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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Ireland: Vol. V. 1876–79.


Prince Aldfrid’s Itinerary through Ireland

By From the Irish

  • Translated by James Clarence Mangan
  • Amongst the Anglo-Saxon students resorting to Ireland was Prince Aldfrid, afterwards King of the Northumbrian Saxons. His having been educated there about the year 684 is corroborated by the Venerable Bede in his “Life of St. Cuthbert.” The original poem, of which this is a translation, attributed to Aldfrid, is still extant in the Irish language.

  • I FOUND in Innisfail the fair,

    In Ireland, while in exile there,

    Women of worth, both grave and gay men,

    Many clerics and many laymen.

    I travelled its fruitful provinces round,

    And in every one of the five I found,

    Alike in church and in palace hall,

    Abundant apparel, and food for all.

    Gold and silver I found, and money,

    Plenty of wheat and plenty of honey;

    I found God’s people rich in pity,

    Found many a feast and many a city.

    I also found in Armagh, the splendid,

    Meekness, wisdom, and prudence blended,

    Fasting, as Christ hath recommended,

    And noble councillors untranscended.

    I found in each great church, moreo’er,

    Whether on island or on shore,

    Piety, learning, fond affection,

    Holy welcome and kind protection.

    I found the good lay monks and brothers

    Ever beseeching help for others,

    And in their keeping the holy word

    Pure as it came from Jesus the Lord.

    I found in Munster, unfettered of any,

    Kings, and queens, and poets a many,—

    Poets well skilled in music and measure,

    Prosperous doings, mirth and pleasure.

    I found in Connaught the just, redundance

    Of riches, milk in lavish abundance;

    Hospitality, vigor, fame,

    In Cruachan’s land of heroic name.

    I found in the country of Connall the glorious,

    Bravest heroes, ever victorious;

    Fair-complexioned men and warlike,

    Ireland’s lights, the high, the starlike!

    I found in Ulster, from hill to glen,

    Hardy warriors, resolute men;

    Beauty that bloomed when youth was gone,

    And strength transmitted from sire to son.

    I found in the noble district of Boyle

    (MS. here illegible.)

    Brehon’s, Erenachs, weapons bright,

    And horsemen bold and sudden in fight.

    I found in Leinster the smooth and sleek,

    From Dublin to Slewmargy’s peak,

    Flourishing pastures, valor, health,

    Long-living worthies, commerce, wealth.

    I found, besides, from Ara to Glea,

    In the broad rich country of Ossorie,

    Sweet fruits, good laws for all and each,

    Great chess-players, men of truthful speech.

    I found in Meath’s fair principality,

    Virtue, vigor, and hospitality,

    Candor, joyfulness, bravery, purity,

    Ireland’s bulwark and security.

    I found strict morals in age and youth,

    I found historians recording truth;

    The things I sing of in verse unsmooth,

    I found them all,—I have written sooth.