Another wee story from Ballygullion – Lynn Doyle
The minit I clapped eyes on the baste I knowed there was an unlucky look about him.
But if there was bad luck wi’ him sure the most av it fell his own road. It was this way
I come across him. Wan afthernoon I was workin’ about the yard, whin who should come
intil it but wee Mr. Anthony, the solicitor, an Mr. Harrington av the Bank.
” Good evenin’ to yez both,” sez I ; ” what has sthrayed ye out av Ballygullion the day,
gintlemen ? ”
” Pat,” sez Mr. Anthony, ” are ye on for a night’s sport ? ”
That’ll depend,” sez I.
I wasn’t goin’ to let on what I’d do till I knowed what they were afther. For if it’s
shootin’, sez I to meself, I’m otherwise engaged.
Mr. Anthony’s as dacint a wee man as iver stepped, divil recave the betther ; but a bigger
ould dundherhead niver wint out wi’ a gun in his fist. Between his short sight, an’ his ram-
stam way av runnin’ at things, it was the danger av your life to go within a mile av him.
Didn’t he blow in the end windy av the Presbyterian meetin’-house wan prayer-meetin’
night in the month av May, thryin’ to shoot a crow off ould Major Dennison’s tombstone in
the buryin’ ground outside ; an wanst he thrailed me two miles to Ballybreen bog afther
a flock av wild geese he said he seen, an’ before I could stop him he killed ould Mrs. Murphy’s
gandher that lives in Drumcrow, an’ had to pay her a cowld pound, forbye a new gandher he
So whin he sez ” Are ye on for a night?” thinks I, I’ll know what yez are afther
“Well, Pat,” sez he, “Mr. Harrington an’ me has planned to have a night’s rabbit-nettin’
up at Mr. Hastings’s at The Warren ”
” Is it mad yez are ? ” sez I. ” Sure ye’ll be right foment the house, an’ the ould gintle-
man’ll hear the first bark ; an’ doesn’t the whole counthryside know he’s a fair lunatic
” Aye, but,” sez Mr. Anthony, ” we’ve got a silent dog.”
“A what?” sez I.
” A silent dog,” sez he. ” A dog, Pat,” sez he, ” that’ll hunt rabbits, or rats aye or cats,”
sez he, ” an’ niver even give a whine. I have him chained to the gate here.”
Wi’ that he goes round the corner an fetches back a dog on a chain.
” There he is, Pat,” sez he ; ” an’ you wouldn’t get a bark out av him if you thried
him for a month.”
” Faith,” sez I ” it’s well he’s some good points about him, for be me sowl he’s no
An’ nayther he was ; a low-set, crooked-legged baste, wi’ a dirty brown coat, an’ a wee
bunty tail. Wan av his ears was half tore off”,an’ he’d lost two teeth in the front.
” An’ what do you think about it, Mr. Harrington ? ” sez I.
Between ourselves, Mr. Harrington was supposed to be coortin’ the youngest wan av
the Miss Hastings’s, an’ 1 thought it a quare thing if he’d run the risk av a. row wi’ the ould
fellow for the sake av a night’s sport.
” There’ll be Ould Nick himself to pay if we’re catched, an’ that’ll be no good till any av
us,” sez I, lookin’ hard at him.
” Oh ! I know rightly what ye mane, Pat,” sez he, ” but it doesn’t matther. The ould
fellow an’ me has fell out,” sez he, savage-like,” an’ I don’t mind the chance av a row if I can
spite him a bit.”
” I’m wi’ you there,” sez I ; ” for he’s no friend av mine. But what about the dog. Can
yez depend on him not to bark ? ” sez I.
” I tell ye, man,” sez Mr. Anthony, ” he’ll not bark. Hit him a kick,” sez he, ” an’ see
if he even whines.”
” Hit him a welt yourself, Mr. Anthony,” sez I ; “he knows you betther nor me.” For
there was a quare glitther’ in the baste’s eye I didn’t like.
