Jack told the lady of how he had rescued the baby from the fairies and taken it home to his wife for safekeeping from them.
Jack Murphy lived in the townland of Leod, near Hilltown. You can see Fitzpatricks’ Quarry buildings rise up about a mile away to your left after you pass the Seven Sisters. That’s Leod.
Here and there a living house doffed a plume of smoke to the new spirit of the morning. The pastures as yet were empty and the other fields still.
The mind’s eye sees it – the spirit of a spring morning – and the instinct senses it, quick as thought: a new presence which was not around the morning before, nor the night before – nor the day before.
The writers to whom he was most attracted at this early stage were Sean O Faolain (whom he always singled out as the best Irish short story writer), Liam O’Flaherty, Frank O’Connor, Peadar O’Donnell and Michael MacLaverty.
Although he was born in Liverpool, Michael had already, by the time he was taken home to Dromintee in 1922, been brought up in an atmosphere of storytelling.
Michael J. Murphy, writer and folklorist, was born in Eden Street, Liverpool , in June 1913 and died at Walterstown, Castlebellingham, Co. Louth, on May 18th 1996.
It was, they agreed, a hasky day but powerful for the time of year and good for getting out the pratties. The three of us were digging them out with spades, gathering at intervals.
Readers here will know of the respect I own for the late Ulster poet John Hewitt and also for the South Armagh folklorist Michael J Murphy.
The following poem was written by Hewitt in tribute to our ‘Last Druid’ Michael J Murphy.
It is entitled The Fairy Thresher.