Irish Brigade in the Service of Charles Edward Stuart

A. M. Sullivan
c. 1900
CHAPTER LXXV. (continued)

In the year of Fontenoy, 1745, Prince Charles Edward made his bold and romantic attempt to recover the lost crown of the Stuarts. His expedition, we are told, "was undertaken and conducted by Irish aid, quite as much as by French or Scottish." His chief of command was Colonel O'Sullivan; the most of the funds were supplied by the two Waters—father and son—Irish bankers at Paris, "who advanced one hundred and eighty thousand livres between them;" another Irishman, Walsh, a merchant at Nantes, putting "a privateer of eighteen guns into the venture." Indeed, one of Charles' English adherents, Lord Elcho, who kept a journal of the campaign, notes complainingly the Irish influence under which the prince acted. On the 19th of July, he landed near Moidart, in the north of Scotland. "Clanronald, Cameron of Lochiel, the Laird of M'Leod, and a few others having arrived, the royal standard was unfurled on the 19th of August at Glenfinan, where, that evening, twelve thousand men—the entire army, so far—were formed into camp under the orders of O'Sullivan. From that day until the day of Culloden, O'Sullivan seems to have maneuvered the prince's forces. At Perth, at Edinburgh, at, Manchester, at Culloden, he took command in the field or in the garrison; and even after the sad result, he adhered to his sovereign's son with an honorable fidelity which defied despair."[1] In Ireland no corresponding movement took place. Yet this is the period which has given to native Irish minstrelsy, as it now survives, its, abiding characteristic' of deep, fervent, unchangeable, abiding devotion to the Stuart cause.

The Gaelic harp never gave forth richer melody, Gaelic poetry never found nobler inspiration, than in its service. In those matchless songs, which, under the general designation of "Jacobite Relics," are, and ever will be, so potential to touch the Irish heart with sadness or enthusiasm, under a thousand forms of allegory the coming of Prince Charles, the restoration of the ancient, faith, and the deliverance of Ireland by the "rightful prince," are prophesied and apostrophied. Now it is "Dark Rosaleen;" now it is "Kathaleen-na-Houlahan;" now it is the "Blackbird," the "Drimin Don Deelish," the "Silk of the Kine," or "Ma Chrevin Evin Algan Og." From this rich store of Gaelic poetry of the eighteenth century I quote one specimen, a poem written about the period of Charles Edward's, landing at Moidart, by William Heffernan "Dall" ("the Blind") of Shronehill, county Tipperary, and addressed to the Prince of Ossory, Michael Mac Giolla Kerin, known as Mehal Dhu, or Dark Michael. The translation into English is by Mangan:

"Lift up the dooping head,
Meehal Dhu Mac-Giolla-Kierin;
Her blood yet boundeth red
Through the myriad veins of Erin!
No! no! she is not dead—
Meehal Dhu Mac-Giolla-Kierin!
Lo! she redeems
The lost years of bygone ages—
New glory beams
Henceforth on her history's pages!
Her long penitential Night of Sorrow
Yields at length before the reddening morrow!

"You heard the thunder-shout,
Meehal Dhu Mac-Giolla-Kierin,
Saw the lightning streaming out
O'er the purple hills of Erin!
And bide you still in doubt,
Meehal Dhu Mac-Giolla-Kierin?
Oh! doubt no more!
Through Ulidia's voiceful valleys,
On Shannon's shore,
Freedom's burning spirit rallies.
Earth and heaven unite in sign and omen
Bodeful of the downfall of our foemen.


"Charles leaves the Grampian hills,
Meehal Dhu Mac-Giolla-Kierin.
Charles, whose appeal yet thrills
Like a clarion-blast through Erin.
Charles, he whose image fills
Thy soul too, Mac-Giolla-Kierin!
Ten thousand strong
His clans move in brilliant order,
Sure that ere long
He will march them o'er the border,
While the dark-haired daughters of the Highlands
Crown with wreaths the monarch of these Islands."

But it was only in the passionate poesy of the native minstrels that any echo of the shouts from Moidart resounded amid the hills of Erin. During all this time the hapless Irish Catholics resigned themselves utterly to the fate that had befallen them. For a moment victory gleamed on the Stuart banner, and the young prince marched southward to claim his own in London.

Still Ireland made no sign. Hope had fled. The prostrate and exhausted nation slept heavily in its blood-clotted chain!


[1] M'Gee.