And desperately for Wykinglo rush that disordered rout
Nor dares one panting fugitive e'en turn his head about.
While, in revenge for gallant Pheagh, the victors urge the 4
Until the castle closed its gates upon their foes' disgrace ;
And many a polished morion, and steel jack glittering lay,
As trophies for the victors, all along the corse-strewn way.-
And but for valiant Montague's well-mounted cuirassiers,
Whose levelled lances sometimes checked the naked rnoun-*
i Pheagh. Pronounced Fay.
122 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
For Essex martial vengeance 1 but few had "scaped that day
Their vengeance who had madly wept above the bier of
And now, throughout all Ranelagh be joy and festive cheer ;
The children may in safety play, the maidens have no fear.
And long may princely Phelim bear the sword Pheagh bravely
And guard as on that glorious day, the ford of Avonmore!
THE MARCH TO KINSALE
BY AUBREY DE VEKE
Don Juan de Aguila, having landed with a large force of Spaniards at Kin-
sale and seized the town, Lord Mountjoy, the Viceroy, and Carew at once
blockaded the place. Hugh O'Donnell and Hugh O'Neill united, and marched
to the relief of the Spaniards. All the plans were laid for a night attack, but
the chiefs were betrayed, lost their way in the stormy 'darkness of the night,
and when morning broke were easily defeated. Aguila surrendered and re-
turned with his troops to Spain, whither followed Hugh O'Donnell. O'Neill
retreated to Ulster.
O'ER many a river bridged with ice,
Through many a vale with snow-drifts dumb,
Past quaking fen and precipice
The Princes of the North are come !
Lo, these are they that year by year,
Roll'd back the tide of England's war ;
Rejoice Kinsale ! thy help is near !
That wondrous winter march is o'er.
And thus they sang, " To-morrow morn
Our eyes shall rest upon the foe.
Roll on, swift night, in silence borne,
And blow, thou breeze of sunrise, blow ! "
i Essex, annoyed by tliis Mini ollmr defeats sustained by hi- armies, ordered
the execution of a yoiihLr In-h lieutenant, Pierce Walslic, ;i II hough he could
in nn M-II-O have been termed responsible for the rout at Rathdrum. He even
succeeded in saving the colours and drum of his company, but a scapjgoat
was needed and ho was executed.
THE THIRD PERIOD 123
Blithe as a boy on march'd the host
With droning pipe and clear- voiced harp ;
At last above that southern coast
Bang out their war-steeds' whinny sharp ;
And up the sea-salt slopes they wound,
And airs once more of ocean quaff d ;
Those frosty woods the blue wave's bound,
As though May touched them waved and laugh'd.
And thus they sang, ** To-morrow morn
Our eyes shall rest upon our foe :
Roll on swift night, in silence borne,
And blow, thou breeze of sunrise, blow ! "
Beside their watch-fires couch'd all night
Some slept, some danced, at cards some play'd,
While chanting on a central height
Of moonlit crag, the priesthood pray'd :
And some to sweetheart, some to wife
Sent message kind ; while others told
Triumphant tales of recent fight
Or legends of their sires of old.
And thus they sang, " To-morrow morn
Our eyes at last shall see the foe :
Roll on, swift night, in silence borne,
And blow, thou breeze of sunrise, blow I "
January 3, A.D. 1602
After Kinsale Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O'Donnell, Hugh's
younger brother, made their peace with the English Crown. The latter was
made Earl of Tyrconnell.
WHAT man can stand amid a place of tombs,
Nor yearn to that poor vanquished dust beneath?
Above a nation's grave no violet blooms ;
A vanquished nation lies in endless death.
124 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
'Tis past ; the dark is dense with ghost and vision !
All lost ! the air is throng'd with moan and wail :
But one day more and hope had been fruition :
O Athunree, thy fate o'erhung Kinsale !
What name is that which lays on every head
A hand like fire, striking the strong locks grey ?
