‘Kathleen Mc Manus’ © Joe Canning 2018. All Rights Reserved.

‘Kathleen Mc Manus’
© Joe Canning 2018. All Rights Reserved.
Wandered did I with my knapsack,
In the afternoon heat of the day,
I’d some miles to go to reach Galway,
My flute and my fiddle to play.
I practised my reels by the roadside
My whistle tune punctured the air,
When toward me approached a fine colleen
To whom not another compared.
She bid me good day in her shyness
She bid me continue to play,
No shoe leather-covered her ankles
In the heat of the sun hardened clay.
I was trapped in that magical moment
Entwined in that web of delight
She said “Sir!… I am Kathleen Mc Manus,
Goodbye Sir!” said she, and took flight.
I stood there in deafening silence
I gazed over hedge, down mud road
No words I could utter
I stammered, I stuttered
Had I just lived a dream… or seen ghost?
I entered that city of music,
Saw artisans proudly at play,
And in conversation I mentioned the maiden
I met on the road on the day.
A fellow called Kelly, with jigs at the ready
Said “Sir! you look burdened and pale”.
Then told me a story how a maid lost her glory
When walking her sheep ‘bove the dale.
”Twas near Oranmore and the month was Octo’er
When she chanced on a travelling stranger,
An innocent child with her flock in a drive
Oblivious to peril or danger.
The blackguard was hung but the foul deed was done
But the beautiful lass was no more.
And so now and then she puts shivers in men
At the spot she was found grey and cold.
“She loved the old ceilidh, and dancing loved dearly
That girl with the mind of a child,
That road Sir was cursed when that cad from the north
Took the breath from our beautiful rose.
So continue your playing, and if you don’t mind me saying,
We welcome you here Sir, among us”
Kelly played me a tune and a love song he crooned,
‘Twas “The ballad of Kathleen Mc Manus”.
Image | Lough Inagh Valley, Connemara, Co Galway | Fiachra Mangan Photography


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Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.