16 April 2012

(126) Cromachy of the crows

The king of Connacht was said to be a kind person and a man of honor, however he had three absolutely dissolute sons, who once got him into big trouble. Once upon a time his sons happened to annoy one extremely dangerous man - Cromachy named Master of Crows. Known for being an old and very powerful warlock, Cromachy was living all alone in a small house hidden in the middle of dark forest located not so far from the king’s castle. There were a big number of high trees growing around his house, on tops of which, lots of scary ravens had nests. All local peasants held those ravens to be actual demonic creatures serving their Lord. So they always preferred to avoid passing nearby that gloomy and weird place. If anyone of them ever dared to get Cromachy angry and therefore, deserved his curse, one of those scary ravens would necessarily leave its nest to follow that person all his time. It didn’t matter where the cursed one could go, the crow would keep following his way by all means, right up to his death.

Once like many people around, those who have lots of free time, but nothing to do, the royal heirs – Declan, Diarmaid and Daithy – decided to play a monstrous joke with the old sorcerer. They put a stone plate on his chimney, causing his small house to fill with smoke, so that Cromachy was about to give up the spirit.

Enraged like Devil, Cromachy traced them down to the castle and there, at the presence of their old father (whose heartbeat was close to stopping due to such a shameful attitude performed by his sons) he cursed them all. He foretold that the senior prince would grow to become a thief doomed to spend all his life in larceny. The middle prince would become a murderer, who never lets a knife out of his hand. And finally, the junior prince would be a beggar, living on handouts only. Cromachy cursed the old king too, for bringing up such selfish heirs and foretold that the king himself would be doomed to live as long as he gets an opportunity of witnessing how wicked predestined fate will eventually find each of his sons. In other words: the old king was doomed to see with his own eyes all those awful sins and crimes to be committed and done in the future by his cursed offspring.

Being frightened into a fit and feeling total inability to keep hearing such a demonic prediction, the poor father fainted. After some time however, he found himself lying in bed being surrounded by his pale wife and lots of servants whose faces were also very pale and frightened. Suddenly, four huge and devilish looking ravens appeared in his bedroom, once they appeared they immediately sat on four high bedposts around the king’s bed. They began to croak loudly and ominously: Carrh! Carrh! Carrh! The old king tried to bury his head in blankets not to hear their terrible shouts; nevertheless, in the castle it was spreading everywhere. A bit later, it came out spreading outside of the building by filling whole outer territory with dreadful, gloomy feelings that caused all local inhabitants around to start getting headache and losing quietness.

In fact, something dangerous as well as mysterious was felt in the air, besides that wild croaking produced by those four ravens was getting worse, louder, more and more nerve-wracking every single day. The luckless king ordered to send for all known doctors, bishops, philosophers and scientists in hope of asking for help, or at least, for any wise advice. However, none of them proved his ability to find any reliable solution to rid the king of this awful family curse. What’s more, none of them managed to silence the crows even for a moment either! Pretty soon the old king together with his people began to lose weight; their state of mental health got so bad that they all became very close to the point of going mad. The situation inside the castle became so sick and serious that sad news about this royal damnation eventually overcame borders of the Kingdom of Connacht. After some time the news achieved Dark Patrick’s ears whilst he was working on his small potato field among the Donegal Mountains. Having made him very sad, it caused him to leave his work and go to Connacht in the hopes of seeing the king in person and to help him with his troubles.

On reaching the castle, he faced up with several guardians that were standing on duty at the main gates. Dark Patrick kindly asked them to allow him to come in to see the king, instead of it the guardians were about to set their dogs on him. Fortunately, at that very moment the old queen heard a loud noise coming from outside, wondering about its possible source, she decided to come down herself to check on if everything was alright. And indeed, she got to know that noise reason pretty soon. Since her heart was already broken down and filled with unmeasured amount of pain and fears, she was ready to try anyone, anything; even most ridiculous means, in order to get her luckless spouse healed.

‘All the wisest men of this kingdom have already failed to solve our problem, but this poor man does insist on his wish to help us, who knows, maybe I should give him a chance?’ - She bitterly thought to herself allowing Patrick to have an audience with her diseased husband. Once Dark Patrick entered the bedroom he saw the old king lying in bed, looking extremely tired, scared and hopeless, as if he truly was at the edge of madness. He was surrounded by a large crowd of various types of public: lots of doctors, philosophers, scientists, archbishops and numerous ordinary servants. No sooner had all those highly educated men realized the true purpose of Patrick’s appearance, as most of them began to think in an arrogant manner what would be better: to leave the castle immediately with offensive senses inside, or to keep staying there and just laughing at him. Because of their respect for the old king and the queen however, they did decide to stay there, acting indifferently toward that holy fool in rags.

Meanwhile Dark Patrick just asked the old king to tell him all his troubles personally, and then he wished him to call on his heirs.
‘What’s your name?’ he asked the first prince as soon as they all appeared in the chamber.
‘What’s the curse you’ve deserved from Cromachy?’
‘Cromachy foretold that I’d become a thief to steal throughout my life’
Dark Patrick immediately turned to the scared queen and said to her:
‘Order to send your eldest son to the best school of laws in Ireland, let him become a respectful judge. In case of being a judge, no one lawmaker will ever suspect him!’
At that very same moment, one of the devilish ravens left its bedpost place, let out a shrill shout, spread its wings and… disappeared in the air.

Dark Patrick turned back to the second prince.
‘Well, what’s your name?’ he asked him.
‘My name is Darmid’.
‘What did you deserve?’
‘I’ll grow up to become a murderer that never lets a knife out of his hands’.
Dark Patrick turned to the trembling queen and ordered her:
‘Send your second son to the best school of medicine. Let him study to become a good surgeon, in case of being a surgeon his knife won’t be the knife of a murderer!’
Hardly had he said this, as another raven issued a shrill shout, stretched its wings and flew away through the window.

‘What’s your name?’ he asked the third prince.
‘And what’s your curse?’
‘I’ll become a beggar to live on handouts till my death’.
‘Don’t waste time!’ - Dark Patrick quickly said to the old woman.
‘Send your youngest son to the best seminary. He should become a priest; in this case God will never condemn him for having gratuitous bread!’
Once he said it, as the third raven also issued a shrill shout, spread its wings and got lost in an instant.

Pleasure and patience were slowly filling the royal heart with inner peace and quietness, the old father managed to rise in bed and, out of the blue, he began to cry with happiness seen in his eyes. At that very moment, the fourth and most ominous raven let out a heart-breaking shout that would make any Christian’s hair stand on end, and left the room.

Cromachy’s curse was now fully deceived and therefore, safely avoided by this smart way. Dark Patrick modestly refused all the honors and gifts presented him by the royal family. He also gave up a position of Main Advisor of Connacht that the king himself hopelessly tried to grant him. He said that he was just a poor peasant, no more no less, besides his potato field was already awaiting for his return. He just asked for permission to come back home, and once he received it, he left the castle. One thousands of envious eyes watched him leaving the kingdom, moving toward his little house lost among the Donegal Mountains.


This is an ancient Irish saga. One of those about Dark Patrick’s chronicles.
(Simplified translation from the Russian language)
Russian origin is taken from: “Through the magic ring.” A Book of British Folklore Collection published in the former USSR over 20 years ago


Cromachy of the crows. Old Irish Saga. Read by Amy Rosenberg. The king of Connacht was said to be a kind person and a man of honor, ...