This section is from the book "Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland", by Jane Francesca Wilde. Also available from Amazon: Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland.
The crickets are believed to be enchanted. People do not like to express an exact opinion about them, so they are spoken of with great mystery and awe, and no one would venture to kill them for the whole world. But they are by no means evil ; on the contrary, the presence of the cricket is considered lucky, and their singing keeps away the fairies at night, who are always anxious, in their selfish way, to have the whole hearth left clear for themselves, that they may sit round the last embers of the fire, and drink the cup of milk left for them by the farmer's wife, in peace and quietness. The crickets are supposed to be hundreds of years old, and their talk, could we understand it, would no doubt be most interesting and instructive.
The beetle is not killed by the people for the following reason : they have a tradition that one day the chief priests sent messengers in every direction to look for the Lord Jesus, and they came to a field where a man was reaping, and asked him-
" Did Jesus of Nazareth pass this way ? "
" No," said the man, " I have not seen Him."
" But I know better," said a little clock running up, " for He was here to-day and rested, and has not long gone away."
"That is false," said a great big black beetle, coming forward ; " He has not passed since yesterday, and you will never find Him on this road ; try another."
So the people kill the clock because he tried to betray Christ ; but they spare the beetle and will not touch him,, because he saved the Lord on that day.
Hares are considered unlucky, as the witches constantly-assume their form in order to gain entrance to a field where they can bewitch the cattle. A man once fired at a hare he met in the early morning, and having wounded it, followed the track of the blood till it disappeared within a cabin. On entering he found Nancy Molony, the greatest witch in all the county, sitting by the fire, groaning and holding her side. And then the man knew that she had been out in the form of the hare, and he rejoiced over her discomfiture.
Still it is not lucky to kill a hare before sunrise, even when it crosses your path ; but should it cross three times; then turn back, for danger is on the road before you.
A tailor one time returning home very late at night from a wake, or better, very early in the morning, saw a hare sitting on the path before him, and not .inclined to run away. As he approached, with his stick raised to strike her, he distinctly heard a voice saying, " Don't kill it." However, he struck the hare three times, and each time heard the voice say, "Don't kill it." But the last blow knocked the poor hare quite dead; and immediately a great big weasel sat up, and began to spit at him. This greatly frightened the tailor who, however, grabbed the hare, and ran off as fast as he could. Seeing him look so pale and frightened, his wife asked the cause, on which he told her the whole story ; and they both knew he had done wrong, and offended some powerful witch, who would be avenged. However, they dug a grave for the hare and buried it ; for they were afraid to eat it, and thought that now perhaps the danger was over. But next day the man became suddenly speechless, and died off before the seventh day was over, without a word evermore passing his hps; and then all the neighbours knew that the witch-woman had taken her revenge.