at Freneystown. They were looking off in the direction of Park, and they saw a light coming towards them. (p. 037)
  31. One night as a man was coming home from town and he got very tired and he went into a house to rest. He left his horse in an old stable. When he went into the house he saw a little woman sitting at the fire and she was smoking a pipe. (p. 038-039)
  32. One night Tady Brennan was playing cards in Jackman's house, which was not very far from his own house. When he was coming home he saw a man walking at the opposite side of the road. (p. 040-041)
  33. Paddy Moore of Higginstown was putting his horse out to grass one evening just as dusk was falling. As he took the bridle off the horse he heard a shout in a corner of the field. (p. 041-042)
  34. Once upon a time a man named Captain Nugent hid a crock of gold in the field where Blake's castle stood, just in front of it. (p. 042)
  35. Once upon a time two men named Murphy lived in Muckalee. One day they were reaping corn in a field with scythes and one of them met a weasel's nest and he cut all the young ones. (p. 043)
  36. One time there lived a poor man. He earned his living by breaking stone. Not far from where he was breaking the stones, there lived a miser. (p. 044)
  37. There was once a rich man who began to dig for gold. He was digging for a long time when his spade stuck in a stone and when he pulled up the stone there was a crock of gold underneath it. (p. 045)
  38. One time there was a woman living by her-self in a house. When she was about to die her little grandchild came to mind her. (p. 046)
  39. Once upon a time a woman lived on the top of Ned Martin's hill. Peg Dunne was her name. (p. 047-048)
  40. One time there lived a man in Johnswell and his name was John Murphy. He used to buy hay in Callan every year and he used to leave it in ricks until Spring. (p. 048-049)
  41. One night a man was cardplaying in a neighbouring house. He was not long playing when he saw some thing strange under the table which he thought was the devil. (p. 050-051)
  42. Once upon a time there lived a Lady named Kitty Murphy and she had crutches. She came to the well St John's day to get the use of her legs. (p. 052)
  43. Once upon a time a young boy was very fond of dressing up as a ghost, and going out at night to frighten people. One night he went to frighten some young girls who were going home from a party and gave them a terrible fright. (p. 053)
  44. Mr Carpenter of old town was coming from his home in Knocknabrannar. When he came to Murphy's cross he met a sow upon the road. (p. 054-055)
  45. One time old John Butler and his wife were visiting their friends in Ballyragget. About four o' clock they were leaving the house to go home. (p. 055-056)
  46. One night Jack Brennan was going home from rambling and he took the short cut across fields. (p. 056-057)
  47. One time a woman went to a mission and during the sermon she went asleep. When the mission was over the woman was asleep and did not go home. (p. 057)
  48. Once upon a time there was a man and his wife and four children, two boys and two girls. They were living where Michael Brophy is living now. (p. 058-059)
  49. Once upon a time a man named Mick Tobin was living at the butt of Ned Martin's hill. Every year he used to till the garden with a spade and plant cabbage in it. (p. 060-061)
  50. Once upon a time a boy hired with a farmer for herding cows up against a rath. This boy had a hump on his back. (p. 061-062)
  51. Once upon a time there was a man and his wife living in a house together. A little man used to come in every night for lodging, this night he knocked at the door. (p. 062-063)
  52. There was an old man and he had a friend a priest, who was fond of him. When the priest had nothing to do he used to spend his time talking to the old man. (p. 064-065)
  53. In Old Leighlin there is a protestant church and a burial-ground and catholics do be buried in it also. Every night at ten o'clock a dead coach used to be seen passing from Old Leighlin to Shanakill which was a distance of about four miles from Old Leighlin. (p. 066-067)
  54. Once upon a time they were playing cards at Byrne's of Park. They played away until it was a late hour. They began to argue and cheat at the game. (p. 067-068)
  55. Once upon a time a woman was skimming a well. It happened that a priest was passing and he said "I cry half". He said nothing else only passed off. (p. 068)