So Mr. Anthony fetches him a lick wi’ the toe av his boot ; an’ wi’ that the dog turns on
him, an’ without even a girn, catches him be the ball av the leg, an* houlds on like grim
death, worryin’ at him. Mr. Anthony he lets a screech an’ begins to pull away from the dog.
” Haul him off, Pat ! ” sez he, I’m bit till the bone ! Kick the brute. Why don’t ye
pull him off, Archie ? ” sez he, dancin’ round on wan leg an’ cursin’ like a haythen.
As luck would have it, he’d on a pair of them putty leggin’s, an’ the dog only had his
teeth in wan av them ; an’ afther the first fright, whin we seen he wasn’t likely to be
hurt, Mr. Barrington an’ myself couldn’t do nothin’ for the laughin’, till Mr. Anthony was
” What the divil,” sez he, ” are yez grinnin’ at, ye pair av monkeys ? Pull him off quick,
or he’ll be through to me leg.”
So I lifts a bit of a stick, an’ hits the dog two or three lundhers wid it ; but divil a bit
would he let go.
” He’s a terrible hoult, anyway, Mr. Anthony,” sez I. ” What’ll I do wi’ him at
all, at all ? ”
” Bate him over the head wi’ a stone,” sez he.
” I’ll hurt the baste,” sez I, if I do.”
” 1 don’t give a damn,” sez he, ” if ye kill him. Get him off anyhow,” sez he.
So I ups wi a stone an’ runs over till the pair av thim ; an’ whin the dog seen me comin’ wi’
the stone, he lets go Mr. Anthony’s leg all av a suddint an’ turns sharp on me. Mr. Anthony,
he was pullin’ the other way, an’ whin the dog let go he went on his hands an’ knees intil the
sheugh, an’ I took a run-race an’ got up on the ditch, thinkin’ I felt the baste’s teeth in me leg
Whin I looked over my shouldher I seen Mr. Barrington had him be the chain.
” More power to ye, Mr. Barrington,” sez I ; ” it’s well ye were there, for I’ve no leggin’s on,
an’ if he’d got me he’d ‘a massacred me.”
” He’s safe enough, now, Pat,” sez he, ” come on down.”
So I come down an’ give Mr. Anthony a pull out of the sheugh.
I thought Mr. Barrington would have died laughin’ at him ; an’ in troth it was small
wondher, * for he was a shockin’ sight wi’gutthers an’ clay. But for all that he wasn’t a
” Ye may laugh, Archie,” sez he ; ” but the dog didn’t give a squeak anyhow. Ye’re satis-
fied av that.”
” Oh, I’m quite satisfied,” sez Mr. Barrington. ” I think we can depend on him. Anyway,
I’ll not bother thryin’ him,” sez he.
So we trysted to meet the nixt night at Mr.Anthony’s gate, as bein’ the handiest place for
all parties ; for it’s about half-roads between me an’ Ballygullion, an’ just across the river on the
other side av the county road an’ you’re in the Warren grounds. I was to bring me nets.
It was a gran’ moonlight night when I left home, an’ when I come to Mr. Anthony’s gate
the two av them was there wi’ the dog.
Mr. Anthony was in great heart.
“We couldn’t have picked a betther night,” sez he. “We’ll be able to see what we’re doin .
” Aye, an’ the rabbits’ll be able to see what we’re doin’ too,” sez I. ” There’s no good
startin’ till it clouds over a bit.” It was risin’ a bit cloudy behind the wind, an’ I knowed the
moon would be soon covered.
” Maybe you’re right,” sez Mr. Anthony. ” I’ll tell you what I’ll do while we’re waitin’.
I’ll run back an’ get the air-gun,” sez he’. “It’ll make no noise, an’ I -might get a shot at
a rabbit. Hould the dog, Archie, till I come back.”
” If ye take my advice,” sez I, ” ye’ll let the gun alone.”
But he never listened to me, an’ made off up the avenue at a trot, lavin’ Mr. Barrington an’
me standin’ there’.
