Between 1937 and 1938 UCD collected stories from children in Primary Schools all across Ireland. I happily came across the archive holding these wonderful insights into the minds of children back then. The stories range from pieces of local history, stories about life in general, local people and the lived experience of children at the time. This little gem caught my eye, a ghost story from Knockbride, Cavan, about a mile from my wee cottage. It was collected by the local school teacher, Thomas J. Barron, although the name of the child is not noted. He is the story, word for word!
Parra Dubh used to cross on horseback a ford on the Drumgoon river coming home from markets. As he crossed the ford a ghost always lit in the saddle behind him and forced him to dismount. Parra went to a blacksmith and asked his advice on the matter. The blacksmith told him to get a knife made with one heat in the fire and to stab the ghost once. The knife was made and later Parra was crossing the ford as usual, but somewhat late. The ghost sprang up behind him, remarking as he did so, “You’re a “pop” late tonight.” Parra struck him one stab of the knife and then the ghost asked for another prod. This would have spoiled the charm so Parra said, “That one will do you.” The ghost fell into the river and a yew log was got there the following morning. When it was split about half a glass of blood was found inside the log.
A common saying in the district was, “You’re a pop late, as the ghost said to Parra Dubh.”