  56. One night there were three or four men coming home from town. They were merry and they did not care what they met. (p. 069)
  57. One May morning some years ago a farmer started to make a churn. He was churning for a long time and he could not get any butter on it. Then he thought of a plan. (p. 070)
  58. It was always believed by the old people that they shouldn't touch any thing in the old raths because they thought the fairies would not like them to do anything even to the fence. (p. 071-072)
  59. One night Christy Butler was going home from rambling, from a house in a village called the Butts. It was about 12 o' clock. He had to go through four fields belonging to Foleys. He sat down to fill his pipe and, just as he had it filled he got a terrible fright. (p. 073)
  60. Once upon a time there were a poor woman and her son living together in a house. Her husband was dead and she was very poor. She had one cow and she made up her mind to sell her. (p. 074-075)
  61. One night two men stole apples. On the way home they had to pass through a graveyard. They lost two apples at the gate. (p. 076)
  62. In a farm near Kilkenny a big stone stood in the middle of the field and it was about fourteen curt. weight. The owner was going to till the field and thought it would be easier if the stone would be removed. (p. 077-078)
  63. Once upon a time Mr Long was losing all his cows. He heard of a fairy man in Balleragget and he sent his work man to him. When he went in he met the little man in the yard he said "Good morning Pat". (p. 079)
  64. Once upon a time there lived a family named Byrnes. They lived at Paulstown. Every night when it would come to nine o' clock everyone in the house would have to be gone out of the kitchen. (p. 080)
  65. Some years ago a man and his wife were living in a small house. One night a little woman told the man's wife that a son would be born to her and that he would have a letter with him. (p. 081-082)
  66. There is a cave in Dunmore. One time three men named John Byrne Patrick Walsh and Mick Hoban went in. They had three boys outside holding a ball of twine. (p. 083-084)
  67. Once upon a time a woman was living in a house. Every night people would come to play cards with her. One day a priest came to her and told her not to be playing cards to a late hour in the night. (p. 085)
  68. Once upon a time there lived a poor woman who had six children. Her husband was dead. One day she was sitting at the fire and her children around her and she crying. (p. 086-087)
  69. John the Gom's Proposal (p. 087-088)
  70. One time a man named Pat Nolan was very poor and he had a dream that a lump of gold was under a bush on the moat in Gaulstown. (p. 089)
  71. Once upon a time there lived a very clever man who had a son, who was not very clever but was a very good good mason. (p. 090-091)
  72. One night Tommy Carthy was going home from Johnswell as he was going over through Quinns' lane he saw seven cars and seven men asleep in them and a hound tied to each car. (p. 091-092)
  73. One time Paddy Tobain was going home from his work in Cliften. He was looking towards Park graveyard and he saw a light going up out of Park graveyard. (p. 092)
  74. One time there lived a poor man, who had three sons. When he was dying he had nothing to give them but a big tree. (p. 093-094)
  75. Ted Power thought he had the best race horse in the world. He went to the race one day with his horse. He said that if the devil came up beside him that day he would race all in the field. (p. 094-095)
  76. One day Jack Fatter was going to town to buy some groceries for his family. When he reached the town he got the groceries and put them in the car. (p. 096-097)
  77. In olden times people were very fond of taking their neighbours' property with the aid of the fairies. The thing they mostly wanted was butter. (p. 098)
  78. Once upon a time a man named Dan Ryan was coming home from work and he saw a leprachaun. Dan was not a bit afraid of the leprachaun and he went over to him and caught him by the shoulders. (p. 099-100)
  79. Once upon a time there was a man and his wife living together in a house. This Sunday morning as they were getting ready to go to mass a black bird with its tail cut perched on top of the half door. (p. 101)
  80. One time a man, named Tom Byrne was working for a man named Jim Welsh and Jim Welsh told him to cut a small tree. Tom Byrne cut the tree and the boss went up to it in the evening but it was growing. (p. 102)
