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The Flower of Finae
John Joe McMahon
Leeds, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in Leeds, August 1987

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


Bright red is the sun on the waves of Lough Sheelin,
A cool gentle breeze from the mountain is stealing.
While fair round its islets the small ripples play,
Ah but fairer than all is the flower of Finae.

Her hair is like night and her eyes like grey morning,
She trips through the heather as if its touch scorning.
Yet her heart and her lips are as mild as May Day;
Lovely Eileen McMahon the flower of Finae.

Ah who down the hillside than the red deer runs fleeter?
And who on the lakeside is hastening to greet her?
Who but Fergal O’Farrell the fiery and gay,
The darling, the pride of the flower of Finae.

For Fergal O’Farrell withdrew to his sire-land,
And the dark hand of tyranny drove him from Ireland.
He joined the brigade in the wars far away,
But he vowed he’d come back to the flower of Finae.

He fought at Cremona, she hears of his story.
He fought at Cassano, she’s proud of his glory.
Yet sadly she sings shule aroon all the day,
Oh come, come my darling come home to Finae.

Eight long years have passed till she’s nigh broken-hearted.
Her reel and her rock and her flax she has parted.
She has sailed with the Wild Geese to Flanders away,
And left her sad parents alone in Finae.

Lord Clare on the field of Ramillies is charging,
Before him the great Sassanach squadron enlarging.
Behind him the Cravats their sections display,
And beside him rides Fergal and shouts for Finae.

On the slopes of La Judoigne the Frenchmen are fleeing,
Lord Clare and his squadron the foe still to find.
Out-numbered and wounded they retreat in array,
And bleeding, rides Fergal and thinks of Finae.

At a cloister in Ypres a banner is swaying,
And by it a pale weeping maiden is praying.
That flag’s the sole trophy of Ramillies fray,
And that nun is poor Eileen, the flower of Finae.


“This is a poem by Thomas Davis (1814-1845) written as a tribute to Daniel O'Brien, 3rd Viscount Clare, who raised a mounted dragoon regiment during the Jacobite war. Clare's Regiment was initially named ‘O'Brien's Regiment’ after its originator but was later known as ‘Clare’s Dragoons’. When Clare’s Dragoons left Ireland with the Flight of the Wild Geese after the Siege of Limerick they became a regiment of infantry. Clare's Dragoons remained loyal to the dethroned James II of England and fought against the army of William III of England during the Williamite War in Ireland. Exiled Irish troops became known as ‘The Wild Geese’ and fought as mercenaries. Clare's Dragoons’ greatest triumph, among many, was the Battle of Ramilles. When the English forces had turned the French, Lord Clare spurred his Irish troops into action with the battle cry ‘Cuimhnígí ar Luimneach!’ (Remember Limerick!). The English were routed. For information on Thomas Davis, see notes to ‘The Grave of Wolfe Tone’.”
Jim Carroll

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