Dirge of Rory O'More


Up the sea-saddened valley
At evening’s decline
A heifer walks lowing
The Silk of the Kine
From the deep to the mountains
She roams and again
From the mountain’s green urn
To the purple-rimmed main

What seekest thou, sad mother?
Thine own is not thine
He dropped from the headland
He sank down into the brine
‘Twas a dream; but in dreams
At thy foot did he follow
Through the meadow-sweet
On by the marish and mallow

Was he thine? Have they slain him?
Thou seekest him, not knowing
Thyself too, art theirs
Thy sweet breath and sad lowing
Thy gold horn is theirs
Thy dark eye and thy silk
And that which torments thee
Thy milk is their milk

‘Tvvas no dream, Mother Land
‘Tvvas no dream, Innisfail
Hope dreams, but grief dreams not
The grief of the Gael
From Leix and Ikerrin
To Donegal’s shore
Rolls the dirge of thy last
And thy bravest, O’More


Written by Aubrey Terance DeVere (1814-1902)

Rory O’Moore (c, 1600 – 16 February 1655) was an Irish landowner of ancient lineage, and was one of the four principal organizers of the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

His uncle Ruairí Óge Ó Mórdha, King of Laois, had fought against the English. In 1556 Queen Mary confiscated the O’Mores’ lands and created “Queens County” (now County Laois). After 180 family members were killed by English forces at a feast at Mullaghmast, County Kildare in 1577, Ruairí Óge became an enemy of Queen Elizabeth I of England. It led to the political downfall of the O’Moore family and reduced their estates.

In 1641, Rory O’More planned a bloodless coup to overthrow British government in Ireland. Unfortunateve, the plan was discovered on 22 October and the rising failed in its first objective. O’Moore did however, have much success and for three years, England did not retain a city in Ireland but Dublin and Drogheda, and for eight years the land was under authority exercised by the Confederation created by O’Moore. However, they eventually failed to stop the Cromwellian conquest (1649–53) in which about a third of the Irish population died.

It is believed O’Moore fled to the island of Inishbofin after Galway city fell in 1652. St. Colman’s Church on the island once bore a tablet with the inscription:
‘In memory of many valiant Irishmen who were exiled to this Holy Island and in particular Rory O’More, a brave chieftain of Leix, who after fighting for Faith and Fatherland, disguised as a fisherman escaped from his island to a place of safety’. He died shortly afterwards about 1653. He was esteemed and loved by his countrymen, who celebrated his many deeds of valour and kindness in their songs and reverenced his memory, so that is was common expression among them; ‘Our trust is in God, and our Lady, and Rory O’ More’

Song Clip



Song Themes

1641 Rebellion