[I can't recall seeing another poem with footnotes included by the poet. This one even has footnotes to the footnotes! The footnotes provide a bit of the history of the events in Sir Cahir's life. O'Doherty is frequently called "Cahir Rua" or "Charles the Red" for his red hair. "Cahir Roe" is apparently another spelling of the same thing.]
CAHIR ROE 1 A.D. 1608.
Wild are thy hills, O Donegal! 2 That towering grandly rise, Brow-incensed by the mists that fall, An homage from the skies!
In awful stateliness, sublime, Unchanged for aye they see Each link upon the chain of Time Pass to Eternity.
Deep are thy glens, O Donegal! And holy is their calm, The weary there forget their thrall, The fevered find a balm.
So far removed from outer world, The stranger pausing here Might deem his guardian sprite had whirled Him to some purer sphere.
O blessed is thy rock, O Doune! 3 Thrice blessed is thy well4, Where oft St. Columb's vesper-croon Was heard as night's shades fell.
Blest, sacred is thy holy well, With power that still endures-- The many crutches mutely tell Its miracles--its cures.
Upon thy rock in days of eld O'Donnell's chiefs were crowned, Ere yet thy stunted shrubs beheld The Saxon gaze around.
But o'er thy brow a cloud hath lain That ever must abide, Since haughty Cahir Roe was slain Upon thy heath-clad side.
True are thy hearts, O Donegal! To love abide, or dare, And still the mem'ry of his fall Is green for ever there. * * * * * * * Tall are thy sons, O Donegal! Swift-limbed and hardy, strong, But Cahir Roe was passing tall 5 Thy choicest sons among.
Strong, strong of sinew, straight of limb, His country's pride to see; In feats of strength none equalled him-- First in each sport was he.
And yet none lighter led the dance When Peace spread o'er each glen, The pride of Spain, the grace of France, Were his unto all men.
A fearless eye of searching blue, That spoke to friend or foe, That pierced the vain dissembler through, Or dimmed at others' woe.
His sunlit hair in ringlets wild Fell o'er his shoulders free, And ruddy cheeks as of a child And sunny heart had he.
As thunder-clouds o'er summer sun Obscure its genial ray, And lightnings flash and thunders crash In July's warmest day:
So throbbed his breast with passions great O'er fair Ultonia's wrong, 6 As warm his love, so fierce his hate, Wild, merciless, and strong.
For o'er the ocean's throbbing breast The Irish chiefs had flown7, To seek in foreign climes that rest Denied them in their own.
Curst be the tongues that bade them fly When false accusers rose! Far better had they faced the lie And crushed it in their foes!
Unhappy princes! hard thy lot, Thy sighs must rise in vain, Since faith and freedom needs be bought By exile's longing pain.
And all thy forts and fair domains Are by the strangers shared; Thy churches sacked, thy friends in chains, Thy faith a crime declared.8
For stern and bold the troopers come To hold the clans in thrall, And he whose sword hath made him lord Hath power in Donegal
To treat the Celt as but a slave, And rob him of the soil; If leave to till the ground he gave, For him was all the toil.
'Twas thus when Cahir of the North To Derry did repair, With lesser chiefs and men of worth, To state their grievance there.
What man bereft of every right-- Wealth, freedom, power,--of all, Will not the tyrant robber smite, Or--daring failure--fall?
If such a slave on earth be found Let cowards homage pay! Be he their monarch fitly crowned As lowlier far than they!
What man may stand a coward's blow, And meekly suffer all? Paulett insulted Cahir Roe, But sudden was his fall.
A day has passed, but Day brings Night, And Night red vengeance brings; The City guards are slain in fight, The town with tumult rings.
O'Dougherty and Paulett meet, In vain the Saxon tries His skill in fence--at Cahir's feet A gory corse he lies.
On Derry's9 forts and walls there stands The sunburst, green and gold: O'Dougherty the Foyle commands, Culmore10 his clansmen hold. * * * * * Six fevered months of vengeful strife And weary warfare passed, Now brooding o'er his captured wife11, Sir Cahir stands at last.
With shattered band on rock of Doune: His thoughts are far away-- He heeds not how the gay larks tune At heaven's bright gates their lay.
He thinks of battles fought and won, Of hopes that once ran high; And now, outnumbered and undone, There but remained to die.
To die!--ay, Death were fame indeed, If freedom Death could buy; To know his country were but freed, Then proudly would he die!
Where now his force? A scattered flock, Dispersed, betrayed, or dead: With trusty few he holds the rock-- A price upon his head.
"O, God, it was not thus I thought To serve my country's need, When from the Sassenach and Scot I swore she would be freed!
"But by Thy sacred name I swear In her proud cause to die!"---- A vengeful bullet cleft the air, His stricken followers fly.
And there, upon Doune's heath-clad side, Whilst all his warriors fled, Oozed out the chieftain's gory tide-- Sir Cahir Roe lay dead. * * * * * Grand are thy hills, O Innishowen! Strong is thy torrents' flow! But Freedom's glory fled thy throne With dauntless Cahir Roe.