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The Litany for Doneraile -- Patrick O'Kelly

(Poem #266) The Litany for Doneraile
  Alas! how dismal is my tale,
  I lost my watch in Doneraile.
  My Dublin watch, my chain and seal,
  Pilfer'd at once in Doneraile.
  My Fire and Brimstone never fail
  To fall in show'rs on Doneraile.
  My all the leading Fiends assail
  The thieving Town of Doneraile.
  As light'ning's flash across the vale,
  So down to Hell with Doneraile.
  May Beef or Mutton, Lamb or Veal,
  Be never found in Doneraile,
  But Garlic Soup and scurvy Cale
  Be still the food for Doneraile.
  May Heav'n a chosen Curse entail
  On rigid rotten Doneraile.
  May Sun and Moon for ever fail
  To beam their lights on Doneraile.
  May ev'ry pestilential Gale
  Blast that curs'd spot called Doneraile.
  May no Cuckoo, Thrush, or Quail,
  Be ever heard in Doneraile.
  May Patriots, Kings, and Commonweal,
  Despise and harass Doneraile.
  May ev'ry Post, Gazette and Mail,
  Sad tiding bring of Doneraile.
  May profit light and tardy sale
  Still damp the Trade of Doneraile.
  May not one wish or pray'r avail
  To soothe the woes of Doneraile.
  May th'Inquisition straight impale
  The Rapparies of Doneraile.
  May curse of Sodom now prevail
  And sink to ashes Doneraile.
  May Charon's Boat triumphant sail
  Completely Mann'd from Doneraile.
  May ev'ry churn and milking pail
  Fall dry to staves in Doneraile.
  May vengeance fall at head and tail,
  From North to South at Doneraile.
  May Egypt's plagues at once prevail
  To thin the Knaves of Doneraile.
  May frost & snow, and sleet & hail
  Benumb each joint in Doneraile.
  May wolves & bloodhounds trace & trail
  The cursed crew of Doneraile.
  May Oscar with his fiery flail
  To Atoms thresh all Doneraile.
  May ev'ry mischief fresh and stale
  Abide henceforth in Doneraile.
  May all from Belfast to Kinsale
  Scoff, curse, and damn you, Doneraile.
  May want and woe each joy curtail
  That e'er was known in Doneraile.
  May not one Coffin want a nail
  That wraps a rogue in Doneraile.
  May all the Sons of Granaweal
  Blush at the thieves of Doneraile.
  May Curses wholesale and retail
  Pour with full force on Doneraile.
  Oh! may my Couplets never fail
  To find new cures for Doneraile.
-- Patrick O'Kelly
A wonderful Irish curse, full of fire, brimstone and enthusiasm. Whatever
the poet may have lacked for, it certainly wasn't inspiration, and the
couplet form, ending every second line with 'Doneraile', brings out his ire
beautifully. The fact that he paid to have it printed (see note) suggests
the incident is true - ah, the fine art of wrathful vengenace :)



Seamus Cooney, whose page I found this on, says 'A vigorous example by
a little-known early 19th century author (1754-1835?), who paid to have it
printed in 1812.'
        -- [broken link]

I couldn't find a biography of O'Kelly's - 'little known' appears to have
been accurate, and a web search came up with nothing. If you know anything
about him, do write in.

30 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anthony Munnelly said...

Thought you might be interested in the story behind the Doneraile

O'Kelly was a poet of the bardic tradition that was very much on its
last legs by his time. Bards would go from area to area, relying on the
kindness of the local aristocracy to give them bed and board. In
return, they would compose poetry that praised the local bigshot.

It came to pass that O'Kelly was staying in Doneraile, a small village
outside the town on Mallow, Co Cork, when his watch was stolen.
O'Kelly, a man of some ego by all accounts, took severe umbrage at this
at wrote the Doneraile Curse, which is magnificent, and leaves no
aspect of Doneraile unscathed, full of marvellous lines like "may all
the leading fiends assail / The thieving town of Doneraile."

The story has a sequel however. Lady Doneraile came accross the poem
and realised that it was by no means good for business. So she bought
O'Kelly a new watch and presented it to him with much ceremony. O'Kelly
was so delighted that he wrote another poem, where he goes through the
curse line by line and reverses its effects. It starts:

"Hurrah! how joyous is my tale
I found my watch in Doneraile
My Dublin watch, my chain and seal
Returned to me in Doneraile.."

And it goes on like that throughout the poem. It's the curse itself
that's remembered though - I met a man from Doneraile when I was in
College and he told me that O'Kelly's recantation didn't reverse the
effect of the famous curse.

Love the website by the way.

Anthony Munnelly.

Russell said...

"my"in lines 4 and 6 should read "may."

puer senex

Neill O'Donnell said...

Attahed please find the Palinode or Recantation to the Curse of Doneraile.

Gregory Schirmer said...

Dear Anthony Munnelly,

I'd be grateful for any information or sources about Patrick O'Kelly
that you might have to hand.

Many thanks.

Gregory A. Schirmer
Dept. of English
Univeristy of Mississippi

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