Marie Nangle


The Seven Sisters of Navan

O, there were sisters, sisters seven
As bright as any stars in heaven
Save one, they all were snowy white
And she like an oriental night
Yet she was like unto the rest
Had all their softness in her breast
Their lights and shadows in her face
And in her figure all their grace
The brightest she of all the seven
Yet all were bright, as stars in heaven

They had true lovers, every one
Except the fairest, she had none
Or rather say that she returned
Their love to none who for her burned
For Marie’s timid, Marie is mild
And on her spirit undefiled
St. Brigid’s nuns, their thoughts have bent
She flies her sisters’ merriment
They say they’ll marry, every one
But Marie says she’ll be a nun

‘Oh wait awhile’ her father said
‘Sweet Marie, wait till I am dead’
The nuns for this, more firmly sought
To wean her from each earthly thought
O you were made for God, not man
’twas thus their pious plea began
For much these pale recluses feared
As her gay sisters’ nuptials neared
‘Oh wait awhile’ the Baron said
‘Sweet Marie, wait till they are wed’

A novice now, sweet Marie dwells
Within dark Odder’s sacred cells
Yet on her sisters’ wedding-day
She joins the chivalrous array
The brides were sweeter than their flowers
The bridegrooms came from haughty towers
For Nangle’s daughters are beneath
No lordly hand in lordly Meath
The novice heart of Marie swells
‘O dark’ she sighs ‘are Odder’s cells’

Yet vainly on that wedding-day
Her sisters and their gay grooms pray
She grieves to part with those so dear
But she is filled with pious fear
While Tuite and Tyrrell urged in vain
Her tears fell down like Munster rain
Malone and Bellew, Taaffe and Dease
‘O cease’ she says ‘in pity cease
Or I must leave your wedding gay
In Odder’s walls to fast and pray’

The marriage rites are bravely done
But what ails her, the novice nun ?
O never had she seen an eye
Look into hers so tenderly
‘Methinks that deep and mellow voice
Would make the Abbess’ self rejoice
He’s sure the saint I dreamt upon
Not Barnewell of Trimleston
In Holy Land his spurs he won
What aileth me, a novice nun ?’


I can’t find if this is based on a true story. Perhaps someone can enlighten.

Song Clip




Thomas Davis