Elizabethan Plantation / Irish Heritage / O Rourke / The Abbey Loop

Music and Words – O’Rourkes Feast

Planxty O’Rourke

by Mc Gauran & Carolan. Singer: Sean O Sé

April 6th, 1589: “How naughtily O’Rourke hath always carried himself…He caused a picture of Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth I] to be drawn at a horse tail and kept his Christmas according the the Pope’s computation”

” One of O’Carolan’s earliest friends was Hugh MacGauran, a County Leitrim gentleman, who had a happy poetic talent, and excelled particularly in ludicrous species of poetry. He was the author of the justly celebrated song of Plearca na Ruarcach freely translated as “O’Rourke’s Feast,” which he prevailed on the bard to set to music. The fame of the song having reached the ears of Dean Swift, he requested of MacGauran a literal translation of it in English. The Dean was so charmed with its beauties that he honored it with an excellent version of his own.

This rowdy poem is based on the Christmas festivities held in the Great Hall of the castle at Dromahaire, County Leitrim, by the Irish chieftain Brian na Murtha O Ruairc, Prince of Breffni, and the ancestor of several of Carolan’s friends, according to O’Sullivan. These festivities are referred to in the Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, of April 6th, 1589: “How naughtily O’Rourke hath always carried himself…He caused a picture of Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth I] to be drawn at a horse tail and kept his Christmas according the the Pope’s computation”

Music Details

Three Versions from the 18th Century

O’Carolan & McGauran c. 1721

Plearca na Ruarcach i gcuimhne gach uile dhuine
Dá dtiocfaidh, dá dtáinic, ‘s dá maireann go fóill:
Seacht bhfichid muc, mart agus caora
Dhá gcasgairt don ghasraí gach aon ló.

Céad páil uisge bheatha ‘s na meadra dhá líona,
Ag éirghe ar maidin is againn bhí an spóirt.
“Briseadh do phíopa-sa, sladadh mo phóca-sa,
Goideadh do bhríste-sa, loisgeadh mo chlóca-sa,

Chaill mé mo bhairéad, m’fhallaing is m’fhiléad,
Ó d’imigh na gairéad ar seacht mbeannacht leó!
Cuir spraic ar a’ gcláirsigh, Seinn suas a’ pléaráca,
An bucsa sin, ‘Áine,’gus greadóg le n-ól!

Lucht leanamhna na Ruarcach a’ cratha a gcleití,
Tráth chuala siad tormán nó troimpléasg an cheóil;
D’éirigh gach aon aca gan coisreaca ‘n-a leabaidh,
Is a bhean leis ar strachailt in gach aon chórn.

Nár láidir an seasamh don talamh bhí fútha,
Gan réaba le sodar agus glug ins gach bróig
Saol agus sláinte dhuit, ‘Mh’leachlainn UíFhionnagáin
Dar mo láimh is maith a dhamhsuíos tú, ‘Mhársail Ní Ghriodagáin!

Here’s to you, ‘mháthair, I pledge you, God save you!
Beir ar a’ sgála so,sgag é in do sgóig.
Crath fúinn an tsráideóg, sín tharuinn an bhán-phluid,
Tugthar ar sáith dhúinn de lionn-choirm chóir!

A Árd-Rí na gcarad, cébi ‘tchífeadh an ghasraí
Ar líona a gcraicní Nó ar lasa san ól!
Cnáimh righe bacaird ar fad in gach sgín aca.
A’ gearra ‘s a’ cosgairt go mór, mór, mór;

A slisneacha darach ar lasa a’ gabháil fríd a chéile,
A’ buala, a’ greada, A’ losga ‘s a’ dódh.
A bhodaigh, ‘sé m’athair-se chuir Mainistir na Búille suas,
Sligeach is Gaillimh is Caraidh Dhroma Rúisgthe fós.

Iarla Chill’ Dara agus Biadhtach Mhuí n-ealta,
Siad d’oil agus d’altruim mé,
Fiosraigh so de Mhór.
Tóig suas a’ t’ádhmad agus buail an t-alárm air,
Preab ionsa táirr agus Cic ionsa tóin

“Cé thóig a’ t-alárm so?” Ar aon den Eaglais,
Ag éirghe ‘n-a sheasamh ‘s a’ bagairt go mór .
Ní h-é spairgeas uisge coisreactha ghlac sé sa gcíora
Ach bata maith darach, bog-lán dóirn!

Trh shíl sé na caithmhílidh a chasgairt ‘s a chíora,
Do fágadh an sagart ‘n-a mheall chasta fán mbórd.
D’éirigh na bráithre a’ tárrtháil na bruíne,
Is fágadh an t-Athair Gáirdian ar a thárr ‘n-áirde sa ngríosaí.

