Clare County Library
Clare Literature
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | OS Maps | Search this Website | Copyright Notice

The Granahan Hunt

by Nicholas Woulfe (b.c. 1758. d. unknown)

The poem called "The Granahan Hunt" was written by Mr. Nicholas Woulfe, of Tiermaclane, in the County Clare, the representative of an ancient Roman Catholic family, which had settled in that county in or about the middle of the 17th century. This gentleman, whose tastes - whatever may be thought of his poetical talents - were evidently of a literary character, was grandfather of the Right Honourable Stephen Woulfe, Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, a very distinguished lawyer, who died in the year 1840, shortly after his elevation to the Bench. A copy of this poem, that from which the present edition has been printed, was given to its editor by Chief Baron Woulfe's nephew, the late Right Hon. Stephen Woulfe Flanaghan, who had preserved it as an ancestral relic of his family. Mr. Flanagan's copy, however, was not perfect; here and there words have been blotted out, and here and there whole lines are omitted: but, although new words and new lines have been subsitituted for those which are lost, this printed edition is substantially a true copy of the original. If the poem has any merit whatever, it consists in the proof it affords that there is no reason why the manliest and most popular of all our sports should not still flourish in the Co. Clare - no reason why its present youth should not rival their own happiness and their county's prosperity: not is the poem altogether without interest, in that the names it contains belonged to families which were leading families in the County Clare 138 years ago. Of these families, some have passed away, leaving no trace behind them of their existence: but it is gratifying to know that many of them still survive, and to them the editor dedicates this pleasant record of their ancestry.

T. R. H. [Thomas Rice Henn]

Scarce dawn'd the rosy-fingered morn,
When, to the voice of various horn
That echoed with harmonious sound
From animated rocks around,
Moved on the dew-bespangled plain,
Impatient for the chase, a train
Of chosen youths, all keen to dare
The perils of the sylvan war,
To rush amidst the pathless wood,
To leap the pale, or swim the flood,
Such dauntless ardour in each bosom glow'd !
Before the rest with dauntless pride,
The brothers of Dromoland
[1] ride;
Fair offspring of a generous race'
Form'd like their polished sires, to grace
The Senate House, defend the cause
Of Freedom, and uphold the laws ;
E'en then conspicuous worth began
To dawn, and all their future man
In manners, bearing, voice, was seen,
In thoughtful speech and graceful mien.
Soon follow'd with ambitious boast
Their kindred sportsmen
[2]  from the coast,
Youths of fair, hospitable life,
Averse to the contagious strife
Of factious rage, averse to noise,
And public care, and heartless joys
Of city lure: - Hugh Hickman
[3]  next
O'er scattered rocks with thorn perplex'd
Rush'd fearless to direct the chase,
Spurning the mounds with manly grace,
Too thoughtless of his beautiful spouse,
Who now perhaps repeats her vows,
In dreams receives the nuptial kiss,
And fills her soul with fancied bliss.
Him gentle Westropp
[4]  close pursued,
Mc Mahon
[5]  brave, and Creagh [6]  the good,
[7] , Butler [8] , Colepoys [9] , Harrison [10] ,
And Spaight
[11] , the courtly paragon ;
Nor can the muse forget to name
[12]  of melodious fame,
At balls admired, when love invades
The bosoms of unguarded maids :-
Thou too wert there, Morony
[13] , thou,
Whose face ne'er show'd a clouded brow,
Ever unruffled, mild and gay,
E'en in thy slow, long-spun decay !