What name is named not save with shame and dread.
Once let us breathe it, then no more for aye !
Kinsale ! accursed be he, the first who bragg'd
" A city stands where roam'd but late the flock,"
Accurs'd the day, when, from the mountain dragg'd,
Thy corner-stone forsook the mother-rock !
THE BATTLE OF THE RAVEN'S GLEN
BY R. D. JOYCE
Another incident in O 'Sullivan Beare's famous retreat from Glengariff to
tieitrim, after Kinsale and the capture of O 'Sullivan's castle of Dunboy. Of
the thousand who left Glengariff, only thirty -five reached O'Rorke's castle at
FROM the halls of his splendour by Bantry and Beara,
From his turrets that look o'er the silver Kinmera 1
With his band of brave warriors O'Sullivan bore him
Till the mountains of Limerick rose darkly before him ;
There he camped on the heath where the deep pools were
With the stars of the night, in the Glen of the Raven.
* Kinxuera Keuumre Bay.
THE THIRD PERIOD 125
In that glen was no sound save the murmur of fountains,
And the moonbeams were silvering the thunder-split moun-
When a horse tramp was heard from the Ounanaar's l water,
Sounding down from the gorge of the dark Vale of Slaughter,
And the rider ne'er reined till his long plume was waven
By the breezes that sighed through the Glen of the Raven.
Up sprang from the heather the chieftains around him,
And they asked where the foe 'mid the moorlands had found
For they knew he had passed through the battle's fierce labour
From the foam o'er his steed and the blood on his sabre,
While the rocks with the hoofs of their chargers were graven
As they pranced into lines in the Glen of the Raven.
'Twas the scout of lone Bregoge : he'd heard in the gloaming
Fierce yells o'er that rough torrent's roaring and foaming ;
Then a dash and a shout and a rushing did follow,
For the foe burst around him from hillside and hollow ;
But a road to his chief through their ranks he had claven
Now he stood by his side in the Glen of the Raven.
Up started Black Hugh from his couch by the fountain,
The outlaw of Dana from Brone's rugged mountain.
" There's a passage," he said, " over Ounanaar's water,
Where Clan Morna of old were defeated with slaughter ;
There bide we the steps of the traitor and craven
And he ne'er shall come down through th Glen of the Raven."
1 Ounanaar = Glenanaar = Vale of Slaughter.
126 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
The ambush was set in the Passage of Lightning,
And now in the moonlight sharp weapons came brightening.
The lance of the Saxon from Mulla and Mallow,
And the pike of the kern from the wilds of Duhallow ;
Soon they clash with the swords of the men of Bearhaven,
Who now slowly retreat to the Glen of the Raven.
Then O'Sullivan burst like the angel of slaughter
On the foe by the current of Geeragh's wild water,
And his brave men of Cork and of Kerry's wild regions
Were the rushing destroyers, his death-dealing legions ;
And onward they rode over traitor and craven,
Whose bones long bestrewed the lone Glen of the Raven.
All silent again over forest and mountain,
Save the voice in that glen of Ossheen's ancient fountain ;
While O'Sullivan's crest with its proud eagle feather
And broadswords and pikes glitter now from the heather ;
For where the dark pools with the bright stars are graven,
Secure rests the clan in the Glen of the Raven.
THE THIRD PERIOD 127
THE PRINCES OF THE NORTH
BY ETHNA CARBERY
In the year 1607 the Government supposed, or feigned to suppose, that
O'Neill and O'Donnell were plotting against it. They were cited to appear
in Dublin on a certain date, and were ready to do so when the date was post-
poned and the chiefs, weary of their insecure position and the treachery by
which they were surrounded, retired into voluntary exile, leaving the shores
of Ireland for ever in the September of that year. O'Donnell died in 1608,
but O'Neill lived on sadly for eight years, dying in Home in 1616.
SUMMER and Winter the long years have flown
Since you looked your last for ever on the hills of
On the vales of Tyrconnell, on the faces strained that night
To watch you, Hugh and Rory, over waves in your flight.
