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“ Pass we on to the day of the banquet. These walls, now so silent and · desolate, rung again with the din and bustle of preparation ; cooks were busy dressing viands supplied by forests, and plain, and stream_fish, and flesh, and fowl, in exhaustless store and endless variety, tempted the appetites, while mead, and metheglin, cider, and spirituous liquors, and wines of price, added to the hilarity. Music burst its chorus, for minstrels, successors to the ancient bards, were admired and revived, and held an honoured place in the household of every noble in Ireland. All the persons of rank and station in the country round were assembled, but fairest of the fair, was the bride of the Chieftain of Conna
“Sweet blushes stayn'd her rud-red cheeke,
Her eyes were black as sloe,
And all her necke was snowe.' “Her husband was proud of her, as well he might, and rejoiced in the admiration her great beauty excited. Her arrival had caused a sensation among the assembled guests, as you have seen when the reigning belle appears at the entrance of the ball-room, and emerging from the throng of nobles with whom he had been conversing the Lord Desmond went to welcome his distinguished guests.
" Thanks for thy presence, fair lady,' cried Desmond, pressing the white hands of the bride, and thine too, noble knight,' glancing to her husband. Thy coming announces the banquet, and as we hope to prolong the entertainment into the night, your chamber is prepared, so your return need not be looked for.
“ The lady would fain have declined, but ere she could express dissent, her husband said — That is kind of you, my Lord of Desmond. I am sure Alice will accept your proffer.' There was no declining after this, and the progress of the feast prevented any recurrence to the subject.
“ To the banquet a ball succeeded, and many sought the hand of the bride for the dance. As she was naturally fond of dancing, and the noms, well suited to the scene, thronged with all that were young and fair and high-born in the country, she engaged herself much in her favourite dances, but was not wholly devoid of care. I own uneasy thoughts, vague, indefinite sensations of danger, occasionally crept over her spirits, causing a shudder in her frame, and a sadness in her sunny smile. Her husband appeared wholly unconcerned, and she resolved not to disturb his quiet, by disclosing her fears to him.
« Once, while crossing from the dancing room to partake of refreshment in the chamber of dais, where the banquet had been held, Alice was struck by the troubled looks with which the host observed her approach the place where he was giving some very emphatic order to a domestic, and the latter seemed listening very intently—all that she heard was a perfect enigma then-afterwards, capable of a sad solution—“ We must rely on the cup and the couch.” Contrary to his habits of temperance, the young chieftain of Conna was this night a victim to inebriety. He seemed conscious of it himself, for addressing his wife, who was mortified at his condition, he contrived to say, “That last cup was a cup too much, my Alice; I'll to bed."
«« Come then, Herbert,' she said, withdrawing her arm from a guest who had just engaged her for the next dance, “I am tired, and will go with you.'
“ Surely you do not mean to quit the ball room so early, fair lady,' said her partner.
“Oh, I cannot hear of such a proceeding,' added Lord Desmond, who was aware of what was intended. "Your Ladyship must remain here ; I myself will escort Sir Herbert to his chaniber. Ho! there, lights !he cried, and the attendants appeared. Sleep seemed stealing over the countenance of Sir Herbert, and he clutched at the nearest attendant for support. Join the dancers, lady,' said Desmond, and depend on it I will watch over your husband till he is asleep.'
«« Nay, my Lord, who so fitting as his wife for that duty,' resolutely replied the lady. “I must accompany my husband, with your leave,' she added, as the host seemed disposed to place himself before her, to prevent her. She took the arm of her intoxicated husband and, sustaining him on her shoulder, bade the attendants · lead on. The men looked at their lord, he nodded affirmatively, it must be so,' he ejaculated, and Sir Herbert and his bride were soon alone in their chamber.
«c Suspicion, I have already hinted, darkened the mind of Alice Fitzgerald ; the sudden stupor, the inebriety of her husband, struck her as very singular; she thought the anxiety of Desmond to part them, was evinced more earnestly than was consistent with good breeding, and rejoiced she was present with the object of her fond affections, in case danger threatened. Within their apartment, however, all was orderly, and suitable to their high rank. The chamber was in a high tower, built on a lofty ledge of rock, and precipitarily placed over the river, which seemed to have worn fissures in the foot of the cliff, as she could hear the heave and dash of the current, at the base. The night was fair and tranquil, and, commending herself to God, she speedily joined her husband, who lay in a profound lethargic słumber.
