Song of O’Rourke (Prince of Breffni)


The valley lay smiling before me
Where lately I left her behind
Yet I trembled, and something hung o’er me
That saddened the joy of my mind
I looked for the lamp which, she told me
Should shine when her Pilgrim returned
But, though darkness began to unfold me
No lamp from the battlements burned

I flew to her chamber, ’twas lonely
As if the loved tenant lay dead
Ah, would it were death and death only
But no, the young false one had fled
And there hung the lute that could soften
My very worst pains into bliss
While the hand that had waked it so often
Now throbbed to a proud rival’s kiss

There was a time, falsest of women
When Breffni’s good sword would have sought
That man, through a million of foemen
Who dared but to wrong thee in thought
While now, oh degenerate daughter
Of Erin, how fallen is thy fame
And through ages of bondage and slaughter
Our country shall bleed for thy shame

Already the curse is upon her
And strangers her valleys profane
They come to divide, to dishonour
And tyrants they long will remain
But onward, the green banner rearing
Go, flesh every sword to the hilt
On our side is Virtue and Erin
On theirs is the Saxon and Guilt


From 964 right up to 1609, O’Rourkes ruled Bréifne, a land which included present day counties of Leitrim and Cavan. For over 500 years, there was rivelry between the O’Rourkes and the O’Reillys who had influence over East Bréifne which covered parts of County Meath. Their power was eroded following the Plantation of Ulster by King James 1 of England and Scotland.

Song Clip



Song Themes

Times past