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A Poem called Ceann Coradh

This poem was written by Mac Liag, poet lauriet and story keeper for High King Brian Boru. Contemporary writers place Kincora in the north-east corner of County Clare near Lough Derg which is part of the Shannon River system.

Commanding an important ford on the Shannon, Killaloe has been a place of strategic importance for thousands of years. Its greatest claim to historical fame is as the site of Kincora, the palace of Brian Boru, the 11th century high king of Ireland and one of its most powerful rulers of all time. The Brian Boru royal residence stood on the summit of the hill, above the bridge at Killaloe. This great fort where Brian lived from 1002 to 1014 probably covered the site now occupied by the catholic church, the village green and some neighbouring houses. At the height of Boru power Kincora was a massive fort rich in wealth and harvest and became the centre of authority and capital of Ireland. Today nothing but the fame of this royal palace remains.

Other very old Irish poems will be added to this section.

Here is the English translation of the poem:

Oh Kincora

Where, Kincora is Brian the Great?

      And where is the beauty that once was thine?

      Where are the princes and nobles that sate,

      At the feast in thy halls and drank the red wine?

      Where, oh, Kincora?

     Where, Kincora, are the valorous lords?

     Oh whither thou hospitable have they gone?

     Oh where are the Dalcassians of the Golden Swords?

     And where are the warriors Brian led on?

     Where, oh, Kincora?

     And where is Murrough, the descendant of kings-

     The defeater of a hundred - the daringly brave -

     Who set but slight store by jewel's and rings -

     Who swam down the torrent and laughed at its wave?

     Where, oh, Kincora?

     And where is Donogh, King Brian's son?

     And where is Conaing, the beautiful chief?

     And Kian and Corc? Alas! They are gone -

     They have left me this night alone with my rief,

     Left me, Kincora!

    And where are the chiefs with whom Brian went forth,

    The ne'er vanquished sons of Erin the Brave,

    The great King of Onaght, renowned for his worth,

    And the hosts of Baskinn, from the western wave?

    Where, oh, Kincora?

   Oh where is Duvlann of the swift-footed steeds?

   And where is Cian, who was son of Molloy?

   And where is King Longeran, the fame of whose deeds

   In the red battlefield no time can destroy?

  Where, oh, Kincora?

  And where is that youth of majestic height,

  The faith keeping Prince of Scots? - Even he

  As wide as his fame was, as great as his might,

  Was tributary. oh, Kincora, to thee!

  Thee, oh, Kincora!

  They are gone, those heroes of royal birth,

  Who plundered no churches, and broke no trust.

  'Tis weary for me to be living on earth,

  While they, oh, Kincora, lie low in the dust!

  Low, oh, Kincora!



How troubled all
the woodland scene appear'd
And awful dark
the clouds of night had near'd
And high the wave
along the ocean swell'd
When suddenely
the troubled scene rebell'd
The window whistled
wild the lonely cry
And youth and age
sent forth their heaving sigh
Now murmuring loud
the chimney top began
And terror away'd
the guilty soul of man
Away on winds
the haggard store was swept
And trembling man
forsook his feet crept
The foaming billows
rag'd and roar'd aloud
And the Heavens seem
one black mass of cloud
The wood and groves
kept moaning all the time
Like prison's
being of some awful crime
Escaped some trees
while others met their doom
Prime of the forest
fell no more to bloom
The cottage roof
lays scatter'd over the vale
Destruction is
at best a sorry tale
the pretty ancient rustic mill
No more is seen
Its busy wheel lies still.
Forbear, Oh Lord
subdue each troubled blast
Withhold such awful storms as the past,
Shed down
congenial beams of sunny light,
To cheer the hearts
that mourn the stormy night.


But, in spite of the pleas of the Palesmen, Mountjoy refused to budge from Kinsale, and eventually O'Neill and O'Donnell had to march their armies from Ulster down almost the full length of Ireland, across hundreds of miles of mud and bog in the middle of November. The long march was celebrated by the poet Aubrey De Vere : -

O'er many a river bridged with ice,
O'er many a vale with snow-drifts dumb,
Past quaking fen and precipice
The princes of the North are come.
Lo! those are they who year by year
Roll'd back the tide of England's war;
Rejoice Kinsale, thy help is near,
That wondrous winter march is o'er.