Not in Uladh of your kindred your bed hath been made
Where the holy earth haps them and the quicken-tree gives
But your dust lies afar, where Rome hath given space
To the tanist of O'Donnell, and the Prince of Nial's race.
O sad in green Tyrone when you left us, Hugh O'Neill,
In our grief and bitter need, to the spoiler's cruel steel ?
And sad in Donegal when you went, O'Rory Ban,
From your father's rugged towers and the wailing of your clan.
Our hearts had bled to hear of that dastard deed in Spain ;
We wept our Eaglet, in his pride, by Saxon vileness slain ;
And, girded for revenge, we waited but the call of war
To bring us like a headlong wave from heathery height and
128 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
Ochon and ochon when the tidings travelled forth
That our chiefs had sailed in sorrow from the glens of the north.
Ochon and ochon ! how our souls grew sore afraid,
And our love followed after in the track your keel had made !
And yet in green Tyrone they keep your memory still,
And tell you never fled afar, but sleep in Aileach Hill
In stony sleep, with sword in hand and stony steed beside,
Until the horn shall waken you the rock gate open wide.
Will you come again, O Hugh, in all your olden power,
In all the strength and skill we knew, with Rory, in that hour
When the Sword leaps from its scabbard, and the night hath
And Banbha's battle-cry rings loud at Dawning of the Day.
LAMENT OF THE LADY NUALA O'DONNELL
BY P. J. MCCALL
The Lady Nuala was wife of Red Hugh (pronounce Noola)
MY heart is sore, loved Donegal,
As sore as woman's heart can be ;
For every night sad voices call
Across the angry western sea.
I hear in them the waves that plained
The night we left Loch Swilly's shore.
They are moaning Nuala, Nuala,
-Ulster is no more !
Wave on wave moans Nuala, Nuala,
Ulster is no more I
THE THIRD PERIOD 129
I hear the wrathful winds of Heaven
That pushed our prow with might and main,
And strove, till they had almost driven
The homeless chieftains home again. 1
To-night these winds ring in mine ear,
As oft they rang at port and door ;
They are shrieking Nuala, Nuala,
Ulster is no more !
Wind on wind shrieks Nuala, Nuala,
Ulster is no more !
And oh ! there comes another sigh,
More sad than either wave or wind
It is the echo of that cry
That came from those we left behind.
To-night they sit in hopeless woe,
And weep by Tanad's rocky fore.
They are sobbing Nuala, Nuala,
Ulster is no more !
Voice on voice sobs Nuala, Nuala j
Ulster is no more !
CHIEFTAIN OF TYRCONNELL
BY ALFKED PEECIVAL GRAVES
SORE misery to Erin that you spread
Your sails for far-oS Espan, Hugh the Red !
But sorest doom that on a foreign strand
Quenched your keen eye and from your falt'ring hand
Struck down the faithful brand.
1 " The homeless chieftains home again." The ship containing the Earla of
Tyrone and Tyrconnell sailed from Lough Swilly to Spain, but was driven by
adverse winds so far south along the western coast that Croach Patrick could
130 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
Who now for us shall sweep the cattle spoil
In bellowing tumult o'er the foamy Foyle ?
And till the steers are driv'n dispersed to sward,
Hurl back, like thee, the Avenger from the ford,
Hugh O'Donnell of the Sword ?
Who now upon the plunderers from the Pale
Shall wreak the fiery vengeance of the Gael ?
With sudden onslaught strike the Saxon crew
And smite them, as you smote them, through and through-
Chieftain of Tyrconnell, who ?
Last, who like thee, with comforts manifold
Shall keep and cherish sick, and poor, and old ?
For, ah ! thy open ever-flowing store
Of food and drink and clothing, meat galore,
Fails them now, for evermore.
