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The Lake County Blarney Stone

by euhal allen


Looking around everywhere for a plant as much alike as what his sainted mother had used, he came upon one, that would later be called Lake County Sagebrush, that seemed to be as close as he could get. Soon he was harvesting the sagebrush and, as he had been taught as a child, extracting the needed ingredient for his elixir. After that it was but a couple of day’s work to fill his containers with the new elixir and get ready for his trip to the coast.

All that being done, Sean and Erin said good-by to the wonderful valley and the hidden stone and started off on the final part of their journey. They journeyed across mountains and into valleys situated between the heights just traveled and the great coastal range of mountains before them. In those valleys, his stories and medicinal supply made him welcome with the local Modoc, Rogue and Umpqua tribes inhabiting those areas.

And, being so far away from the eastern parts, it was refreshing that no one had asked him about who he had known on the east coast — although he had run across a tree badly mauled by an angry bear that had, done with bear claws, a little heart like thing with what looked like a very crooked G+M in it — but he just passed that off as a coincidence.

All those little things were put out of his mind when Sean noticed a bit of a difference in himself and, especially, in Erin. Sean, himself, seemed to be gaining in strength, stamina and wisdom to a marvelous extent, though it did not show in his outer appearance. Erin, on the other hand, was now growing larger. Sean began to wonder why and, by watching very carefully, he discovered that whenever he gave Erin any of the newly formulated elixir Erin would go through a growth spurt.

Remembering the attack on the plains, Sean realized that if Erin got big enough he might not come off the winner a second time. So, again he began cutting back on Erin’s ration of elixir and, when he did give the rabbit a drought of the medicine he, again, cut it with water. This, of course, did not please Erin and he began to revert to his old habit of trying to find the elixir and getting down as much as he could.

After spending a year or so on the Oregon coast, Sean decided it was time to head back east to that lovely valley and the little Blarney Stone he had left there. It was, he thought, that he needed to renew his acquaintance with the stone and to refresh his skills at story telling. It was also time to brew another batch of the elixir they both so depended on each day. He had tried to make some in the western regions of the area but there just was none of the plants he need to make the recipe work.

So he and Erin, about thirty inches tall now, headed back to the lake country and the stone and the sage brush that were waiting there for them. There is where the final adventures of Sean and Erin began, or to quote Sean himself, it was this way:

“Earlier, when I was coming across what was to become Kansas, I picked up a wee baby bunny for a pet. Erin I called him, and a fine pet that he was too. Good company he was for me on me journey all the way out to the County and in appreciation I always fed him from me own table I did. Every now and then, to keep him warm mind you, I gave him a wee sip of me mother's elixir.

“’Twas after I had settled the boundary of Goose Lake, and after I found out just what a bit of Lake County Sagebrush Juice did for me mother's elixir recipe, that the problem really began. At first I did not notice that Erin grew a little bit after each sip of me Irish Cough Syrup that I gave him, for his health as I said.

“But grow he did, and not just in size, for it was smarter that he grew too. Indeed, it is many a tale that I could be telling about that rabbit and his activities. Aye, I could, but, since it is about the start of the jack rabbit population in the County that I am writing to you it is not off onto the side that I should be going.

“Erin and I tramped around the County for years we did, he becoming about four feet tall in the tenth year of our partnership. (It was then that I stopped giving him me Cough Syrup for fear that he would never stop growing.) And always he was looking for where it was that I had hidden me elixir, for he never got over the inclination towards of the tasting of it. It was, as I said ten years that we tramped together and hard put I was indeed for several of those years to keep me elixir hidden from the young scamp.

“’Twas in 1776 that the fateful thing happened. Worried I was because of the news that I had received from me good friend General Washington, and so distraught that to change the hiding place of me Cough Syrup I forgot, I did. Aye, and you know Erin found it.

“Never one of careful temperament and having been denied that taste of that wonderful elixir now for all those years, he threw all caution away he did, and he downed a whole bottle of the Syrup in one great swallow before I had any chance of stopping him.

“I said earlier, you will remember, that a little sip always made him grow a wee bit. But, now this was more than just a wee sip. it was a whole bottle and its influence was soon seen on the poor bunny. He started growing so fast that his Skin could not keep up with the expansion without splitting and in about five minutes he had exploded into about a million little Erins, he did. Well, as you know, a jack rabbit is not a true rabbit, but a hare it is. ’Twas me friend Erin that began right here in the County the practice of splitting hares.

“Aye, he was fine lad he was, that Erin, and I miss him even now. And to this day I can't touch a bit of rabbit stew for fear that I would be eating one of his grandchildren.”

Later, Sean told this writer, he had run across one of Erin’s far great-grand bunnies back east, when he was there on a visit. Seeing the six foot tall bunny, and recognizing the color pattern on his hears, he went up to him and asked him if he was a descendant of a wonderful bunny named Erin.

“Yes,” replied the huge rabbit, “and how would you know of my far grandfather, Erin?”

“Well,” Sean replied, “because I am Sean Riley O’Halihan and we were partners before suddenly multiplied. I told him not to drink that elixir like he did, but he was just as stubborn as I was.”

“Then,” Sean continued, “that big bunny and I went to a bar and had a few drinks and hashed over old times, as well as what had happened to Erin’s children over the years.

“It was, indeed, a grand time we had, and when the evening was done I told the bunny how grand it had been. I told him that I had been having such a good time that I, having given him my name, had forgotten to ask for his.

“Right then that big rabbit gave me a strange sort of look, as if everyone knew who he was, and said simply, ‘Harvey’”

With Erin being gone but a million or so of his offspring running all over the place, Sean wasn’t lonely for company. It seemed that somehow each of these new little bunnies knew and liked Sean. And Sean did what he could to care for them in most ways, but he never again made the mistake to getting them addicted to the elixir, so they stayed cute little bunnies.

