Why Sarah Connelly never returned from her journey from Donbridge

RD Vincent

My grandmother arrived in our driveway early Saturday morning honking her horn in a liberal fashion. Birds took to the sky over the loud ruckus of the car horn, which echoed against the house. Inside our kitchen, my mother had just finished baking Soda Bread, which was still too hot to eat.

Four-leaf clover failed to provide any luck for a woman who Sarah Connelly of Donbridge.

Knowing it was garage sale day, I hurried through the kitchen and grabbed an apple. Waving good-bye to my mother, I ran out the door to meet my grandma, who was waiting in her car. 

“I hope you are ready for a great day of yard sales. I have the whole day mapped out,” she said as she handed me her list of addresses of estate sales in the region. Soon she set her car in drive and we began to head down the road for what seemed a long time. 

As we passed along the country roads and farms, we came upon a strange meadow that seemed to be brightly greener than the other fields around it. I had not been to this area before, but my grandmother seemed oddly familiar with the landscape. Seeing the great green field, my grandmother slowed her car down and pulled over. “I know this field,” she said as she looked on in nostalgia. Soon a story came from her as we parked by the field.

Long ago, a woman named Sarah Connelly lived in the apartment over Donbridge church tower. She was the eldest daughter of Reverend Connelly, the town preacher, and was well known for a journey she embarked on many years earlier, one from which she never returned.

It was a spring-like afternoon when it was said that Sarah was hiking the many trails of Donbridge. And it was on this journey that she encountered a large creature which looked like a large black bear with the features of a panther.

Startled by the beast, Sarah fell backwards and slid down the side of a long knoll covered in dead leaves and dried white pine needles. When she reached the bottom, she slammed into a fallen tree and was knocked unconscious for several hours.

When she awoke, she saw a bubbling pool of blue water clear to the bottom and ice cold to the touch. At its center, where the water appeared to be welling up from its center, a bright green plant glistened at its top.

Sarah was taken aback by the plant, and as she reached over to the touch the herb to observe it further, the fountain stopped moving and the water turned to black. The plant, however, continued to glisten in the sun.

Sarah decided to pull the plant from the top of the fountain and, as she did, the round leaves divided into four sections, making a perfect clover pattern. Sarah took off her bonnet, filled it with dirt, and planted the clover plant in her hat and carried it home.

For weeks, Sarah nurtured the plant and soon made cuttings from its leaves and rooted them. After three months, Sarah grew nearly twenty plants and decided that she needed to find a place to plant them. Feeling that the only true location the plants would thrive would be near the fountain, Sarah decided to try to find it again. 

Sarah traveled for weeks on end, and, as she hiked, concern that her plants would die clouded her mind. So every few miles she would find a field and plant a clover plant. But when she planted it, she would always take a cutting to root a new plant.  Sarah continued to look for the fountain, planting clover along the way.

People all over the countryside would find the clover and see it as a sign of good luck. They knew Sarah Connelly was still on her journey, planting her dutifully named four-leaf clovers. As for Sarah, it was said she never found the fountain and never returned to Donbridge as she was forever on her journey.

When Grandma finished, she looked across at the field and then looked to me and then she emerged from the car. Opening my door, I followed her, and we crossed the road and headed out toward the green meadow. As we did, the brightly green field began to fade away, but when we looked down a small patch of four-leaf clover was at our feet, brightly glistening in the sun.

Soda bread is a quick bread that was traditionally baked on a stone or in a pot. The name comes from the use of baking soda for leavening rather than yeast. Raisins are often added.

Mom’s Soda Bread

1 c. raisins

1 3/4 c. milk

1/2 t. vinegar

4 1/2 c. flour  

1 T. Honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 t. baking soda                                  

2 T. butter

1 1/2 T. olive oil


1 large egg, whisked

Preheat oven to 425°.

Add raisins to a mixing bowl and cover with water.  Set aside.

Measure out milk and add 1/2 t. of vinegar to it to sour it. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda.

Drain raisins. To dry mixture, add butter, oil, honey and wet raisins. Stir well. 

Add sour milk and egg, stir well.

On a floured surface, pour batter onto the table and knead. Add flour if sticky. Form the dough into a dome and place it onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Makes 1 loaf

RD Vincent shares fables his grandmother told him as a child growing up on the family farm.