THE FOURTH PERIOD
FROM THE FLIGHT OF THE EARLS TO THE REBEL-
LION OF PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD. A.D. 1607
TO A.D. 1745
THE FOURTH PERIOD
From the Flight of the Earls to the Rebellion of Prince Charles
Edward. A.D. 1607 to A.D. 1745
BY WILLIAM O'NEILL
After the attainder and flight of the great Earls, their possessions were
seized by the Crown, and the Pale was thus augmented by the addition of six
northern counties, and King James I began the Plantation of Ulster. As
the following poem shows this policy was also carried out hi ;>ther parts of
Ireland, notably in Leix, whose noble families, the O'More's and O'Lalors,
were, says the author in a note, " transferred to the mountains of Kerry to
make room for Saxon planters whose descendants still retain possession of
their ill-gotten property.
AMONG the wilds of Kerry when night is on the peaks,
And but the curlew wakens the silence of the Keeks,
I listen for the slogan that stirred the glens afar
When Leix was Eire's vanguard and youth glowed like a star.
But vain I wait and listen for Rory Og * is dead,
And in the halls of Dunamase a Saxon rules instead,
And o'er his fruitful acres the stranger now is lord
Where since the days of Cuchorb a proud O'Moore kept
I love those grand old mountains, yet they are naught to me
When dreams of home come crowding here by the western sea,
For then Ard Eirinn pushes its forehead to the sky
And shuts out from my vision the towering summits nigh.
1 Rory Oge O'More died 1578. Dunamase was the O'JVlores' castle in
134 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
I, snowy haired O'Lalor, can feel the hot blood pass
At memory of the morning when o'er the dewy grass
We hied us to the hosting on Gaillne's sunny plain,
When Clan O'Byrne was mustering to meet the foe again.
God ! how our bosoms bounded when 'neath the flags unfurled
Against the Saxon cravens our headlong strength we hurled,
And marking Cosby 's butchers amid the battle smoke,
For Mullaghmast and vengeance we thro' them madly broke.
And at the chieftain's shoulder in many a midnight raid
When on the startled settlers we direful havoc made,
My skian dealt death around it as forth and out it flashed
And, scorning all obstruction, thro' helm and corselet crashed.
But time has touched the arm and dulled the skian with rust,
While here I pine, an exile, and dream because I must.
No more the joy of battle by Barrow's side to know,
Nor wrestle at the Tourney as in the long ago.
No more in dear old Dysart I'll share the jovial feast,
Nor dance the rinnke fadaHo smile of chief and priest.
For in the soil of Kerry my mouldering bones shall lie
Before the summer dawnings flush all the Eastern sky.
* riae.ke fada means long dance.
THE FOURTH PERIOD 135
KING CHARLES'S GRACES
BY AUBREY DE VERB
In 1626 " a deputation from the principal nobility and gentry of Ireland
waited on the King (Charles I) and offered a voluntary contribution of 120,000
to be paid in three years in return for civil and religious liberty." Fifty-one
concessions were demanded ; " they were denominated ' Graces ' and were in
the nature of a ' Petition of Right ' ". Walpole. The King graciously granted
the petition ; 40,000, the first instalment of the subsidy, was cheerfully paid
and Parliament was summoned to give the force of law to the King's con-
cession. Care, however, was taken by the King and his friends that Parlia-
ment should meet without having fulfilled the provisions of Poynings Act;
thus it was merely an illegal assembly and could do nothing. In this way
King Charles I gained 40,000, which he sorely needed, at the trifling expense
of his honour, and the Catholics of Ireland remained under the bondage of
the Penal Laws.
r I ^HUS babble the strong ones, " The chain is slacken'd,
JL Ye can turn half round on your side to sleep !
With the thunder-cloud still your isle is blacken 'd ;
But it hurls no bolt upon tower or steep.
Ye are slaves in name : old laws proscribe you ;
But the King is kindly, the Queen is fair ;
They are knaves or fools who would goad or bribe you
A legal freedom to claim ! Beware ! "
We answer thus : Our country's honour
To us is dear as our country's life !
