What do you know "Iím Irish": A Salute to Saint Patrickís Day! A Memory and an Old Irish Tale
Catherine Lonergan Cobb, my great, great, grandmother, was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1825. When she was twelve years old her family came to the United States. By the time I was born she was lost to our family stories. In my IRISH GOLD program -I tell how I found her and my Irish roots. Hope you enjoy this bit from Irish Gold.
I was born and raised in Charlotte NC. My motherís mother lived at 2308 East Seventh Street which was on one side of the Elizabeth section and my fatherís mother at 826 Central Avenue on the other side. My parents must have been very restless in the early years of their marriage because I remember living in at least six houses in the Elizabeth Section before I was nine years old.
There was a large oak tree in the side yard of Nannyís house at 826 Central Avenue. The branches formed a dense umbrella overhead and the old fat roots at the base of the tree were covered with soft green moss. In the fall the tree dropped acorns and orange and brown leaves which we piled in the street and burned - filling the air with acrid white smoke that brought tears to our eyes and scratched our throats.
On hot summer days my cousin Sandra and I often stretched out on the cool mossy earth in the old oakís shade. Sometimes we lay very still listening for the tap tap tap of the Leprechaunís silver hammer.
You know what a Leprechaun is donít you?
A Leprechaun is one of the fairies they have in Ireland - he dresses in green and wears a three-pointed hat and heís a shoe maker for the little people - - - - and he has gold. It is said that if you can catch a Leprechaun he can lead you to his pot of gold -but they are very tricky - and its hard to get the treasure.
Sandra and I would be very quiet - almost holding our breath - -. so we could grab him by the neck and find that pot of gold.
Oh, we knew they were far, far away in a land called Ireland - and we were in North Carolina- but we tried to hear it anyway.
I donít remember where we learned about Leprechaunís - maybe from a Barry Fitzgerald movie - or maybe somebody read us the story of Bridget and the Leprechaun.
Bridget and the Leprechaun - my memory of the old Irish tale Ė
One day Bridget is walking to the well for some water when she spies the leprechaun sitting under a tree working on a pair of shoes. TAP TAP TAP. Heís dressed in green, wearing a three-corner hat and smoking a long stem clay pipe. He is so intent on his work that he doesnít hear Bridget tiptoeing toward him until she grabs him by the collar. Oh, he lets out a how! "What are you doing? Let me go, Miss Bridget."
"Not until you give me your gold - thatís when I will let you go." The leprechaun protests that he doesnít have any gold. When Bridget doesnít believe him he changes his tactics, telling her, "well if I did have, I wouldnít have it here, now would I?"
All this time Bridget has kept the wiry little man tightly in her grasp and has not taken her eyes off him - because if she does he will get away. He persuades her that he has buried the gold below the wall of a near-by castle and tells her that if she takes him there he will give it to her. She is suspicious but agrees. As they start off, he tries to get her to let him walk on his own but she is too smart for that. Then suddenly as they start up the hill toward the castle, the little man cries out "Oh my! Oh my! Look! Look! the castle is on fire" Startled, Bridget looks up and when she does he jumps away and is gone and she lost her chance for the pot-o-gold.