Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/261

This page needs to be proofread.

Ghost Lights of the West Highlands. 237

" On John's festival will come an onslaught Which will reach Ireland from the south-east, A fierce dragon that will burn everyone it reaches, Without communion, without sacrifice."

The words used for " fierce dragon " are draic lond. This dragon is in the prose attached to these stanzas described as a besom. The comparison to a besom is evidently- derived from the appearance the meteor has as described in an extract from the Scotsman newspaper, which will be found at the end of this paper.

We find the same description of dragons in Silesian folk- belief ; thus Professor Vogt :^

" Silesian folk-belief knows them as wealth-distributing ghostly beings. The gold-dragon flies to his favourites in the form of a broom with a fiery tail."

We learn from the " Annals of Tigernach " - that about A.D. 734, "Draco ingens in fine autumni cum tonitruo magno post se visus est." This proves at any rate that dragons as such, and connected with thunder and lightning, have been spoken of by the Gael from probably the Xlth century. It is interesting to note that Mr. Colin Livingstone in a paper on " Lochaber Place Names," in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, vol. xiii. p. 268, calls attention to the spelling of Loch Treig. He says there is no meaning which is intelligible in translating the name "forsaken," but that the " loch of the meteor " seems to him more probably correct.

Not in Ireland and Scotland alone are dracs connected with water. Gervase of Tilbury tells us of a woman whom he had himself met, who was carried down by a " drac " below the waters of the Rhone and made to nurse his son.

' Am Ur-Quell, vol. vi. p. 196. [A besom with a fiery head is also one of the forms under which the Lettish Puhkis appears. See Auning, Ueber den lettischen Drachen-Mythiis {Puhkis), Mitau, 1892. Ed.]

- Third fragment, Revue Celtique, vol. xvii. p. 239, Whitley Stokes.