That stigma the foul law casts upon her
Is the brand on the fame of a blameless wife !
Once more we answer : From honour never
Can safety long time be found apart :
The bondsman that vows not his bond to sever
Is a slave by right and a slave in heart 1
136 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
O'HUSSEY'S ODE TO THE MAGUIRE
Translated by J. C. MANGAN
One of Mangan's finest pieces, and refers to the famous Hugh Maguire,
chief of Fermanagh. Hugh went on some expedition during which he en-
countered unusually inclement weather. O'Hussey was the family bard of
the Maguires, and lived in the early years of the seventeenth century.
WHERE is my Chief, my Master, this bleak night
cold, cold, miserably cold is this bleak night for Hugh.
Its showery, arrowy, speary sleet pierceth one through and
Pierceth one to the very bone !
Rolls real thunder ? Or, was that red livid light
Only a meteor ? I scarce know ; but, through the midnight
The pitiless ice-wind streams. Except the hate that perse-
Nothing hath crueller venomy might.
An awful, a tremendous night is this meseems !
The floodgates of the rivers of heaven, I think, have been
Down from the overcharged clouds, like unto headlong ocean's
Descends grey rain in roaring streams.
Though he were even a wolf ranging the round green woods,
Though he were even a pleasant salmon in the unchangeable
Though he were a wild mountain eagle, he could scarce bear,
This sharp sore sleet, these howling floods.
THE FOURTH PERIOD 137
0, mournful is my soul this night for Hugh Maguire !
Darkly, as in a dream, he strays ! Before him and behind
Triumphs the tyrannous anger of the wounding wind,
The wounding wind that burns as fire !
It is my bitter grief it cuts me to the heart
That in the country of Clan Darry this should be his fate !
Oh, woe is me, where is he ? Wandering, houseless, desolate,
Alone, without or guide, or chart !
Medreams I see just now his face, the strawberry bright
Uplifted to the blackened heavens, while the tempestuous
Blow fiercely over and round him, and the smiting sleet-
The hero of Galang to-night !
Large, large affliction unto me and mine it is,
That one of his majestic bearing, his fair, stately form,
Should thus be tortured and o'erborne that this unsparing
Should wreak its wrath on head like his !
That his great hand, so oft the avenger of the oppressed,
Should this chill, churlish night, perchance, be paralyzed by
While through some icicle-hung thicket as one lorn and lost
He walks and wanders without rest.
The tempest-driven torrent deluges the mead,
It overflows the low banks of the rivulets and ponds
The lawns and pasture-grounds lie locked in icy bonds
So that the cattle cannot feed.
138 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
The pale bright margins of the streams are seen by none.
Rushes and sweeps along the untameable flood on every side-
It penetrates and fills the cottagers' dwellings far and wide
Water and land are blent in one.
Through some dark woods, 'mid bones of monsters, Hugh now
As he confronts the storm with anguished heart but manly
Oh ! what a sword-wound to that tender heart of his were
A backward glance at peaceful days !
But other thoughts are his thoughts that can still inspire
With joy and an onward-bounding hope the bosom of Mac-
Thoughts of his warriors charging like bright billows of the
Borne on the wind's wings, flashing fire !
And though frost glaze to-night the clear dew of his eyes,
And white ice-gauntlets glove his noble, fine, fair fingers o'er,
A warm dress is on him, that lightning garb he ever wore,
The lightning of the soul, not skies.
Hugh marched forth to the fight I grieved to see him so
And lo ! to-night he wanders frozen, rain-drenched, sad,
But the memory of the lime-white mansions his right hand
In ashes warms the hero's heart !
THE FOURTH PERIOD 139
BRIAN BOY MAGEE
BY ETHNA CARBERY
As King Charles I. was having trouble with his parliament, he required his
English army for his own support, so he sent a Scotch army to Ireland, under
General Monroe. Monroe took up his quarters in Carrikfergus Castle, and
signalized his arrival by the brutal massacre of Island Mageo. At the lowest
computation thirty families were slaughtered.
