The Downfall of the O'Donnells
I am sad for Mary and Margaret, the flower of the lowly branches lives no
more: they have shed their leaves, two nurses of care are they.
Alas, alas, grief hath left their hearts bloodless: the two companions of the
learned of Ulster's land, it is sad that they have run dry.
Their grief is the same as mine: Hugh Roe was the first cause of our anguish;
Rury of Cabha torments us, his departure is the cause of our ruin.
We are a poor flock without a shepherd. Caffar, head of Erin's honour, lies
beneath a gravestone--what sadder fate ? -- away in Italy.
In Italy of shallow waterfalls--it is as though she were dead--is Nuala, the
swan of the nut-grown plain of Corm; her loss to us is agony.
Nuala the bounteous, the hope of all, first in renown of the blood of
Criomhthan, to the day of doom shall live the fame of her name among the men of
There was reft from us (what a loss!) the first in this land--an omen of
grief--he of the gentle grey eyes, trusty in battle, Manus, the wing of Ulster.
Manus, son of O'Donnell, in Uisueach's land of dark yew-trees was unsurpassed
by the host of his coevals, the very Naoise of Felim's race.
Four salmon from the mighty Boyne, four sons of Hugh, son of Manus, brood of
champions unswerving in purpose, they had nought to fear but jealousy.
Never shall we see--the doom is accomplished--the track of their hooves or
their bounding steeds along the Inny or the stately cool Maigue, four woes of
the race of Conall.
Highborn hawks of Innisfail, four desolations of Cruachan's hill, four mighty
ruins of Tara, are the glittering dark spearshafts.
'Tis strange that Mary should live while the rivers no longer bear ships, and
the withered forests of the fold of Uisneach are ever weeping for those four.
Throughout fair Banba the apple-trees bend not with apples, nor the wood of
hazelboughs with nuts--strange that Margaret should live.
I mourn not for Margaret nor Mary -- that is ground for sorrow -- but for
this fate that has fallen upon the land of the Fair, greater and ever greater is
the sighing of Ireland.
Mary and Margaret of Cruachan's wall, that their four brothers are gone is a
perpetual hindrance to slumber, alas! their state is very pitiful.
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