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.
Weasels are spiteful and malignant, and old withered witches sometimes take this form. It is extremely unlucky to meet a weasel the first thing in the morning; still it would be hazardous to kill it, for it might be a witch and take revenge. Indeed one should be very cautious about killing .a weasel at any time, for all the other weasels will resent your audacity, and kill your chickens when an opportunity offers. The only remedy is to kill one chicken yourself, make the sign of the cross solemnly three times over it, then tie it to a stick hung up in the yard, and the weasels will have no more power for evil, nor the witches who take their form, at least during the year, if the stick is left standing ; but the chicken may be eaten when the sun goes down.
A goose is killed on St. Michael's Day because the son of a king, being then at a feast, was choked by the bone of a goose ; but was restored by St. Patrick. Hence the king ordered a goose to be sacrificed every year on the anniversary of the day to commemorate the event, and in honour of St. Michael.
A fowl is killed on St. Martin's Day, and the blood • sprinkled on the house. In Germany a black cock is substituted.
A crowing hen, a whistling girl, and a black cat, are considered most unlucky. Beware of them in a house.
If a cock comes on the threshold and crows, you may expect visitors.
If you hear the cuckoo on your right hand you will have luck all the year after.
Whoever kills a robin redbreast will never have good luck were they to live a thousand years.
A water wagtail near the house betokens bad news on its-way to you.
If the first lamb of the season is born black, it foretells, mourning garments for the family within the year.
It is very lucky for a hen and her chickens to stray into your house. Also it is good to meet a white lamb in the early morning with the sunlight on its face.
It is unlucky to meet a magpie, a cat, or a lame woman when going a journey. Or for a cock to meet a person in the doorway and crow before him-then the journey should be put off.
If one magpie comes chattering to your door it is a sign of death ; but if two prosperity will follow. For a magpie to come to the door and look at you is a sure death-sign, and nothing can avert the doom.
A flight of rooks over an army betokens defeat ; if over a house, or over people when driving or walking, death will follow.
It is very unlucky to ask a man on his way to fish where he is going. And many would turn back, knowing that it was an evil spell.
When a swarm of bees suddenly quits the hive it is a sign that death is hovering near the house. But the evil may be averted by the powerful prayers and exorcism of the priest.
The shoe of a horse or of an ass nailed to the door-post will bring good luck; because these animals were in the stall when Christ was born, and are blessed for evermore. But the shoe must be found, not given, in order to bring luck.
In whatever quarter you are looking when you first hear the cuckoo in the season, you will be travelling in that direction before the year is over.
It was the privilege of the chief bards to wear mantles made of birds' plumage. A short cape flung on the shoulders made of mallards' necks and crests must have been very gorgeous in effect, glittering like jewels, when the torch-light played on the colours at the festivals.