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Track 10: To Viscount Kenmare

Track 10. To Viscount KenmarePoem and Dro - Valentine Brown / Dans En Dro

Valentine Browne (5th Baronent, 3rd Viscount) took possession of the Kenmare estate upon the death of Nicholas Browne in 1720. Having been destitute for so long, (even composing a poem on his gratitude at receiving the gift of a pair of shoes), Aodhagán no doubt hoped that the return of a Browne to the lordship of the estate would mean a restortation of his status as ollamh and celebrated Valentine’s marriage to Honora Butler in 1720 in an Epithalamium. However, society had changed vastly in the intervening time and the estates had suffered under the mismanagement of John Asgill and were taking a severely reduced income. Valentine Browne either could not or would not restore O’Rathaille’s position. It is likely that the refusal of this request was sufficiently devastating for O’Rathaille to compose this bitter and mournful poem in which he launches a vitriolic attack on the new English gentry like Valentine Browne and makes reference to the failure of the Jacobites as being a primary cause for his own situation.

The tune Dans En Dro is a traditional breton tune. It’s stark simplicity and moderate pace make it a fitting backdrop to this powerful poem.

Valentine Brown

A distressing sorrow has spread over my old hardened heart

Since the foreign demons have come amoungst us in the land of Conn,

A cloud upon the sun of the west to whom the kingship of Munster was due;

It is this which has caused me ever to have recourse to thee, Valentine Brown.

First, Cashel without society, guest-house, or horsemen,

And Brian’s turretted mansions black-flooded with otters,

Ealla without the government of a chief descended from the kings of Munster;

It is this which has caused me ever to have recourse to thee, Valentine Brown.

The wild deer has lost the noble shape that was her wont before,

Since the foreign raven nestled in the thick wood of Ross;

The fishes shun the sun-lit stream and the calm, delightful rivulet;

It is this which has caused me ever to have recourse to thee, Valentine Brown.

Dairinis in the west – it has no lord of the noble race;

Woe is me! in Hamburg is the lord of the gentle merry heroes;

Aged, grey-browed eyes, bitterly weeping for each of these,

Have caused me ever to have recourse to thee Valentine Brown.

The feathers of swift flocks fly adown the wind

Like the wretched fur of a cat on a waste of heather;

Cattle refuse to yield their milk to their calves

Since Sir Valentine usurped the rights of the noble MacCarthy.

Pan directed his eyes over the high lands,

Wondering where Mars had gone, whose departure brought us death;

Dwarfish churls ply the sword of the three fates,

Hacking the dead crosswise from head to foot.



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