Mr. Barrington was very heavy an’ down, an’ said nothin’, but kept suckin’ away at the
pipe ; not like himself at all ; for he’s mostly full av jokes an’ fun, an’ ready to laugh at
” What’s up between yourself an’ Mr. Hastings above, Mr. Barrington,” sez I, ” if
it’s not bould av me to ask?”
“Nothin’ much, Pat,” sez he. “Only I spoke till him about what ye know, an’ he’s
forbid me the house.”
” The ould upstart,” sez he between his teeth till himself, ” because av his dirty money turnin’
up his nose at a man whose gran’-father was a gintleman when his was carryin’ a hod.”
Ye must know the Hastings made their money in the buildin’ line, an’ none av them was very
much before the present man.
” What need ye care,” sez I, ” about the ould fellow at all, at all, if the young lady an’ you
has made it up ?”
“Oh, it’s willin’ enough she’d be (the darlin’!” sez he under his breath) ; “but I’d
be a nice hound to ask her to marry me on two hundhred an’ fifty a year.”
” Divil moan her,” sez I, ” if she niver gets a man wi’ more. Sure I’ve brought up a wife
an’ family on the fift’ av it.”
Mr. Barrington he laughs a bit at that, an just thin Mr. Anthony comes up an’ stops the
” The moon’s well hid, now,” sez he ; we’ll make a start.”
So we crossed the river an’ took to the fields,an’ afther half a mile av a walk we come to the
plantin’ below the big house. There’s about fifteen acres av it in a sort of half-moon, then a
big stretch of grass land they call the lawn, right up to the hall-door, wi’ an odd big tree
in it here an’ there. The upper end av the plantin’s fair alive wi’ rabbit-holes, an’ av a fine
night the rabbits does be feedin’ on the law in hundhreds. Our schame was to run the nest
along in front of the holes, an’ thin get round an’ let the dog loose to scare the rabbits intil them.
As soon as we got the nets set we slipped round to the horn av the plantin’, close up to
the house. Mr. Anthony puts the end av the chain he had the dog on in my hand.
” Now, Pat,” sez he, ” you hould the dog in till we get to the middle av the lawn, an’ I’ll
maybe get a shot,” sez he, puttin’ a pellet in the air-gun.
” Ye ould fool,” thinks I, ” wi’ your popgun ; it’s well if ye don’t lame somebody.”
For his hands was in such a thrimmle wi’ narvousness that he could hardly snap the breech.
Howiver, out we moves, an’ just thin, as ill-luck would have it, out comes the moon.
” Bad cess to ye,” sez I, cc ye ould divil ye,weren’t ye all right behind there, but ye must
come out an’ spoil sport.”
But Mr. Anthony was well plazed.
” Wheesht, Pat,” sez he, ” I see wan.”
Wi’ that he puts his foot in a rabbit-hole, an down he slaps on his face, an’ the gun snaps
an’ pins the dog in the side somewhere.
Maybe it was more than mortial baste could stan’, for thim wee pellets is cruel, but anyway
the dog sets up the horridest howlin’ ye iver heard, an’ I was that taken in at him I dhropped
the chain an’ let him go.
An’ thin the fun began, Mr. Anthony rippin’ an’ cursin’ an* spittin’ out bits av grass, an’ the
silent dog runnin’ round an’ round in rings an’ yowlin’ murther, wi’ the chain rattlin’ behind
him like a tinker’s cart.
Mr. Barrington, divil miss him, but he’d see fun in it, he begins to laugh.
” For a silent dog, Anthony,” sez he, ” he’s makin’ a brave noise.”
” Shut up, ye fool,” sez Mr. Anthony, as mad as you like, ” an’ catch the brute. Be the
mortial,” sez he, ” if I catch him, I’ll make a silent dog av him.”
But the divil a catch him could we do ; an the more we went near him the louder he yelled.
” We’d better run,” sez I ; ” the house’ll be up.”
But I didn’t spake in time. All av a suddint the big front door opens wi’ a clatther.
” Come on, men,” I hears in ould Mr. Hastings’s voice. ” Scatther across the lawn,
an’ ye can’t miss the blackguards.”
Ye niver seen three men run faster than we did for that plantin’.
