The Night of the Hurling Match

The event in the following story occurred in the mid 1920’s before the arrival of the cattle mart to Ireland.  The farmers had to ‘walk’ their cattle to the desired town for the monthly fair; it was ‘hard going’ trying to get there early, and to get a good position at the fair. So, for this reason the farmers would leave around midnight the previous night.  This is the story of a party of five farmers from Killannin who set out to take their cattle to the Spiddal fair.  

halfway between Moycullen and Spiddal

It was the autumn of the year, so they were blessed with a full moon for the journey. They chatted as they went about the weather, the crops, and most of all about the fair on the morrow. “Would it be good, or would it be “slack”? … So “slack” that maybe they’d have to bring their cattle home again. So they smoked their pipes and enjoyed the conversation as they passed the time away.  Suddenly at about halfway between Moycullen and Spiddal there was a shout from one of the men, who had walked in front of the Cattle. “Look… they are hurling in there”. Everybody else gazed and gazed, but could see nothing but the never-ending moor. Their friend kept telling them what was happening. There are two teams there and the place is full of excitement. He could see them ‘cheering’ on their teams as they scored. Such hurling he had never seen before. He would repeat himself so often “I wish ye could see this lads its great”. They all felt disappointed at not being able to witness this unusual spectacle. Suddenly they all heard an ear – splitting whistle so loud and so shrill. They had never heard anything like it before.

At that instant their friend shouted… “They have vanished… the hurlers are gone”. Everybody just stood their motionless, as if tethered to the ground.

In those few moments they had forgotten all about their mission…to get to the Spiddal Fair in time. They talked about this extraordinary happening for years afterwards, but never succeeded in unravelling the mystery. 

This page was added on 10/05/2011.

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