Labacally and the Legend of Cairn Thierna

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  • Moments in Cork History

The Witch's Bed

Labacally, or the Witch's Bed as it is known, is located near the town of Fermoy on the mountain of Cairn Thierna. It dates to pre-Christian times and is thought, by local experts, to be a form of pagan buriel mound. It has several broad flagstones which are supported by smaller stones pitched in the ground. The largest flagstone is 17 feet long, 9 feet wide and 3 feet thick and the whole monument was said to cover 25 feet. There has been many stories told about Labacally but none more colourful than the Legend of Cairn Thierna.

The Legend of Cairn Thierna

Long before the time of the Norman settlers in Munster, O'Keefe was Lord of Fermoy and he had an only son, whom he loved above anything. The boy had a beautiful face and brought joy to anyone he met. But O'Keefe was sad, as an old hag had foretold that the boy would die from drowning before he reached manhood. So he kept a close eye on his son, never letting him play near water, but still O'Keefe feared the prophecy.

He decided to build a large castle on top of Cairn Thierna, far removed from any rivers or lakes, in order to protect his son. But as the building work was being started, the little boy came across a barrel of water used by the workmen. He leant over and saw his reflection, something he had never seen before. He touched his lips to the water, fell in and drowned, the prophecy had come true. The Witch's Bed is what is left of the unfinished castle, where the old hag sleeps on the massive stones.