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The Devil's Mill

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"Luttrell's Mill", now known as "Anna Liffey Mill", was once known as "The Devil's Mill". Legend has it that it was built in one night by the devil himself!

devils mill

Colonel Henry Luttrell

When Henry Luttrell succeeded to the estate following the Jacobite Wars, he went from bad to worse until it is said the devil paid him a visit one night and made him an offer for his soul. Colonel Henry agreed to its sale, but stipulated tat he should not be called until he had enjoyed many years of wild life; and even then the devil should not claim his soul as long as he was able to set him an impossible task. This was agreed to.

After a reckless existence of some yeas, during which all the Colonel put his hand to seemed to turn to gold, the devil one night appeared, and told him his time was up. "Build me a mill by morning" said the Colonel, "on the boggawn below at the Liffey". To his amazement the startling information was brought to him in the morning, that a mill was standing on what was a snipe-bog the day before.

devils mill

Copy of The Devil's Mill by Jonathan Fisher in 1792

That night the devil again appeared and on this occasion the Colonel remarked he would sooner accompany him dead than alive, so would he kindly produce a rope of sand to throttle him with. The devil immediately complied and was tying a slip-noose on it when the Colonel, now at his wit's end to know how to escape, suddenly defied the devil to silence his wife's tongue. At the same moment a loud scream was heard to proceed from the adjoining room; and on the Colonel rushing in to see what was the cause of it, he was horrified to find his wife stretched lifeless on the floor. Stricken with a great remorse at what he had unintentionally brought about, the Colonel now begged for a three-days' respite in order to be present at this wife's wake and burial; to this the devil consented.

On the night of the funeral the devil returned and found Colonel Luttrell intently reading the Bible by the light of a single rush, which he was about to renew from a bundle beside him. In an agony of terror, he beseeched for a little more time to settle his worldly affairs, but the devil's patience was exhausted, and he refused.

Again the colonel pleaded if only to see the light of one more day; but the devil would only allow him just such time as it would take the almost exhausted to burn itself out. On hearing this t he Colonel jumped up, seized the rush-holder, released the lighted rush, thrust it between the pages of the Bible, and banging down and clasping the cover extinguished the light.

With a roar of baffled rage at being outwitted, the devil disappeared from Luttrellstown, and never again troubled Colonel Luttrell, who from that night became an altered and repentant man.

devils mill

Shackleton's Anna Liffey Mill 2010

(Ref: Adapted from Lovers Legends and Short Stories of Ireland; Lucan and Lucanians 1996)
Mary Mulhall