  81. One time a man named Jim Kelly had no sticks to light the fire. He went out to the rath in Rathcoole which was not far from his house. There he saw a bush and he cut it. (p. 103)
  82. Townlands - Kilkieran (p. 104)
  83. Townlands - Kilderry (p. 104-105)
  84. Once upon a time there were some lads who sold them selves to the Devil. Every night they would go into a room and talk to the Devil. (p. 105-106)
  85. One time there lived a man and his wife and they were very happy for a long time until at last the woman died and the man was alone. So one night after the death of his wife he was coming home from town and he met his wife on the road. (p. 106-107)
  86. One time there was a woman and seven children living in a little house beside a bog. It was a turf bog and it belonged to her. She had some dislike to her neighbours and she would not let them get the turf out of the bog. (p. 107-108)
  87. A long time ago there was a house in Ballyfoyle and the people that were living in it were called Haydens. One night they were all gone to bed and it was about twelve o' clock and something tapped at the door. (p. 108-109)
  88. Townlands - Feathallagh (p. 110)
  89. Ireland had many strange customs and beliefs in the fairies long ago. One of them was never to throw vessel water or rinsing water outside the doorstep. (p. 111-114)
  90. One time there was a gentleman living in Johnswell, and he used to be always cursing. He used to go to play cards every night and he used to go on a horse. (p. 112-116)
  91. Once upon a time there was a man and he had an unsound mind. The police put him into the asylum. (p. 114-115)
  92. Once upon a time there lived a man and he was very fond of cardplaying. When Sunday morning would come he would never think of getting up to go to Mass. (p. 117)
  93. One night Patrick Mc Donald was going home from work and he saw the devil playing cards in a lane. (p. 118)
  94. Once in Carlow a woman died and she was from Tiperary. She was dead for six months and she appeared to a man named Murphy. (p. 119)
  95. There lived in this parish an old cobbler and he was a very hard sleeper. Often he went to bed about eight o' clock and he would not get up till two or three o'clock next evening. (p. 120-121)
  96. Once upon a time a girl named Nellie Byrne who lived in Flagmount never went to mass. One day she was out in the yard feeding the hens and she heard someone shouting at her. (p. 122)
  97. Once upon a time there was a man and his wife living in a house in the side of a hill. There was a poor old woman living along with them and when she was about to die the man of the house put her out on the road side. (p. 123)
  98. Once upon a time there lived a man and his wife and six children. One night the wife stayed up to sew and when she was up a start a knock came to the door. (p. 124)
  99. Townlands - The Place of the Sallies (p. 125)
  100. Townlands - Ossoryhill (p. 125)
  101. Once upon a time there was a priest going on a sick call. He was going on horse back. He had to pass a lime kiln and as he was passing it he heard some beautiful music. (p. 126)
  102. One night Christy Butlers' father was going home from rambling. He had to go along a bit of a road first and then through fields and then out on the road again. (p. 127)
  103. Townlands - Loughneenawen (p. 128)
  104. Townlands - Tullowbrin (p. 128)
  105. One time there lived a poor man named Bill Ronan. He had only two cattle. This day he went to the fair with them. (p. 129-130)
  106. Once upon a time a poor woman was on her way to market. It was very early but she thought it was late because they had no clocks at that time. (p. 131)
  107. One night a man was coming home from working and he had to pass through a wood. When he was passing through it he got very tired and he stood beside a tree. (p. 132-133)
  108. John the Gom's Wedding (p. 134-135)
  109. Once upon a time there was a man and his wife living in an old house by the side of a hill. The husband was working with a farmer but this morning when he was out working in the field a poor old woman came in to the woman of the house. (p. 136-137)
  110. Once upon a time there was a man coming from Johnswell. He came across the fields. (p. 138)
  111. One night Tommy Carthy was going home from Johnswell. As he was going over through Quinn's lane he saw seven cars and seven men asleep in them and a hound tied to each car. (p. 139)
  112. One night a poor woman was waking. They all thought she had money. All the women gathered to the wake. (p. 140)
