PEOPLE OF NOTE
Renowned Comeragh Characters
William Crotty (Crotty the Robber)
William Crotty, or ‘The Highway Robber’ was an 18th century highwayman who hid himself away in a cave at the foothills of the Comeragh mountains in County Waterford. He was the leader of a gang of highwaymen who stole from the rich to give to the poor, much in the same manner as Robin Hood.
His many enemies described him as a bloodthirsty murderer and said that “the devil wouldn’t pick his bones” while the country people claimed that he was very generous with any monies he managed to rob from the upper classes.
Crotty knew the Comeraghs like the back of his hand, so when he was being chased by the authorities he could easily hide on the mountain range. This was very frustrating for the guards so they started to offer bribes to some of Crotty’s men asking for information on where he was hiding.
Legend has it that David Norris, who was Crotty’s most trusted companion, accepted these bribes. One night in February 1742, when he’d poured enough whiskey into Crotty to make him sleepy, he wet his gunpowder and stole his dagger. When the guards arrived to arrest him, Crotty didn’t stand a chance.
In March that year, Crotty was trialled in Waterford City and found guilty. He was executed by hanging and then had his head cut off and spiked outside the County Jail as a warning to those wishing to follow in his footsteps. The legend of William Crotty is a very important part of Waterford’s heritage and many of the landmarks in the Comeragh mountains are named after him.
His ghost is known as Dark Stranger who “comes out of the mist, tall, dark clothed, moving purposefully, his footsteps making no sound.” The ghost can also be seen on a white horse. He would cross the Crough road and ride towards the Crotty’s Rock, Rathgormack and Carrignagower where his treasures lie hidden somewhere beneath a rock with a hoof mark.
OTHER LEGENDARY CHARACTERS
Jim Fitzgerald, known as ‘Lackendara’, lived halfway up the Comeragh Mountains for over forty years. His home was a cave of sorts, with a roof comprised of bits of driftwood, stones and soil, and an entrance concealed by strips of hanging grain bags.
A veteran of WW1, where he was said to have suffered shell-shock, he spent the remainder of his life in isolation in this rugged and unforgiving terrain in the foothills of the Comeraghs. He was known as a hermit, though he did venture down to the nearby village of Kilmacthomas every few weeks to collect and spend his pension on some essential groceries etc, but he never dwelt longer than was necessary, happy, it seems, to be back in the isolation of his Comeragh home, where sheep, foxes, and other wild animals were his only companions.