Such were the youths who scour'd the lawn
And swept the dews in early dawn
All clas in brown alike: - their steeds,
High-crested, proudly toss their heads,
And neighing pant in every vein,
Scarce check'd by the retentive rein.-
But soon, nigh Fenloe's limpid Lake,
With deep-mouthed bay the tainted brake
The foremost hounds surround, where late,
Unconscious of impending fate,
Harbour'd the courtly game, the boast
Of all the sylvan herd: but most
Unhappy, as foredoomed to stain
Ere noon with reeking blood the plain.-
But see! - while breathing on his track,
Before the keen, sagacious pack
The vapours rise:- instant, their cry
Redoubled, rends the vaulted sky :-
Not with more swiftness from above
Darts on his prey the Bird of Jove,
Nor scarce more fleet, when storms are loud,
The shadow of a winged cloud
Flies o'er the wide expanded plain,
Just seen, and lost, when seen again,
Than flew the sore affrighted deer,
As all the clamorous host drew near;
But flew in vain; the hounds pursue,
And rapidly, though not in view,
With lifted heads their task fulfil,
While the gay youths strain up the hill,
Or hang o'er the tremendous steep,
Or slowly wade through marshes deep
And faithless :- but in polished verse
How can the nice-eared Muse rehearse
Rude names of grounds o'er which they raced,
Grounds ever barren, and disgraced
With rocks and thorns, where Pan disdains
To dwell, the God of Shepherd Swains;
But where, unless report has lied,
Pale ghosts and sheeted spectres glide,
What time the moon with trembling light
Reveals the secrets of the night.
But mark ! how bold before the rest
The youths of Ennistymon press'd :
Youths ever train'd to sports, and skill'd
In all the science of the field :
Then how McMahon bore away
The second honours of the day :
McMahon of Iberian race,
Like fair Iulus in the chase,
When o'er Ausonian hills he flew,
And at domestic game the arrow threw.
Now Westropp, boastful of his steed,
Half Albion's, half Arabia's, breed,
O'er-topt each hedge, holding in sight
The distant game ; but - luckless wright !-
Sudden he falls, and soon is left
Behind, of friendly aid bereft ;
While Creagh, more cautions, look'd before
He leapt ; then safely darted o'er.-
Though gifted with an hundred tongues,
A throat of brass, and steely lungs,
As well the Muse might tell the tale
Of Ilion and her woes bewail ;
As well in her recording strain
Sing of the bold Sarpedon slain,
Or how Pelides in his car
Rush'd furious to the dreadful war,
And slew before the Scean Gate,
The prop of all the Phrygian State,
As tell with a becoming grace
The various exploits of the chase,
The many leaps, and falls, and strife
Of the ambitious train, of life
Regardless, while in sober mood
Dromoland's wary sons pursued
Nor blush'd to follow in the rear,
Content with fame in their own sphere ;
Content to strive in Virtue's cause,
And merit well the nation's high applause !
But now from Dangan's airy height,
Through all the various maze of flight,
The rushing deer is seen ; his head
With antlers crown'd, nor yet his speed
Declined ; o'er rocks and fens he flew,
O'er rocks and fens the dogs pursue,
Unerring still, though Sol exhaled the dew.
Thou, Miller
[14] , too, along thy grounds
The cry of the resounding hounds
Didst hear with rapture, thou, whose door
Was ever open to the poor,
Whose soul could sympathize with woe
And bid compassion's tear to flow.-
Here Harrison push'd hard for fame,
For envy did the youth inflame,
Envy unblamed ; like Maia's son,
With winged speed he hurried down
the wild declivity, where few
With equal ardour did pursue.-
But soon through Purdon's
[15]  fair demesne-
Sheep-pastured walks for ever green-
Still doubling from the foe, the deer
His flight directed, and now near
The sacred, ivy-clothed pile
Approach'd ;- when Rome did rule our isle,
The seat of monks, high-favour'd race,
Dispensers they of heavenly grace :-
There did the panting savage lave
His trembling limbs, and in the wave
Immersed, a while imprudent stood
To cool the fever of his blood ;
Then pass'd the stream, for now he hears
The distant rattling in his ears
Of all the rushing war ; again
He leaps the mounds, and scours the plain.-
So, when Britannia's war-ships sweep
In hostile pomp the briny deep,
Before the sons of Freedom flies
The dastard Gaul ; in vain he plies
The tugging oar, and courts the wind
With shifted sail : for close behind
The iron tempest roars, and rakes
His stern, and air and ocean shakes.
