The Woman of the Fort

The Woman of the Fort: I often heard my grandmother (R.I.P.) (Mrs. Sarah Moynihan, Dromahane Mallow) who lived to be eighty-four years of age telling the following tale, the truth of which she would swear to. Died on July 21st 26:

At a place called Gurranes near Millstreet there lived the family of the the Twomeys. They were farmers and they had children going to school. On the children’s journey to school lay a fort or lios as it is called in Irish, through which they should pass. One day as the children were passing through the fort a fairy woman met them and spoke to one of them, a girl called Nora whom she took with her into the fort, the other members of the family proceeding on their way to school. Nora, a little girl of about seven years used to be rocking a cradle in which was a baby, inside the fort, while the rest of her brothers and sisters were in school. Just as the latter would be returning the fairy woman would meet them again accompanied by the little girl Nora, whom she would allow go home with them.
This went on for a considerable time. The Twomey boys and girls would attend school, all but one, Nora, who would spend her day rocking the cradle inside the fort. A cow got sick on Nora Twomey’s farm one day and Nora’s mother told her to ask the fairy woman on the following day for a bottle of medicine to cure the cow. Nora did so, and succeeded in getting from the woman of the fort the necessary medicine.
On Nora’s arrival home that evening her mother took the bottle of medicine from her, stopped the girl, and rubbed the medicine all over her body. She also gave some to the sick cow which cured her.
On the following morning the mysterious woman as usual appeared before the children as they were passing through the fort. She was in a terrible temper. She went up to Nora and spat on her.
“You dirty thing” she said, “there is a smell from you.”
“Your mother thought she was very clever,” she said, “but I’ll be even with her yet. I shall have you in spite of her yet,” she said. “I shall have you in your first baby.” She turned on her heels and went into the fort. But the fairy woman said too much for Nora Twomey never married. She lived to a good age, and is not so long dead.

Donal Archdeacon N.T
Burnfort, Mallow.

I knew Mrs. Moynihan well, and Donal is an ex pupil of mine.
P. Ó’Luinneacháin, Baile Caisleáin an Róistigh (Castletownroche)

— from The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0389, Pages 220221 which were compiled in the 1930s

1 thought on “The Woman of the Fort”

  1. Most if not all of the School Collections compiled in the late 1930 s can be viewed on
    The contributions of all the local National schools can be viewed.Especially great to be able to read the work of the small schools that have since closed.
    For example Aubane NS and Clonmeen NS

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