Hag of the Herbs, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Hag of the Herbs, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781505.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): lore.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 07/03/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Cailleach na Luibhe

In this segment, Joe shares some traditional lore concerning ‘Cailleach na Luibhe,’ the Hag of Clifden, a nineteenth-century wise woman (‘bean feasa’) reputed have had magical powers. She was much in demand throughout Conamara as a dispenser of powerful herbal cures.

After discussion of some beliefs about the ‘evil eye’ how it could be warded off, Joe tells stories about how this woman helped the priest whose horse wouldn’t move, and the man who was trying to build a house across a fairy pathway.

Memories of ‘Cailleach na Luibhe’ are long in the area: there’s even a herbalist’s shop in Clifden called ‘An Bhean Feasa’.


There are versions in Irish of several anecdotes involving Cailleach na Luibhe, including the ones Joe tells here, in Hartmann, Hans, Tomás de Bhaldraithe and Ruairí Ó hUiginn (eds.), Airneán: Ein Sammlung von Texten aus Carna, Co. na Gaillimhe, Max Niemeyer Verlag Tübingen (1996), vol 1, lines 2631-2700.

This was recorded while Joe was Artist in Residence at University of Washington.