Joe Heaney: How Joe Lost His Way

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  • Teideal (Title): Joe Heaney: How Joe Lost His Way.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 840121.
  • 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, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): story.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): unavailable.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 31/01/1984.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): evening class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Joe tells how he gets lost for three days on his way to a wake, because he forgets to put a pinch of salt on his tongue before setting out. The trouble was, he must have stepped on a patch of ground where someone had died during the Famine – ‘an féar gortach’ (the hungry grass) they called it – and if you stepped on such a spot when you were going to a wake, unless you had salt on your tongue, you would disappear. Joe spent three days invisible – people were looking for him, but couldn’t find him – until he remembered to turn his coat inside out. Then he came to himself, knew where he was, and went home where, needless to say, nobody believed a word of it.


Similarly, there is something called the fóidín meara, ‘a spot of ground on which one is supposed to be led astray’; see 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, line 6874 and vol 2, p. 128.