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This article is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

Origins of Anglo-Irish Thomas Kinsella

During a brief rebellion by a 'counterfeit king' in 1487, the citizens of the City of Waterford expressed their loyalty to the King of England in a lengthy poem in English, and reproached the king's representatives in Dublin for their disloyalty:
 
O Ireland, Ireland! by what conclusion
     Is thy mirrour of beautie eclipsed all?
By murder, slaughter and great rebellion
     Thy fertill bondes have had great fall,
     Thy stynge of venyme, as bitter as gall.
Fortune have cast on thee so her chaunce
That alwaies thow must stand in variaunce…


The poem was preserved by Meredith Hanmer, an English clergyman who lived in Ireland from 1591 to his death in 1604. His papers also include these lines from a contemporary song:
 
You and I will go to Finegall.
You and I will eat such meats as we find there.
You and I will steal such beef as we find fat.
1 shall be hanged and you shall be hanged.
What shall our children do?
When teeth do grow unto themselves.
As their fathers did before?


This is a translation from Irish. 'Finegall', or 'the foreigners' territory', is the area of the English Pale around Dublin. The original of the poem is not known, but the translation is the first known translation of an Irish poem into English; a sign of how the two languages were to come ...


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