« PredošláPokračovať »
power, their purity, and truth. The long neglect in which they have been held is a proof of the truth of Johnson's opinion-'Slow rises worth by poverty depressed.'
There is another consideration that will force itself upon any who take the trouble of perusing the biographies, such as they are, of these singers. That is, the uniform sadness, unhappiness, and wretchedness of the lives of almost all of them. We are oppressed with the feeling that the times were always out of joint with them. Most of them died young, after a life-struggle of penury and hardship, counting death, doubtless, as "kind Nature's signal for retreat. Many of them could not shake off the demon of intemperance. In disease and poverty, ill in mind and body, the majority of them existed; without honour in their own country; their talents unrecognised and unrewarded. There is not over the mortal remains of several of them even a stone to mark who rests beneath. Posthumous fame is no consolation to those who, in their life-time, struggled and hungered; but if they have left to their country songs that give pleasure, and that show them to have been something above the common herd, their country might preserve their names, make familiar their songs, and endeavour to bestow on them a little fame, faltering and feeble though it be.
THE CELTIC IRISH SONG-WRITERS,
1600-1870. BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL.
GEOFFRY KEATING is in these days better remembered as an historian than as a poet, though, to do him justice, his poetry is somewhat more readable than his ‘History of Ireland.' Both are patriotic ; but whereas in the songs transcribed in this volume we discover the usual subjects, the usual tone of lamentation, the usual sorrowful love for the motherland-characteristics fully intelligible and appreciable in the History of Ireland' each page is full of absurd traditions, impossible legends, preposterous chronologies, ridiculous genealogies, ludicrous miracles, extraordinary wars. An extravagantly mad performance,' it has been truly called. Even Keating himself was aware of the incredulity of some of his records, for he naïvely confesses that he inserts his narrative of the settlement of Ireland, previous to the Flood, 'not with any desire that it should be believed, but only for the sake of order and out of respect to some records that make mention of it.' The
History' proves, nevertheless, that Keating was a person of exhaustless credulity in matters historical, or quasi
historical, relating to his native land. But in his poetry he is human and rational. His epitaph records that he was a poet, a prophet, and a priest,' from which it would appear that his fame as an historian was left for later ages to discover. Very little is known of his earlier years. It is generally accepted that he was born at Tybrud, or Tubbrid, near Clogheen, in the county Tipperary, sometime about 1570.
In his youth he was sent to Spain, and, at the college of Salamanca, studied for the priesthood for twenty-three years. He was, on his return in 1610, appointed priest of his native parish of Tybrud. He was a man of varied attainments, and, as a divine, was distinguished for his fervent zeal, his blameless life, and his fervid eloquence. That he must have been benevolent, amiable, and tolerant, is made manifest by the recorded circumstance that the Protestants of the neighbourhood contributed towards the expenses of the building of his church; and that he was a fearless pastor is proven by the event that drove him into exile, a fugitive and a recluse. In discharge of his sacred functions he excommunicated, some say, others say he merely preached against, a lady, 'a gentleman's wife,' who was believed to be too familiar with the Lord-President of Munster. In all times, but especially in those times in Ireland, the recompence of such temerity as this act of excommunicating the favourite of the ruler of the province, was persecution, and thus Keating's life was endangered to such a degree, that, to avoid apprehension and punishment, he fled from his parish and hid himself in the glen of Aherlow, which lies between the town of Tipperary and the Galtee Mountains. There his History' was begun, and perhaps his poems and songs written; and there he remained till 1633, the year that Sir George Carew, the offended Lord
President, had been recalled to England. He returned to Tybrud, and, with one Father Eugene Duhy as coadjutor, he there spent the remainder of his useful and laborious life. There he died, in 1644, and there, over the porch of the church that he built, and where he and Duhy ministered, in rather eccentric lettering, is the following inscription :
'ORA.TE, ProAebq. P. Eugenij : Duhy vic. de Tybrud : et D. Doct. Galv. kearing huiq sacelli Funda-Toru: necno er-Prooibq alijs Ta sacerd. Quam Laicis quoru corpa. in eod. jacet sa. Ao. Doni 1644.' The foregoing inscription is thus plainly expressed :
Orate pro animabus Parochi Eugenii Duhy, Vicarii de Tubrud, et Divinitatis Doctoris Galfridii Keuting, hujus Sacelli Fundatorum ; necnon et pro omnibus aliis, tam Sacerdotibus quam Laicis, quorum Corpora in eodem jacent Sacello. Anno Domini 1644.'
'Pray for the souls of the Priest Eugenius Duhy, Vicar of Tybrud, and of Jeoffry Keating, D.D., Founders of this chapel ; and also for all others, both Priests and Laity, whose Bodies lie in the same chapel. of our Lord 1644.'
In one urn in Tybrud, hid from mortal eye,
Concentred were in famous Jeoffry.' In addition to his 'Thoughts on Innisfail,' which, as translated by Mr. Read, will be found, together with his 'Song to his Letter,' on a subsequent page, he wrote · An Elegy on the Death of Lord Decies,' 'A Farewell to
In the year
Ireland' (an ode addressed to his harper), and a prose treatise called the “Three Shafts of Death.'
MACWARD. OF Owen MacWard, or Owen Roe MacBhaird, nothing is known beyond that he was the bard of the O'Donnells, and was the descendant of a long line of bards, attached from a remote period to that sept. He fled with O'Donnell and O'Neil, the Earls of Tyrowen and Tyrconnell, from Ireland in 1607, and his chief poem is his * Lament' for them, at their decease. They died and were buried in Rome, and the elegy was addressed to Nuala, the sister of O'Donnell of Tyrconnell. It is a poem entirely charged with the national spirit and sentiment of the time—a record of the great deeds of the noble princes, a wail of grief for poor Erin, a pathetic appeal to God to 'sustain us in these doleful days, and render light the chain that binds our fallen land.' We give the translation of this noble ode, by Mangan, and it will be readily conceded that it is a poem that merits the encomiums passed on it by modern critics. It is a mournful song of triumph, a proud, heroic elegy, soaked through and through with the languishment of a hopeless hope, an utter and incurable grief for the ‘hapless fate' of Ireland. Entirely spirit-broken, there is no whisper of revenge, no anticipation of recovery. The only consolation he can offer to the bereaved Nuala is painfully hopeless :
• Thou daughter of O'Donnell ! dry
Thy heart aside ;
Mocks human pride.' * MacBhaird means the Son of the Bard, and has been Anglicised into MacWard and Ward.