Verse > Padraic Colum > Anthology of Irish Verse
Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  Anthology of Irish Verse.  1922.
60. Kincora
By James Clarence Mangan (Translated)
AH, where, Kincora! is Brian the Great?
And where is the beauty that once was thine?
Oh, where are the princes and nobles that sate
At the feasts in thy halls, and drank the red wine,
  Where, O Kincora?        5
Oh, where, Kincora! are thy valorous lords?
Oh, whither, thou Hospitable! are they gone?
Oh, where are the Dalcassians of the Golden Swords?
And where are the warriors Brian led on?
  Where, O Kincora?        10
And where is Murrough, the descendant of kings—
The defeater of a hundred—the daringly brave—
Who set but slight store by jewels and rings—
Who swam down the torrent and laughed at its wave?
  Where, O Kincora?        15
And where is Donogh, King Brian’s worthy son?
And where is Conaing, the Beautiful Chief?
And Kian, and Core? Alas! they are gone—
They have left me this night alone with my grief!
  Left me, Kincora!        20
And where are the chiefs with whom Brian went forth,
The ne’er-vanquished son of Evin the Brave,
The great King of Onaght, renowned for his worth,
And the hosts of Baskinn, from the western wave?
  Where, O Kincora?        25
Oh, where is Duvlann of the Swift-footed Steeds?
And where is Kian, who was son of Molloy?
And where is King Lonergan, the fame of whose deeds
In the red battlefield no time can destroy?
  Where, O Kincora?        30
And where is that youth of majestic height,
The faith-keeping Prince of the Scots?—Even he,
As wide as his fame was, as great as was his might,
Was tributary, O Kincora, to thee!
  Thee, O Kincora!        35
They are gone, those heroes of royal birth,
Who plundered no churches, and broke no trust,
’Tis weary for me to be living on earth
When they, O Kincora, lie low in the dust!
  Low, O Kincora!        40
Oh, never again will Princes appear,
To rival the Dalcassians of the Cleaving Swords!
I can never dream of meeting afar or anear,
In the east or the west, such heroes and lords!
  Never, O Kincora!        45
Oh, dear are the images my memory calls up
Of Brian Boru!—how he never would miss
To give me at the banquet the first bright cup!
Ah! why did he heap on me honor like this?
  Why, O Kincora?        50
I am MacLiag, and my home is on the Lake;
Thither often, to that palace whose beauty is fled,
Came Brian to ask me, and I went for his sake.
Oh, my grief! that I should live, and Brian be dead
  Dead, O Kincora!        55
Brian Boru was High King of Ireland from 1000 to 1014, when he was slain by a Norse straggler after his victory at Clontarf (“The Battle of Dublin” in the Norse saga). Kincora was his chief seat—it was on the right bank of the Shannon in Clare. The lament was made by MacLiag, whom Brian had made ord-ollav or chief litterateur of Ireland. MacLiag laments the death of Brian, his son and his grandson, all of whom had perished on the day of fatal victory; he has to lament the passing of the dynasty and the ruin of what the great king’s victories and policies had gained—the southern hegemony of Ireland. A spirited description of Sigurd’s invasion and the Norse defeat is given in the Saga of Burnt Njal.


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