  113. Once upon a time a man named Tommy Kelly was coming home from rambling. As he was going up the Ballafoyle road a coach passed with four white horses drawing it. (p. 141)
  114. Once upon a time there was a big farmers house. About twelve o' clock in the night a big roaring bull came into the yard. (p. 142)
  115. Once upon a time a man was sick in a house and his wife went for the priest. (p. 143)
  116. There lived in this parish an old cobbler and he was a very hard sleeper. (p. 144-145)
  117. One night as a party of people were cardplaying in a farmers house a strange man came in and started to play with them. (p. 146-147)
  118. One night Tommy Tobin was going home from rambling and it was about twelve o' clock. All of a sudden something stopped him and he tried several times to pass it but he was not able. (p. 148)
  119. John the Gom in the Militia (p. 149-150)
  120. One night Mattie Byrne was going home from Johnswell and it was about twelve o' clock. When he was passing Glen's Bridge he looked around and he saw a black dog which followed him along. (p. 151)
  121. Once upon a time there lived a man named Jim Nolan. He lived in Tullabrin and he had cousins down in Clara. (p. 152)
  122. Once upon a time a man was living by himself in a house on an old moat. This morning a poor old woman came in to him and asked him for a cup of tea. (p. 153)
  123. One time there lived a poor widow and her three children. This poor widow was very good to the poor and when she was dying she said that the neighbours should put the children in bed before nine o' clock every night so that she could come and settle them. (p. 154-155)
  124. In Switzerland they have no games such as hurling or football. The game they have is called Bull-fight. They used to have two Bulls in a ring and have them fighting and the people used to bet a lot of money on them. (p. 156-157)
  125. On our farm there is a field called páirc na gcapall so called because of the number of horses that used to be seen there during the pattern of Johnswell. (p. 158)
  126. Once upon a time there was a man coming home from Castlecomer. He was coming coming away and he made a short cut through Dry Merin. (p. 159-160)
  127. There was a man coming home from Ballyfoyle one night. He came for a short cut through Kilfarney. He came alright until he came to the top of the hill. (p. 160-161)
  128. Once upon a time there lived a man named Jack Murphy. One night Jack was coming home from town and when he came to Brennan's dark gate lights flashed before him and when he looked up the lane he saw a coach coming down it. (p. 161)
  129. There is a quarry down in one of Martin Brennan's field the field is called Cloga Foize and there is a kiln beside it and every night of the month of June there used to be a whole crowd of fairies playing beautiful music. (p. 162)
  130. Once upon a time there lived a man named Martin Byrne. He lived where Mannings are living now. He was a very awkward man and he could do nothing right. (p. 163-164)
Origin information
Johnswell, Co. Kilkenny
Date created:
Type of Resource
Physical description
1 chapter (vol. 863, p. 1a-164)
Folklore--Ireland--Kilkenny (County)
Treasure troves--Folklore
Brigands and robbers   linked data (lcsh)
Manners and customs   linked data (lcsh)
Dissenters, Religious--Legal status, laws, etc.
Cromwell, Oliver, 1599-1658   linked data (viaf)
Supernatural beings   linked data (afset)
Jokes   linked data (lcsh)
Agriculture   linked data (lcsh)
Folk beliefs   linked data (afset)
Ringforts   linked data (lcsh)
Roads   linked data (lcsh)
Ireland--History--Famine, 1845-1852
School location
JohnswellTobar EoinJohnswellRathcooleGowranKilkenny
University College Dublin. National Folklore Collection UCD .

Original reference: 0863/1

Suggested credit
"The Schools' Manuscript Collection: County Kilkenny schools," held by the National Folklore Collection UCD. © Digital content by University College Dublin, published by UCD Library, University College Dublin <>
Supported by funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Ireland), University College Dublin, and the National Folklore Foundation (Fondúireacht Bhéaloideas Éireann), 2014-2016.
Record source
Metadata creation date: 2014/2016 — Metadata created by Fiontar, Dublin City University, in collaboration with the National Folklore Collection UCD and UCD Library. Original Fiontar metadata converted into MODS by UCD Library.

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