EARNÁN (Ernie O'Malley)

by John Hoban

Once upon a time, and a very good time it was,
Nannie passed on the good word
In song and in story to you.
As a gasúr, Earnán,
It stood you well,
As you cycled all over the land in later years.

“A sheltered individual
Drawn towards freedom.
Drawn from an Irish life
Of secure seclusion.
Drawn into a life
Of responsibility and of action,”
In your own words, Earnán,
Which come to me some days,
When I’m taking in the Islands of Clew Bay.

It’s easy to sleep on another man’s wound.
It’s easy to sleep on another man’s wound.

“So, shoulder high your hurleys, boys
Keep your rifles bright.
The red gold flame of Erin’s name,
We’ve sung through many’s the night.”
So you sang on Luan Cásca, Easter Monday, 1916
The scrap was in full flight.
On Sackville Street you stood.

The GPO was filled with cheering men and the women
The volunteers and Cuman na mBan
As they sang proudly from within.
“Like those of Ninety-Eight”,
The chorus zoomed.
Between rifle crashes there and then
You joined them in their song.

Óró ‘Sé do bheatha ‘bhaile
Is chuirfidh siad ruaig ar Ghallaibh

You gave your life to the freedom fight,
You trained volunteers all over the land.
You fought alongside the finest men and women,
In every county to free Ireland.
You served time in jail by the name of Stewart,
You escaped and again took up the fight.
For your people and the Republic,
You faced up the enemy forces day and night.

“From Thurles town to the Galtee brow
All peelers turned pale.
When the boys attacked the barracks,
At the call of Gráinne Uaile.”
As J.K. O’Reilly sang.
“Wrap the green flag ’round me boys.”

So maybe your spirit is in Taos, New Mexico,
Or maybe down in Lima, Peru.
Perhaps in the Glens of Sweet Mayo,
Or b’fhéidir i Tír Eoghain abú.
The sea god Manannán Mac Lir sings for you
From the Mall in Castlebar, day and night.
Amhráin nua, in onóir dhuit,
Óglach Earnán O Máille.

They put on the kettle
And made tay.
If they were not happy
That you may.

From John Hoban’s book “Sound Men and Women: Yarns, Musings, Fierce Wit.” Published by Covie Publications 2022.

John Hoban is an author, singer-songwriter, composer and musician from Castlebar, County Mayo in the West of Ireland. He has recorded solo song and instrumental CD’s as well as performing on many collaborative recordings. John is the author of the books, “From the Plain of The Yew Tree: The lifetime journey of a County Mayo Musician” and “Sound Men and Women: Yarns, Musings and Fierce Wit.”