The Spirit of the Nation/O'Sullivan's Return
[The following ballad is founded on an ill-remembered story of an Irish chief returning after long absence on the Continent, and being wrecked and drowned close to his own castle.]
Air—"Cruiskeen Lawn."—Slow time.
O'Sullivan has come
Within sight of his home,
He had left it long years ago;
The tears are in his eyes,
And he prays the wind to rise
As he looks tow'rds his castle from the prow, from the prow,
As he looks tow'rds his castle from the prow.
For the day had been calm,
And slow the good ship swam,
And the evening gun had been fir'd;
He knows the hearts beat wild
Of mother, wife, and child,
And of clans who to see him long desir'd, long desir'd,
And of clans who to see him long desir'd.
Of the tender ones the clasp—
Of the gallant ones the grasp—
He thinks until his tears fall warm:
And full seems his wide hall,
With friends from wall to wall,
Where their welcome shakes the banners, like a storm, like a storm,
Where their welcome shakes the banners, like a storm.
Then he sees another scene—
Norman churls on the green—
"O'Sullivan aboo!" is the cry;
For filled is his ship's hold
With arms and Spanish gold,
And he sees the snake-twin'd spear wave on high, wave on high,
And he sees the snake-twin'd spear wave on high.
"Finghin's race shall be freed
From the Norman's cruel breed—
My sires freed Bearra once before,
When the Barnwells were strewn
On the fields, like hay in June,
And but one of them escaped from our shore, from our shore,
And but one of them escaped from our shore."
And, warming in his dream,
He floats on victory's stream,
Till Desmond—till all Erin is free,
Then, how calmly he'd go down,
Full of years and of renown,
To his grave near that castle by the sea, by the sea,
To his grave near that castle by the sea!
But the wind heard his word,
As though he were its lord,
And the ship is dash'd up the Bay.
Alas! for that proud barque,
The night has fallen dark,
'Tis too late to Adragool to bear away, bear away,
'Tis too late to Adragool to bear away.
Black and rough was the rock,
And terrible the shock,
As the good ship crashed asunder;
And bitter was the cry,
And the sea ran mountains high,
And the wind was as loud as the thunder, the thunder,
And the wind was as loud as the thunder.
There's woe in Bearra,
There's woe in Glengarragh,
And from Bantry unto Dunkerron,
All Desmond hears their grief,
And wails alone their chief—
"Is it thus, is it thus that you return, you return—
Is it thus, is it thus that you return?"
- The Standard bearings of O'Sullivan. See O'Donovan's edition of the Banquet of Donna U-Gedh and the Battle of Mag Rath, for the Archægological Society, App., p. 349—"Bearings of O'Sullivan at the Battle of Caisglinn."
"I see, mightily advancing on the plain,
The banner of the race of noble Finghin;
His sear with a venomous adder (entwined),
His host all fiery champions."
Finghin was one of their most famous progenitors.
- The Barnwells were Normans who seized Bear in the reign of Henry II., but were all cut off by the O'Sullivans, save one—the ancestor of the Lords Kingsland, Trimblestone, &c.