Dirge of O'Sullivan Beare


The sun on Ivera no longer shines brightly
The voice of her music no longer is sprightly
No more to her maidens, the light dance is dear
Since the death of our darling O’Sullivan Bear

Scully, thou false one, you basely betrayed him
In his strong hour of need, when thy right hand should aid him
He fed thee, he clad thee, you had all could delight thee
You left him, you sold him, may Heaven requite thee

Scully, may all kinds of evil attend thee
On thy dark road of life, may no kind one befriend thee
May fevers long burn thee, and agues long freeze thee
May the strong hand of God in his red anger seize thee

Had he died calmly, I would not deplore him
Or if the wild strife of the sea-war closed o’er him
But with ropes round his white limbs through ocean to trail him
Like a fish after slaughter, ’tis therefore I wail him

Long may the curse of his people pursue them
Scully that sold him and soldier that slew him
One glimpse of heaven’s light may they see never
May the hearthstone of hell be their best bed forever

In the hole which the vile hands of soldiers had made thee
Unhonoured, unshrouded, and headless they laid thee
No sigh to regret thee, no eye to rain o’er thee
No dirge to lament thee, no friend to deplore thee

Dear head of my darling, how gory and pale
These aged eyes see thee, high spiked on their jail
That cheek in the summer sun ne’er shall grow warm
Nor that eye e’er catch light, but the flash of the storm

A curse, blessed ocean, is on thy green water
From the haven of Cork to Ivera of slaughter
Since the billows were dyed with thy red wounds of fear
Of Muiertach Oge, our O’Sullivan Bear


Morty Oge O’ Sullivans of Bearhaven was outlawed for the shooting of a revenue officer named John Puxley.  He was betrayed by a confidential servant named Scully, and was shot by his pursuers in 1754. They tied his body to a boat, and dragged it through the sea from Bearhaven to Cork, where his head was cut off and fixed to the county jail. It remained there for several years. This dirge is said to have been compo­sed by O’Sullivan’s aged nurse.

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