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The Legend of Mealane:
a Poem
The tragic tale of Mealane Ni Auliffe told in the words of Edward Walsh, the Poet of Duhallow.
'Tis night and the moon from her
    star-clad height
Sheds her mantle of silver hue
    o'er Clonfert's green graves,
And all sparkling bright Daloo in
    her gleam
Beams a sheet of light where 
    murmur its waters blue.

In the gloom from afar o'er the
    soothing scene -
The tall cliff and wavy wood.
And mournful and grey are the
    rude rocks seen:
So heaves the green turf in
    huge mounds between
Where Castle McAuly stood.

Here frowned the dark turrets in
    lordly pride;
Here smiled the gay chieftain's
    hall.
The clansmen here marshall'd in
    order wide;
When war-fires high blazed on
    the mountain's side,
For battle at glory's call.

Here ne'er shall the string of the
    clairseach wake,
The songs of the hall are o'er.
No more shall the voice of the
    victor break;
When home o'er the mountain
    their wild way take -
The kern and crahodore.


The clansmen who battled with
    Saxon foes;
the chief of the lordly dome;
The bard at whose call the stout
    clansmen rose;
In death undistinguished all
    calm repose.
They are gone to their silent
home.

Lo! Yonder where moss-grown
    the gravestones lie,
MacAuliffe sad sought the tomb.
He died not in battle by
    victor high;
Heartbroken he yielded his
    latest sigh
For Meelan his daughter's
    doom.

Daloo! While there glidest thy
    groves between,
Shall the maids of thy sunlit
    glade
Twine horror-fraught tales of
    the nuptial scene,
With the olden lays echoed
    through woodland green,
For Meelan, the gold-haired maid.

And mild as the lambkin that
    crops the the lea,
And pensive as cowslips pale,
She oft sought the valley alone
- for she
Was woo'd by a chieftain of high
degree
In yonder dark lonely dale.


O'Herly was gallant and brave
    and gay;
And chronicles ancient tell,
That Malachy bid his fair
1
    daughter say
Who'd kiss her pure cheek on
the nuptial day -
Her choice on O'Herly fell.


Fond pair! You have woven in
    fancy's loom,
Sweet garlands of pleasure gay;
Dark destiny withers your
    garlands' bloom,
Yet could beauty, could merit,
    revoke the doom.
Not yours were this plaintive lay.


The glad nuptial arrives
    and lo
the high notes of joy rebound;
The priests are in waiting, a
    glorious show -
The bards raptured voices all
    sweetly flow,
To join the wild harps soft
    sound.


As blooms the young rose in the
    sunbeams clear
With bright pearly dew bespent,
So fair Meelan shone, through 
    the smile and tear
When the young chief soothed
    each maiden fear
as they to the altar went.


How glorious the pomp of the 
    lordly train,
that leads the young pair along;
What silver-shod coursers proud
    paved the plain -
Clonfert never saw, in her
    sacred fame,
so gallant, so fair a throng


To view the proud pageant the
    deep crowds press'd,
Warm hearts in hot wars' urmoil,
Whose lips warmly praying, the
    bright pair bless'd,
As they went where the priests
    were in surplices dress's
to the altar along the aisle.
The hollow wind whistled the
    tombs among,
The owl from her ivory tower,
her harsh nightly notes on the
    daylight rung,
When young Meelan whispered,
    with faltering tongue,
Consent to the nuptial power.

The marriage ring wax'd,as the
    moonbeam pale,
And deep was her heart's
    dark fall,
As the loud tempest gahtered
    adown the dale,
And the bride and the bride-
    groom sad sought the vale,
that led to MacAuliffe's hall.

The hollow wind's whistle, the
    owlet's cry,
The marriage ring's paly glow;
The gloom of the moment, the
    unconscious sigh,
The lowering dark cloud of the
    boding sky,
Proclaim a sad tale of woe.

The sun hath gone down o'er the
    mountain sreep,
And tinges its glades with gold;
The voice if the banquet is loud
    and deep -
The last and latest that hall
    shall keep,
Clanawlwy shall e'er behold.

Poor bride and the handmaids
    thy chamber spread,
And show the gay fragrant
    flower;
Thou wilt press with thy lover
    no nuptial bed -
Borne off by enchantment so
    drear and dread,
From bridegroom and bridal
    bower.

The revelry rose on the night's 
    dull ear,
The vaulted hall loudly rung -
When Meelan discover'd in
    wildest fear,
A stranger was seated beside
    her near,
As 'twelve' the strict warder
    sung.

His flowing locks mock'd the
    dark raven's plume,
His carriage commanding high,
Bespoke the proud chieftain; 
    but silent gloom
O'erspread every bosom  
    around the room
Though none knew the reason
why.

His bright eye keen flash'd 
    with unearthly fire,
No mortal might its glow;
The guests of the banquet 
    with cold hearts retire,
The bard's fingers ceased o'er
    the trembling wire,
His presence such fears 
    bestow.