Divil a much laughin* there was in Mr. Barrington then.
” If we’re caught, Pat,” sez he, as he run, ” I’m done entirely. I’ll be disgraced for iver,”
” We’ll not be caught,” sez I, as well as I could wi’ thryin’ to keep up wi’ him. ” Sure
we’ve over three hundhred yards av a start. Look out for the nets ! ” sez I.
But wee Mr. Anthony was runnin’ like a red-shank ten yards in front av us, an’ niver heard
me. The net just took him on the shin-bone, an’ he riz about two feet in the air, an’ lit on
his belly on the plantin’ ditch wi’ a sough. Whin we got up till him he could hardly spake.
” Up wi’ you, quick, Anthony,” sez Mr. Barrington.
” I can’t,” sez he wi’ a groan or two ; ” me heart’s bursted,” sez he.
” Not a bit av it,” sez Mr. Barrington, feelin’ him ; ” it’s only your braces.”
” Come on, Mr. Anthony,” sez I, ” you’re not bate yet.” But he couldn’t move.
” Run yourselves, boys,” sez he, in a kind av a whisper.
” Come on, sir,” sez 1 to Mr. Barrington, ” they’ll be on us in a minit.”
The words wasn’t right out av me mouth till he catches me be the throat.
” This way, men,” sez he, at the top av his voice ; ” I’ve got wan o’ the villains.”
” It’s not goin’ to sell me, ye are, Mr. Barrington,” sez I.
” Hit me a good knock wi’ your fist in the face, Pat,” sez he. ” Quick, man !”
“Be me sowl will I,” sez I, “if ye don’t let go-”
” I won’t let go till ye do,” sez he.
” Here goes thin,” sez I to meself. ” It’s a quare business anyway, but if ye’ve sould me
ye desarve it, an’ if ye haven’t, sure ye asked for it yourself ; an’ wi’ that I fetches him wan on
the right cheek-bone would ha’ felled a bullock, an’ off I goes like the divil, lavin’ him where
I was away safe an’ well, for the moon was hid again, an’ it was gey an’ dark ; but I hadn’t
run above a hundhred yards till I come on that unfortunate divil av a dog whimperin’ in the
bushes. He took till his heels whin he heard me comin’ an’ kep’ in front av me about ten or
fifteen yards ; an’ if he’d been silent all his days before, be me sowl he made up for it that
night, for the gowls av him was lamentable.
“The divil choke ye, anyway,” sez I, when I’d run near a quarther av a mile an’ him niver
stopped ; ” for if I’m not catched it’s no fault of yours.” I stopped a minit to get me wind,
an’ at first I thought there was nobody follyin’ ; but thin I hears ould Billy the game-keeper’s
“This way, boys,” sez he. “They’re not away from us yet ; I hear their dog.”
” An’ divil thank ye,” sez I to meself ; “sure ould Pether of the Bog could hear him, that’s
been stone deaf this fifteen years.”
So away I goes again, wi’ the dog in front av me, him yowlin’ an’ guldherin’ harder than iver,
thinkin’ I was comin’ to kill him fair out this time. But whin he comes to the river bank,
he takes down the sthrame nixt Ballygullion.
“Good-bye, me darlin’,” sez I, an’ I off up the sthrame as hard as I could belt. Before I’d
gone very far, I hears a sound av men runnin’, an’ thin a shout or two down the sthrame, an’
a couple av shots, an’ then nothin.’ But I niver stopped till I was at home an’ in me bed.
All night long I lay wondherin’ what could have come on Mr. Barrington. The more I
thought about it the more it looked like some thrick, but divil a bit av me could see through it.
” Howaniver,” thinks I, I’ll lie low,” an’ I keeps to the house for a week, lettin’ on I’d a
cowld ; till on market day the wife comes home from Ballygullion in a terrible flutther.
” Did ye hear about the poachin’ at Mr. Hastings’s, Pat?” sez she.
” Holy Pether,” says I to meself, ” I’m done.”
“What poachin’, Molly ?” sez I.
