Clan Donald

[Home] [News] [Magazine] [Bookshop] [Genealogy] [Mail] [Wiki] [Links] [Forum[Back] [Up] [Next]

[Chiefs] [Australia] [Canada] [New Zealand] [USA]

Clan Donald Magazine No13 (1995) Online

The Battle of Glentaisi 1565 by John Scally

Lo! Ulster's Prince, the proud O'Neill (1)
The haughty and the turbulent Shane,
Who in many a fray 'gainst Saxon sway
Oft triumphed over piles of slain,
Had resolved anew his steel to improve,
And the force of his might employ
In a campaign hot with the Antrim Scot,
In the lands of Sorley Boy.
"This Ulster land where upon we stand
I have won by my shining sword
And they who gainsay my Princely sway
Must deal with Tir-Owen's lord."

"This Scottish chief shall with sorrow and grief
Rue that he ever crossed my path,"

y my sword so bright, he shall feel the might
Of Hy Niall's Royal wrath."
Thus spoke proud Shane to his princely train
The chiefs of the Bloody Hand, (3)
Who from Clan-na-boy to Achnacloy
Had ranged them with battle-brand
At their Prince's call, with their clansmen all
Fierce warriors brave and leal
Gallowglass and kern from Bann to Erne
To battle for great O'Neill.

So from Fedan's plain with his host marched Shane
For the fire of their ardour was hot
To in combat engage and their fury assuage
In slaughter upon the Scot
Their course they keep o'er plain and steep
They have forded the Lagan's tide
And o'er Moira's plain they surge amain
And have reached Lough Neagh's dark side;
The sun's bright beam deflects its gleam
on their lines of flashing steel,
While brave in the van waves the Red Right Hand
The banner of proud O'Neill.

From the mountains blue, the Scots they view
The advance of O'Neill's array,
And swift runners them, from glen to glen
Sped quickly on their way
To summon the clan, each fighting man
Of great Somerl
ed's warrior breed (4)
From hillside and vale, from woodland and dale
from mountain and valley and mead;
From Dunluce's towers to Glenarm's fair bowers
The fiery cross is raised
And from high Benmore and Torr's dark shore
The signal fires are blazed. (5)

The waves of Moyle are crimsoned dyed
With the glare of each beacon fire,
Which call their kinsmen from many an isle
From Barra to bleak Cantire
To hasten o'er to the Irish shore
To aid them come woe or weal
In battle array 'gainst the power and sway
Of the arrogant, proud O'Neill
Oh, many a sail is spread to the gale
As from the isles away
Their galleys glide on the ocean tide
And head for Port Brittas bay.

But ere day had waned, O'Neill had gained
A victory against the Scot,
Though Sorley's guard fought fierce and hard
In that bloody skirmish hot;
And soon in his keep by the Northern sea
Came tidings to Sorley Boy,
That O'Neill had pierced his way to the Glens
Through the passes at Knockbay
And Layde and Ballyeamon have felt
The might of his ruthless ire
And cabin and hall at Uaimh Aderg (7)
He has raised with sword and fire

But Clandonnell's men from mountain and glen
Thick muster them for the fray.
And the pibroch is screaming its note of war
At the dawn of Bealtaine day; (8)
McDonnell's banner is flauntin the breeze,
While around it swift and strong
His faithful clansmen from the Glens
To their chieftain's aid they throng;
And Sorley Boy he beholds with joy
From the summit of Grey Benmore
His kinsmen appear, and their galleys steer
Their course for the Antrim shore.

But the waves run high, ere the land is nigh
Or Port Brittas bay be won
And half of their fleet has for anchorage beat
To the haven of Cushendun.
But Carrach storm - cast till the conflict be past (9)
Must bide him on Rathlin's shore
With nine-hundred trusty warriors brave
That his ships from the Isles had bore;
Oh, wild he may rail and the tempests' fierce gale
Which holds to the strand each keel,
For his sword shall not flash like lightning flash
In the battle against O'Neill.

But at Cushendun the shore they have won
And now from their ships they land
In tartan array, for the red battle fray
With Lochaber axe and brand.
Turnamona's height is gleaming bright
With the flashing of spear and glaive
And their warpipe loud 'tis shrilling proud
By Corrymeela's wave.
From Barra to bleak Cantire they've come
O'er the Moyle's tempestuous miles.
From each Highland glen, that muster of men
'Neath James the Lord of the Isles.

'Tis the fated Lord of the Isles who comes
Once more to his kinsmen's aid,
And many another of Albin's chiefs
Around him stand array'd.
There is Angus brave from Isla's wave
The chief of the bearin high
And Carrach's sons and Galta's sons
And the youthful Lord of Skye. (10)
Oh, many a chieftain of Scottish fame
Has come with targe and steel
Clan Donnell to aid, in battle arrayed
'Gainst Shane, the Proud O'Neill.

