268 - The poet of Tara
Mark Worden (Standard British accent):
Speak Up contains a feature on the ancient Irish site of Tara. In this out-take Liam O’Cahan, who is protesting against plans to build a motorway near there, recites a poem:
(Music: Liam O’Cahan plays his tin whistle)
Liam O’Cahan (Irish accent):
Long ago, beyond the misty space
Of twice a thousand years,
In Erin old there dwelled a mighty race,
Tall as Roman spears;
Like oaks and towers that had a giant grace
Were fleet as deers,
With winds and waves they made this their biding place,
Those western shepherd seers.
Their Ocean-God was Manannan Mac Lir,
Whose angry lips
In their white foam, full often would inter
Whole fleets of ships;
Cromah was their Day-God and their Thunderer
He made morning and eclipse;
Bride was their Queen of song, and unto her
They prayed with fire-touched lips.
Great were their deeds, their passions, their sports;
With clay and stone
And strath and shore
They piled those mystic forts,
While youths alone,
With giant dogs, explored the elk resorts,
On cairn-crowned hills
They held their counsel courts.
Of these youths was Fin,
Fin the father of the Bard,
Who was king on this hill,
The golden-haired, the fleet and young
From her the lovely, and from him the feared,
The primal port sprung.
Ossian! Two thousand years of mist and change
Surround thy name
Thy Fenian heroes now
No longer range these hills of fame
The very name of Fin and Gaul sound strange
Yet thine the same -
Thy miscalled lake and desecrated grange -
Remains and shall remain!
The Druid’s altar and the Druid’s creed
We scarce can trace,
There isn’t left an undisputed deed
Of all their race,
Save the majestic song, which hath their speed,
And strength and grace;
In that sole song, they live and love and bleed -
It bears them on through space.
(The poem is attributed to Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825-1868), an Irishman who settled in Canada, where he also had a political career. McGhee was assassinated in Ottawa, where you can find a statute of him today. He is said to be the only Canadian politician to have been assassinated).