• Michael Mullins
  • Michael "The Bard" Mullin
  • "The Bard of Foremass"
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    A magpie made a ballad, to magpie music set
    Sung in the magpie lingo, and methinks I hear it yet.
    Here is a free translation out of the magpie tongue
    For those not taught that language at school when they were young.

    “The hens begin to lay, hurrah! I hear their cackling shout,
    The hens begin to lay, hurrah! the hens are laying out.
    I like an egg for breakfast, and for dinner two or three
    In fact they’re prime at any time and very sweet to me.
    Yon loud-mouthed hen talks far too much and fills me with distress
    I wish she’d shell a little more and yell a little less.

    Yon housewife hates to find me afluttering near her flocks,
    For I’m her enemy No. 1 and No. 2’s the fox.
    When e’er she sees me coming she runs with both her legs,
    The housewife’s greatest nightmare is a magpie sucking eggs.

    I hope she will not put her hens in concentration camps,
    With all newfangled gadgets, like dropping boards and lamps.
    I would not put it past her, she’d love to see me starve,
    When glutted gets the markets, she’ll get what she’ll deserve”

    Michael Mullin, ‘THE BARD OF FOREMASS’

    Foremass Lower, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.

    Footnote:At a time when all hens were out in the farmyard and some fields around the house, they would lay out in their own nests in the ditches and hedges.  A hen always cackles after she lays and the woman of the house would know when a hen laid out and would try to get the egg before the magpie.

    A dozen wee ducks strolled outside
    The hen that hatched them followed and tried
    To mother them and be their guide,
    As the wee ducks waddled on.

    They reached the brink of a big horse pool
    Where quacked a drake that scorned hen rule
    “I’m your daddy. That’s hen’s a fool
    Come on, Web toes, come on.”

    The poor hen cried till her eyes grew dim.
    The wee ducks all enjoyed their swim
    With daddy drake.  They stayed with him
    And bade the hen begone.

    Poor old hen! let me weep with you
    For my wee ducks – they left me too.
    When they grew up away they flew,
    And left me all alone.

    Poor hen with you I sympathise
    My own wee ducks – they did likewise,
    Now I am all alone.  Let’s rub thumbs
    But you’ve none.

    MICHAEL MULLIN ‘The Bard of Foremass
    Foremas Lower, Sixmilecross.

    A dog met a cat and with scorn in his eye
    He said “Little Puss! can you answer me why
    You roam here alone where big foes roam about
    Does your father and mother not know you are out.”

    Soon wild dogs and tame dogs and some not so tame
    Came up the same way that the dog and cat came.
    The dogs gave him lip and he answered them back
    And soon they got mixed in an awful attack.

    The cat saw them coming and ran up a tree
    The dog stood his ground for no coward was he.
    They fought till they left him all covered with dirt,
    And blended in blood he was terribly hurt.
    Then the cat left its tree slipping quietly home,
    Resolved to be careful when tempted to roam.


    MICHAEL MULLIN ‘The Bard of Foremass
    Foremas Lower, Sixmilecross.