Bits n Bobs
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This was the ancient name of a
territory in County Antrim, called after Cairbre Riada, one of its chiefs.
In the sixth century a band of Irish from this quarter settled in
Argyllshire under Fergus MacErc, and founded the kingdom of the Scots in
Dalriada. After being almost extinguished, the Dalriadic line
received in the ninth century when Kenneth Macalpine, seizing the Pictish
throne, gave kings to the whole of Scotland.
Age of the Horse
To tell the age of any horse
Inspect the lower jaw, of course
The six front teeth the tale will tell
And every doubt and fear dispel
Two middle nippers you behold
Before the colt is two weeks old
Before eight weeks two more will come
Eight more the corners cut the gum
The outside grooves will
From middle two in just one year
In two years from the second pair
In three years corners, too, are bare
At two the middle nippers drop
At three the second pair can't stop
When four years old the third pair goes
At five a full new set he shows
The deep black spots will pass
At six years from the middle two
The second pair at seven years
At eight the spot each corner clears
From middle nippers, upper jaw
At nine the black spots will withdraw
The second pair at ten are bright
Eleven finds the corners in sight
As time goes on the horsemen
The oval teeth three sided grow
They longer get - project - before
Till twenty, when we know no more
Psalter of Tara
This was a volume in which the
early kings of Ireland inserted all historic events and enactments. It
began in the reign of Ollam Fodlah, of the family of Ir (B.C. 900) and was
read to the assembled princes when they met in the cenvention
(convention?) which assembled in the great hall of that splendid palace.
On the institution of the order
of baronets in England by James I. a sinister hand, erect, open and
coupled at the wrist, gules, the armorial ensign of the province of
Ulster, was made their distinguishing badge, in respect of the order
having been intended for the encouragement of plantations in Ulster. This
badge is sometimes borne in a canton, sometimes on an escutcheon, the
latter placed either in the fess point or in the middle chief point, so as
to interfere as little as possible with the charges of the shield.
This was an independent jury,
neither to be brow beaten or led by the nose. In 1635 certain trials were
held respecting the rights of the Crown to the counties of Ireland.
Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo and Mayo gave judgment in favour of the Crown,
but Galway stood out, whereupon each of the jury was fined £4,000
Although noticed in the old Irish
histories and topographies as existing as far back as the middle of the
twelfth century, Belfast as a city is of comparatively recent date. The
first castle of Belfast was probably built by Sir John de Courcy, about
the end of the twelfth century. The last was erected by Sir Arthur
Chichester, Lord Deputy of Ireland, early in the seventeenth century, and
was accidentally destroyed by fire on 25th April, 1708, when the Ladies
Jane, Frances and Henrietta, daughters of Lady Donegall, lost their lives.
The accident was occasioned by a servant, who left a fire of wood burning
in a room which she was airing. Catherine Douglas, a servant, and a
daughter of Parson Berkley also perished. In 1316, when sacked by Edward
Bruce, brother of the great Robert Bruce, Belfast was, according to
authentic records, one of the many "very good towns and strongholds
which he wasted."
When ants are unusually busy,
foul weather is at hand.
The mark running down the back of an ass, and
cut at right angles over the shoulders, is the Cross of Christ, impressed
on the animal because Christ rode on an ass in His triumphant entry into
Jerusalem. Three hairs taken from the "cross" of an ass will
cure the whooping-cough, but the ass from which the hairs are plucked
A barnacle broken off a ship turns into a solon
Bees will never thrive if you quarrel with them
or about them. If a member of the family dies and the bees are not told
of the death they will forsake the hive. It is unlucky for a stray swarm
of bees to light on your premises.
The sneezing of a cat indicates good luck to a
bride. If a cat sneezes thrice, a cold will run through the family.
If a milkmaid neglects to wash her hands after
milking the cows will go dry.
Crickets bring food luck to a house. To kill a
cricket is unlucky. If crickets forsake a house a death in the family
will soon follow.
If a crow croaks an odd number of times, look
out for foul weather; if an even number, it will be fine. If crows flock
together early in the morning and gape at the sun, the weather will be
hot and dry; but if they stalk at nightfall into water and croak, rain is
nigh. When crows forsake a wood in a flock, it forebodes a famine.
