This couple had a wee holding in the West of Ireland and a locka acres of land, a small house and in the first year of their marriage they had a baby. very long ago!
The baby cried and girned, and girned and cried and gave them no peace at all. A month went by and still the baby didn’t get any bigger in the cradle and the woman’s heart was broke with it and she didn’t know what she was going to do.
This day anyway she was going outside and Paddy, the man of the house, was in the kitchen and the ‘boy’ sat up in the cradle and says, ‘Give us down the fiddle for a tune’. The fiddle was hanging up in the breast of the chimney. Paddy was amazed and took the fiddle down and handed it to him.
Ah ye talk about a fiddler, Sean Maguire wouldn’t be in it! He could make the fiddle talk! Paddy stood aghast for he couldn’t play at all; the fiddle had belonged to his father. The woman of the house was coming in after hanging up the clothes on the line and the ‘boy’ heard her. ‘Here!’ he says. ‘I bet you it’s the aul one coming! Hang it up on the wall again!’ So he took the fiddle off him and hung it back up on the wall.
Says she, ‘I thought I heard music there!’ ‘What sort of music would you hear here?’ he asked. Says she, ‘I thought I heard the fiddle playing’. ‘Sure you know I can’t play the fiddle,’ says he. ‘Unless it played itself.’
The ‘boy’ was in the cradle and him whinging and crying. ‘My heart and soul’s broke with that child!’ says she. But Paddy couldn’t forget about the way he played the fiddle and a day or two afterwards she was down at the shop and Paddy came into the house and the ‘boy’ sat up on his backside in the cradle. ‘Give us down that fiddle, Paddy, for another tune!’ So he gave him the fiddle down and he played a wonderful tune – there wasn’t a fiddle player in the country like him. She came back from the shop anyway and said, ‘I could have swore I heard a fiddle playing!’ ‘Oh no,’ says Paddy, ‘no fiddle playing here. There’s the fiddle hanging on the wall.’
Paddy was out digging spuds in the garden a day or two later and he hit a rock and broke the spade. ‘There you are, Mary. I’ll have to take that down to the blacksmith to get it fixed.’ The ‘boy’ in the cradle looked at him but went on whinging and crying and girning anyway. He took the spade away down to the blacksmith down the road and got a new shaft put on the spade and brought it back and stood it at the back of the dure, but whenever Mary went out the ‘boy’ in the cradle jumped up and said, ‘Paddy, show us the spade!’ So Paddy showed him the spade. He looked it up and down and back and forrards. ‘He should have done this with it’. And, ‘He should have done that with it!’ He knew all the things that the blacksmith should have done. ‘He made a very poor job of that!’ he said. ‘Take it back to him and tell him what to do with it’. And he told Paddy all the things that needed fixing. Then he said, ‘Give us the fiddle for a tune.’ So Paddy took it down and he played a couple of tunes on it. Then Mary came in and she says, ‘I don’t know! I’m all the time hearing music.’
‘Well, all the music I hear is from the child whinging and girning in his cradle,’ says Paddy. ‘He never gives over!’ So that was all right. Paddy took the spade to the blacksmith and told him all the things that should be done. The blacksmith said, ‘Who toul ye that?” And he toul him.
“That’s not your own chile ye have there at all, but a changling!
I’ll tell you what you do. Go home and get him to play a tune. And while he’s playing, you stare out the window, and suddenly say : ” Well, b’the hel’ a God, there’s a big fire beyond at the forth – then watch him moving!
Well, to make a long story short, he does as he’s told. And doesn’t the thing that was playing the fiddle, throw it to the ground, and dances in anger!
“Me house! Me forge! They’re ruined!: And off he sped, and was never seen nor heard of again. And didn’t yet man’s own child appear back in the cradle!