Domnal Spanne'ach

                             Domnal Spanne’ach                                     (fl. 1580-1610)                             i.        That […]

                             Domnal Spanne’ach

                                    (fl. 1580-1610)




     That Domnal Spanne’ach,

          He was a rogue,

(Although a charming one, at times!),

          Who in the days

     Of Good Queen Bess and James —

The First of England’s, Sixth of Scotland’s realm —

     Tormented those rich landlords who

          Lived within the Wexford County.

               He ranged far and wide

Throughout the countryside

     Of Enniscorthy, Buncloday Town,

          Coolmela and beyond

     In search of plunder where it might be found.




          Six times he was compelled to yield

              His sword to those Trained Bands

          That sought to end his banditry.

               Six times,

          With charming deferential art,

     Smooth-Blarneying his captors in a way

That’s found only in Anglo-Irish politics —

               Both then and now —

     He talked his way to liberty again,

          (Twice with a Royal Pension in his purse!),

By promising to cease his depredative raids.

               Six times he just as charmingly

     Resumed his operations to harrass

The English and those Irish who sided with them

          To serve what he considered as a foreign interest.

                            For more than thirty years he played

                       These tricks until old age persuaded

                                  Him to stop.




                        He died, soon afterwards,

                              In peaceful liberty —

                        Though grieved, perhaps, that he

                    Had no more strength to wield his sword! —

            The cunning exemplar of many more

             Exasperating, eloquent freebooters who,

                    Throughout the history of Ireland,

     Have painted that green countryside with red

               Of blood and black of smoke

          In quest for liberty and wealth.




                      Seen from the distance

     Of almost four hundred years, Domnal seems

     Epitome of countless reckless, feckless rogues —

         Intelligent, courageous heroes — who populate

     Adventure-novels writ for our delight;

               Although I’m sure that when,

                    Those centuries ago,

     (Armed to the teeth, supported by his band

     Of warlike brigands mounted on mettlesome

          Tall horses), he unexpectedly appeared

                      At your doorway,

You showed him your respect and deference —

Whilst he relieved you of your gold and silver,

     Food, animals and anything

          That took his fancy —

Lest he let loose his followers against

                   Your household,

     To set hot torch-flames to your buildings,

          Kill your retainers, your family and you;

              His dark eyes glowing as another

     Stubborn foreigner was humbled,

              Ruined or destroyed,

By his implacable desire

To free his native land from foreign influence!.

     (Discretion sometimes is more sensible,

When you are far outnumbered,

Than confrontational belligerence).




     During the reigns of God Queen Bess

                   And James the First

          This chieftain, Domnal Spanne’ach,

     Defied the forces of the Crown for decades

              Yet earned profound respect

          For chivalry and politic facility.

               He was, indeed, a rogue;

          But as a patriot — who fought against

               Almost impossibly high odds

          With courage, skill and charm

          Until old age brought rest

               To his strong arm —

          He merits praise and interest!.

Author: J. A. Bosworth

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