Of all the legends which originate in Portglenone, none surely has captured people’s imaginations and been imitated all over the world, like the story of Faustus Cassidy and his meeting with The Devil at ‘Huncheon Crossroads.
The story has it that Satan accosted Cassidy at midnight on the feast of All Hallows, offering him a bargain of fame and great wealth against the surrendering of his eternal soul. The dark prince is true to his word but after a year, Faustus regrets of his foolish barter and returns to Huncheon Cross to beg that the contract be ended.
Old Nick refuses but offers the poor unfortunate one last chance, a musical contest between the pair. If Cassidy can outplay the devil, his soul is his own but if Lucifer is victorious, then Faustus must accompany him to Hades without delay.
Racing home, our hero returns with his tin whistle and begins to perform. He opens with Roddy McCorley, followed by the Kerry Polka #1 and Kerry Polka #2 before blustering into Peggy Lettermore. Thinking he might run out of tunes which he learnt at the Comhaltas, Cassidy is relieved when the devil stops him half-way through, ‘ A stór, a stór a ghrá’ bellowing at his adversary,
“Verily I accuseth thee that thou hath played this tune but at the same time was thinking ‘I stole, I stole a bra’”
Feeling his soul drift away, Faustus watched as the devil pulled from beneath his robe, a guitar of solid gold, encrusted with gemstones and with ivory twisty bits at the top. With a deathly hiss from between his long, sabre like teeth, he moved his bloody fingers over the strings.
To Cassidy’s surprise however, all that came from the instrument was a one-fingered rendition of ‘Smoke on the Water’ which even Beelzebub’s dark angels agreed was “pretty shite”. Lucifer knew he had been vanquished and disappeared in a flash of smoke and fire.
His soul reprieved, Faustus Cassidy returned home to tell his wife of the ghastly tryst. Unfortunately, Mrs Cassidy discovered an almost empty bottle of ‘Black Bush’ in his pocket and immediately beat her husband to death with a long-tail shovel.