The Goban Saor or Gubbawn Seer

Co. Kildare Folktales Collected by Ms Greene of Milbrook

J.K.A.S. Vol. VI.

'The Gubbawn seer

'The Gubbawn Seer was a carpenter. He was a first rate tradesman at all things. One day, he gave his son a sheepskin, and told him he wouldn't let him get married until he brought back the skin and the price of it. So the son used to carry the sheepskin under his arm to Athy every Tuesday; but he could never get anyone to give him the skin and the price of it. There was a girl who lived at Barker's Ford, Inch River, and he used to see her when he was passing by. One day she said to him, 'Musha, what do you be carryin' that sheepskin every Tuesday to Athy for ?' So he told her the reason. She took the skin off him, went in and plucked the wool off it; then she brought it out and the money for the wool in her hand: 'Here now,' says she, 'here's the skin and the price of it.' So the Gubbawn made him marry that girl.

After the son got married they were going somewhere to work, quite far away, and the Gubbawn said to his son, 'Come, shorten the road.' The son said he couldn't, so the Gubbawn said the two of them would return. So the two started back again. When the sons wife saw them back again, she said, 'Why I thought you were at your journey's end by now;' and the son said, 'My father bid me to shorten the road, and I couldn't, so then he made us return.' The wife told him, when they started again tomorrow morning, and when they got to the same place, that he'd ask him to shorten the road again. When this happened the son was to start a jig or a verse of a song. And so he did; and the Gubbawn Seer said, 'That's right now, come on, I see you know how to do it.' That's how the son shortened the road.

When they went to the place where they were going to work the foreman told him to point a peg on the stone. The Gubbawn did as he was instructed. 'And now,' he asked, 'Where is this peg supposed to go?' The foreman pointed up to the roof. 'Well, go up and put your finger in the hole,' so he did, and the minute he did, the Gubbawn hit the peg in along with the foreman's finger, with the back of the hatchet. This was to pay him off for telling him to point the peg on a stone instead of a block of wood. The foreman realised he was wrong, and didn't speak a word.

The king sent for the Gubbawn and his son to create a magnificent building in England, one the likes never seen before. The king had planned when it was built to put the two to death so as it couldn't be duplicated anywhere. The Gubbawn heard of this plot somehow. When the king asked him was the building finished, the Gubbawn replied no. He told him he needed another tool that he had left at home and that he would have to get it himself. Instead, the king sent the Gubbawns son and his own son to get it. The tool was supposed to be in a great big old chest and the son's wife asked the prince to find it. The minute the prince put his arm in, she took him by the heels and heaved him down into it. She sent back a message to the king, saying she would cut his head off if he did not send back her father-in-law. So the king had to send back the Gubbawn.

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