Folklorist Pádraig Ó Héalaí explores the use of the priest's power in folklore.

According to presenter Donncha Ó Dúlaing, priests are probably the purveyors of good and evil. In the Bible, power leaves them when a miracle is performed. This leads him to ask,

What effect does doing good have on priests in folklore?

Folklorist Pádraig Ó Héalaí says the power of the priest is a recognisable part of Irish folklore. A constant element in most stories is,

The priest himself has in some way to suffer because of the power he uses.

Pádraig Ó Héalaí believes this aspect comes from the idea that good health is limited. If someone is unwell and given good health,

That good health has to come from someplace and what more logical place for it to come than the priest that gives good health.

In some stories, good health is often derived from animals. Pádraig Ó Héalaí gives an example where the farmer’s daughter is very ill. The doctor cannot cure her, but the priest can. However,

The farmer’s sow or horse or cow or something dies.

The priest lets it be known that his powers are given to him in accordance with the belief and teaching of the Catholic Church,

But the power attributed to the priest in folklore goes far beyond that.

In the past the priest held a position of leadership and privilege and they wanted people to see them as their leaders. The fact that people believed priest held these supernatural powers was a very helpful factor in creating and maintaining this hierarchy.

'Of Night and Light and the Half Light’ is a series of six programmes in which Donncha Ó Dúlaing explores the world of folklore of fairies and of the other world in Ireland through the conversations of people who know about these things.

This episode of 'Of Night and Light and the Half Light’ was broadcast on 15 August 1982. The presenter is Donncha Ó Dúlaing.