Thursday, April 24, 2014

V is for Villian

Villain or Hero 

William Crotty, Highwayman

Photo: Rathgormack Homepage
William Crotty, villain, hero, legend, highwayman, rapparee it depends on what side of the fence you sit. William Crotty led a gang of highwaymen robbing from the rich to give to the poor. He won the hearts of Co. Waterford’s people with his generosity, the Robin Hood of the Comeragh Mountians.

Photo of Comeragh Mountains: Colette's Deise Views
To the upper classes he robbed, William Crotty was an outlaw, a renegade. To the British army he was a villain and a blood thirsty murderer, who said of him, “the devil wouldn’t pick his bones.”

Photo of Comeragh Mountains; Bet I Can Get 5000 People That Love Dugnarvan
Crotty’s hideout was said to be in the craggy pinnacle over looking the lake. To reach the hideout a rope had to be thrown over the cliff. Knowing the crags and caves of the Comeragh Mountains, Crotty led his pursuers a merry dance. He threw the Redcoats off his trail with a number of tricks, shoeing his horse backwards being one of them.
Photo of Crotty's Pinnacle: Rathgormack Homepage
The British frustrated with his wiliness put a large bounty on his head and resorted to offering bribes to gain information of the location of his hideout. According to the legend, in February 1742, Crotty’s long time friend and companion, David Norris pulled a Judas and accepted the bribe money. Norris met Crotty at the cave. He waited until Crotty fell asleep and wet Crotty’s gunpowder and stole his dagger. The British arrested Crotty on February 16, 1742.

Photo of Crotty's Lake: Rathgormack Homepage
In March 1742, Crotty was tried and found guilty. He was hung and quartered. His decapitated head was spiked and fixed over the gateway of the jail as a warning.

And yet legend lives on. Crotty’s buried treasure was never found. It is said that he hid it under a rock in the mountains. To this day, local people still speculate on the whereabouts of Crotty’s hidden treasure.

Crotty’s wife composed a “Caoine” (mournful song) at his wake. After Crotty’s execution, his wife, hunted by the British threw herself and her child off the top of Crotty’s cliff.

Caoine For William Crotty

William Crotty I often told you
That David Norris would come 'round you.
In your bed where you lay sleeping,
And leave me here in sorrow weeping.
Ochone, ochone, ochone, oh.

He wet your powder, he stole your arms,
And left you helpless in the midst of alarms.
My bitter curse on him and his,
That brought you to and end like this.
Ochone, ochone, ochone, oh.

Oh the judge but he was cruel,
Refusing a long day to my jewel.
Sure I thought that would be maybe
See the face of your poor baby.

But tempers gold and traitors greedy,
Have left the poor and lowly needy.
'Twas you that heard the widow sighing,
'Twas you that heard the orphan crying.

Strong brave and true and kind to women,
Yet fierce and dread to Saxon foeman.
As thou tonight in gaol you're sleeping,
And oh I'm left in sorrow weeping
Ochone, ochone, ochone, oh.

O'er Coumshingaun the dark clouds gather,
You'll sleep no more among the heather.
Through the Comeraghs hills the night winds are sighing,
Where oft you sent the Redcoats flying
Ochone, ochone, ochone, oh.

Ahearn's gold bought Norris over,
That night the Redcoats round your cover.
May heaven's vengeance o'er them gather,
My baby ne'er shall see its father
Ochone, ochone, ochone, oh.


Unknown said...

Dropped by for A-Z. What a sad and tragic account especially regarding his wife and child. This was a good read. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm glad we no longer place people's heads on stakes as a warning.

Wonder where that treasure is buried....

Ann said...

Glad you enjoyed the read Lila. Hope the A-Z Challenge is going well for you.

Yes Theresa, heads fixed on top of stakes is rather gruesome. When the children were small and we went up to Crotty's Lake for picnics they spent all their time searching under the rocks in hopes of finding it. A favourite pastime for children.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Great bit of history. Enjoyed it.