Miles Mac an Bháird
His full name was Maolmuire Mac Cú Uladh Mac an Bháird, a cognomen
only a strong man could carry, and it is little surprise to learn that he was
a warrior bard. The literal translation is Mary's Steward, the son of the Hound
of Ulster, son of the Bard. The use of Ulster in assigning proper names had
a long history. One's thoughts go back to the original "Hound of Ulster",
Cu Chulainn, the mighty Ulster champion, whose heroic death is portrayed in
the bronze sculpture created by Oliver Shepherd, which stands in the centre
hall of the General Post Office in O'Connell Street, Dublin, a sculpture commissioned
to commemorate the 1916 Rising.
Of him de Blácam wrote:
"Some other bards who sang of the nation's passion who must be noted.
There was Miles Mac-a-Ward. Young Red Hugh O'Donnell, during his campaign
in 1595, razed castles throughout his territories, his own, the splendid Castle
of Donegal, apparently, among them. This he did, lest the English, with superior
armaments, should capture and garrison strongholds impregnably against the
Irish. As O'Donnell sweeps thus with fire through the land stripping it for
battle, Mac-a-Ward makes a splendid poem, wheren he says to the ruined castle:
'Twas the fear that you should be called "Dún of the Gall"
in earnest, that brought on you, O Dún of the Gael, the pulverising
of the smoothess of your walls.' "
This was an early example of the scorched earth policy carried out in wars
late into the twentieth century.
"There throbs throughout this poem a warrior-bard's hero worship for
Red Hugh, 'the good surgeon who will heal that malady which is the foreigner';
and we are hardly surprised to learn that Mac-a-Ward met his death in battle,
fighting against the English."
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