How the hand of a dead person was used in the making of butter.

In Irish folklore, a piseog is a superstitious belief or practice, or it can mean a charm or spell. Farmer, folklorist and raconteur Joe Flanagan from Lough Cutra, Gort in County Galway knows several piseogs for ways to steal butter. He thinks the most successful method is through an lámh marbh or the dead hand, used in conjunction with an incantation.

There was special words that had to be said by the maker of the butter and he or she used the hand.

The dead hand was procured at a wake. Those wanting to steal butter would amputate one of the corpse's arms, wrap it up in paper and bring it home. The dead hand was then preserved or embalmed with chimney soot.

The hand was valuable to these people, very valuable.

When the time came to steal butter, they would stir the cream in their own butter churn with the dead hand. When the incantation was uttered their butter supply would be vastly enriched at the expanse of another person’s churning.

Hundred percent they had it all taken.

Joe Flanangan does not know the words that were used in this charm, but when used with the dead hand they were extremely important words.

This edition of 'Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 8 April 1970. The reporter is Cathal O'Shannon.