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King Daithi – 1903

Supplement to the Cork Examiner 4th April, 1903 (abridged)

Photo: Norma Scheibe

Photo: Norma Scheibe


On the death of his father, Fiachra, Dathi became King of Connaught (c. 5th Century A.D.) On the death of his uncle, Niall of the Nine Hostages, he became Monarch of Ireland. He not only invaded the coasts of Gaul, but forced his way to the foot of the Alps where he was killed by a flash of lightening, leaving the Throne of Ireland to be filled by a line of Christian Kings.

Darkly their glibs o’erhang
Sharp is their wolf-dog’s fang.
Bronze spear and falchion clang
Brave men might shun them!
Heavy the spoil they bear
Jewels and gold are there
Hostage and maiden fair.
How have they won them!

From the soft sons of Gaul,

Photo: Norma Scheibe

Photo: Norma Scheibe

Roman, and Frank and thrall,
Borough, and hut, and hall
These have been torn.
Over Britannia wide
Over fair Gaul they hied
Often in battle tried,
Enemies mourn!

Fiercely their harpers sing
Led by their gallant king,
They will to Eire bring
Beauty and Treasure.
Britain shall bend the knee
Rich shall their households be
When their long ships the sea
Homeward shall measure.

Barrow and Rath shall rise,
Towers too, of wondrous size,
Tailtin, they’ll solmenise,
Feis-Teamhrach assemble.
Samhain and Beal shall smile
On the rich holy isle
Nay! in a little while
Oetius shall tremble!

Up on the glacier’s snow

St Coman's Church, Kinvara Photo: Norma Scheibe

St Coman’s Church, Kinvara
Photo: Norma Scheibe

Down on the vales below
Monarch and clansmen go
Bright is the morning.
Never their march they slack,
Jura is at their back
When falls the evening black
Hideous and warning!

Eagles scream loud on high;
Far off the chamois fly,
Hoarse comes the torrent’s cry,
On the rocks whitening.
Strong are the storm’s wings;
Down the tall pine it flings;
Hailstone and sleet it brings
Thunder and lightening.

Thundering, hail or wind;
Little these veterans mind
Closer their ranks they bind
Matching the storm.
While, a spear cast of more,
On the front ranks before,
Dathi the sunburst bore,
Haughty his form!

Forth from the thunder cloud

Photo: EO'D

Photo: EO’D

Leans out a foe as proud
Sudden the monarch bowed,
On rush the vanguard;
Wildly the King they raise
Struck by the lightning’s blaze
Ghastly his dying gaze,
Clutching his standard!

Mild is the morning beam,
Gently the rivers stream,
Happy the valleys seem;
But the lone islanders –
Hark to the wail they sing!
Hark to the wail they sing!
Dark is their counseling
Hervetia’s highlanders.

Gather, like ravens near,
Shall Daithi’s soldiers fear!
Soon their home path they clear
Rapid and daring
On through the pass and plain,
Until the shore they gain,
And, with their spoil again,
Landed in Eirinn!

Little does Eire care
For gold or maiden fair

Photo: EO'D

Photo: EO’D

“Where is King Daithi – where
Where is my bravest?”
On the rich deck he lies
O’er him his sunburst flies
Solemn the obsequies
Eire! thou gavest.

See ye that countless train
Crossing Roscommon’s plain
Crying, like hurricane,
Uile liu ai!
Broad is his cairn’s base
Night the “King’s burial place”
Last of the Pagan race,
Lieth King Daithi!

Notes:

Glib – a hairstyle with long fringe.
The consul Oetius, the shield of Italy and terror of ‘the barbarian’ was a contemporary of King Daithi.
Feis Teamhrach is the Parliament of Tara.
The Tailtin gaves were held at Tailte, County Meath.
Samhain and Beal, the moon and sun, were worshipped in pagan Ireland.
Eire was the ancient name of Ireland
A Sunburst was the national standard of Ireland
Hibernice, Reilig na Riogh was a famous burial place near Cruachan, in Connaught were the kings were usually interred before the establishment of the Christian religion in Ireland
Tribes and customs of the Ui-Fiachrach – Irish Archaeological Society publication.

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