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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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