It is not in fashion, hasn’t been for years now, to talk about things like the Sí or the Second Sight. My grandmother McCain neé Tweedy, was a rare soul, she had the Second Sight. Now this was not a thing of joy for her, it was a cause of sadness. The Tweedys were dear people, but always quiet and distant; the Second Sight was hereditary with them and made them seek solitude to avoid episodes of its use.
Robert Tweedy circa 1885, Carbondale, Illinois
The Tweedys were interesting in many ways, they were Ulster Scots, or what we call Scots-Irish here, but my branch was Anglican or Catholic, not the normal Presbyterian faith of so many Ulster Scots. They came to the Colonies early and settled in the ridges (drumlins) of south Illinois and in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri and Arkansas, where they still live. That area today is much like the Gaeltachtaí in Ireland, places where old speech and traditions have held on, a place of natural beauty and traditional music. The traditional music is very good and is mostly of Irish and Scottish origins as you would expect. The Tweedys were particularly good musicians, many of them were suburb fiddle and mandolin players.
I could tell you hair raising tales of my grandmother’s encounters with the other world. Usually these involved some portent of coming death, a haunting image coming to the house and opening the front gate walking to the front door only to vanish, then news of that person’s passing arriving hours later or the next day. Or worse, seeing someone’s death in their face, this was not something in those days you could easily explain. The Second Sight ran in the Tweedys, it is hereditary and even I have had brushes with it.
My grandmother also told me about the Jackros. When the people of Ulster migrated to the American Colonies and to Canada with them also came their Folkways. It is an arguable point I grant you, but some say various races of fairies came with us. We have the same púca race that lives in Ireland, here we call one a Jackro. The Ulster Gruagach is also here and called a house brownie. There are even accounts of the Tuatha De Dannan visiting Nova Scotia. Old Ulster is still alive in the New World.
Barry R McCain © 2008