Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory was a playwright, folklorist, theatre director and key figure in the Irish Literary Revival that took place at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Her home, Coole Park outside Gort in County Galway, could be considered to be the home of this literary revival because it was frequented by many of the key figures involved with it, including W B Yeats, J M Synge, George Bernard Shaw, Douglas Hyde, Sean O’Casey, Sir Hugh Lane, Edward Martyn and George Moore.
In Colin Smythe’s book A Guide to Coole Park Co. Galway – Home of Lady Gregory, he includes the following account by Lady Gregory in which she describes her encounter with a pine marten:
‘The marten cat is no longer I think an inhabitant of our woods. Yet a score or so of years ago, its beautiful fur, hardly to be known from sable, made winter trimmings for our coats, so often were they found in the rabbit traps, or so the old Keeper said. But he hated them, believed they devoured the pheasant eggs, and I suspect it was his gun that ran up the score of pelts.
One day, hearing that a marten cat had been taken alive in a trap and brought into the stables, I went out to see it there, and well remember its eyes of green fire. It was but a toe that was held by the steel teeth & I said it must be set free, though it was no loving look that had been turned on me by those blazing eyes. I had all the dogs locked up before the stable door was set upon, and when the steel jaws were loosened the little beast made for the door like a flash and vanished into the nearest edge of the Shanwalla Wood. A little later when the dogs were released, they had not forgotten their disappointment, and were on the trail in a moment. But there was no chance for them, it had travelled its hundred acres (as our cats are said to do in the night time) in the treetops above our heads.’