Meanwhile the youths in firm array,
Well marshall'd, fearless all, and gay,
Advance into the perilous stream,
And hazard life to reach their game.
The stream, high-swollen from recent rains,
O'ertops the banks, and drowns the plains ;
But fortune ever helps the brave :-
To serried strength the foaming wave
Yields, and the torrent roars in vain ;
While, amorous of the youthful train,
The Naiads lend a saving hand,
And waft the struggling steeds to land.
So Philip's son, in quest of fame,
Was aided o'er Granicus' stream,
So warlike Louis pass'd the Rhine,
And William, too, the memorable Boyne !
But how can the tired Muse pursue
The rapid pack, their game in view ?
How penetrate Dromoland's groves,
Those fair retreats of silent loves ?
Embow'ring shades, where art, conceal'd
With art, though frugal nature fail'd
To lend her aid, adorns the ground
With varied pride, and scatters round
Enamell'd charms. Thou, Butler, then
Ambitious, too, of place, wert seen :-
Thou through the thickets with disdain
Didst rush impetuous, and would fain
Attend along the sounding chase.
Alas ! Thy courser falls - thy face,
By thorny brambles torn, with blood
Is stain'd, and all thy garb with mud
Disgraced !- yet, grieve not, gentle boy,
Thy fall was seen with sympathetic eye !-
Twice round the various coverts ran
The maddening hounds, thrice every lawn
And daisy-painted alley pass'd,
When the close-hunted stag at last
Broke from the scatter'd clumps, again
Compell'd to run along the plain :-
Unhappy beast ! how changed his speed -
How lessen'd - and his horned head
How close to ground :- near and more near
The dreadful cry assails his ear,-
Fate loudly threat'ning in the sound,-
Inevitable Fate !- around
He casts a rueful eye, nor knows
Which way to turn, now where he goes.-
As Turnus and Aeneas ran,
Nor durst abide the godlike man,
Till, shamed at last, he checks his flight
In wild despair, and dares the fight ;
So the desponding savage waits
The fearful issue of his fates :
When ev'ry hope of life was vain,
He waits, and near the sacred fane
Stands with collected strength at bay,
Where the famed knight
[18], to kindred clay
Return'd, yet lives in sculptured stone,
His form express'd, and all the face his own ;
Then the wild, raging beast prepares
For battle and for glorious scars,
Resolved to fall, as heroes would be slain
With hostile blood around him on the plain !
And now the hounds in fierce array
Advance upon their armed prey,
Their forces join, their rage unite,
Then warily commence the fight.-
As the huge son of Telamon,
Enclosed by countless hosts, mow'd down
His puny foes, and clear'd the field,
Arm'd with his lance and seven-fold shield :
So, with great chiefs if beasts we may
Compare, so stood the stag at bay !
His blows with horned head dealt round,
And gored the pack with many a wound.
And dreadful long the strife had been,
Had not the eager youths rush'd in
With armed force, and fought the beast,
Who, with unequal war oppress'd,
At length succumbs, and breathes no more,
Life issuing in a stream of gore.
Extended on the plain he lies ;
The youths admire his mighty size,
His taper limbs, well-turn'd for speed,
And all the crowning honours of his head !
So shows a mountain oak that stood
The pride of all the lofty wood,
When hewn with axes : stately still,
And fair, adown the verdant hill
Its branches spread, while rustics gaze
On the huge growth of ages with amaze.
'Twas now midday, and Sol the height
Of heaven had climb'd and turn'd his flight
Downward, to meet the western main,
When moved the full-elated train
To the appointed inn
[19] , in haste
To break their long-protracted fast ;
Moved, and beguil'd the tedious way,
Vaunting the glorious prowess of the day !