Sean began to think of things he would have to do to stay in the valley, especially in the cold of the winter. It was a good thing that, just north of the field where the stone lie was a geyser that erupted rather regularly and Sean built his first cabin there, using the warm geyser water as a heat source.

It was a small cabin, only what he would need to get through the winter, since he had planned to go east in a year or two and help his friend, General Washington in his struggle with the British. But, as things worked out, Sean got word through the many Indian friends that the British had been beaten and the General was now the father of the country over there.

So Sean stayed there in the valley, in his small cabin situated where he could see the magnificent escarpment that came to be called Abert Rim. That was in 1843, when John Fremont “discovered” it. Sean didn’t mind that name change — he had been calling it Erin Cliff — and, having had a meal or two with Fremont, was just glad that he now had new stories to tell.

Also, his cabin not being too far from the stone, Sean went most every day to visit with it, talking to it and honing his story skills ever sharper. After a while, Sean noticed that the stone was still growing and would soon be too big for him to move. That was somewhat of a worry to him since he knew that if others got a notion of the qualities of the stone, it would not be long before they moved into the valley in order to take the stone elsewhere.

Not very long after Fremont left for back east settlers did start coming into the area. Some came through on their way to California and the gold fields while others just came for land and a better life. For some, such as those massacred at Fandango Pass, it was only graves that they found. But for others, seeing the grand beauty of the land between Goose Lake and Lake Abert with its magnificent rim, here was a place to really call home.

One good thing about the influx of settlers into the valley was the fact that many of them were Irish, some shepherds. Sean, having grown up with such men, was soon, with his Irish brogue and his stories of his adventures, a favorite with all of them and was looked upon as a leader in the Irish community.

Telling his friends in the community that there was a stone in a nearby field that looked much like the fabled Blarney Stone, he convinced them to get a wagon and, late at night, move it to a safe place in the hills around the area.

And there it stayed for several years, for Sean and his friends having had a touch or two too much lubrication, got the stone out to its new abode but, in the pain of the morning after, could not remember exactly where it was. And sad that was, because Sean, now having completely removed his cabin, was forced into a life of prospecting the hills for the new home of the stone.

During those years that the stone was lost, its legend grew until it was a pride of the Irish community that they had saved a real Blarney Stone from the other settlers, particularly any who were English, from being taken from them. For, as long as no one knew where it was it was no matter that they didn’t either.

So for many years the stone was missing from the area and its legend grew and grew among the Irish in the Valley until it was even known in among the groups of others, though not known well or accurately. There was, in the very late 1800 a small book entitled The Irish Beginnings in Lakeview, Oregon was written that perpetuated some of the mistaken legends of the stone.

Part of the letter, however was correct in that there was a battle between the Irish in the area and those who wanted to move the stone to Portland. We quote that part, inaccurate as it was, that is of interest here:

Only when Mr. O’Halihan had an overdose of 90 proof Irish Cough Syrup did the true worth of the stone come out, and then only to a few. Naturally the growth of the stone became quite noticeable. Others in the community came to suspect the truth of the matter, and were determined to abscond with the stone to the Portland area.

The Irish, in this area, upon learning of this dastardly plan, slipped the stone from its rightful place at what is now the Fairgrounds, and hid it on one of the Irish properties in Adel or Plush. The other group, convinced the Mayor of Lakeview to form the 19th Lakeview regiment of the U.S. Cavalry and went off in hot pursuit.

Evidently, this Regiment met the Irish in the Adel area and demanded surrender of the Lake County Blarney Stone and its return to its place in the field west of Lakeview. The Irish replied that they were open to negotiate the matter over a drink or two.

The negotiating session was quite long and when the 19th Lakeview Regiment returned to Lakeview, it was not only without the stone, but also without any remembrance of why the trip was started, and who, or what, the 19th Lakeview Regiment was. They knew that they had had a whale of a wild party and a hangover that lasted for three weeks.

The sad part of the story, not recognized in the letter, was that the whole episode was one over a plain rock in one of the fields that some of the Irish population only thought was the stone in question, the real stone having been moved some time before.

The recipient of the Farnswhittle letter, Don Deidrick, an intrepid old rock hound who knew well the whole area, was indeed the best person to contact. He had been, being of an older age when he was contacted, aware of a stone in an area that might have been the missing artifact.

The fact that it was of the same type and color as the original Blarney Stone made him go and check into its qualities and when he took Sean, who was now using the name Sean Riley O’Halihan III, because no one would believe he was, at the time, thanks to the elixir, almost three hundred years old, and Sean identified it absolutely as the missing stone.

Lake County Stone
The Lake County Stone
Knowing that the stone would always be a temptation for others to steal, Deidrick went to a member of the Fairboard and discussed how to get the Stone back safely to the Fairgrounds. That board member, George Jackson, arranged, after the stone was brought in, to have it imbedded in a large circle of cement with appropriate plaques in memory of Sean Riley O’Halihan.

What he did not know was that Sean himself was standing next to him during the entire placement of the stone in it safe refuge. Nor did he know that later that night, Sean came back and, sitting there by the stone, talked to it for several hours, reliving old memories. Sean knew that when the local populous found out just who he was and how old he was, they would hound him for the recipe of the elixir. Sadly, because of the conditions that had long since taken place, the sagebrush crop now growing in the county no longer had the power to give the elixir its life-extending qualities.

Sean knew that he was going to have to leave the county and go elsewhere, and before he went he wanted to kiss that Blarney Stone, now the Lake County Stone, one more time. Finished talking, he stood up and then bent over and put his lips on the Stone for the last time. As he drew his lips away he felt something come with them, a small, new piece of the stone to go with him on new adventures.

Copyright © 2008 by euhal allen

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