I AM Brian Boy Magee
My father was Eoghain Ban
I was wakened from happy dreams
By the shouts of my startled clan ;
And I saw through the leaping glare
That marked where our homestead stood,
My mother swing by her hair
And my brothers lie in their blood.
In the creepy cold of the night 1
The pitiless wolves came down
Scotch troops from that Castle grim
Guarding Knockfergus Town ;
And they hacked and lashed and hewed
With musket and rope and sword,
Till my murdered kin lay thick
In pools by the Slaughter Ford.
I fought by my father's side,
And when we were fighting sore
We saw a line of their steel
With our shrieking women before ;
The red-coats drove them on
To the verge of the Gobbins grey,
Hurried them God ! the sight !
As the sea foamed up for its prey.
1 It was in November.
140 HISTORICAL BALLAD POETRY OF IRELAND
Oh, tall were the Gobbins cliffs,
And sharp were the rocks, my woe I
And tender the limbs that met
Such terrible death below ;
Mother and babe and maid,
They clutched at the empty air
With eyeballs widened in fright
That hour of despair.
(Sleep soft in your heaving bed,
little fair love of my heart 1
The bitter oath I have sworn
Shall be of my life a part ;
And for every piteous prayer
You prayed on your way to die,
May I hear an enemy plead
While I laugh and deny.)
In the dawn that was gold and red,
Ay, red as the blood-choked stream.
I crept to the perilous brink
Great Christ ! was the night a dream ?
In all the Island of Gloom
1 only had life that day
Death covered the green hill-sides,
And tossed in the Bay.
I have vowed by the pride of my sires
By my mother's wandering ghost
By my kinsfolk's shattered bones
Hurled on the cruel coast
By the sweet dead face of my love,
And the wound in her gentle breast
To follow that murderous band,
A sleuth-hound who knows no rest.
THE FOURTH PERIOD 141
I shall go to Phelim O'Neill *
With my sorrowful tale and crave
A blue-bright blade of Spain,
In the ranks of his soldiers brave.
And God grant me the strength to wield
That shining avenger well
When the Gael shall sweep his foe
Through the yawning gates of Hell.
I am Brian Boy Magee !
And my creed is a creed of hate ;
Love, Peace, I have cast aside
But Vengeance, Vengeance, I wait !
Till I pay back the four-fold debt
For the horrors I witnessed there,
When my brothers moaned in their blood
And my mother swung by her hair.
BY W. DRENNAN
" Rory O'More was the representative of the ancient house of the O'Moorea
of Leix, which had been well-nigh exterminated in the plantation of Queen's
County. He had passed some years on the Continent, where he had been very
intimate with the titular young Earl of Tyrone, Hugh's only surviving son.
He had secretly enlisted Lord Maguire Baron of Inniskillen, who had been
restored to a portion of the Maguire estates in Fermanagh ; Sir Phelim O'Neil
of Kinard . . . and Richard Plunkett, a gentleman of the Pale. They were
soon joined by several gentlemen of the ancient septs of the north. . . . The
plan of acton decided on was ... to seize Dublin Castle. . . . Simultane-
ously the forts and garrison towns hi the north were to be surprised. . . .
The whole enterprise was to be carried out with as little bloodshed as possible
.... The expressed object of the movement was (1) to compel the King
to re-establish the Roman Catholic Religion, (2) to repeal Poyning's Act, and
(3) to restore the confiscated estates.""
ON the green hills of Ulster the white cross waves high,
And the beacon of war throws its flames to the sky ;
For the taunt and the threat let the coward endure,
Our hope is in God and in Rory O'Moore !
1 Sir Phelim O'Neill, who commanded the rebel forces In the early period
of the rebellion and who was executed by the Cromwellians in 1653,