Letitia McClintock

fl.1857-81; [M’Clintock; var. Maclintock]; Donegal writer associated with Dunmore, Kilrea; author of fairy-tales; contrib. to The Dublin University Magazine in 1878, and Belgravia, et al.; also wrote A Boycotted House (1881), an anti-Land League novel; her some of her Donegal fairy-lore stories were included by Yeats in his Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888). IF OCIL

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Seven Irish Tales (1857), ill., Eifriede Abbe; incls. T. C. Croker, Patrick Kennedy, Letitia Maclintock [ltd. edn. 275]; A Boycotted Household (1881).

[ See listing of MacClintock stories anthologised and online - infra. ] mps

Audio-recording: Roy Trumbull reads “Jamie Freel and the Young Lady” at Storyspieler online - as mp3. Note: On Halloween Jamie Freel accompanies the wee folk as they fly to Dublin and steal a young lady and leave behind a stick which assumes the shape of her corpse. Jamie rescues her and eventually is able to brings her back to her family who are convinced she is dead. (See Internet Archive - online; accessed 10.01.2012.)

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W. B. Yeats writes: ‘Miss Maclintock writes accurately and beautifully the half Scotch dialect of Ulster’ and remarks that, with Douglas Hyde, she has ‘published, so far, nothing in book shape’ (Intro., Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry [1888]; rep. in Robert Welch, ed., W. B. Yeats, Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth, Penguin 1993, p.5.)

Charles Welsh, “Irish Fairy and Folk Tales” [intro. essay], in Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin MacCarthy, Vol. III, (Philadelphia: John Morris & Company 1904): ‘Miss MacLintock [sic] has published many tales in various periodicals during the past twenty years; a period which has been remarkably fruitful in active workers in this hitherto comparatively untilled field.’ (p.xxii.)

Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘Between 1880 and 1890, numerous “land” novels appeared, in which contemporary facts and the conventions of fiction find, however, an often-uneasy combination. One of the first was A Boycotted Household (1881) by Letitia McClintock, published in London by the influential Smith and Elder publication house (also publishers of Matthew Arnold), and detailing the ‘reign of terror’ experienced by a landlord’s family between late 1879 and early 1881, together with the boycotting of one of their tenants.’ (p.479.)

Margaret Kelleher (‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, 2006) - cont.: ‘[... The influential London journal The Athenaeum expressed its unease concerning this very combination of politics and sentimental fiction [in Fannie Gallaher, Rosa Mulholland and McClintock]; as its reviewer wryly observed, “Certain it is that, while dealing liberally in siege and arson and murder, Mrs McClintock has not refrained from mere flirtation, and that two of her girls are mated and married ere the Land Bill passes, and the curtain falls.” (Review of A Boycotted Household, in Athenaeum, 17 Sept. 1881, p.365.) Yet, read from another perspective, these novels attest to an important political role played in this period by domestic fiction, with implications that may belie the usual operations of the genre. If domestic fiction seeks, in Nancy Armstrong’s words, to unfold “the operations of human desire as if they were independent of political history”, in these novels sexual and political relations remain hopelessly entangled, and the fate of individuals’ desires inseparable from Ireland’s political future.’ (p.480.) [For full text, go to RICORSO Library, “Classic Irish Criticism”, via index, or as attached.]

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Stories by Miss Letitia McClintock included in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, ed. W. B. Yeats (1888)
A Donegal Fairy

Ay, it’s a bad thing to displeasure the gentry, sure enough — they can be unfriendly if they’re angered, an’ they can be the very best o’ gude neighbours if they’re treated kindly.
  My mother’s sister was her lone in the house one day, wi’ a big pot o’ water boiling on the fire, and ane o’ the wee folk fell down the chimney, and slipped wi’ his leg in the hot water.
 He let a terrible squeal out o’ him, an’ in a minute the house was full o’ wee crathurs pulling him out o’ the pot, an’ carrying him across the floor.
 “Did she scald you?” my aunt heard them saying to him.
 “Na, na, it was mysel’ scalded my ainsel’,” quoth the wee fellow.
 “A weel, a weel,” says they. “If it was your ainsel scalded yoursel’, we’ll say nothing, but if she had scalded you, we’d ha’ made her pay.”

—W. B. Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales [...] (1888) in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics > W. B. Yeats” - via index, or as attached.

