Ulster's Prince, the proud O'Neill
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."
Scottish chief shall with sorrow and grief
Rue that he ever crossed my path,"
By 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.
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.
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 Somerled'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)
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
from the isles away
Their galleys glide on the ocean tide
head for Port Brittas bay.
ere day had waned, O'Neill had gained
victory against the Scot,
Though Sorley's guard fought fierce and
that bloody skirmish hot;
And soon in his keep by the Northern sea
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
might of his ruthless ire
And cabin and hall at Uaimh Aderg (7)
has raised with sword and fire
Clandonnell's men from mountain and glen
muster them for the fray.
And the pibroch is screaming its note of
the dawn of Bealtaine day; (8)
McDonnell's banner is flauntin the breeze,
around it swift and strong
His faithful clansmen from the Glens
their chieftain's aid they throng;
And Sorley Boy he beholds with
the summit of Grey Benmore
His kinsmen appear, and their galleys
course for the Antrim shore.
the waves run high, ere the land is nigh
Port Brittas bay be won
And half of their fleet has for anchorage
the haven of Cushendun.
But Carrach storm - cast till the conflict
be past (9)
bide him on Rathlin's shore
With nine-hundred trusty warriors brave
his ships from the Isles had bore;
Oh, wild he may rail and the
tempests' fierce gale
holds to the strand each keel,
For his sword shall not flash like
the battle against O'Neill.
at Cushendun the shore they have won
now from their ships they land
In tartan array, for the red battle
Lochaber axe and brand.
Turnamona's height is gleaming bright
the flashing of spear and glaive
And their warpipe loud 'tis
From Barra to bleak Cantire they've come
the Moyle's tempestuous miles.
From each Highland glen, that muster
James the Lord of the Isles.
the fated Lord of the Isles who comes
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
chief of the bearin high
Carrach's sons and Galta's sons
the youthful Lord of Skye. (10)
many a chieftain of Scottish fame
come with targe and steel
Clan Donnell to aid, in battle arrayed
'Gainst Shane, the Proud O'Neill.
the south afar gleams the omen of war
the sky with lurid glare
O'er Glenariffs dells, the tidings tells
O'Neill's host is there;
And soon to their Lord from Sorley comes
their forces they must unite
For weal or woe he has willed it so
Glentaisi's field to fight;
Oh, seldon I ween, has the hill of Cross
such muster of warrior men
As this tartan array from the isles away
are marching to Taisi's glen.
meridian day sheds forth its ray
the course of these fiery Gaels,
As swiftly adown to Sorley's town
march through Culfeightrim's vales;
And soon they decry Dunaneeny
to the west away The turretted keep of fair
the waves of Bricain play
Past the Abbey grey they have made thier
have crossed the Margie's ford
And now for the fight their forces
Dunancenie's lord. (12)
the sun's red rays in a radiant blaze
Carndhu sunk down
And sheds his light o'er vale and height
Sorley's ancient town;
He catches the gleam with his waning beam
many a sword and targe
While Clan Donnell's men along the glen
guarding the river's marge,
For their scouts have seen from the
heights of Breen
host of O'Neill deploy.
And the flash of each lance mark their swift
'Gainst the strongholds of Sorley Boy.
Ardagh braes in the evening haze
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
the glitter of many a brand,
While like meteor star in the van afar
the flag of the Bloody Hand;
Past the mountainy sward of high Barard
swift detour they made
And their spears bright gleam as their
cohorts are seen
the slopes that fringe Knocklayde.
the heights of Bromore has the vanguard bore
Dromeene's hazel glen,
Is bright with the gleam of falchion and skeen
the corslets of mail-clad men.
Ere the night falls down, they have
fronted the town
By the Taisi's banks mark the hostile ranks
await the coming fight.
Oh, many I trow, who are resting now
buckler and lance and shield
Ere to-morrow be sped shall have found
Glen Taisi's gory field.
the night is passed and the sun at last
the east throws a golden ray,
Soon the glenside hums, as
the clamour of war's array.
See the spears they gleam in the morning
ne'er did the glen of the ghost (13)
such a stirring sight as Tir-Owen's might
Clandonnell's serried host.
Their lines flash bright as
the God of Battles smiles
On each warlike brand of the Red Right
the Clansmen from the Isles.
on ye Gods! by the Taisi's banks
They've met with a clang of steel.
Now fiercely arise the battle cries
McDonnell and proud O'Neill,
Full soon each mead, that like
vesture of emerald wore
Is changed anew to a ruddy hue
kerne and clansmen's gore.
Fierce, fierce is the fight and red, red
the Taisi's water flow
Whilst the Banshee's yell by the Margie's
echo the tale of woe.
the hills resound with the conflict's sound
parry and thrust and blow,
And push of the pike as each man alike
Strives to lay his foeman low.
Fast the Islesmen charge with sword
long Lochaber axe
And the host of O'Neill for a moment reel
Before their fierce attack
Then, then like a rock they withstand the
as spray is backward thrown
The rush of the Scot is brought to
the spearmen of Tir-Owen.
they rally again, 'tis vain, 'tis vain
falter, they fall, they die;
The sword with their gore is all
lifeblood their tartans dye.
Now useless the targe 'gainst that
fierce gallowglass and kerne
And with furious rush and pike's swift
the clans from Bann and Erne;
Like the thunder's clash and
the cry of "Lamh Derg Abu" (14)
O'Neill's mountaineers with their long bright spears
broken the centre through.
on," cried O'Neill, "On Clan-na-Boy
Forward McHIugh, McTeague -"
And with fury hot. they sweep the Scot
the slopes of green Kilcraig
Drum-Mullins height red surges the
yet do the Islesmen yield
Though their bravest fall in their gory
the living contest the field.
But 'tis hopeless, 'tis done, for as
his light o'er height and lea.
Overpowered and beat, and in swift
the Scots, they flee, they flee!
away, away - all in wild dismay,
broken columns reel.
While fast on their track, like a vengeful pack
the warriors of O'Neill.
To the skies arise their exultant cries
each foeman is laid low;
Now Angus is slain, and Sorley is ta'en,
slaughtered is John Roe.
And sore wounded and captive, the Lord of
James, of predestined doom (16)
borne away for a future day
perish 'mid dungeon's gloom.
Red Hand flies 'midst triumphant cries
the town of Sorley Boy,
While the hills around re-echo the sound
the victors exulting joy.
At the conqueror's feet in dark defeat
Colla lies crushed in gore (17)
chieftains brave who have crossed the wave
return to the Isles no more.
On the breezes swell, hark! the tolling
the Margies holy fame (18)
the brown-clad brothers pray for the souls
the dead in the battle slain.
the maids of the Isles, no more with smiles
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
more shall galley's track
Be seen on the foam nor his island home
welcome the hero back
And MacCrimmon may play "The Cumhadh na
the chief of the eagle eye
His youthful lord will ne'er return
the misty hills of Skye.
moon's pale beams throw their fitful gleams
broken spear and shield,
And the silent dead, who in mournful spread
Bestrew the battlefield
The banshee's wail harsh sobs on the gale
cadence sad and deep,
She keeps for the men, who in Taisi's glen
sleeping their long last sleep
And tradition shall tell how they
fought and fell
the turmoil of hate and steel
In the blood red fray, when Clan
conquered by proud O'Neill.