Woman Who Threw Hot Water on the Fairies, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Woman Who Threw Hot Water on the Fairies, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 841421.
  • 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): Joan Rabinowitz.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): probably 19/10/1984.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): KRAB Radio.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

As a woman throws some hot water out of the house one night, she hears a scream, but sees nobody. The following evening, however, a black lamb enters the house and lies down by the fire, moaning. The following morning the lamb is dead; and the people are afraid to move it. The woman knows, however, that it was her hot water that had scalded the lamb.

Eventually they take the lamb outside and bury it; but that evening it comes back again, lying on the hearth, dying before morning. This routine goes on for a month.

Finally, the woman consults the Hag of the Herbs to see if she can get rid of her nightly visitor. The Hag of the Herbs tells her to sprinkle some feet-water   the water that the people of the house have used to wash their feet   over the lamb.

This she does, and the black lamb never returns.


Elements of this story relate to a number of other items in Joe’s repertoire. See The woman who found a bucket of blood in her kitchen, The Fairy and the Wool, Sliabh na mBan is on Fire!, traditions about the Púca and other spirits, and the Foot-Water Rhyme. Lambs also come into a number of stories, and they’re not necessarily the benign creatures one might expect; see Joe’s story Fionn and the Fianna in the Household of Death, for example.

For more about the Hag of the Herbs, see here.

The recording date given is 19 October 1984, which is presumably the broadcast date; Joe Heaney died in May of that year.