26Ó Crualaoich, Gearóid. The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wise-woman Healer. Cork: Cork UP, 2003. 150.
A scald-crow is another term for the hooded crow. Crow in Irish is badhbh. But in Irish mythology, the Badhbh was a war goddess, taking the form of a crow, and was thus known as Badb Catha ("battle crow"). It came to mean a witch, fairy, or goddess, represented in folklore by the scald-crow. See Wikipedia.
Ó Crualaoich recounts a story, from Connemara, in which the Cailleach is in opposition to St. Patrick: "As everyone knows this cailleach is supposed to have thousands of years of life. She was there thousands of years before the time of St Patrick and when St Patrick was travelling about the country he happened to meet up with her, himself and his servant. He enquired of the cailleach and how old she was and she told him like this:
'I buried nine times nine people on nine occasions in nine graves in Tralee'.
'What gave you that length of life?' said Patrick.
'I didn't ever carry the muddy dirt of one place beyond that of another place without washing my feet'.
'Have you any other ideas, cailleach, about your age?'
'No seven years of my life ever passed that I didn't toss the bones of a slaughtered bullock up onto that loft there and if you like you can go up there and count them.'
Patrick sent up the servant onto the loft and he started to throw down bones for Patrick to count. It wasn't long before the floor was covered and Patrick asked up to his servant if there was any prospect of their coming to an end. What the servant answered was that he was beginning to make a start on them and that was all. 'Oh, throw them back up again out of my sight', said Patrick. The servant did as he was told.
When that much was done, Patrick walked over to the cailleach and told her that she wouldn't toss up another bone there ever again. He caused her to disappear in a red flash and that was the end of her." (144-45)