Ye guests of the banquet
    surcease your dread;
Right courteous the Stranger
    tall
He fills o'er the table the wine
    bowl red,
He pledges the bride with low-
    bending head -
The bridegroom and chieftain
    and all.

He leads the young bride in 
    the circling dance,
Most regal his robes were 
    seen;
The banquet guests viewed
    him with eyes askance -
The bride, oh! She trembled
    beneath his glance,
Though graceful and gay his
    mein.

How quick gleam her steps on
    the marble floor,
And gentle her light foot 
    sound
In the hall which her light foot
    oft trod before,
As she led her gay handmaids
    that marble o'er
To move in that mazy round.

'Tis done - when the murmurs
    applausive ceased
The chief led the blooming 
    bride
Where Malachy 'mid the high
    chieftains placed
Presided supreme o'er the
    nuptial feast,
Then sat by the maiden's side.

"Thy light step, fair bride" the
    dark stranger said,
"But echoed the music's sound;
With fair blooming beauties 
    the dance I've led -
Their charms would have van-
   ished, their light step fled,
Wert thou in the mazy round.

I have young maid and her
    face is thine,
And thine are her tresses long,
And thine is her dark eye of
    light divine -
And Oh! If thou listen to 
    strains of mine
I'll sing to my fair a song."
She bow'd - and he raised
    some enchanted tone
Ne'er warbled by mortal
    tongue.
If golden-harp'd seraphs to
    earth had flown,
The voice of the stranger
    would seem their own,
And these were the strains
    he sung: -

THE SONG OF THE SPIRIT

Thou knowest where yon moun-
    tain uprears its huge head,
Where the hoarse torrent roars
    down its rude rocky bed,
There stands my bright palace -
    high dwelling of air -
And the bride of my bosom shall
    smile on me there.

Where the hues of the rainbow
    all glorious unite,
Festooning the hall in gay
    vapours of light,
Whose diamond-starred pave-
    ment now sparkles in sheen,
Far brighter than gems, the
    deep grottos of Lene.

The soft bridal bed my beloved
    shall share,
I've plucked from the perlons of
    spirits of air.
And the fairies of ocean by
    strong spell beguiled,
Shall soothe her to slumber with
    melody wild.

I know where the waters of
    loveliness flow,
Whose pure draught can beauty
    immortal bestow;
And the rose of her cheek, and
    the snow of her brow,
Shall through the wreck'd ages
    as peerless as now.

My chariot the wild winds, my
    pathway the sky,
O'er wide earth and ocean
    unfettered I fly;
And my bright bird of beauty
    can wing her quick way
On the zephyr's soft pinion, as
    light fancy may.


I know where the diamonds of
    brightness have birth,
In the caves of old ocean and
    dark womb of earth;
I'll choose for my fairest the
    rarest of all,
To deck as she pleases the
    crystal-built hall.


'Tis the night of my bridal - I've
    passed it with you;
The morning star blazes - ye
    chieftains, Adieu!
When yearly this dark night of
    wonder shall be,
Remember the bridal; and
    think, think of me.


High lord of the castle, dark
    chief of the wold,
The banquet of feasting I leave
    but, behold!
I'll snatch to my bosom the maid
    of my vow,
McAuliffe's bright daughter,
    that maiden art thou.


'Tis vain, O rash bridegroom
    nor tempt my high power
I've decked for Meelan the
    gay nuptial bower;
My train are in waiting,
    impatient I fly,
My chariot the wild winds, my
    pathway the sky.


Then rose through the castle 
    the wild guests fright,
As his strong arm he twined her
    round.
And winged through the wide
    yawning roof of his flight;
But ne'er was the bride, since
    that fear-fraught night,
Or the mysterious stranger,
    found.

To yonder rude cliff called from
    Meelan's name,
Through many an olden day -
Where stood the gay hall of
    enchanted fame,
Invisible save to the wizard's
    beam -
The mountain-sprite bore his
    prey.

At night when cottagers calm
    repose,
And silent the grove and green,
Fair Meelan is oft at the dark
    heat's close,
While swells the sad tale of her
    fate and woes,
Near her rock of enchantment
    seen.
2
NOTES
1. Although Malachy is named as the Chieftain in the above poem, it is believed that Mealane (Meelan or Meelin) was most likely the daughter of Florence, the last real Chieftain of the clan. He was outlawed in 1641, after which the remaining MacAuliffe lands were split between Sir Richard Aldworth and the Earl of Orrery, hence the information in the article by M.Hickey that "the lands of McAuliffe passed to strange hands".

2. It is said that even today a ghostly figure in bridal dress has sometimes been seen near Meelan's Rock (nowadays known as Moylan's Rock).
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The Legend of Mealane in poetry
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This page last updated 28 June 2009

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