ANN MASSEY says the starving souls of famine victims still haunt the fields of Ireland today, marked by the Hungry Grass
If you have ever found yourself in an Irish country pub and listened in on a conversation or two, you may have heard mention of Feár Gortach (Fair Gor-toc) or The Hungry Grass.
If you are foolish enough to step on the Hungry Grass, you will be doomed to suffer insatiable hunger, that is until you die.
In the late 1840s, the Irish Famine took hold and man, woman and child were left to starve to death as a direct result of the Potato Blight and a misuse of resources under British Government rule.
Over a million people died in poverty, starvation and agony. These victims of famine were thrown into mass graves, usually fields, their souls forever to be in torment.
All over Ireland, there were hundreds of mass graves, or Famine Graveyards as they became known.
All were originally unconsecrated, although in later years many became memorialised and recognised consecrated ground.
Some, however, remained buried in cold, unhallowed ground, souls crying out for their purgatory to end.
Hungry grass grows over the dead
Over the top of these burial sites, the grass grew and it was cursed. It was hungry.
Anyone spending time in Ireland will at some point be told of a short cut and inevitably this will lead to crossing a field.
From Cork to Kilkenny and Galway to Connemara, you will hear tales of people losing their way on such short cuts and being caught by the Hungry Grass.
A young man walking home, a sunny day, strolling through the field, found days later, not knowing where he is, starving and confused.
He is taken home and no amount of nursing or food can save him. Others are so overwhelmed by the touch of the cursed grass that they drop dead of hunger where they stand.
The victims of the Famine have become predatory, seeking to drag others into their hell and your only protection is to carry a crust of bread in your pocket – and even this may not be enough to save you.
Next time you are walking through a field, ask yourself is that a brush of grass around your ankles, or the bony fingers of the ravenous seeking company as misery requires…
A million unheard voices
Starved and damned to hell
If you set foot on the Hungry Grass
They’ll take you there as well.
A million unheard voices
Cry the agony of their final hour
If you set foot on The Hungry Grass
Your soul they will devour.
I too have heard version of the story that attribute the cause of the Hungry Grass to a corpse from the Great Famine.
I’ve also heard stories that blame a fairy curse, or a body fallen out of a hearse on the way to burial. Or even more specific, a fallen corpse that hits the ground with its mouth touching the earth.