Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Fairy Lough - Moira O’Neill

Loughhareema! Loughareema
Lies so high among the heather;
A little lough, a dark lough,
The wather's black and deep.
Ould herons go a-fishin' there,
An' sea-gulls all together
Float roun' the one green island
On the fairy lough asleep.

Loughareema, Loughareema;
When the sun goes down at seven,
When the hills are dark an' airy
'Tis a curlew whistles sweet!
Then somethin' rustles all the reeds
That stand so thick and even;
A little wave runs up the shore
An' flees, as if on feet.

Loughareema! Loughareema!
Stars come out, an' stars are hidin';
The wather whispers on the stones,
The flitterin' moths are free.
One'st before the mornin' light
The Horsemen will come ridin'
Roun' an' roun' the fairy lough,
An' no one there to see.

Moira O’Neill, the pseudonym of Agnes Shakespeare Higginson (1864 - 1955) Ireland

Loughareema (Loch an Rith Amach) is also known as the Vanishing Lough due to the fact that it can completely drain away and then refill. The lake sits on a leaky chalk-bed with a “plug hole” that often becomes jammed with peat causing the Loughareema depression to fill, especially during heavy rain. When the plug clears, the lake drains rapidly underground.

The poem's last stanza is based on the legend that during a particularly bad state of flooding in 1898, a certain Colonel John Magee McNeille, anxious to catch the 3 pm train from the town, persuaded his coachman to drive a covered wagon pulled by two horses through the lake. When they reached the middle of the lake, the cold water reached the bellies of the horses who became nervous. The coachman used the whip, the horses reared up and turned the carriage on its side. The Colonel, his coachmen and the two horses soon succumbed to the treacherous, cold waters. Since that fateful day many people have reported seeing a phantom carriage pulled by two horses and ridden by a military man on the lonely shores of Loughareema.

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