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The Chief of Clanawley:
a Poem
This magical tale comes alive in the words of Edward Walsh, the Poet of Duhallow.
There's a feast in the hall where 
    Clanawley's chief dwells,
And waking of wild harps and
    sounding of shells;
Unclasp'd are the helmets - the
    wavy plumes now
Bend graceful no more o'er the
    warriors brow;
The chiefs are all waiting - did
    any behold
The princely McAuliffe, proud
   lord of the wold.

Ah! no, for his tall dogs in 
    idleness howl;
Beyond them the gaunt wolf
    may fearlessly prowl.
The long hunting spear, the
   loud  hunting horn,
No more in the chase o'er the
    wild heath are borne -
For the chase of the grey wolf
    or red mountain deer
Doth least in the thoughts of
    the chieftain appear.

For Ellen - the heiress of all
    that divide
The banks of the Daloo from
    Allo's loud tide
Is dead. Oh! bethink ye,that
    bosom's dismay;
Which consigns all it loves to the
    cold reptile's sway;
And never did love's brilliant
    fetter entwine
More true hearts, McAuliffe,
    than Ellen's and thine.

There's ringing of hands - and
    the mourners' shrill cry,
And the wild 'ullalu' of the
    keenet are nigh,
And the handmaids have strew'd
    early flowers on the grave
Where Kilcorcoran's alders in
    solitude wave;
But an old hoary wizard of
    vision hath told
A tale which the chieftain
    forbears to unfold.

And whispers are heard, that fair
    Ellen survives
Where spells of the fairy bind
    enchanted lives;
That the bier where the mourners
    had poured their despair
Held nought but the semblance
    of young Ellen there.
I wish not what tale did the grey
    wizard tell,
The breast of the chief holds it
    closely and well.

But nightly, since Ellen was
    wrapped in her shroud,
Though the lightning may gleam
    and the fierce storm be loud,
And tho' Daloo's dark water his
    green valley fills;
Increas'd by the streams of his
    cloud-cover'd hills,
Tho' blue flash, wild tempest, and
    wilder waves flight,
He seeks yon lone crag on the
    pine- covered height.

There's a feast in the hall - but he
    climbs the rude steep
When the shadows of darkness
    are silent and deep;
The breeze that had swept 
   yonder home of the dead,
Was bending the pipe on the
    peak's rugged head,
Where rose through the gloom on
    his wonder-struck eye,
A palace where fairies hold
    festival high.
The essence of all that gives  
    colour to light
Did with creatures of earth in
    that structure unite;
And the spirit of music, exalt'd,
Like a spell round the heart of
    the listener entwined.
As he enter'd the portal, and
    pass'd on to where
Gay pleasure was reigning - for
    woman was there.

And wine-bowls of brightness
    the banquet did crown,
In mantle and mail sat old
    chiefs of renown.
The wild-bearded harper's wild
    melody rings
While the fierce 'Eye of Battle'
    arose on the strings.
And shouts of the brave from 
    the mail-cover'd throng
Came blent o'er the board with
    the wild battle song.

There were bright eyes of
    beauty, and bosoms of snow,
The maids that were stolen
    long ages ago,
The sea -nymphs that came
   from their home in the main;
The fairies of ocean and fays
    of the plain;
But the chieftain's eye andered
    the bright circle round,
In search of young Ellen - and
    Ellen it found.

The voice of the harp and the
    hero had fled
When the mortal appear'd at
    the feast of the dead;
But one who in stature
    resembled a god,
Cried "Welcome, O Chief, to
    the crystal abode!"
"Thrice welcome, McAuliffe!"
    the banquet guests cried;
"Thrice welcome, McAuliffe!"
    the echoes replied.

And he who in stature
    resembled a god
To the lord of Clanawley right
    courteously strode
And led him to where stood a
    canopied throne
That with gold and bright
    jewels all gloriously shone;
Then signed to the harper, who
    sweetly and well
Paired the charm of his voice
  with the
'Clairseach's' soft spell.

All hail, potent lord of Clanawley
    to thee,
Thy home long be sacred, thy
    mountains be free;
May the falchion thy fathers to
    victory bore,
Flash vengeance on tyrants till
    thraldom be o'er.

The heroes are met, the
    Clairseach's loud call,
To share the glad feast in the
    banqueting hall;
But often they gather'd in
    mantle  and mail,
At glory's loud call, for the right
    of  the Gael.

These red bowls of brightness
    our banquet guests drain
In flavour exceeds the famed
    'beoir' of the Dane;
And the chiefs of Kindora ne'er
    honoured such wine 
As o'er this glad board pours its
    current divine.
We've maidens like those
    whose thrice beautiful eyes
Lured angels to earth from
    their home in the skies;
And voices are here, at whose
    magical will the
Tempests of ocean were silent
    and still.

With the fair and the brave
    share the banquet of joy,
With music and wine the glad
    moments employ;
And sirens of sweetness shall
    warble for thee,
In this hall of our feasting,
    their songs of the sea.

Then hail, potent lord of
    Clanawley, to thee,
Thy home long be sacred, thy
    mountains be free;
May the falchion thy fathers to
    victory bore,
Flash vengeance on tyrants till
    thraldom be o'er.

McAuliffe then rose to the
    brave and the bright;
"In the hall of Clanawley
    there's feasting tonight.
To stay in your palace, that
    banquet to shun,
My fathers would blush for the
    shame of their son.
I'll dance but one measure,
    then quickly retire
To head the glad feast in the
    home of my sire."

He bow'd to young Ellen - she
    blush'd and looked down;
Some beauties grew pale and
    some maidens did frown,
Such graceful young dancers
    'twere seldom to see,
His stature so noble - so
    beautious was she;
"High heaven defend us," he
    whispering said,
"There's danger, dear maid, in
    this measure we tread."

As quick gleam their steps on
    the diamond -paved floor,
One hand grasps the lady,
    they rush  to the door -
And one the black dagger,
    whose spell-rending steel
The power of the fairy would
    tremble to feel,
Then clasps his fond maid in
    his ardent embrace,
And gaining the portal,
    escapes from the place.

There were rushing of lady
    and chief from the hall,
And wailing and woe would
    the bravest apall;
But the cock's sudden clarion
    gave notice of day
And the hall and the fairy
    guests faded away.
So constant in love and in
    danger so bold,
Have ye heard of a chief like
    the Lord of the Wold?
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The Chief of Clanawley in poetry
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This page last updated 28 June 2009

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