There was a young man in the next parish whose name was Pat Doyle, and one night he had to bring the priest to his father, John Doyle. It was late when the young man came to the priest's house. He knocked; a servant opened and asked what he wanted.
"The priest, for my father is dying," said Pat.
"I'll not go at this hour," said the priest, "why didn't you come earlier? "
"My father wasn't in danger till night, and besides I was working far from home; I couldn't come a minute sooner."
The priest was vexed, but he mounted his horse and started. Pat Doyle and the clerk walked behind him. About half-way they came to a house where whiskey was kept, though people didn't know it generally.
"Will you wait for me here, Father?" asked Pat Doyle.
"I will," said the priest, "but don't keep me waiting too long."
Pat was barely inside when a ghost appeared behind the priest and the clerk. The priest turned, and holding the crucifix toward the ghost spoke and held him back.
"Let us be going on," said the clerk, "the young man can come up with us."
The priest and his clerk hurried away. When Pat Doyle came out he saw neither priest nor clerk, and ran on after them. The road lay through boggy land, and there, to his terror, he saw a ghost coming in flames of fire. There was no escape at one side or another, and young Doyle had no steel to defend himself, so the ghost killed him there on the road.
The priest found the father alive, but stayed all night. He was too much in dread to go home. John Doyle grew better, but he was frightened when the son was not coming. He asked where was Pat. They said he'd come soon. But when he wasn't coining, the sick man begged his own brother's sons to go for him. One of them, Tim Doyle, was a very courageous young fellow, and said:
"I'll find him if he's in it. Neither ghost nor devil will keep him from me."
Tim went up to the loft, took an old sword and knocked a shower of rust from it. He went on his way then with his brother, and when they came to the boggy place they saw horses prancing and running around them and Pat racing on a grand steed.
"It is here he is," said Tim, "in place of going home to his dying father."
But when they came to where they thought they saw the horses, there was nothing before them but a ghost in flames of fire. Tim made at the ghost with the sword and said:
"Go, in the name of the devil; you will not frighten me." That moment the ghost disappeared, and Tim thought that all the stone walls for ten miles around him were tumbling, there was such a noise. They went on and soon they came to the body of Pat Doyle. They knelt down and examined it.
"If there is a breath in him, sure the priest will raise him," said Tim.
They carried Pat home on their shoulders. When they came to the house, they found him stone dead. As soon as John Doyle heard of his son's death, life left him that minute.
All blamed the priest for not staying with Pat, and the mother said:
"If you, Father, had stayed with him and held the crucifix against the ghost, my poor boy would be alive now."
Two days after this a neighbouring boy went up to a hillside where a herd of milch cows were grazing, and waited there till nightfall: as he was going home across the fields he saw three men walking, and near them something in the form of a he-goat; when they came up he saw that one of the three was Pat Doyle, the other two were boys killed by the same ghost months before.
The young fellow was not frightened; he spoke up and asked:
"Is this where you are, Pat Doyle? Sure I thought you were dead and buried."
"I am dead in this world," said Pat, "but I'm not dead in the next. I was killed by a mad ghost, and do you go now and tell the priest from me that it was the ghost that killed me. The priest was gone when I came out of the house. He might have saved me as he saved himself and the clerk, but he left me to the ghost."
The boy went to the priest and told him everything, and the priest believed him.
My husband knew old John Doyle and Pat Doyle before he was killed, and Tim who carried Pat home. They were all blood relations of his.
"Perhaps Pat Doyle could have saved himself with a steel knife or a sword," said I.
"Oh, he could," answered the old woman; "my husband's cousin did the like one time. I will tell you how it was."