A Lament for Kilcash


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


A Lament for Kilcash, translated from the Irish by Thomas Kinsella.
The remains of Kilcash Castle, County Tipperary.

5 comments on “A Lament for Kilcash

  1. Jerry Barnes says:

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your posts – *”Cad a dheinamid **feasta** gan adhmad . . . ” *after more than 50 years I can still quote a few lines, if not spell them.

    On Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 9:31 PM, The Irish Aesthete wrote:

    > theirishaesthete posted: ” 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” >

  2. Padraig Ryan says:

    Pity you couldn,t have had the words in Irish alongside those in English so people could appreciate their beauty.

    • Thank you for your comment: it is true that some readers would appreciate the words in their original Irish, but these can be found easily via an internet search, and many of those who come to this site are from outside Ireland and might not understand the language. Still, your point is well made: next time…

  3. Tom Crane says:

    That is forlorn beauty, indeed.

  4. Finola says:

    I love the poem – in both languages – and your images add such a poignancy.

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