St. Lateerin lived at Cullin, near Millstreet, and her sisters lived in her neighbourhood. They visited one another once a week, and because they had to pass through bogs and brakes, the angels made a fine road for them connecting Kilmeen, Drumtariff, and Cullin, where they respectively lived. St. Lateerin took only one meal in the day, and when it was dressed she let her fire go out. Every evening she went to the smith's forge for the "seed of the fire," and carried it home miraculously in the skirt of her long gown. One unfortunate evening, the smith, who had been " looking at some one drinking," that day, said, as she was walking away with the -bright coal in the fold of her robe, "Ah, Saint Lateerin, what a darlin', purty, white foot you have !" Vanity took possession of her pure mind for a moment, and she looked down, but what did she see and feel ? The red hot coal burn throug'h her gown, and scorch her ankles. She was naturally vexed with the smith, as well as with herself, and exclaimed, " May there never more be a smith or his forge in Cullin ! " Curious readers will do well during the excursion season to call at Cullin, and ascertain whether the wish has been fulfilled.
If any fair or gentle reader, touched by the poetic or romantic spirit of some of these saintly legends, desires to make acquaintance with more of the same stamp, he or she will save time, trouble, and expense by not buying or borrowing the authorized Roman Catholic work on the subject-Lives of the Saints, by the Rev. Alban Butler. They will meet with much biographical, historical, and archaeological information, and the principal events in the lives of his subjects, but a total absence of romantic and a sparing use of supernatural events.
We are not to suppose that such legends as we have given were deliberately fabricated by the early biographers of the different holy personages and committed to writing. They were the result of oral tradition, altered and enlarged by many transmissions, till some scribe or other secured the eightieth or hundredth version of some simple narrative. A saint's memory falling into the hands of a professional story-teller fared still worse. His imagination went to work. He cared to a certain extent for the reputation of his subject; but he cared, to an extent unlimited, for the impression to be made by his narrative upon his audience. He consequently borrowed passages from the pagan poems and stories, Christianized them slightly, and connected them without scruple with the memory of the humble-minded and earnest worker in God's vineyard.
If any of our readers feel disposed to apply the test, Cut Bono? to our light labour, we beg to say, that it can scarce ever be uninteresting to learn something of the circumstances, the habits, or the language of those who, in succession, held our native soil before us for thousands of years. Well, we are often in doubt as to their implements of labour, their dress, their merrymakings, their funerals, or the terms on which they held their lands. But here in these wild, purposeless, and artlessly-constructed tales, we have the very words, and assemblages of words, that have, for two or three thousand years, filled their ears at their comfortable fireside gatherings, or travelled with them in their tedious and difficult progresses from the far East. We certainly did nothing for the Greeks and Romans, but our gratitude would be not small to those writers who might have left us, but unfortunately did not, a correct report of their fireside stories, if they were accustomed to the indulgence of such. So rapid have been the changes in our social customs, and so altered our tastes in many things; so powerful is becoming the influence of the mighty dollar and splendid shilling; and so terrible the battle of life, that if such task as we have undertaken be not now achieved, it would become impracticable, even within a score of years from this our present epoch. The Gentleman's Magazine has existed a hundred and thirty odd years, and will, as we hope and wish, be still young a hundred years hence. Its chief object is to preserve in memory former modes of existence, and everything connected with them. We readily grant that many of the treasures of its museum are of far more importance than such relics as we are striving to save from the remorseless teeth of time, but certainly others there preserved are much inferior. But the world of literature is wide enough for us all: we only scramble each to get his own collection in a place of honour. We are hopeless of literary fame for ourselves in this struggle; but we are truly in earnest that the memory of those things which were of interest to our forbears should be recorded and preserved for the knowledge of those who succeed us to the fiftieth generation. We are doing for them what we should be very glad that the Greeks and Romans had done for us.
What is here presented is a mere fraction of the wealth of Gaelic fiction.