Harvey suggests that the hungry grass is cursed by the proximity of an unshriven corpse (the fear gorta). William Carleton's stories suggest that faeries plant the hungry grass. According to Harvey this myth may relate to beliefs formed in the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. In Margaret McDougall's letters the phrase "hungry grass" is - by analogy to the myth - used to describe hunger pains.
An alternative version of the hungry grass story relates that anyone walking through it is struck by temporary hunger; to safely cross through one must carry a bit of food to eat along the way (such as a sandwich or several crackers), and some beer. According to one contributor to this page, her Irish grandmother, born at the end of the 19th century used the expression 'You must have walked over hungry grass' when she saw someone eating heartily.
- Harvey, Steenie. Twilight places: Ireland's enduring fairy lore. World and I, March 1998, v13 n3.
- Carleton, William. Phelim O'toole's Courtship and Other Stories
- McDougall, Margaret. The Letters of "Norah" on Her Tour Through Ireland
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