“Tráth bhínn-se ag an bPápa ar stuidéar na ngrásta,
‘S a’ glaca na ngrádhamh tháll ins a’ Róimh,
‘Sé an Seven Wise Masters bhí agad ar do tháirr,
Is tú a’ rósta na bprátaí láimh leis a’ tSídh Mhór!


Jonathan Swift

1721

O’ROURKE’S noble fare
Will ne’er be forgot,
By those who were there,
Or those who were not.

His revels to keep,
We sup and we dine
On seven score sheep,
Fat bullocks, and swine.

Uisge bheatha to our feast
In pails was brought up,
A hundred at least,
And a madder our cup.
O there is the sport!

We rise with the light
In disorderly sort,
From snoring all night.

O how was I trick’d!
My pipe it was broke,
My pocket was pick’d,
I lost my new cloak.

I’m rifled, quoth Nell,
Of mantle and kercher,
Why then fare them well,
The de’el take the searcher.

Come, harper, strike up;
But, first, by your favour,
Boy, give us a cup:
Ah! this hath some savour.

O’Rourke’s jolly boys
Ne’er dreamt of the matter,
Till, roused by the noise,
And musical clatter,
They bounce from their nest,

No longer will tarry.
They rise ready drest,
Without one Ave-Mary.
They dance in a round,

Cutting capers and ramping;
A mercy the ground
Did not burst with their stamping.

The floor is all wet
With leaps and with jumps,
While the water and sweat
Splish-splash in their pumps.

Bless you late and early,
Laughlin O’Enagin!
But, my hand, you dance rarely
Margery Grinagin.

Bring straw for our bed,
Shake it down to the feet,
Then over us spread
The winnowing sheet.

To show I don’t flinch,
Fill the bowl up again:
Then give us a pinch
Of your sneezing, a Yean

Good lord! what a sight,
After all their good cheer,
For people to fight
In the midst of their beer!

They rise from their feast,
And hot are their brains,
A cubit at least ,
the length of their skeans

What stabs and what cuts,
What clattering of sticks;
What strokes on the guts,
What bastings and kicks!

With cudgels of oak,
Well harden’d in flame,
A hundred heads broke,
A hundred struck lame.

You churl, I’ll maintain
My father built Lusk,
The castle of Slane,
And Carrick Drumrusk:

The Earl of Kildare,
And Moynalta his brother,
As great as they are,
I was nurst by their mother.

Ask that of old madam:
She’ll tell you who’s who,
As far up as Adam,
She knows it is true.

Come down with that beam,
If cudgels are scarce,
A blow on the weam,
Or a kick on the arse.


Charles Wilson

1782  

O’Rourke’s revel rout

let no person forget

Who has been, who will be,

or never has yet.

See seven score hogs

in the morning we slay.

With bullocks and sheep

for the feasting each day

Hundred pails uisge bheatha

drunk in madders like wort.

In the morning we rise

and with us was the sports.

My breeches is stole,

my pipe it is broke.

My pocket is picked,

where the devil’s my cloak?

My kercher I’ve lost

And my mantle’s not on

Seven blessings be with them,

my friends are all gone

Come, strike up the harp,

your music in haste

A swill of your liquor,

how quiet the feast

A-shaking their feathers,

just roused their slumber

By the noise of the harp

and of feet without number

The sons of O’Rourke

bounced up in a throng

Each man with his woman

and danced to the song

Till the ground shaking under

partook of their cogues

Which as they quick trotted

glig-glugged in their brogues

Long life and god health to you,

Loughlin O’Enegan

By my hand, you dance bravely,

Margery Grinigan!

Here’s to you, dear mother,

I thank you, dear Pat

Come shake us down rushes an excellent bed

And over us next the winnow-cloth spread

Dear Anna, some snuff,

to keep me awake

And a little to drink

as long as I speak

Good heaven how strange!

What must people think?

After filling their skins thus

To fight in their drink!

Such stabbing, such gashing,

such tugging and strife

Half and arm at least

the length of each knife!

What sounding, rebounding,

a hundred heads broke!

My father he built the monastery of Lusk.

With Boyle, Sligo, Galway

and Carrickdrumrusk.

Betagh of Moynalty

and the Earl of Kildare

I was nursed by their mother

ask that woman there!

“Who raised this alarm?”

says one of the clergy

A-threatening severely,

“Cease fighting, I charge ye!”

A good knotted staff,

the full of his hand.

Instead of the spiridis

backed his command.

So falling to thresh

fast as he was able

A trip and a box

fetched him under the table

Then rose a big friar

to settle them straight

But the back of the fire

was quickly his fate!

From whence he cried out,

“Do ye thus treat your pastors?

Ye, who scarcely were bred

to the Seven Wise Masters!

That when with the Pope

I was getting my lore .

Ye were roasting potatoes

not far from Sheemore!

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