O'Donohue's Mistress

Melody - "The Little and Great Mountain"

Thomas Moore, from Irish Melodies, vol. 8

Of all the fair months, that round the sun
In light-link'd dance their circles run,
Sweet May, shine thou for me;
For still, when thy earliest beams arise,
That youth, who beneath the blue lake lies,
Sweet May, returns to me.

2. Of all the bright haunts, where daylight leaves
Its lingering smile on golden eves,
Fair lake, thou'rt dearest to me;
For when the last April sun grows dim
Thy Naiads prepare his steed for him*
Who dwells, bright lake, in thee.

3. Of all the proud steeds that ever bore
Young plumed Chiefs on sea or shore,
White Steed, most joy to thee;
Who still, with the first young glance of spring,
From under that glorious lake dost bring
My love, my chief, to me.

4. While, white as the sail some bark unfurls,
When newly launch'd, thy long mane curls,**
Fair Steed, as white and free;
And spirits, from all the lake's deep bowers,
Glide o'er the blue wave scattering flowers,
Around my love and thee.

5. Of all the sweet deaths that maidens die,
Whose lovers beneath the cold wave lie,
Most sweet that death will be,
Which, under the next May evening's light,
When thou and thy steed are lost to sight,
Dear love, I'll die for thee.

* The particulars of the tradition respecting O'Donohue and his White Horse, may be found in Mr. Weld's Account of Killarney, or more fully detailed in Derrick's Letters. For many years after his death, the spirit of this hero is supposed to have been seen on the morning of May-day, gliding over the lake on his favourite white horse, to the sound of sweet unearthly music, and preceded by groups of youths and maidens, who flung wreaths of delicate spring flowers in his path.

Among other stories connecteed with Legend of the Lakes, it is said that there was a young and beautiful girl whose imagination was so impressed with the idea of this visionary chieftain, that she fancied herself in love with him, and at last, in a fit of insanity, on a May morning threw herself into the lake.

** The boatmen at Killarney call those waves which come on a windy day, crested with foam, "O'Donohue's white horses." - from Irish Melodies.

| Song Index | Home Page |