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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Feakle (d)

Oft have I wondered by the flowery banks
Of Bunshoon, limpid river, as the sun
Peeped o’er the eastern mountains, to behold
The myriad dew-drops which the night had shed
Upon the meadows, flying from his glare.
Oft have I rambled on the mountain side
Along the margin of the leafy wood
To view the scene around at morning’s dawn
My heart expanded as I viewed the lake,
The bright Loch Gréiné stretching far and wide
Reflecting in its mirror the clear sky
And all the hills encircling it around.
How grand to view the mountains robed in mists,
Sublimely rising o’er each others peaks!
The heart of him who is withered with old age
Or wasted from a lingering disease
Or anguished by the loss of wealth and friends,
Would brighten, as by magic power, to view
Wild ducks in flocks upon this limpid lake,
The swan among them swimming in its pride,
The speckled fishes leaping as with joy,
The cloudless sky, the grey mist of the hills
And blush of morning mirrored in the lake
The azure water swollen by the winds
In angry billows rolling to the shore
The birds, melodious, on the wide spread trees,
The swiftly bounding deer in woods hard by;
To hear the sound of horns, the howling hounds,
Pursuing Reynard on the mountain slopes.
On yester morn, the sky without a cloud,
When Sol had entered Cancer to send down
His burning beams upon this nether world,
I strayed alone among these magic scenes,
(Ere yet he rose above the mountain tops)
To view the silvery mists in mountain dells
The myriad dew drops on the grass and leaves
The sky had shed lamenting for the light,
And all the giant shadows which the morn
Throws on the earth and in the glassy lake,
But when the sun rose on the cloudless sky
He poured a flood of heat upon the earth
Which caused the dew drops soon, to fly away
And all the mists and moisture of the morn.
The tender leaves grew languid from his glare
The flowers expanded and their odours shed
And honey bees tho’ often on the wing
Sat on the bloom rejoicing in his beams
I felt exhausted by the sultry heat
And being surrounded by green leafy shrubs
By grass, fiorin, and luxuriant herbs
Whose blossoms cast their sweetness o’er my sense
I felt o’er come by heat and soothing thoughts
I lay me down upon a grassy spot,
Within the mountain’s bosom near the trees.
I laid my head upon a pillow green
And o’er my face I placed a leafy branch
To guard it from th’ attacks of gnats and flies,
And Somnus came, and laid his balmy hands
Upon my eyelids and with gentle force
Soon veiled them from the sight of outward things
And lo! I saw a vision which disturbed
My mind and soul, which struck my heart with pain!
Methought I felt the earth around me quake
A tempest howling on the northern side,
As if the elements were waging war,
And vivid lightnings flashing o’er the lake,
I cast a glance to view a mighty flash
Which lighted up the surface of the lake
And lo, advancing, ‘long the shore, I saw
A hideous form, a huge and haughty sprite,
With scowling aspect, and with horrid mien.
A female figure, terrible and tall
With wrinkled forehead and disgusting mouth
With eyes aghast and teeth quite brown with rust
It would require some nerve to stand (withstand) her stare.
Oh! king of plains! how huge, how strong the hands,
In which she bore a staff of awful size,
On top of which a piece of brass was fixed,
Which told she had a bailiff’s dreaded power.
And soon she reached the spot on which I lay
And thus addressed me in bold, angry words:-
“Awake, arise, thou sluggard, lazy drone,
How pitiful to see thee snoring here,
While thousands seek for our justice at our court
A court not like those courts which thou hast seen,
In which no justice, rule, nor law prevails;
It is no court of schemes as those of men,
But constituted of celestial chiefs;
Who wish to balance justice in this isle,
By making laws to guard the weak and poor
Against the strong, and to protect that sex
Who have been wronged by sluggards such as thou,
Who spend their time in indolence and ease.
Long may the race of noble Heber boast,
How all the fairy nobles, with one mind,
Have sat in council, two long days and nights,
In their delightful palace at Moygreane [2]
On yon black mountain’s elevated peak,
To weigh the state of Erin and devise
The means by which she can again be free
The King’s bright Majesty and all the host
Of this aetherial court, were grieved to see
How Erin sunk in ruin, how her chiefs
Of ancient blood were weak and nerveless now
Without controul o’er law, without a name
Or rents or tributes as they had of yore.
How the land was swept of them and in their place,
In place of flowers, we have but weeds and tares!
How men of best nobility and blood
Have faded, melted, withered, sunk and died,
And in their stead, how weaklings rose in power!
How treachery and war have swept the land,
How their old Inis Fail had sunk in gloom,
Dejected and enslaved without a law,
Except a law of mockery, which her foes
Enacted to enslave her. More than all,
They grieved to see her territories swept
Of their old people of Milesian race,
By war and death and exile through the pride
Of haughty kings, who wished to make them slaves.
And that the few who linger in the wilds
Of mountains and of woods were quite averse,
To that most praiseworthy and noble task,
Of propagating their own ancient breed
For though the fates seemed adverse in this age,
A time would come when millions from the hills
Would spring like lions to assert their rights.
Shame, shame, upon your numbers! why not breed?
When you have crowds of fair maids every where
Young, beautiful, attractive, strong and stout.
Fresh blooming saplings full of flesh and blood
Some languishing and mild, from soft desire,
Almost exhausted, if not almost dead
Some proud and dignified but gone to waste
Alas! that such fair damsels should be left
Dejected, fruitless and forlorne! alas,
That they should thus lie pining in despair !
Why should they not be used as used of yore,
When Fergus fled from Ulster to bold Meave?
Why should not their soft bosoms teem with milk?
How oft are they not ready at the word
Should they receive it? They’re like autumn fruits,
Too ripe, too mellow, falling off the stalks!
I cannot praise their patience with such men.
The Council weighing all these wrongs resolved,
That one of their bright number should, by lot
Be then elected to preside with power,
To check these evils in old Inis Fail
The lots were cast, and our own darling queen
The Lady Aoibheal, Banshee of Craglea [3]
Presiding spirit of Momonia’s land
Was delegated with the Chief command
To check the wrongs of her own Inis Fail
And on receiving this important power,
She thus addressed the spirits of the Court,
With aspect mild which brightened as she spoke:-
In Thomond, henceforth, nobles, I remain,
And hold my Court at Feakle. Now I swear
By sun and moon and by the light of day,
And shades of night, that I shall henceforth do
The utmost in my power to abrogate
The laws which waste the land and crush the weak,
The great shall not henceforward crush the poor,
But must to them be merciful and mild,
Their strength must yield to justice, and I swear
That justice must be just and right be right
I promise now that neither wiles nor power
The friendship of a cousin, Pimp, or Miss
Shall walk through law in my aetherial Court
As in the base corrupted Courts of men.
Thus spoke our Lady Aoibheal and the chiefs
First bowed, and next they rent the skies with cheers
The echo of Slieve Echtghe, heard their shouts
And raised another rapturous shout of joy,
This Court is sitting now in Feakle, come
At once, thereto; now at thy peril fail!
Awake, come on, thou sluggard! and respond
To various charges made against thee there.
Or else I drag thee through the mire along.”
She stuck her crook into my cabe behind
And swept me with [4] great violence down the vales
O’er Bawnboy Hill [5], and on until she came
Unto the gable of Mochonna’s Shrine.