“ Towards noon, next day, the body of a young female, attired in nightgear, was observed by some peasants, lying near the rocks about a mile from Strancally Cliff, on the opposite side. On examination, they found that life was not wholly extinct ; blood flowed from a bruise near the arm, and the limb was considerably discoloured, as if much crushed by weight, but no bone was broken. They bore the insensible form to the hut in which one of the party lived, and his wife had some knowledge of curing hurts. The care of the good woman restored animation by warmth and gentle rubbing ; life once more quickened the pulse of the sufferer, but her reason seemed to have fled; she cried, and wrung her hands in despair at seeing the strange uncouth faces around her, and finding relief in tears, at last ventured to ask in the Irish tongue, which she spoke fluently, “ what brought her there.” She was informed how the men went out to draw their night-lines, and found her, bruised and bleeding, among the rocks. After remaining some weeks concealed in the hut, the fair Alicefor I presume you have guessed it was she-procured clothes, and a guide to conduct her to the castle of her father, at Ballyduff. She found her family full of sorrowing for her supposed death, and preparing to revenge the untimely fate of herself and her husband upon the ruthless Lord of Strancally, who had taken possession of Conna, being, he said, elected by the clansmen of Fitzgerald. When questioned respecting the events of that fearful night, she could give no distinct answer. She had fallen asleep,' she said, soon after retiring to rest, and dreamed she was sinking, and something fell, and hit her arm, then she grew cold, and knew no more until she awoke in the peasant's hut.'
“A representation of the case having been made to the Earl of Ormond, that nobleman found what he wanted, a good pretext to make war on the Fitzgeralds, and, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth, proceeded, A.D. 1579, to lay siege to Strancally Castle. His forces were augmented by those of Condon, and such of the retainers of Conna as wished to avenge the death of their lord. The walls were defended to the last, but Desmond having discovered that his ruffian follower, Everard, meant to betray the postern gate, ordered him to be hung, whereupon, the band proved more true to their captain than their chief, and having put Desmond to death, loaded themselves with booty, and descending through the murdering hole, communicating with the secret chamber, manned a skiff lying at the foot of the cliffs, and silently dropped down with the current towards Youghal, and got clear off. The castle thus abandoned by the best of the garrison, was soon taken by assault; and as it was hateful to the kingdom for the crimes connected with it, was next day blown up by gunpowder placed in the secret passages to the room now shewn as the murdering hole.”
“Now,” said my friend, “ bearing this history in your memory, do you not perceive a close resemblance between it and Spencer's description of the cruel Pollenti ?'.
“ His name is hight Pollenti; rightly so,
For that he is so puissant and strong,
Through which the rider down doth fall, through oversight.
This is both swift and dangerous, deepe, withal,
Then doth he take the spoils of them at will,
Her name is Numerous, agreeing with her deedes.'
66 And, lastly, all that castle quite he razed,
Even from the sole of its foundation.
That there might be no hope of reparation.' “I think you have said enough my friend,' I replied, to prove your case, and you need not labour further, because you will find in the Fourth
Stanza of the Book to which you have referred, the Poet himself calls it • The castle of the Serond' and Lodge, in his · Peerge,' refers to it as Stron Castle, so this makes a chain of evidence to fortify your view.'"
We rose, and scrambled over the ruins, gazing on the scene of desolation they presented, and allowing the mind to conjure up the forms and fashions of their times. Though in heaps, the fragments of Desmond's castle bid defiance to decay, and are likely to stand for many years, a memorial of man's wickedness, and a retributive Vengeance if the tradition told me be true.
I find the powerful family of Fitzgerald of Desmond had several castles in this locality - Youghal, Imokilly, Decies, Moguly, in addition to the subject of our present sketch. How well their various seats are mentioned in a Pocm entitled “ The Geraldines," written by Thomas Daves, may be judged from the verse with which I close my paper.
“ The Geraldines, the Geraldines, how royally they reigned,
('cr Desmond wide and rich hildare, and forcigu arts disdained,
• The war cry of the Filzgeralds of Desinond.
THE LORD'S ISLE,
DEDICATED TO MY FELLOW-TRAVELLER.
Thou lovely, lonely isle! the lord
(Ah me! though sweet, the pure white rose-