When dogs wallow in the dust expect fine
If you count the number of fish you have caught
you will catch no more.
To meet a frog is lucky, indicating that the
person is about to receive money. When frogs croak more than usual it is
a sign of bad weather.
When gnats fly low it indicates rain at hand.
When they fly high, and are at all abundant, fine weather may be
The black spot on each side of a haddock, near
the gills, is the impression of St. Peter's finger and thumb, when he
took the tribute money from the mouth of the fish.
If a dog bites you any evil consequence may be
prevented by applying three of the dog's hairs to the would.
Hedgehogs foresee a coming storm.
If a person suffering from whooping-cough asks advice
of a man riding a piebald horse, the malady will be cured by doing what
the man tells him to do.
A horse-shoe fastened inside a door will
preserve the inhabitants of a house from the influences of witches and
the evil eye.
The lapwing is a handmaid of the Virgin Mary.
Having purloined one of her mistress's dresses she was converted into a
lapwing, and condemned for ever to cry, "Tyvit! Tyvit!"
("I stole it! I stole it!)
The lizard is man's special enemy, but warns him
of the approach of a serpent.
To see one magpie is unlucky; to see two denotes
merriment or a marriage; to see three, a successful journey; four, good
news; five, company. When the magpie chatters it denotes that you will
A person weighs more fasting than after a good
It is unlucky to kill a martin.
To eat food which a mouse has nibbled will cause
a sore throat.
If owls screech with a hoarse and dismal voice
it bodes impending calamity.
In each of the forefeet of pigs is a very small
hole, which may be seen when the pig is dead and the hair removed. The legend
is that the devils made their exit from the swine through the forefeet
and left these holes. There are also six very minute rings round each
hole, and these are said to have been made by the devils' claws. The
bacon of pigs killed in a waning moon will waste much in the cooking.
When hogs run grunting home a storm is impending. It is unlucky for a
traveller if a sow crosses his path. To meet a sow with a litter of pigs
is very lucky.
No person can die on a bed or pillow containing
The red of a robin's breast was produced by the
blood of Jesus. While the "Man of Sorrows" was on His way to
Calvary a robin plucked a thorn from His temple, and a drop of blood
falling on the bird turned his bosom red. It is unlucky either to keep or
kill a robin.
Spitting for luck is a common superstition. A
blacksmith who has to shoe a stubborn horse, spits on his hands to drive
off the "evil spirit"
Small spiders, called "money
spinners," prognosticate good luck if they are not destroyed or
removed from the person to whom they attach themselves. No spider will
spin its web on an Irish oak. Spiders will never set their webs on a
cedar roof. Spiders indicate where gold is to be found.
It is unlucky to kill a stork.
If a swallow builds on a house it brings good
luck. To kill a swallow is unlucky. When swallows fly high the weather
will be good.
Swans cannot hatch without a crack of thunder.
The swan retires from observation when about to die, and sings melodiously.
If anyone kills a wren he will break a bone
before the year is out.
No animal dies near the sea except at the ebbing
of the tide.
Strange Cure for Rheumatism
Bridget Behan, of Castlewaller,
in the county of Wicklow, retained the use of all her powers of body and
mind to the close of her long life, 110 years, in 1807. About six years
preceding her death she fell down stairs, and broke one of her thighs.
Contrary to all expectations, she not only recovered from the effects of
the accident, but afterwards walked stronger on this leg than she had done
for many years before. A short while before her death, she cut a new
tooth. Another remarkable circumstance relating to the fracture was that
she was cured of chronic rheumatism of long standing.
Chocolate has been known in
Europe, and especially in Spain, as a drink ever since the discovery of
America, but the idea of eating it is comparatively modern. Originally it
was drunk cold, and was bitter to taste.
O'Donohue's White Horses
The boatmen of Killarney so call
those waves which, on a windy day, are crested with foam. The spirit of
O'Donohue is supposed to glide over the lakes every May-day on his
favourite white horse, to the sound of unearthly music.