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Poetry Magnum Opus

Conor MacArt meets Hugh O Neill


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Ní túisce bhaile

ná ar shiúl arís


After a desperate ride on a stolen horse

I got back to Dhún na nGall. There I found

Eileen, my wife, living with another man,

and so I beat the living daylights out of her,

and then of him, but let both of them live,

since I couldn’t be bothered. The children

came running out, crying “Daddy, Daddy”

and I showered them with kisses and presents

and got up on my horse and rode away

thinking of Yasmin Nur. Where was she now,

and what would she be doing? I knew damn well

what she’d be doing, so savagely spurred the horse

and rode into Dungannon. Things had changed.


Shane was gone, thank God, murdered by the MacDonnells

of Antrim, and I thought of sending them a present

in honour of a deed well done, I didn’t, but rode

to the grave itself. I peed upon it, lastingly, smilingly,

and thought what an attractive dangerous man you were,

Cousin Shane, and as I was fumbling with my buttons

who should come along but a delegation of young men

who invited me to dinner with the heir-presumptive, Hugh.

This was a shy young man with a steely eye, and I thought,

by God, be careful! That filthy old English bitch, Elizabeth,

had had him raised in England, in mind to make him an Earl

and her puppet leader of an obstreperous clan, but I could see

his mind was diverging slyly in several different ways.


The meal was well-cooked and well-served, accompanied by

excellent wines, and I was in a mellow mood when over the port

the young Lord turned to me, smiling (Shane!) and remarked,

“You have a command, I believe, of various foreign tongues?”

I can rattle along quite well in the Turkish, says I, with images

of Bert and cold-eyed Suleiman sending shivers up my spine,

and Yasmin Nur. Ahh, Yasmin Nur. What I had in mind, says he,

is the Spanish. Well, hadn’t I been with my cousin Rodrigo

on his estancia, for months on end, before my real troubles began?

There is new trouble brewing, Mister MacArt, and I may have need

of your services. You will be assuredly well recompensensed.

It was his subtle way of reminding me (as if I didn’t know)

that I was well dressed, indeed, with hardly a penny to fart with.


Fitzgerald (he meant the Desmond) is raising a rebellion in the south

with hardly any chance. In fact, I have been instructed by the Queen

(that ghastly bitch again!) to raise and lead my troops against him.

This, of course, I will do, in a half-hearted manner, as I have no choice

but the real rebellion, you must know, depends on help from Spain!

Therefore, I would have you travel to that country ….



As Gaeilge:

"No sooner home than away again".

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Your work is always interesting but inevitably I end up Googling. A cheeky tilt to encourage the layman to read complex Irish history. I ended up on *The Death and Burial of Cormac." :smile: B.

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I'm playing around with history, I know, but I'm trying to see things through the eyes of the people who lived in, among, and around it. In the Irish mind 1014 was the day before yesterday ... oh, that was the battle of Clontarf when Brian Boru decidedly defeated the Vikings and drove them out of the land forever but was murdered in his tent by Herr Doktor Vidkun Quisling ... or maybe I've got my lines crossed?

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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