Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Dirge of Athunree

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

Athunree (Athenry)

The Dirge of Athunree

By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

  • This great battle marked an epoch in Irish history. In it the Norman power at last triumphed over that of the Gael, which had long been enfeebled by the divisions in the royal house of O’Connor.

  • ATHUNREE! Athunree!

    Erin’s heart, it broke on thee!

    Ne’er till then in all its woe

    Did that heart its hope forego.

    Save a little child—but one—

    The latest regal race is gone.

    Roderick died again on thee,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    A hundred years and forty-three

    Winter-winged and black as night

    O’er the land had tracked their flight:

    In Clonmacnoise from earthy bed

    Roderick raised once more his head:—

    Fedlim flood-like rushed to thee,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    The light that struggled sank on thee!

    Ne’er since Cathall the red-handed

    Such a host till then was banded.

    Long-haired Kerne and Galloglass

    Met the Norman face to face;

    The saffron standard floated far

    O’er the on-rolling wave of war;

    Bards the onset sang o’er thee,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    The poison tree took root in thee!

    What might naked breasts avail

    ’Gainst sharp spear and steel-ribbed mail?

    Of our Princes twenty-nine,

    Bulwarks fair of Connor’s line,

    Of our clansmen thousands ten,

    Slept on thy red ridges. Then—

    Then the night came down on thee,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    Strangely shone that moon on thee!

    Like the lamp of them that tread

    Staggering o’er the heaps of dead,

    Seeking that they fear to see.

    O that widows’ wailing sore!

    On it rang to Oranmore;

    Died, they say, among the piles

    That make holy Aran’s isles;—

    It was Erin wept on thee,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    The heart of Erin burst on thee!

    Since that hour some unseen hand

    On her forehead stamps the brand:

    Her children ate that hour the fruit

    That slays manhood at the root;

    Our warriors are not what they were;

    Our maids no more are blithe and fair;

    Truth and honor died with thee,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    Never harvest wave o’er thee!

    Never sweetly breathing kine

    Pant o’er golden meads of thine!

    Barren be thou as the tomb;

    May the night-bird haunt thy gloom,

    And the wailer from the sea,


    Athunree! Athunree!

    All my heart is sore for thee,

    It was Erin died on thee,