Well now it must have been around 1991 or 1992. I remember you see as Mary Robinson was still new as President and the German had taken a shine to her.
This German man, don’t ask me his name for I have no chance of remembering that, it’s all I can do to remember my dinner these days, anyway this German fella came over to Cork for to recover from some thing or another. It was some sort of upset anyway he was trying to recuperate from. Why he chose Cork I do not know, but he did.
So he rented the wee cottage down the way from my farm, someways outside of Bantry town. I saw him from most days taking walks and we would pass the time, you know how it is. He was friendly enough. Not interested in taking in the tourist sites or anything like that, and he wasn’t a drinking man, not least in town but who knows what people do behind closed doors and it’s not for me to say.
He must have been here, in the valley just a few weeks. I’d see him walking 2 or 3 times a day, from the fields or my kitchen window you see.
Then this one day I see him rushing toward my house like a mad thing and it must have been around dusk then. Something had hold of him and no doubt. His clothes were sopping and grabbed at me talking gibberish and wouldn’t let go of my arms.
So I sat him down and got him speaking English and he said he had been out since morning walking. Walking and walking, he said he couldn’t stop and couldn’t find his way back.
He was just walking around the same woodland path, through the creek, around a set of trees on that side of the creek, then he’d find himself back at the creek, walk through it to get to the other side, then around the same woodland path and back to the creek.
He was lost he said and every time he thought he figured the way out, he found himself back at the creek. And something telling him his house was on the other side of the creek so he crossed it and so it went over and again.
He was in a feckin torment. Had been going on for hours and hours so he said.
Well I gave it some thought and asked him, “Did you go near the old stones at all?” and he answered yes, he did.
And I told him I said “you don’t want to be going near those old stones. You’re after upsetting the Good Folk there”. Well o’course he had no idea of the Good Folk so I explained to him all I thought he need knowing, it wasn’t much but enough. “They’ve only put the Strey on you” I said, “They play tricks with your mind, get you lost and keep you lost. You can count yourself lucky they didn’t drown you in that creek”.
Well his face fell deathly pale and he made me walk with him, back to his wee house. He packed his bags and left. Right then. I walked with him to the road to Bantry and stood waiting with him until a car pulled up and gave him a ride.
Never saw that German again, poor fella got such a fright. But it’s true you know, what I said, he was lucky to get away with only a dose of the Strey. It could have been worse, much worse.
Barry – County Cork