The shadows of night growing thicker
Dissolved the last tints of the day;
I gazed in the peat fire, whose flicker
Declined in a weird sickly way.
I gazed on the cinders, a-thinking;
Tranquillity reigned in the room:
Up rose from the embers low sinking
Strange visions of war, gore and gloom.
I saw in the flames slowly dying,
A glimpse of the brave ones who strove
And fought, the green flag o’er them flying,
For us; and for Erin, their love.
A moment rose Clontarf before me:
Our sires, as they mowed down the Dane
In swathes, with their hand aching sorely,
For rest paused again and again.
I saw Gaels ‘gainst Sassanaghs dashing
At Yellow Ford – our Bannockburn;
Red Hugh, kern and gallowglass smashing,
Till tyranny’s torn legions turn.
Like avalanche next they came sweeping
Benburb with the great Eoghan Roe;
Like mowers of corn were they reaping
The mighty array of Munroe.
Then rose up a picture heart rending –
Yet making the soul with pride glow;
The maidens of Lim’rick defending
The breach ‘gainst the terrible foe.
The Wild Geese who shoulder to shoulder,
With Sarsfield fought ere they had flown;
The band – Erin ne’er had a bolder –
Who kept the old Bridge of Athlone.
I saw; I saw those who for Ireland
Joined Emmet and Tone in the strife;
And all who faced death for our sireland,
For altar, for children and wife.
I saw in the fire sinking lowly,
Those Gaels fighting for us and Faith
‘Gainst tyrants and heathens unholy –
Those fathers who dared for us death.
And then I resolved most sincerely
A worthy descendant to be
If those who loved Erin so dearly,
And sacrificed so much for me.
MICHAEL MULLIN, ‘THE BARD OF FOREMASS’
Foremass Lower, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.