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Two Saul like conversions on the road to Ballineen (from Bennett's History, enlarged edition 1869)



1821...Smuggled tobacco was not so easily disposed of as smuggled whiskey. When one got some of the former, he often had great difficulty in getting it manufactured, and often incurred great risk in passing along the roads to some place where he could get it spun, or could sell it in the leaf. A farmer, who lived not very far from Ballineen, and who became possessed of some bales of this undutiful article, was anxious to get rid of it, but found it no easy matter to do so. At last he hit upon a plan, the ingenuity of which, and the fertility of the resources of those engaged in carrying it out, are demonstrated by its thorough success-in fact, the contrivance was more successful than the plotters intended; and, to a great extent, they atoned for the great evil they did, by the great improvement they effected in the religious persuasions of some of their neighbours. Emptying a feather-bed of its contents, he filled it with leaf tobacco. Then throwing a quilt or two over it, he tied his daughter,a fine, healthy, strong young woman-upon it, and set out for Rosscarbery. Mary received many orders from her father to pretend she was mad, hoping by this means to keep off any people who may ask for a lift in the cart, or who may be anxious to have a chat with her. When about half-way to their destination, they met two Protestant farmers, who were neighbours of their's, and who consequently knew Mary well. "Why! what's the matter with Mary?" said one; who, on seeing her nearly covered with ropes, and her hair all tumbled about her face, thought there must be something wrong with her. "Ah! ow! whaw! whew!" said Mary; who on seeing them approaching her along the road, put a piece of soap into her mouth, and it was now in a profuse lather. "What ails you, Mary?" said he. Her reply was a snap at his head; and if she succeeded in placing her incisors on his cranium, it would not be hazarding too much to say he would have carried the mark of them to his grave. "She's mad entirely!" said her poor distressed father, pulling him away from her, "and I'm taking her to Father John, to see if he could do anything for her-the creature!" "Did you try a doctor?" enquired the other man, who was so absorbed in pity for poor Mary, that up to that moment he had not uttered a word. Meanwhile the unfortunate lunatic was howling piteously. "Well, we won't delay you any longer!" said his two neighbours, as they gave their horses a crack of the whip, and resumed their journey. The Ballineen man got safe to Rosscarbery, disposed of his goods satisfactorily, and came home. It happened that one of those who met him in the morning was standing at the door of the forge as he passed by, and he ran out and enquired anxiously about Mary. "Oh! she's as well as ever she was in her life, thank God!" said the exultant parent. "There she is, and ask herself!" "Father John! may the heavens be his bed!" said the grateful girl to the crowd that was now gathering about her, "cured me in a minute!" After delaying some little time, the father and daughter went home, in all likelihood rejoicing in the success of their trick, and, perhaps, laughing at the credulity of their friends and neighbours. The two Protestant farmers were so impressed with the visible proof of the great superhuman accomplishments of Father John, and the lamentable lack of any power to do a similar act if kindness in any of their own clergy, that they became Roman Catholics; and each of them, it is said, has a son living, and working vigorously among the priesthood of that great Christian community


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