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69 be got (the greater the number, the greater the virtue and the more expeditious the cure) are put into salt and water along with 3 ha’pence and a piece of silver, generally a sixpence. The cure is then performed by rubbing the salt and water on the cow with the hand, beginning from the top of the tail and proceeding to the nostrils. This is done three times, during which sundry prayers and charms are uttered. After this, part of the water is put into the mouth and nostrils of the cow and a part also at the foot of some fairy bush; the remainder is put behind the fire. The people affirm that these arrows are shot from the Danish fort by the fairies and that they pierce the cow through the side. They pretend that they can show the print of the arrow. This superstition prevails as much among the Presbyterians as among the Roman Catholics. This part of the parish is poorer than the other.’ J.B. Doyle, Tours in Ulster: A Handbook to the Antiquities and Scenery of the North of Ireland (Dublin 1854). (pp. 278-9) ‘Another singular instance of superstition is that connected with what are called elf-stones. These are of two kinds, one are the flint arrow-heads, so common in the North, the other are a species of fossil echinus found in tilling the land; the former are called elf-arrows for the cure of cows or horses that are said to be elf-shot. When a cow gets sick and loaths her food, she is said to be elf-shot. Immediately, th+e owners send for the Elf-man or “man of knowledge”. The fairies have the knack of wounding the animal internally without piecing the skin and it requires much skill to discover the wound. The elf-man proceeds to make his search for it by “running his finger along the flanks and sides and down the slip of the backbone”. When his well-practised finger finds the hollow under the skin he at once proceeds to the cure. The following recipe was taken from the lips of one of the most celebrated of these worthies, on the road between Ballymena and Rasharkin and which the writer had corroborated in its leading particulars in many parts of the district. Take as many elf-arrows as convenient, not less than three, the cawm of three pots (the sotty deposit upon the outside), three brass half-pence and a silver sixpence; pour a gallon of water upon these and place the pot over the fire and stir the whole up together till it boils: when cool enough to drink, let the cow be drenched three times a day in the name of &c. The cow, this doctored generally recovers; and if she dies it is because some mortal offence has been committed against the “wee-folk” by the owner or his retainers.

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