Category Archives: Love

What is Love?

WHAT IS LOVE? [From the Early Irish.]

A love all-commanding, all-withstanding
Through a year is my love;
A grief darkly hiding, starkly biding
Without let or remove ,
Of strength a sharp straining, past sustaining
Wheresoever I rove,
A force still extending without ending
Before and around and above.

Of Heaven ’tis the brightest amazement,
The blackest abasement of Hell,
A struggle for breath with a spectre,
In nectar a choking to death;
‘Tis a race with Heaven’s lightning and thunder,
Then Champion Feats under Moyle’s water
‘Tis pursuing the cuckoo, the wooing
Of Echo, the Rock’s airy daughter.

Till my red lips turn ashen,
My light limbs grow leaden,
My heart loses motion,
In Death my eyes deaden,
So is my love and my passion,
So is my ceaseless devotion
To her to whom I gave them,
To her who will not have them.

The Maid of Ballyhaunis

My Mary dear! For thee I die,
O! place thy hand, in mine, love –
My fathers here were chieftains high,
Then to my plaints incline, love.
O! Plaited-hair! That now we were
In wedlock’s hand united
For maiden mine, in grief I’ll pine,
Until our vows are plighted!

Thou, Rowan-bloom, since thus I rove,
All worn and faint to greet thee,
Come to these arms, my constant love,
With love as true to meet me!
Alas! My head – it’s wits are fled,
I’ve failed in filial duty –
My sire did say, “Shun, shun, for aye,
That Ballyhaunis beauty!”

But thy Cailín Bán I marked one day,
Where the blooms of the bean-field cluster,
Thy bosom white like ocean’s spray,
Thy cheek like rowan-fruit’s lustre,
Thy tones that shame the wild birds fame
Which sing in the summer weather –
And O! I sigh that thou, love, and I
Steal! Not from this world together!

If with thy lover thou depart
To the land of Ships my fair love,
No weary pain of head or heart,
Shall haunt our slumbers there, love –
O! haste away, ere cold death’s prey,
My soul from thee withdrawn is;
And my hope’s reward, the churchyard sward,
In the town of Ballyhaunis

Molly St. George

Miss Molly St. George is
a maid without peer,
So handsome, so modest,
so graceful, so dear.
Though demure and retiring,
she yet far excels
The lasses of Omagh,
the damsels of Kells:
From lake-side Portumna
to Limerick sound
There’s no doubting maid Molly,
your like is not found!

I’m a sprite from the deluge,
afloat on the lake
A sprite that is banished
from mountain and brake
With nets on each side in
which thousands have strove
A net full of magic,
a net full of love.
How I wish that in either
imprisoned I’d been,
With a hope of release at
the hand of my queen!

My frends all keep saying
I’m foolish and wild,
That in loving maid Molly
My hopes are beguiled:
When I wish to persuade her
I tremble, I’m mute,
For her voice is far sweeter
Than viol or lute
Oh! Life is a burden and
Death hovers near,
If you tell me maid Molly,
You’ll not be my dear!

Written by Donal O’Sullivan.

All Around My Hat

My love she was fair, and my love she was kind
And cruel the judge and jury that sentenced her away
For thieving was a thing that she never was inclined to
They sent my love across the sea ten thousand miles away.

All around my hat, I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat for a year and a day
And if anyone should question me the reason for my wearing it
I’ll tell them that my own true love is ten thousand miles away.

I bought my love a golden ring to wear upon her finger
A token of our own true love and to remember me
And when she returns again, we never will be parted
We’ll marry and be happy for ever and a day.

All around my hat, I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat for a year and a day
And if anyone should question me the reason for my wearing it
I’ll tell them that my own true love is ten thousand miles away.

Seven, seven long years my love and I are parted
Seven, seven long years my love is bound to stay
Seven long years I’ll love my love and never be false-hearted
And never sigh or sorrow while she’s far, far away.

All around my hat, I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat for a year and a day
And if anyone should question me the reason for my wearing it
I’ll tell them that my own true love is ten thousand miles away.

Some young men there are who are preciously deceitful,
A-coaxin’ of the fair young maids they mean to lead astray
As soon as they deceive them, so cruelly they leave them
I’ll love my love forever though she’s far, far away,

All around my hat, I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat for a year and a day
And if anyone should question me the reason for my wearing it
I’ll tell them that my own true love is ten thousand miles away.

