Lord of Dunkerron


The Lord of Dunkerron, O’Sullivan More
Why seeks he at midnight the sea-beaten shore ?
His bark lies in haven, his hounds are asleep
No foes are abroad on the land or the deep
Yet nightly the lord of Dunkerron is known
On the wild-shore to watch and to wander alone
For a beautiful spirit of ocean, ’tis said
The lord of Dunkerron would win to his bed

When by moonlight, the waters were hushed to repose
That beautiful spirit of ocean arose
Her hair full of luster, just floated and fell
O’er her bosom that heaved with a billowy swell
Long, long had he loved her, long vainly essayed
To lure from her dwelling, the coy ocean maid
And long had he wandered and watched by the tide
To claim the fair spirit, O’Sullivan’s bride

The maiden, she gazed on the creature of earth
Whose voice in her breast, to a feeling gave birth
Then smiled, and abashed as a maiden might be
Looking down, gently sank to her home in the sea
Though gentle that smile, as the moonlight above
O’Sullivan felt ’twas the dawning of love
And hope came on hope, spreading over his mind
As the eddy of circles, her wake left behind

The lord of Dunkerron, he plunged in the waves
And sought through the fierce rush of waters, their caves
The gloom of whose depths, studded over with spars
Had the glitter of midnight when lit up by stars
Who can tell or can fancy the treasures that sleep
Intombed in the wonderful womb of the deep ?
The pearls and the gems, as if valueless thrown
To lie ‘mid the sea-wreck concealed and unknown

Down, down went the maid, still the chieftain pur­sued
Who flies must be followed ere she can be wooed
Untempted by treasures, unwed by alarms
The maiden at length, he has clasped in his arms
They rose from the deep by a smooth-spreading strand
Whence beauty and verdure stretched over the land
‘Twas an isle of enchantment and lightly the breeze
With a musical murmur, just crept through the trees

The haze-woven shroud of that newly-born isle
Softly faded away from a magical pile
A palace of crystal whose bright-beaming sheen
Had the tints of the rainbow, red, yellow and green
And grottoes, fantastic in hue and in form
Were there, as flung up, the wild sport of the storm
Yet all was so cloudless, so lovely and calm
It seemed but a region of sunshine and balm

“Here, here shall we dwell in a dream of delight
Where the glories of earth and of ocean unite
Yet, loved son of earth, I must from thee away
There are laws which e’en spirits are bound to obey
Once more must I visit the chief of my race
His sanction to gain ere I meet thy embrace
In a moment I dive to the chambers beneath
One cause can detain me, one only, ’tis death”

They parted in sorrow with vows true and fond
The language of promise had nothing beyond
His soul all on fire with anxiety burns
The moment is gone but no maiden returns
What sounds from the deep meet his terrified ear
What accents of rage and of grief does he hear ?
What sees he? What change has come over the flood ?
What tinges its green with a jetty of blood ?

Can he doubt what the gush of warm blood would ex­plain ?
That she sought the consent of her monarch in vain
For see all around in white foam and froth
The waves of the ocean boil up in their wrath
The palace of crystal has melted in air
And the dyes of the rainbow, no longer are there
And grottoes with vapour and clouds overcast
The sunshine is darkness, the vision has past
Loud, loud was the call of his serfs for their chief
They sought him with accents of wailing and grief
He heard and he struggled, a wave to the shore
Exhausted and faint bears O’Sullivan More


This is a fairy legend about the lost love of Donal O’Sullivan Mór who was a fierce opponent of Oliver Cromwell. The O’Sullivan Mórs were a branch of the O’Sullivan family who were lords of Dunkerron. They possessed the barony of Dunkerron near the river Kenmare and their chief seat was the castle of Dunkerron.

The legend relates a tale of wooing of a beautiful spirit of ocean by the Lord of Dunkerron. She decends into the deep to seek approval for her love affair from the Chieftain of her Clan but is put to death for her indiscretion.

Song Clip