The Devil and the Long Tower Gamblers
Several versions of this story exist. If you know any of them please let us know.
Milligan’s farm used to be at the top of Howard Street. After it was burned down in the early 1900’s one of the saved buildings was used as a blacksmith’s forge. Some men from Bishop Street and the Long Tower area started playing cards at night. They bet small amounts since most were family men and money was needed.
One night a stranger started chatting to one of the card players who was having a drink in a pub near Bishops Gate. He seemed interested in cards so the man wanting to be friendly invited him to join him. At first the other men were quite angry but when the stranger began losing large sums of money they were delighted. The stranger’s losing streak went on for several weeks then gradually he began to win. The money stakes got higher and higher until in desperation the men started backing beyond their means, most of them betting their wages and going home without any money.
One man made the remark that he would sell his soul to beat the new member. The stranger laughed and thumped the table. The dealer bent down to pick up the cards that had fallen. He froze when he saw that the stranger had cloven feet. He turned and ran calling to the others to run too.
The man who had made the remark about selling his soul seemed to be paralysed. Two of them ran back to pull him but the stranger had his arm in a fierce grip. The others came to help and pulled him free. They ran down Howard Street into The Wells, stopping at St. Columb’s Well exhausted and filled with fear.
In the gas lighting they saw the imprint of fingers burnt into the arm of the man they had pulled away. They blessed themselves and at that moment they saw the flames lick into the night sky.
The next morning the forge was smouldering, having burnt to the ground.
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