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Story of Cloichín



Clocheen,! Clorohin, Cloragheen! Spirit, Poltergeist! Hobgoblin.Gortnagoyne, Darrary, Ardcloon and Carranthomas- the villages most closely associated with this mischievous character. The stories told about the adventures and misadventures of Clocheen are full of contradictions and disparities but some basic facts remain. Without doubt he lived in Gortnagoyne, in the house of Mick Eamon (Donnellan), who was a herd. Mick Eamon had a son who claimed that he was so closely associated with Clorhoin that he (Clorhoin) helped him with the work on the farm, the herding of the stock and also in the hurling games on Sunday.

This boy had a girlfriend in Kilconly but he knew that Clorhoin did not like her. One Sunday evening the boy was dressed up and going to visit his girl. Travelling directly across the fields, it happened that at Pollrehid (near Prendergasts’ house) he was met by the ghost in the shape of a ram, who promptly pucked him into a drain. Needless to say, that finished the journey to Kilconly that evening.

Clorhoin the ghost was a very loyal steward to the herd’s house, and this loyalty sometimes turned to hostility towards a stranger, for whenever visitors called to the herd’s house, Clorhoin used to ward them off with clods of turf.

He was a protector of the herd’s property also, because if anyone tried to take a “rope “ of the herd’s hay, they would be unable to lift it on their backs, due to the power Clorhoin wielded over it .

It appeared there was bad blood at the time between “Gorta Mór”, (Mr. Godfrey), the strong man of the place and Clorhoin, and it seemed to have originated from a clash between the two on the hurling field. Gorta Mór, subsequently, was always challenging Clorhoin. As the story goes, Gorta Mor’s son, William, was out on the land early one morning when he saw a red object in the field. He went in and told his father, and when he came out the red object disappeared in the direction of Shanballymore. This could not have been a good omen. Later, Gorta Mór was returning from a fair and Clorhoin met him at Pollarehid. A squabble ensued and Gorta Mór was found dead, standing against the wall. Clorhoin was heard to have said later that he killed him “with the butt and the end and the middle of his own stick”. Seemingly, Clorhoin spoke the Irish language fairly well because his own version of the incident was “Thugas bun agus barr agus lár a mhaide fein do”! He is then supposed to have propped up Godfrey with the two sticks they used in the fight and that two thorn trees grew up on that spot.  This incident took place beside Mahon’s house in Ardcloon.

After the killing of Gorta Mór the priest was called in and he “changed “Clorhoin to the mill in Clogheen, Co. Tipperary. Others say he moved to Corcoran’s mill in Drimbane ; others believe he went to Kilbannon . The herd boy went to see his old friend and after travelling the whole day, he arrived at the mill, only to find that the miller would not allow him to stay the night. The miller’s horse was found drowned in the mill stream the next morning, as the story goes. Clorhoin the ghost was not heard of again in the village of Gortnagoyne.


While Clorhoin was in Gortnagoyne, the boy asked him to make himself visible to him, but Clorhoin refused, saying that the boy would be none the better of having seen him! It is generally felt that Clorhoin never took the shape of a mortal while in public view, but it is believed that he was seen once while having the shape of a riddle.

Mick Eamon’s house was a house for card games and when the neighbours were in for a game, Clocheen always joined in with them. Nobody saw him of course;-only his cards and money were visible! When midnight came, Clorhoin retired to the loft of the house-this is where he lived and slept. According to superstition it was unlucky to play cards after midnight- you could lose too much money! So if the others persisted in playing on, Clocheen would disrupt the game by calling out the cards each player had. And if that didn’t have the desired effect, he would toss down on to the table sheep ties which he made up in the loft. If he heard a cock crow he would disappear altogether and wouldn’t return for some time.

He was once challenged by a man called Patton, a friend of Godfrey, to a horse race. The course was over two fields, and there was a lime-kiln in one of them. As they rounded the kiln, Clocheen is supposed to have dislodged Patton from his horse, and he (Patton) suffered a broken neck as he struck the wall of the kiln. Mick Eamon and Clorhoin were herding sheep in Ballymoney and they rested on Cnocaun Uibhair, a hill about a half mile west of Ballymoney bridge. Mick begged Clocheen to show himself: Clocheen refused but consented to allow Mick to hold him. This he did, and he later described Clorhoin as being very small and very broad in stature. Mick refused to release him whereupon Clocheen got very angry and “up skittled” Mick! By all accounts he grew rather irresponsible and more mischievous and played many tricks on people like knocking down fences, opening gates and damaging property. So neighbours grew increasingly weary of his antics, and the killing of Godfrey was the culmination of all the ruaille-buaille!

Clorhoin wasn’t all badness, though, and there are reports of kindnesses attributed to him, like digging a widow’s garden, and gathering up the turf too-surely the work of a friendly spirit! Incidentally, the exploits and adventures of this ghost, puca   or spirit are very much part of the plot of the well-known play ”The Bachelor’s Daughter”  by Milltown playwright, the late M.J. Molloy.

So now, as the seanachai would say, I only know what I heard; I only heard what was said and half of that were lies!


A more concise version of the Clocheen saga is contained in the Primary Schools’ Folklore collection of 1936-39. It was told by Sarah Cunniffe (aged 60) to Patrick o’ Donovan, the principal teacher at the time.

"It is said that Clocheen was a spirit who had his abode in the village of Darrary, about three miles from Dunmore. He lived near a hawthorn bush by the roadside. The neighbouring village of Gortnagoyne (field of barnacle geese) was at this time a large farm (estate) belonging to one man who had a herd to look after his stock. He met Clocheen. He asked him if he wished to go anywhere from the place where he was. Clocheen said he wished to leave. The man asked him if he would like to go to heaven, but Clocheen said; “No, that place is too religious for me”. Many other places were mentioned but Clocheen would not go to any of them. Then the man told him to go to Gortnagoyne and to stay with the herd. He went to Gortnagoyne and himself and the herd became great friends.

He did most of the herd’s work for him. He could talk and work and fight but he was invisible. The herd once asked him to show himself. Clocheen said it would not be good for anyone to see him. The herd asked him what he was like and he said”Do you know what a riddle is? Well, I am as full of holes as a riddle”. But the herd’s wife did not like Clocheen and she banished him.

There was a man who thought himself very strong, living in the district. His name was Godfrey. He used to be coming home from Dunmore late at night very often, and he used to be drunk. Clocheen told him not to be coming home late, but Godfrey challenged him to fight. Godfrey was always on horseback and Clocheen was not able to get at him, until one night when he jumped up on the horse behind Godfrey. Then he put his arms around him and squeezed him to death."