Jamie Freel and the Young Lady

[ Details; “Jamie Freel and the Young Lady: A Donegal Tale”, by Miss Letitia Maclintock, in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, ed. W. B. Yeats (Walter Scott 1888), pp.53-59. ]

Down in Fannet, in times gone by, lived Jamie Freel and his mother. Jamie was the widow’s sole support; his strong arm worked for her untiringly, and as each Saturday night came round, he poured his wages into her lap, thanking her dutifully for the halfpence which she returned him for tobacco.
 He was extolled by his neighbours as the best son ever known or heard of. But he had neighbours, of whose opinion he was ignorant - neighbours who lived pretty close to him, whom he had never seen, who are, indeed, rarely seen by mortals, except on May eves and Halloweens.
 An old ruined castle, about a quarter of a mile from his cabin, was said to be the abode of the “wee folk”. Every Halloween were the ancient windows lighted up, and passers-by saw little figures flitting to and fro inside the building, while they heard the music of pipes and flutes.
 It was well known that fairy revels took place; but nobody had the courage to intrude on them.
 Jamie had often watched the little figures from a distance, and listened to the charming music, wondering what the inside of the castle was like; but one Halloween he got up and took his cap, saying to his mother, “I’m awa’ to the castle to seek my fortune.”
 “What!” cried she, “would you venture there? you that’s the poor widow’s one son! Dinna be sae venturesome an’ foolitch, Jamie! They’ll kill you, an’ then what’ll come o’ me?”
 “Never fear, mother; nae harm ’ill happen me, but I maun gae.”

—W. B. Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales [...] (1888) in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics > W. B. Yeats” - via index, or as attached.

Far Darrig in Donegal

Pat Diver, the tinker, was a man well-accustomed to a wandering life, and to strange shelters; he had shared the beggar’s blanket in smoky cabins; he had crouched beside the still in many a nook and corner where poteen was made {91} on the wild Innishowen mountains; he had even slept on the bare heather, or on the ditch, with no roof over him but the vault of heaven; yet were all his nights of adventure tame and commonplace when compared with one especial night.
 During the day preceding that night, he had mended all the kettles and saucepans in Moville and Greencastle, and was on his way to Culdaff, when night overtook him on a lonely mountain road.
 He knocked at one door after another asking for a night’s lodging, while he jingled the halfpence in his pocket, but was everywhere refused.
 Where was the boasted hospitality of Innishowen, which he had never before known to fail? It was of no use to be able to pay when the people seemed so churlish. Thus thinking, he made his way towards a light a little farther on, and knocked at another cabin door.
 An old man and woman were seated one at each side of the fire.
 “Will you be pleased to give me a night’s lodging, sir?” asked Pat respectfully.
 “Can you tell a story?” returned the old man.
 “No, then, sir, I canna say I’m good at story-telling,” replied the puzzled tinker.
 “Then you maun just gang farther, for none but them that can tell a story will get in here.”

—W. B. Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales [...] (1888) in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics > W. B. Yeats” - via index, or as attached.

Grace Connor

Thady and Grace Connor lived on the borders of a large turf bog, in the parish of Clondevaddock, where they could hear the Atlantic surges thunder in upon the shore, and see the wild storms of winter sweep over the Muckish mountain, {131} and his rugged neighbours. Even in summer the cabin by the bog was dull and dreary enough.
 Thady Connor worked in the fields, and Grace made a livelihood as a pedlar, carrying a basket of remnants of cloth, calico, drugget, and frieze about the country. The people rarely visited any large town, and found it convenient to buy from Grace, who was welcomed in many a lonely house, where a table was hastily cleared, that she might display her wares. Being considered a very honest woman, she was frequently entrusted with commissions to the shops in Letterkenny and Ramelton. As she set out towards home, her basket was generally laden with little gifts for her children.
 “Grace, dear,” would one of the kind housewives say, “here’s a farrel [16] of oaten cake, wi’ a taste o’ butter on it; tak’ it wi’ you for the weans,” or, “Here’s half-a-dozen of eggs; you’ve a big family to support.”
 Small Connors of all ages crowded round the weary mother, to rifle her basket of these gifts. But her thrifty, hard life came suddenly to an end. She died after an illness of a few hours, and was waked and buried as handsomely as Thady could afford.
 Thady was in bed the night after the funeral, and the fire still burned brightly, when he saw his departed wife across the room and bend over the cradle. Terrified, he muttered rapid prayers, covered his face with the blanket; and on looking up again the appearance was gone.
 Next night he lifted the infant out of the cradle, [...]

