Caoine Cill Chais
The Lament for Kilcash

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tr. Thomas Kinsella

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná ar a teaghlach
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth.
An áit úd a gcónaíodh an deighbhean
fuair gradam is meidhir thar mhnáibh,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann
is an t-aifreann binn á rá.

Ní chluinim fuaim lachan ná gé ann,
ná fiolar ag éamh cois cuain,
ná fiú na mbeacha chun saothair
thabharfadh mil agus céir don tslua.
Níl ceol binn milis na n-éan ann
le hamharc an lae a dhul uainn,
ná an chuaichín i mbarra na ngéag ann,
ós í chuirfeadh an saol chun suain.

Tá ceo ag titim ar chraobha ann
ná glanann le gréin ná lá,
tá smúid ag titim ón spéir ann
is a cuid uisce go léir ag trá.
Níl coll, níl cuileann, níl caor ann,
ach clocha is maolchlocháin,
páirc an chomhair gan chraobh ann
is d'imigh an géim chun fáin.

Anois mar bharr ar gach míghreann,
chuaigh prionsa na nGael thar sáil,
anonn le hainnir na míne
fuair gradam sa bhFrainc is sa Spáinn.
Anois tá a cuallacht á caoineadh,
gheibheadh airgead buí agus bán;
's í ná tógfadh seilbh na ndaoine,
ach cara na bhfíorbhochtán.

Aicim ar Mhuire is ar Íosa
go dtaga sí arís chughainn slán,
go mbeidh rincí fada ag gabháil timpeall,
ceol veidhlín is tinte cnámh;
go dtógtar an baile seo ár sinsear
Cill Chais bhreá arís go hard,
is go bráth nó go dtiocfaidh an díle
ná feictear é arís ar lár.

Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low?
There's no talk of Cill Chais or its household
And its bell will be struck no more.
That dwelling where lived the good lady
Most honoured and joyous of women
--- earls made their way over wave there
And the sweet Mass once was said.

2. Ducks' voices nor geese do I hear there,
Nor the eagle's cry over the bay,
Nor even the bees at their labour
Bringing honey and wax to us all.
No birdsong there, sweet and delightful,
As we watch the sun go down,
Nor cuckoo on top of the branches
Settling the world to rest.

3. A mist on the boughs is descending
Neither daylight nor sun can clear.
A stain from the sky is descending
And the waters receding away.
No hazel nor holly nor berry
But boulders and bare stone heaps,
Not a branch in our neighbourly haggard,
and the game all scattered and gone.

4. Then a climax to all of our misery:
the prince of the Gael is abroad
oversea with that maiden of mildness
who found honour in France and Spain.
Her company now must lament her,
who would give yellow money and white
--- she who'd never take land from the people
but was friend to the truly poor.

5. I call upon Mary and Jesus
to send her safe home again:
dances we'll have in long circles
and bone-fires and violin music;
that Cill Chais, the townland of our fathers,
will rise handsome on high once more
and till doom --- or the Deluge returns ---
we'll see it no more laid low.


From "Londubh an Chairn"
Being Songs of the Irish Gaels, London, 1927
Where now is the sheltering wildwood
That we in our youth have known?
Oh gone are the groves of our childhood
And even the birds are flown.
It was there that dwelt the good lady
There the sweet bell was daily rung,
Great Earls came over the wave there,
And the deep-intoned Mass was sung.
2. No wild-goose is heard on the lake now,
No wild-duck now haunts the stream,
The eagles their eyrie forsake now,
No bees hum in day's bright beam.
No voices of birds now entrance us
As they once sang at evening's fall,
No cuckoo is heard in the branches
To utter his slumb'rous call.
3. To Mary I pray, and the Saviour,
May our exiles return again,
With dancing and bonfires blazing
And violins' sweetest strain.
That the Castle that now is so humbled
May rise with strong keep and wall,
And till earth into ashes has crumbled
In ruin no more may fall.

Cill Chais (Kilcash) was the great house of one of the branches of the Butlers near Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, until well into the eighteenth century. The Castle of Kilcash is situated at the foot of Sliabh na mBan, not far from Kilsheelan. It was one of the chief seats of the Butler family.

Based on the following e-mail, the last paragraph is now out of date. "In your comments on Kilcash you draw on O'Daly's 'Poets and Poetry of Munster'. It is certain that John Lane did not write the poem. I note that a newly edited scholarly version of the text collated from all the extant 19th cent manuscripts can be found in John Flood, Phil Flood, 'Kilcash, A History, 1190-1801' (Dublin: Geography Publications, 1999). - John Flood, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland." Thank you Mr. Flood for the correction.

A note in Duffy's "Poets and Poetry of Munster" states that the song is the composition of a student named Lane, who was educated for the priesthood by Lady Iveagh, the deagh-bhean (good lady) of the song. The song in its entirety runs to seven stanzas of eight lines each, and may be found in the "Poets and Poetry" with a metrical translation by Mangan.

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