The Star of Donegal

One evening fair to take the air, alone I chanced to stray,
Down by a lucid, silvery stream that ran along my way,
I spied two lovers talking, seated by an ancient ruined hall,
And the fair one’s name was Mary Orr, the Star of Donegal.

He pressed her hand, and then began, “my darling I must go
Unto the land of stars and stripes where peace and plenty flow,
But I want your faithful promise that you’ll wed none at all,
Until I do return to the Star of Donegal.”

She blushed and sighed and thus replied; “it grieves my heart full sore,
To think that you’re compelled to go and leave your native shore,
Here is my hand, you have my heart, I own the gift is small,
So stay at home and do not roam from matchless Donegal.”

The young man said: “my charming maid, at home I cannot stay,
To the Californian gold-fields I am bound to cross the sea,
To accumulate a fortune and to build a splendid hall,
To elevate to rank and state the Star of Donegal.”

She raised her lily white hand and said: “this castle in its day,
With all its plains and large domains from Lifford to the sea,
Belonged to my ancestors with many a splendid hall,
And if my father had his rights, he’s Lord of Donegal.”

The young man said: “my charming maid, the time is drawing near,
When the Irish will return home after their long career,
Our lovely land, by God’s command, the fairest of them all,
And heaven will see old Erin free, bright Star of Donegal.”

She raised her hand and thus she said: “God grant that I may see
Saint Patrick’s lovely Isle of Saints, great, glorious and free,
If that was so there’s none would go to New York or Montreal,
But cultivate and decorate the lands of Donegal.”

He clasped her in his arms, and, “My darling,” he did say,
“You know I love you dearly although I’m going away.
Let us get wed without fear or dread, that puts an end to all,
And then I’ll have my darling girl, the Star of Donegal.”

She gave consent and off they went to the house of Father Hugh,
Where he joined their hands in wedlock’s bands without any more to-do.
They sailed away from Derry Quay, and bade farewell to all,
And now they are in America, far, far from Donegal.

The Irish Sailor

All you young men, pray attend to these few lines I write,
My mind being bent on rambling, to England I took my flight;
I being young and foolish, at home I could not stay,
But left my tender parents, and from them stole away .

I hired with a merchant of honour and renown;
I lived with hi quite happy till fortune seemed to frown;
He had a handsome daughter, few to her could compare,
That fell in love with me, now is in despair.

But when he father came to her the truth she had made known;
He found she loved me dearly, which made for him to frown.
Said he, “I’ll soon prevent her, and that without delay;
I’ll send him out in my own ship that’s shortly bound for sea.”

The lady was distracted, to her bedchamber flew –
She says, “My lovely Jemmy, then must I die for you!
Some noble knights of onour their offers I did deny;
My life I now would give to embrace my sailor boy!’

But, O, my cruel parents, for the sake of earthly store,
They sent my darling boy from me where the seas do loudly roar;
He was both neat and slender, he was my chiefest joy;
No lord or nobleman I see like my Irish sailor boy.

One evening as I chanced to roam along the pleasant strand,
I saw my father’s ship arrive, the captain he did land;
I went to him without delay, and offered fIfty pound
All for to let my father know young Jemmy he was drowned.

He kindly did embrace it, and now he’s gone away;
Great tidings to him he has brought that’s happened on the sea;
And when the same he did relate, great joy it did afford,
That Jemmy by a swelling wave had been. swept overboard.

I walked along quite easy till I came to the quay,
Where I embraced my sailor boy and blest the happy day;
But to make my father sure believe that he lay in the deep,
When returning home again I bitterly did weep.

That night when all was silent I made good use of time;
Full fifteen thousand pounds I stole while they were drinking wine;
In his absence I proved loyal, and crowned our nuptial joy,
I bid farewell to sorrow, and wed my sailor boy.

Kitty of Coleraine

As beautiful Kitty one morning was tripping,
With a pitcher of milk for the fair at Coleraine,
When she saw me she stumbled, the pitcher down tumbled,
And all the sweet buttermilk watered the plain.
“Oh, what shall I do now! ‘Twas looking at you now,
I’m sure such a pitcher I’ll ne’er see again.
‘Twas the pride of my dairy – oh, Barney McCleary,
You’re sent as a plague to the girls at Coleraine.”

