Denis MacCarthy

The Clan of MacCaura

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Oh! bright are the names of the chieftains and sages,
That shine like the stars through the darkness of ages,
Whose deeds are inscribed on the pages of story,
There for ever to live in the sunshine of glory,
Heroes of history, phantoms of fable,
Charlemagne's champions, and Arthur's Round Table;
Oh! but they all a new lustre could borrow
From the glory that hangs round the name of MacCaura!

Thy waves, Manzanares, wash many a shrine,
And proud are the castles that frown o'er the Rhine,
And stately the mansions whose pinnacles glance
Through the elms of Old England and vineyards of France;
Many have fallen, and many will fall,
Good men and brave men have dwelt in them all,
But as good and as brave men, in gladness and sorrow,
Have dwelt in the halls of the princely MacCaura!

Montmorency, Medina, unheard was thy rank
By the dark-eyed Iberian and light-hearted Frank,
And your ancestors wandered, obscure and unknown,
By the smooth Guadalquiver and sunny Garonne.
Ere Venice had wedded the sea, or enrolled
The name of a Doge in her proud "Book of Gold;"
When her glory was all to come on like the morrow,
There were the chieftains and kings of the clan of MacCaura!

Proud should thy heart beat, descendant of Heber,
Lofty thy head as the shrines of the Guebre,
Like them are the halls of thy forefathers shattered,
Like theirs is the wealth of thy palaces scattered.
Their fire is extinguished--thy banner long furled--
But how proud were ye both in the dawn of the world!
And should both fade away, oh! what heart would not sorrow
O'er the towers of the Guebre--the name of MacCaura!

What a moment of glory to cherish and dream on,
When far o'er the sea came the ships of Heremon,
With Heber, and Ir, and the Spanish patricians,
To free Inisfail from the spells of magicians.
Oh! reason had these for their quaking and pallor,
For what magic can equal the strong sword of valour?
Better than spells are the axe and the arrow,
When wielded or flung by the hand of MacCaura!

From that hour a MacCaura had reigned in his pride
O'er Desmond's green valleys and rivers so wide,
From thy waters, Lismore, to the torrents and rills
That are leaping for ever down Brandon's brown hills;
The billows of Bantry, the meadows of Bear,
The wilds of Evaugh, and the groves of Glancare,
From the Shannon's soft shores to the banks of the Barrow,
All owned the proud sway of the princely MacCaura!

In the house of Miodchuart, by princes surrounded,
How noble his step when the trumpet was sounded,
And his clansmen bore proudly his broad shield before him,
And hung it on high in that bright palace o'er him;
On the left of the monarch the chieftain was seated,
And happy was he whom his proud glances greeted:
'Mid monarchs and chiefs at the great Fes of Tara,
Oh! none was to rival the princely MacCaura!

To the halls of the Red Branch, when the conquest was o'er,
The champions their rich spoils of victory bore,
And the sword of the Briton, the shield of the Dane,
Flashed bright as the sun on the walls of Eamhain;
There Dathy and Niall bore trophies of war,
From the peaks of the Alps and the waves of Loire;
But no knight ever bore from the hills of Ivaragh
The breast-plate or axe of a conquered MacCaura!

In chasing the red deer what step was the fleetest?--
In singing the love song what voice was the sweetest?--
What breast was the foremost in courting the danger?--
What door was the widest to shelter the stranger?--
In friendship the truest, in battle the bravest,
In revel the gayest, in council the gravest?--
A hunter to-day and a victor to-morrow?--
Oh! who but a chief of the princely MacCaura!

But, oh! proud MacCaura, what anguish to touch on
The fatal stain of thy princely escutcheon;
In thy story's bright garden the one spot of bleakness,
Through ages of valour the one hour of weakness!
Thou, the heir of a thousand chiefs, sceptred and royal--
Thou to kneel to the Norman and swear to be loyal!
Oh! a long night of horror, and outrage, and sorrow,
Have we wept for thy treason, base Diarmid MacCaura!

Oh! why ere you thus to the foreigner pandered,
Did you not bravely call round your emerald standard,
The chiefs of your house of Lough Lene and Clan Awley
O'Donogh, MacPatrick, O'Driscoll, MacAwley,
O'Sullivan More, from the towers of Dunkerron,
And O'Mahon, the chieftain of green Ardinterran?
As the sling sends the stone or the bent bow the arrow,
Every chief would have come at the call of MacCaura.

Soon, soon didst thou pay for that error in woe,
Thy life to the Butler, thy crown to the foe,
Thy castles dismantled, and strewn on the sod,
And the homes of the weak, and the abbeys of God!
No more in thy halls is the wayfarer fed,
Nor the rich mead sent round, nor the soft heather spread,
Nor the "clairsech's" sweet notes, now in mirth, now in sorrow,
All, all have gone by, but the name of MacCaura!

MacCaura, the pride of thy house is gone by,
But its name cannot fade, and its fame cannot die,
Though the Arigideen, with its silver waves, shine
Around no green forests or castles of thine--
Though the shrines that you founded no incense doth hallow,
Nor hymns float in peace down the echoing Allo,
One treasure thou keepest, one hope for the morrow--
True hearts yet beat of the clan of MacCaura!

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Denis MacCarthy