To the south afar gleams the omen of war
For the sky with lurid glare
O'er Glenariffs dells, the tidings tells
That O'Neill's host is there;
And soon to their Lord from Sorley comes word
That their forces they must unite
For weal or woe he has willed it so
On Glentaisi's field to fight;
Oh, seldon I ween, has the hill of Cross Skreen
Seen such muster of warrior men
As this tartan array from the isles away
Who are marching to Taisi's glen.

The meridian day sheds forth its ray
On the course of these fiery Gaels,
As swiftly adown to Sorley's town
The march through Culfeightrim's vales;
And soon they decry Dunaneeny high.
And to the west away The turretted keep of fair Ceann-bann (11)
Where the waves of Bricain play
Past the Abbey grey they have made thier way
They have crossed the Margie's ford
And now for the fight their forces unite
With Dunancenie's lord. (12)

Now the sun's red rays in a radiant blaze
O'er Carndhu sunk down
And sheds his light o'er vale and height
By Sorley's ancient town;
He catches the gleam with his waning beam
Of many a sword and targe
While Clan Donnell's men along the glen
Are guarding the river's marge,
For their scouts have seen from the heights of Breen
The host of O'Neill deploy.
And the flash of each lance mark their swift advance
'Gainst the strongholds of Sorley Boy.

O'er Ardagh braes in the evening haze
There surges a wave of steel
As like ocean tide adown Glenshesk side
Sweeps the host of proud O'Neill;
See Coul's height, how it flashes bright
With the glitter of many a brand,
While like meteor star in the van afar
Waves the flag of the Bloody Hand;
Past the mountainy sward of high Barard
A swift detour they made
And their spears bright gleam as their cohorts are seen
O'er the slopes that fringe Knocklayde.

To the heights of Bromore has the vanguard bore
And Dromeene's hazel glen,
Is bright with the gleam of falchion and skeen
And the corslets of mail-clad men.
Ere the night falls down, they have fronted the town
And soon
the bevanac's light
By the Taisi's banks mark the hostile ranks

That awai
t the coming fight.
Oh, many I trow, who are resting now

By buckler and lance and shield
Ere to-morrow be sped shall have found a bed
On Glen Taisi's gory field.

Lo! the night is passed and the sun at last
From the east throws a golden ray,
Soon the glenside hums, as
the dawning comes
th the clamour of war's array.
See the spears
they gleam in the morning beam
Oh, ne'er did the glen of the ghost (13)
tage such a stirring sight as Tir-Owen's might
And Clandonnell's serried host.
Their lines flash bright as
they marshal for fight
And the God of Battles smiles
On each warlike brand of the Red Right Hand
And the Clansmen from the Isles.

On, on ye Gods! by the Taisi's banks
They've met with a clang of steel.
Now fiercely arise the ba
ttle cries
McDonnell and proud O'Neill,
ull soon each mead, that like carpet spread
Its vesture of emerald wore
Is changed anew to a ruddy hue
th kerne and clansmen's gore.
Fierce, fierce is the fight and red, red tonight

Will the Taisi's water flow
Whilst the Banshee's yell by the Margie's swell
Shall echo
the tale of woe.

Loud the hills resound with the conflict's sound
'Tis parry and thrust and blow,
And push of the pike as each man alike
Strives to lay his foeman low.
t the Islesmen charge with sword and targe
And long
Lochaber axe
And the host of O'Neill for a moment reel

Before their fierce attack
Then, then like a rock they wi
thstand the shock
And as spray is backward thrown
The rush of the Sco
t is brought to nought
By the spearmen of Tir-Owen.

Tho' they rally again, 'tis vain, 'tis vain
They falter, they fall, they die;
The sword with their gore is all crimsoned o'er
Their life
blood their tartans dye.
Now useless
the targe 'gainst that counter-charge
Of fierce gallowglass and kerne
And with furious rush and pike's swift push
Dash the clans from Bann and
Like the thunder's clash and the lightning's flash
the cry of "Lamh Derg Abu" (14)

O'Neill's mountaineers with their long bright spears
Have broken the centre through.
"On, on," cried O'Neill, "On Clan-na-Boy
Forward Mc
HIugh, McTeague -"
And wi
th fury hot. they sweep the Scot
From the slopes of green Kilcraig
To Drum-Mullins height red surges the fight (15)
Nor yet do the Islesmen yield
Though their bravest fall in their gory pall
Still the living contest the field.
But 'tis hopeless, 'tis done, for as noonday's sun
Sheds his light o'er height and lea.
Overpowered and beat, and in swift retreat
See the Scots, they flee, they flee!

