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Wedge Tomb


At Fermoy, the name given to a somewhat curious cromlech, "The Hag's Bed," interested me. I was at some trouble to learn the origin of the name, and fortunately our car-driver succeeded in finding an old man, who gave me the desired information..

"On yonder hill there lived, in days gone by, a giant and a giantess. They were called Shara and Sheela. One day Shara returned from his labours (wood-cutting) in the forest, and finding no dinner ready he was exceeding angry, and in his passion gave Sheela a severe wound with his axe on the shoulder. His passion was assuaged as soon as he saw the blood of his wife, and he carefully bound up the wound and nursed her for many weeks with great care.

Sheela did not, however, forgive Shara for the injury he had inflicted on her. She brooded on her wrong. Eventually she was so far recovered that Shara was able to leave her; and their stock of wood having fallen short, he proceeded to the forest for a fresh supply. Sheela watched her husband as he descended the hill, and, full of wrath, she seized her bed, and, as he was wading through the river, she flung it after him with a dreadful imprecation. The devil changed the bed into stone in its passage through the air. It fell on the giant, crushed him, and to this day he rests beneath the Hag's Bed.

In the solitude which she had made she repented her crime, but she never forgave herself the sin. She sat on the hill-top, the melancholy monument of desolation, bewailing her husband's loss, and the country around echoed with her lamentations. "Bad as Shara was, it is worse to be without him !" was her constant cry. Eventually she died of excess of grief her last words being, "Bad as Shara was, it is worse to be without him !"

"And," said the old man, finishing his story, "whenever any trouble is coming upon Ireland, the voice of Sheela is heard upon the hill still repeating her melancholy lamentation."
From "Popular Romances of the West of England" by Robert Hunt (1903 edition), online at the Sacred Texts Archive:
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd January 2007ce

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