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Track 9: Dispossessed

Track 9. DispossessedPoem and Reels - On His Removing to Duibhneacha, beside Tonn Tóime in Kerry / The Destitution / The Ruined Cottage in the Glen

Sir Valentine Browne, 3rd Baronet (1638–1694) was a supporter of James II and was given the title Viscount Kenmare by James. After the fall of James in 1691, Valentine Browne became attainted for his association with James and his estates were made forfeit in 1691. His son Nicholas Browne, 4th Baronet, 2nd Viscount was also a Jacobite supporter and therefore also attainted and could not claim the estates. O’Rathaille, in consequence, had to leave his native district and lived in poor circumstances at Tonn Tóime, at the edge of Castlemaine Harbour, some twelve miles west of Killarney.

The poem composed by O’Rathaille after his dispossession and relocation to Tonn Tóime is full of anger and self-pity. He bewails the loss of his stature as an ollamh and the events that were causing the collapse of the native Irish culture.

The slow reel, The Destitution, has been attributed to Ian Stevenson but is clearly a variation of the traditional tune Snow on the Hills. Following this is the aptly named Ruined Old Cottage in the Glen which is unusual in that the first part is half the length of the second.


On his Removing to Duibhneacha Beside Tonn Tóime in Kerry

The drenching night seems long to me, without sleep, without snore,

Without stock, or wealth, or sheep, or horned cows;

The storm on the waves beside me has harrowed my head,

And I was unused in my childhood to dogfish and periwinkles!

If the protecting prince from the bank of the Laune were alive,

And the company who shared with him (and would pity my plight),

Ruling over the fair, sheltered regions, rich in havens and harbours,

My children would not long remain in poverty in the land of Duibhnigh.

The great, valiant MacCarthy, to whom baseness was hateful,

And MacCarthy from the Lee, enfeebled, captive without release,

MacCarthy, prince of Kanturk, with his children in the grave –

Bitter grief courses through my heart that no trace of them is left.

My heart has withered within my breast, my humours soured,

Because the warriors that were not found niggardly, and who inherited the land

From Cashel to the waves of Cliodhna and across to Thomond,

Have their dwellings and possessions ravaged by foreign hosts.

You! Wave below!, of highest repute, loud-voiced,

The senses of my head are overcome with your bellowing,

Were aid ever to come to fair Erin again,

I would thrust your discordant clamour down your throat!

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