Myths & Legends-The Friars of Urlur

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A long time ago, the friars were living happily in their monastery on the shore of the lake.

Ireland was experiencing a time of peace and prosperity.

A gentle wind used to blow over the lake, and the people of the surrounding villages were peaceful because the friar's serene life inspired them.

Each year, they gathered on “Pattern Day”, and there was music, singing and dancing. Pipers, harpers, fiddlers, trump players, and bards were used to perform throughout the day.

But a sudden and abrupt change was coming. The evil found his way to the abbey and the lake.

One day, the friars were walking on the shore of the lake when they saw an enormous black boar sitting on a chair carved in stone near the lake's brink.

The boar was terrifying with its long, pointed, and sharp tusks.

At first, the friars thought it was a big water dog before they realised it was a boar. When they came close to it, the big black boar stood up and started to dance and screech for a couple of hours.

Then it jumped into the water of the lake, and soon a violent storm arose, blowing the monastery roof away; enormous waves shook the lake, lighting, thunders and darkness followed. It seemed the end of the world was coming.

The friars returned to the monastery and knelt in prayer, but a boar interrupted them by vomiting a litter of bonhams. The bonhams caused chaos, running and screeching around the abbey like devils.

The terrified friars called for Father Abbot. The Abbot immediately ordered for Holy Water. As soon as he sprinkled the boar and the bonhams with it, they fled; their skin was on fire.

The Abbot and the friars rejoiced, thinking they had triumphed over the evil boar, but, at dawn, they saw the boar sitting on the chair carved in the stone near the shore of the lake.

The Abbot asked for a curragh and Holy Water. Accompanied by two friars, he confronted the boar from the curragh. As soon as he did, the boar leapt into the lake, causing a violent storm and furious waves.

The three men were launched into the air and fell to the ground with broken bones.

They sought help from their bishop, who explained to them that the devil, disguised as a friar, was among them.

He knew how to discover that evil friar and started to call out the name of each friar. Friar Luke

didn’t answer, but when they found him, he entered the abbey, smashed his cross under his feet and fled to the lake laughing eerily.

He ran towards the stone-carved chair. As soon as he threw his friar's clothes into the lake, the boar came to him. His body was as hairy as a goat's. They began to dance on the chair.

The bishop was greatly disappointed with Father Abbot for his failure to recognise the devil in Father Luke. As he was talking, the evil friar appeared, riding the board. He chastised the bishop for failing to recognise him when he was his hound dog and had fed him meat. He then warned the bishop that he would be waiting for him in hell.

With no success, some friars tried to catch the boar and its rider.

They jumped into the lake and screamed so loudly that the bishop and friars became deaf for life.

Since then, they have been called "The Deaf Friars" and, from that day, people started to use a new saying: "You're as deaf as a friar of Urlaur."

The bishop sought help from Saint Gerald, the patron of Mayo.

He told the bishop he would come to the abbey and banish the evil. However, Saint Gerald became ill and was unable to banish the evil as promised.

The friars were desperate but determined to defite the evil.

One night, all the friars had the same dream. They dreamt of a white-clothed woman who said to them that the only man who could banish the evil was the piper, Donagh O’Grady.

He was living in Tavraun, a village nearby, and was more good than all the priests and friars of the county.

Father Abbot had the same dream, too. He said it wasn’t just a dream but a message from God. Soon, he sent two friars to look for the piper.

They found him, half drunk, in the drinking-house of the village. They asked him to come with them to the abbey. He refused because he wanted to be paid. The two friars returned to the monastery without the piper.

The Abbot listened to the friars and gave them some money for the piper.

They went back to the drinking house and paid the piper. He drank some naggins and set off for the abbey with the friars.

At the abbey, the Abbot asked the piper if he had done any good during his life. The piper replied that the only good thing he could recall was giving a tenpenny alm to Mary O’Donnell’s daughter.

The young girl needed ten pennies and was about to sell herself to earn the money.

After realising the gravity of her intended sin, she sought refuge in a convent and lived a pious life until her death. When she was dying, people said angels were playing melodic music.

The abbot told the piper about the evil in the lake and that a woman appeared in their dreams, telling them the only man in power to banish it was him.

He promised him twenty tenpenny pieces, and he banished the evil from the water of the lake.

The piper thought the woman was the young girl he saved from a life of sins.

He asked for a couple of naggins to get some courage. The friars had to go and get them from the village drinking house, as there were no spirits in the monastery.

After drinking his naggins, the piper was ready to face evil.

The friars rang the bell announcing the “ Angel’s Welcome”, and after a short while, the boar and its rider appeared screeching and dancing on the rock.

The piper looked at them and started to play his pipes, and as soon as the boar and the rider heard the sound of the music, they leapt into the lake and tried to reach the piper.

The piper was scared and wanted to run away, but at that moment, a white dove appeared in the sky, shooting lightning at them and killing them.

High waves arose from the lake and threw the boar and its rider on the shore of the lake.

The piper went back to the abbey and told the Abbot and the friars the evil spirit was defeated.

They came out of the monastery and rejoiced, but they didn’t know what to do with the dead bodies.

They paid the piper forty tenpenny, asking him also to get rid of the bodies and to take them far away from the abbey.

With the help of the travellers he found on his way to the village, the piper removed the corpses and buried them in a deep hole miles away from the abbey.

The travellers were paid ten tenpenny for their service. They followed the piper, who played his tune joyfully as they walked to the village.

They stopped at the drinking house and drank till they were fully drunk.

The friars rebuilt the roof of their monastery and lived prosperous years, and the piper died a happy death. According to the people of the area, he went to Heaven for his service to the monastery.

Urlaur ‘Pattern Day’ has been revived in recent years and is held every year on the 4th of August.

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