Episode 44: The life and afterlife of Petticoat Loose

“Petticoat Loose was a bad woman”

A Petticoat. I doubt Petticoat Loose’s looked like this – but good to have a bit of context if you’ve never seen a Petticoat before, for any reason

A collection of stories telling the life and active afterlife of one of Ireland’s most notorious and corporeal ghosts, with a rather unusual nickname.

A woman, evil in life, who was graciously rewarded with the opportunity to continue being evil after death.

Sometimes being evil is its own reward it seems.


Precise weighing!
International travel for ghosts!
A singing confrontation on a long and lonesome road (not that one)!

The possibly bottomless Bay Lough – where (spoilers) Petticoat Loose may, or may not be, to this very day.
Though that’s true of us all, so I suppose that’s not really spoilers

Anne O’Connor interview

As mentioned in the episode this is a short interview with folklorist Anne O’Conner about Petticoat Loose. She doesn’t go into much depth here but she’s done a lot of research on the subject. If you want to know more I recommend reading her detailed article on the subject here: Petticoat Loose Traditions in Ireland.

The interview contains spoilers for the episode by the way, in the odd situation you are worried about that!

National Folklore Collection digitisation

The process of folklore collecting as recorded in the archive The Photographic Collection, M010.18.00108,  CC BY-NC 4.0 

As I mention at the end of the episode most of my material for this came from dúcahs.ie, the National Folklore collection digitisation project, all available online for your perusal. (See Petticoat Loose for those stories.)

This really is such an exceptional resource – basically as many folk stories as you want, many of which you’ll have never heard or read before, plus insights into all kinds of different areas of folklore and life in the past generally.

I thoroughly recommend exploring it yourself if you’re so inclined, there’s a great weekly pick which is a decent place to start: Weekly Pick.

You should also consider checking out their own genuinely excellent podcast: Blúiríní Béaloidis (The podcast is English language).

But if you want guidance from me here are some stories I’ve enjoyed stumbling across on a variety of topics. While all these stores are in English there is a lot of great Irish content on there as well, so if you can speak Irish you’ll get even more out if it.

I make no claim that these are the best of what the archive has to offer. These really are just a few I randomly stumbled across and enjoyed I also reserve the right to tell any of these on future podcast episodes!

Enchanted Frogs – a proper lengthy fairy tale type of story featuring frogs, giants, rainbows, a wise man and not one but two march cocks. (A March cock is a magical animal in a number of Irish folktales – a cockerel born from an egg laid in the first Tuesday of March and hatched out on a Tuesday of the same month)

A mother comes back – A fairly horrifying story about the faeries and the dead and awful parents – no winners in this one.

A battle with a ghost A reminder of why you don’t get into a fist fight with a ghost.

Some later collecting, from 1985. The Photographic Collection, M010.01.00488

John Cloney was in a wake in Glynn – One of those accounts that’s not really a story but a reporting of facts, featuring a death marked by strange and terrifying events – a storm and a fetch

There was a boy and a girl going together – Not my usual type of story for the podcast but this is just a little slice of life tale of two gold diggers and the thwarting of their plan, that particularly tickled me

Michael Roberts – the local Necromancer – No Necromancy happens in these very short little accounts of a clearly very powerful wizard using his powers for petty fraud and I especially love his lizard-like defence mechanism

The Merrimaid – A fairly typical mermaid story but featuring the odd, but not unique, detail of mermaid traits passed down not to her children, but to the children of the man who abducted her when he had those children with another woman.

A Hidden Treasure – A very short hidden treasure story with a brutal ending

Selected Sources

Musical credits for Episode 44: Petticoat Loose

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Welcome to Tales of Britain & Ireland: A podcast telling folktales, myths and legends from across Britain and Ireland. Hosted by Graeme Cooke.

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