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The Butlers of County Clare by Sir Henry Blackall


Appendix XV: Elegies and a Eulogy

Below are some verses from two Laments on the same theme - the desolation of an ancestral home. The original Lament for Kilcash, was written in Gaelic by Father John Lane, P.P., and was rendered into mellifluous English by the gifted poet, James Clarence Mangan. When the Kilcash branch of the Butlers succeeded to the Ormonde estates and seats, Kilcash was abandoned as a residence.

The second poem was written by Lambert Butler after a visit to Bunnahow on his return from Australia. On the death of William II the place was inherited by the latter’s great-grandson, a boy of seven, whose mother closed the old family mansion and heedlessly let it fall into decay.

The last poem is in a more cheerful strain. It was composed by a family retainer at Knoppogue, who compares it not unfavourably with other country houses he had visited.

A Lament for Kilcash

Oh sorrow the saddest and sorest,
Kilcash’s attractions are fled-
Felled lie the high trees of its forest,
And its bells hang silent and dead.
There dwelt the fair lady, the vaunted
Who spread through the island her fame;
There the Mass and the vespers were chanted,
And thither the proud Earls came.

I am worn by anguish unspoken
As I gaze on its glories defaced,
Its beautiful gates lying broken,
Is gardens all desert and waste.
Its courts, that in lightening and thunder
Stood firm, are alas! all decayed;
And the Lady Iveagh sleepeth under
The sod in the greenwood shade.

No more on a summer-day sunny
Shall I hear the thrush sing from his lair,
No more see the bee bearing honey
At noon through the odorous air.
Hushed now in the thicket so shady
The dove hath forgotten her call,
And mute in the grave lies the Lady
Whose voice was the sweetest of all!

As the deer from the brown of the mountain
When chased by the hunter and hound,
Looks down upon forest and fountain,
And all the green scenery round;
So I on thy drear desolation
Gaze O my Kilcash upon thee!
Oh thy ruin and black devastation
So doleful and woeful to see.

Ah! why the Old House let Decay!

Ah! why the Old House let Decay?
Ah! can no kindly one be found
To shield it from the wintry day,
And stay its tott’ring to the ground?

How changed, alas! is now the scene,
Since those fled days I loitered o’er
The smiling lawn of brightest green,
Which my forefathers trod before.

All, all is drear and loney now,
No host now there to cheer his guest;
For death has settled on his brow,
And his cold form lies at rest.

Full well know we the old must go;
But cruel death, ah! why didst thou
Thy grisly dart at the young throw,
And strike the heir to Bunnahow?


I have seen Adare, of romance and story,
In all it’s glory, by the rushing tide,
Sweet Tervoe shades, by the Shannon water,
And the famous gardens of Castle Hyde;
Rockbarton shades of salubrious air,
And beauty fair by grand Comogue;
But for shrubs and resplendent towers,
I saw none to equal my sweet Knoppogue.


Appendix XIV:
Business and Pleasure