I sat down beside her, and gently did chide her
That such a misfortune should give her such pain;
‘Twas the haymaking season – I can’t tell leave her
she vowed for such pleasure she’d break it again.
‘Twas the haymaking season, I can’t tell the reason,
misfortunes will never come singly, ‘tis plain.
For very soon after poor Kitty’s disaster,
The devil a pitcher was whole in Coleraine.

Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms

Believe me if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy gifts, fading away.

Thou wouldst still be ador’d as this moment thou art,
Let thy lovliness fade as it will;
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart,
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofan’d by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!

Oh! the heart, that has truly lov’d, never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which he turn’d when he rose.

The Carlow Maid

In Carlow town there lived a maid,
More sweet that flowers at daybreak;
Their vows contending lovers paid,
But none of marriage dared speak;
Still with a sigh,
‘Twas ‘O! I die
Each day my passion stronger.’
When sprightly Nancy then did say,
‘You’ll die, dear sir, the Irish way
To live a little longer.’

At length, grown jealous, Venus cries,
‘This pride’s beyond all bearing,’
And quickly sent Mars from the skies,
In form of Captain Daring;
Then, with a sigh,
‘Twas ‘O! I die’
The god found passion stronger,
As sprightly Nancy then did say,
‘You’ll die, dear sir, the Irish way
To live a little longer.’

Like hero bold, well armed, he pressed,
And quickly saw by Nancy,
The snow was thawed within her breast;
The soldier caught her fancy;
With downcast eye
She heaved a sigh,
She found her passion stronger,
And sprightly Nancy then did say,
‘I’ll die, myself, the Irish way,
To live a little longer!’

The Demon Lover

“O where have you been, long, long, love,
This long seven years and mair?
O I’m come to seek my former vows-
Ye granted me before.”
“O hold your tongue of your former vows
For they will breed sad strife;
O hold your tongue of your former vows,
For I am become a wife.”

He turned him right and round about
And the tear blinded his e’e.
“I wad ne’er hae trodden on Irish ground
Had it not been for love of thee.”

“I might have had a king’s daughter
Far, far beyond the sea;
I might have had a king’s daughter
Had it not been for love of thee.”

“If ye might have had a king’s daughter,
Yer self ye had to blame;
Ye might have taken the king’s daughter,
Fer ye kend that I was nane.”

“O false are the vows o’ womankind,
But fair is their false bodie;
I ne’er wad hae trodden on Irish ground
Had it not been for love o’ thee.”

“If I was to leave my husband dear,
And my two babes also,
O what have you to take me to,
If with you I should go?”

“I have seven ships upon the sea,
The eighth brought me to land;
With four-and-twenty bold mariners
And music on every hand.”

She has taken up her two little babes,
Kissed them baith cheek and chin:
“O fare ye well, my ain two babes,
For I’ll ne’er see you again.”

She set her foot upon the ship,
No mariners could she behold;
But the sails were of the taffetie,
And the masts of the beaten gold.

She had not sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When dismal grew his countenance
And drumlie grew his e’e.

The masts that were like the beaten gold
Bent not on the heaving seas;
And the sails that were o’the taffetie
Filled not in the eastland breeze.

They had not sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
Until she espied his cloven foot,
And she wept right bitterlie.

“O hold your tongue of your weeping,” says he
“Of you weeping now let me be;
I will show you how the lilies grow
On the banks of Italy.”

“O what hills are yon, yon pleasant hills,
That the sun shines sweetly on?”
“O yon are the hills of heaven,” he said,
“There you will never win.”

“O whaten a mountain is yon,” she said,
“All so dreary wi’ frost and snow?”
“O yon is the mountain of hell,” he cried,
“Where you and I will go.”

And aye when she turned her round about,
Aye, taller he seemed to be;
Until that the tops of the gallant ship
Nae taller were than he.

The clouds grew dark and the wind grew loud,
And levin filled her e’e;
And waesome wailed the snow-white sprites
Upon the girlie sea.

He strack the tapmast wi’ his hand
The foremast wi’ his knee
And he brake the gallant ship in twain
And sank her in the sea.