Then away, away - all in wild dismay,
Their broken columns reel.
While fast on their track, like a vengeful pack
Dash the warriors of O'Neill.
To the skies arise their exultant cries
As each foeman is laid low;
Now Angus is slain, and Sorley is ta'en,
And slaughtered is John Roe.
And sore wounded and captive, the Lord of the Isles
James, of predestined doom (16)
Is borne away for a future day
To perish 'mid dungeon's gloom.

The Red Hand flies 'midst triumphant cries
O'er the town of Sorley Boy,
While the hills around re-echo the sound
Of the victors exulting joy.
At the conqueror's feet in dark defeat
Clan Colla lies crushed in gore (17)
Their chieftains brave who have crossed the wave
Shall return to the Isles no more.
On the breezes swell, hark! the tolling bell
From the Margies holy fame (18)
Where the brown-clad brothers pray for the souls
Of the dead in the battle slain.

Oh! the maids of the Isles, no more with smiles
Shall welcome them to the shore
Where are Carrach's sons and Galta' sons
They'll return to dark Mull no more
Where is Angus brave from Isla's wave (19)
No more shall galley's track
Be seen on the foam nor his island home
E'er welcome the hero back
And MacCrimmon may play "The Cumhadh na Cloinne" (20)
For the chief of the eagle eye
His youthful lord will ne'er return
To the misty hills of Skye.

The moon's pale beams throw their fitful gleams
O'er broken spear and shield,
And the silent dead, who in mournful spread
Bestrew the battlefield
The banshee's wail harsh sobs on the gale

s in cadence sad and deep,
She keeps for the men, who in Taisi's glen
Are sleeping their long last sleep
And tradition shall tell how they fought and fell
'Mid the turmoil of hate and steel
In the blood red fray, when Clan Donnell's array
Was conquered by proud O'Neill.


1.  "The Proud O'Neill". Shane was called "An Diomais" - the Proud. Return to Text.
2.  "Hy Niall's royal wrath" . The O'Neills were of the line of King Niall, Ard Ri of Ireland. (Niall of the Nine Hostages).
Return to Text.
3.  "The Bloody hand". The crest of the O'Neills the Red Right Hand.
Return to Text.
4.  "Somerled's warrior breed". The McDonnells. So
merled Thane of Argyle was one of the great ancestors of the McDonnell clan. Return to Text.
5.  "The signal fires". It was customary for the McDonnells to light warning fires on the cliffs of Antrim in order to summon assistance from their kinsmen of the Scottish Isles when they were threatened with attack.
Return to Text.
6.  "Port Brittas bay" - Ballycastle Bay.
Return to Text.
7.  "Uaimh Aderg" - Now known as Red Bay, Waterfoot.
Return to Text.
8.  "Bealtaine Day" - May day.
Return to Text.
9.  "Carrach" - Alexander Carrach McDonnell.
Return to Text.
10."The youthful Lord of Skye". It is recorded
that a son of McLeod of Skye was killed in the battle. Return to Text.
11."Fair Ceannban". Kenban Castle near Ballycastle; the stronghold of the McAlisters, a branch of Clandonnell.
Return to Text.
12."Dunancenie's Lord". Sorley Boy MacDonnell.
Return to Text.
13."The Glen of the ghost". That section of Glentaisi known as Altananin - theGlenside of the ghost.
Return to Text.
."Lamh Dearg Abu". "The Red hand for ever - the war-cry of the O'Neills. Return to Text.
15."Drum Mullen's height". Now known as Drumawillan, near Ballycastle.
Return to Text.
16."James of predestined doom". James McDonnell, Lord of the Isles died whilst a captive of O'Neill.
Return to Text.
17."Clan Colla" i.e. the McDonnells who were descended from Colla Uais, King of Ulster.
Return to Text.
18."Margie's holy fame". Bun-na-Margie Abbey, Ballycastle, a house of the Franciscans.
Return to Text.
19."Angus brave from Isla's wave". Angus Og McDonnell of Isla who was slain in the battle.
Return to Text.
20."Cumhadh na Cloinne" - "The lament for the children". The McCrimmons were hereditary pipers to the McLeods of Skye. The crest of the McCrimmons is a hand holding a pipe chanter with the motto "Cogadh Ni Sith". Peace or War.
Return to Text.

The editor wishes to thank Mr. Seumas Clarke for submitting the above poem for publication.

Feedback.  If you have any comments, additions or corrections to this article, please post them in the forum as a new thread here. Please make the title of your post the title of the article and put a link back to the article in your post. You will have to register to join the forum.

[Home] [News] [Magazine] [Bookshop] [Genealogy] [Mail] [Wiki] [Links] [Forum] [Back] [Up] [Next]




[Chiefs] [Australia] [Canada] [New Zealand] [USA]

We not accept liability for material published on advertisers' and other external sites. Click here to advertise on Hosted by Heart Internet.