” Sure,” says she, ” poachers broke intil Mr. Hastings’s on last Tuesda’ night, above ten
av thim, to thrap his rabbits, an’ Mr. Barrington, of the Bank, an’ Mr. Anthony, the soli-
citor, follyed thim to catch thim an’ got nearly killed. Wee Mr. Anthony’s been in bed iver
since, an’ Mr. Barrmgton has a face like a prize-fighter.
” Ould Mr. Hastings’s tarrible plazed about thim both. They say he’s promised
Mr. Anthony the agency av the estate whin ould Jenkins dies, an’ there’s a sough in the
town that Mr. Barrington’s goin’ to marry Miss Anne.”
Thin I seen the whole thing in a wink.
” Well done yourself, Mr. Barrington,” thinks I, ” sure you’re the able one. Thrust you to
get out av a hole, if ye were up till the neck in it.”
“I’ll just slip down to the town, Molly,” sez 1, “an’ hear all about it.”
Whin I got intil Ballygullion I sends a message till the Bank to Mr. Barrington, askin’
him if he could step down the length of the bridge to see a couple of ferrets I had, just for
Prisintly down he comes, an’ in troth I hardly knowed him.
There was a big lump av stickin’-plasther above his right eye, an’ the whole cheek was all
puffed up, an’ as yellow as a duck’s foot.
” Aye, ye ould reprobate,” sez he, catchin’ me look ; ” ye see the hand ye’ve made av me.”
“Sure,” sez I, “ye brought it on yourself. Didn’t ye ask me to hit ye.”
” I didn’t tell ye to hit me such a skelp,” sez he. ” You’ve loosened every tooth in me head,
an’ I’ve been livin’ on slops an’ mashes for a week past. But niver mind, Pat,” sez he,
” I’ve had good luck out of it. There’s no wan would think I got an eye like this from a
” Be me sowl, Mr. Barrington,” sez I, ” ye’re a cliver wan. Ye’ve bamboozled the ould
gintleman finely, wi’ your ten poachers. An’ is it true what they’re sayin’ about the young
lady an’ you ?”
“True enough, Pat,” sez he. “We’re to be married within three months. The ould fellow
has behaved uncommon handsome, an’ I feel a mane baste for deceivin’ him. But anyhow,
1 tould Anne Miss Hastings,” sez he, gettin’ very red where his face wasn’t yellow.
“An’ what did she say, Mr. Barrington?” sez I.
“Whin she’d done laughin’,” sez he, “she tould me to tell ye ye’d niver want a day’s
shootin’ in The Warren as long as she could put in a word for ye ; an’ she’s goin’ to get the
best kennel in Ireland for the dog. Have ye any notion what’s become av him ?”
” Divil a bit av me knows,” sez I.
Wi’ that I sees somethin’ comin’ floatin’ down the river.
“Be the mortial, Mr. Barrington,” sez I, whin I’d looked at it a minit. “It’s him!”
“What ?” sez Mr. Barrington. “What is it, Pat?” sez he.
“The dog,” sez I, pointin’.
” Not a bit av it,” sez he, ” that’s twice the size.”
” Maybe he’s a bit swelled,” sez I ; an whin it floated down the length av the bridge, sure
enough it was himself.
Mr. Barrington stands lookin’ at him till I war near turned, for in troth he was smellin’
higher nor a daisy.
” Come on, Pat,” sez he, at the last, turnin’ away. ” I’m sorry the poor baste’s killed, for
he done me a good turn, an’ I can’t return him another wan now. But I’ll send down some-
body to fish him out an’ give him a dacint burial
It’s all ye can do for him, Mr. Harrington,” sez I . ” Rest his sowl, if he has wan, though
I did lose two good rabbit-nets be him, he’s a silent dog now, anyway.”
It’s a brave while ago since it all happened, an’ Mr. Harrington an’ the wife, Miss Hastings
that was, is in Dublin now, in the big Bank there ; but to this day there’s a wee headstone
in the Bank garden at Ballygullion, wi’ words on it that has bothered the whole countryside
but me an’ Mr. Anthony :
“In Loving Memory of the Silent Dog”