—W. B. Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales [...] (1888) in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics > W. B. Yeats” - via index, or as attached.

Bewitched Butter (Donegal)
Miss Letitia MacClintock

Not far from Rathmullen lived, last spring, a family called Hanlon; and in a farm-house, some fields distant, people named Dogherty. Both families had good cows, but the Hanlons were fortunate in possessing a Kerry cow that gave more milk and yellower butter than the others.
 Grace Dogherty, a young girl, who was more admired than loved in the neighbourhood, took much interest in the Kerry cow, and appeared one night at Mrs. Hanlon’s door with the modest request —
 “Will you let me milk your Moiley cow?”
 “An’ why wad you wish to milk wee Moiley, Grace, dear,” inquired Mrs. Hanlon.
 “Oh, just becase you’re sae throng at the present time.”
 “Thank you kindly, Grace, but I’m no too throng to do my ain work. I’ll no trouble you to milk.”
 The girl turned away with a discontented air; but the next evening, and the next, found her at the cow-house door with the same request. {150}
 At length Mrs. Hanlon, not knowing well how to persist in her refusal, yielded, and permitted Grace to milk the Kerry cow.
 She soon had reason to regret her want of firmness. Moiley gave no milk to her owner.
 When this melancholy state of things lasted for three days, the Hanlons applied to a certain Mark McCarrion, who lived near Binion.
 “That cow has been milked by someone with an evil eye,” said he. “Will she give you a wee drop, do you think? The full of a pint measure wad do.”
 “Oh, ay, Mark, dear; I’ll get that much milk frae her, any way.”
 “Weel, Mrs. Hanlon, lock the door, an’ get nine new pins that was never used in clothes, an’ put them into a saucepan wi’ the pint o’ milk. Set them on the fire, an’ let them come to the boil.”
 The nine pins soon began to simmer in Moiley’s [19] milk.
 Rapid steps were heard approaching the door, agitated knocks followed, and Grace Dogherty’s high-toned voice was raised in eager entreaty.
 “Let me in, Mrs. Hanlon!” she cried. “Tak off that cruel pot! Tak out them pins, for they’re pricking holes in my heart, an’ I’ll never offer to touch milk of yours again.”

—W. B. Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales [...] (1888) in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics > W. B. Yeats” - via index, or as attached.

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1] W. B. Yeats, ed., Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (Walter Scott 1888), contains “A Donegal Fairy” (p.46); “Jamie Freel and the Young Lady: A Donegal Tale” (pp.53-59 - as attached); “Far Darrig in Donegal” (ibid., p.90-93), and “Grace Connor” (ibid., p.130-32), and “Bewitched Butter” (ibid., p.149-50).

[ See Yeats’s anthology in RICORSO Library > “Irish Classics > W. B. Yeats” - via index, or direct. ]

2] Rosemary Gray, ed. & sel., Irish Ghost Stories (Wordsworth Editions 2005), incls. “Far Darrig in Donegal” and “Jamie Freel and the Young Lady: A Donegal Tale” [available online; accessed 10.01.2012].

3] The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Vol. IV: “Irish Women’s Writing and Traditions” (2002), incls. “Jamie Freel and the Young Lady: A Donegal Tale” (1909) on p.1169ff.

4] Lindel Buckley reprints “Grace Connor” - at Donegal Genealogy Resources > “Works of Letitia McClintock, Dunmore, Kilrea” [online; accessed 10.01.2012]. Note: This is the tale of a woman, the title character, who returns from the grave to haunt her husband and divulges to other women her concern about unpaid debts. The whole (which incorporates a footnote on farrel, farll, farli, or parli (i.e., griddle bread) - is given in newspaper column facsimile style. (Extract: “Thady Connor worked in the fields, and Grace made a livelihood as a pedlar, carrying a basket of remnants of cloth, calico, dugget, and frieze about the country[.]’ No other works are given and no biography cited.


Also ...

See Louth online webpage for stories by Laetitia Maclintock [sic]: “Far Darrig” “Jamie Freel and the Young Lady” “Grace Connor” “The Donegal Fairy”.
Louth on Line > McClintock [link; accessed 05.09.2008; unavailable at 10.01.2012].


Influence on Yeats: Mary Helen Thuente characterises Letitia McClintock as a folklorist and an influential source for W. B. Yeats. (See Thuente, W. B. Yeats and Irish Folklore, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1980.) See also citation in Irish Booklore, 3, 1 [q.d.].

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