Gurteen Lake and the Curse of the McCarthys

Verse from another legend from Longford recorded by the Irish Folklore Commission

Gurteen Lake in Ballinalee
Gurteen Lake in Ballinalee (Image: Google StreetView)

From Clonbroney the priest was travelling
Was making his weary way
When to call in on Protestant neighbours
He decided to: was invited to stay
For all children of Christ are Christian
No matter how that they pray
Beware of the ghost, a warning!
A servant girl to the priest did say.

Now, being a priest, he was not afraid
Of the living or of the dead
But something troubled Fr McCarthy
About what the servant girl said
But after hearing confessions was tired
Lay his stole beside the bed
Said no prayer to guard against spirits
But set off to sleep instead…

He woke with a start as any man would
For even the clergy know fear
A silent prayer muttered as at the end of the bed
A spectre, silent, at midnight, did appear.
It reached for his stole on the bedroom table
But Fr McCarthy was near
Too quick for the ghost he was
Grabbed the stole that he held dear!

No one knows if the others heard
If any in the house were awake
I hope they were not, at this evil hour
For their souls and sanity’s sake!
“At this time each night, for seven years
Be you between the foam and the surface of Gurteen lake!”
The priest decreed the spirit to do
Such direction even evil ones have to take

“Woe to you McCarthy!” The ghost in anger exclaimed
“When those seven years have passed by”
“Be ye gone there forever so”, said the preist
The spectre disappeared in the blink of an eye.
For the command of a priest a spectre must obey
A the moon shone pale in the sky
But a ghost will have another way to have its revenge
That men of the cloth can’t deny…

Many years have passed since that night
The locals still talk of it both common and prim
Some say cursed for McCarthys is Gureen Lake
Should one take a foolish whim
The spirit shall take them down to the depths
Should they there foolishly boat or swim!
Revenge on all of the name of Fr McCarthy for all time there shall be

Now, I am but a humble writer
Who a verse of this story has made
And I can tell you as the reader
Who may by all this be dismayed
I dont believe in ghosts as such
Of superstition am not afraid.
Being O’Carty, not even of the name as such
But in Gureen Lake I wont sail or bathe!

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