In the townland of Aughacurín, Ballaghaderreen, there is a pool or a very small lake called ‘Poillín a Bhric’. It is supposed to be connected by an underground river that runs north to ‘Lissian Well’, about four miles away.
A farmer named Gallagher owns the land on which this pool is. It is a very good place for trout, perch, and pike although it is not more than 30 yards in diameter.
Some years ago Gallagher’s grandfather had a very fine mare. She used to graze on the lands around the pool. One winter, he was very surprised to notice that she was carrying a foal as he did not take her to any stud and he knew full well that there was no stud within a good distance of his place. Early in spring, his mare had a beautiful foal. He was terribly puzzled.
Next year again the mare had a foal and he was still more and more puzzled. The first foal was promising to be a very fine young mare and seemed to have the breed of a thoroughbred hunter. The third year his mare had still another foal. He thought so much over the mystery of the thing that he told an old man who lived nearby.
The old man was not surprised. He told Gallagher not to worry but to be proud that he would soon have a big number of the finest horses in the country. ‘Do you not know?’ said he, that the fairy horses come up out of ‘Poillín a Bhric’ at night and graze around the place’. Gallagher had not heard that but he began to think that it was true, otherwise, he could not account for the foals. The old man warned Gallagher not to interfere with them or that he would be sorry.
Gallagher however, was a young man at the time and he and his brothers were very fond of horses and could tame the wildest colt in a short time. He told his brothers about the fairy steeds. They decided that they would watch on turns during the nights the following spring.
One night one of the brothers was watching. At about mid-night, he heard a horse neighing near ‘Poillín a Bhric’. He knew that the mare and foals were grazing a hundred yards or more away. The mare and foals neighed in reply. The young man watched closely until he saw the most beautiful steed with shining coat grazing near the pool and the mare and the foals moved towards him. He immediately called his brothers and equipped themselves with ropes, they started for the pool to get between the steed and it.
The boys then thought that they would capture the steed. After a time the steed came towards the pool and as they tried to catch him with their ropes he jumped over their heads at the same time neighing wildly. He jumped into the pool and swam into the centre. He kept neighing until the three foals came galloping madly towards him. They plunged into the pool and the mare after them. All disappeared before the boys could think of what was happening.
Great was their sorrow and grief. Next day, Gallagher told the old man the story. ‘Did I not tell you not to interfere with them and those horses would make you the richest man of your name’, said the old neighbour. “Take your saddle and bridle now and go down to ‘Lissian Well’ and you will likely find your mare but your foals you will never see”. Gallagher did so and when he reached ‘Lissian Well’ there was his mare feeding on the bank of the river into which the well flows. There was no trace of the foals and never since has any of the steeds appeared out of ‘Poillín a Bhric.
Told by Pat Gallagher 75 Years, Aughacurín, Ballaghaderreen.