At length arrived, joyful they see
The tables graced with symmetry ;
The various viands smoking round,
And all with needful plenty crown'd.
Eager they sit, as did of yore
The Trojans on the Lybian shore,
When press'd with hunger, ere the town
And hospitable queen were known.-
But the fair knighted joint best pleased
The impatient band at first ; high raised
With fat, and rich with juice that flow'd
Irriguous on the dish, with blood
Unmix'd : from venison next who could
Refrain, with poignant sauce imbrued,
High-flavour'd haunch, immured in paste ?
And when the board with game was graced,
Who could the inviting birds refuse,
The stubble quail and mountain grouse ?
And who could then refuse to share
With courteous Spaight the well-carved hare ?
The wily beast, that oft beguiled
The hounds, in arts of flight well-skill'd,
Though leaden death too slow to shun,
When dealt from the unerring gun.
Meanwhile melodious music fills
The spacious rooms, and gently thrills
In every ear, such as might move
Obdurate maids, and kindle love.
And when keen hunger was suppress'd
And all approved the copious feast,
Rich wines were served, that far excell'd
The growth of the Falernian field.
To mighty George
[20] the glass went round,
To George for arts and arms renown'd :
For well the youths, though green in years,
Were taught to know his watchful cares
For Albion's safety : how he smote
The perjured Gaul and rebel Scot ;
Sole arbiter of Europe's peace,
Her only refuge in distress !-
Then Boyle
[21] and his well-order'd train
Were toasted, ready to maintain
Their country's freedom, and withstand
The raging yandals of the land.
To Burton
[22] next the glass was fill'd,
To Burton just, and great, and skill'd
In classic lore : him seven-fold Nile
Beheld, and the fair Cyprian hill,
And Hellespont, where Hero lost
Her love upon the ruthless coast.
Nor was the wise and good old seer
Forgot, whose board with lordly cheer
Was ever crown'd ; nor Lifford's youth
Nor Stamer
[25], famous they for truth
And steady innocence of life,
Amidst gigantic frauds and party strife.
But hark ! Fitzgerald deigns to raise
His tuneful voice, and sing the praise
Of mighty love, that glow'd of old,
If Grecian records truth have told,
In Cytherea's breast, when o'er
The hills she ran, to chase the boar
With Adon, her enchanting swain :-
Then how the hapless youth was slain,
And how the goddess wept beside
The stream his purple wounds had dyed,
The minstrel sand ; and how she gave
A deathless memory to his grave :-
He ceased :- the melting strains were heard
With rapture; such the Thracian Bard
Pour'd forth, when rocks were seen to move,
And round him tripp'd the joyful grove.
But now the labouring Muse her lay         }
Must smooth, and all her art display        }
To sing the toasted beauties of the day !- }
Dromoland's blooming nymphs first claim'd
The bumper'd glass, nymphs
[26]  highly famed
For love-inspiring charms, for sense,
For wit, and vestal innocence.
'Twas then enamour'd Browne betrayed
His passion for the lovely maid :
What ?- though 'twas his the wine to pass-
A sudden tremor shakes his glass.
Confused he looks, and fain would hide
His face, and turns his eyes aside,
Thy sister - Colepoys
[27]  - next the toast
Deserved - fair Excellence - the boast
Of the admiring age :- in vain
her wounded suitors vent their pain :-
Deaf to their disappointed loves,
Amongst them, goddess-like, she moves !-
But the bright maid
[28]  of paradise-
That wide o'erlooking seat of bliss-

Who could refuse ? What arrows fly
With the all-wounding glances of her eye !
At shining balls her matchless bloom,
Her graceful motion round the room,
Her easy port, and all her store
Of smiles, who could behold and not adore ?
Then beauteous England's
[29]  name was given-
England, the favourite care of Heaven :-
Love's magic zone surrounds her waist ;
And on the marble of her breast
The wanton archer sits enthroned,
Darting his various fates around.
Nor wert thou, Casey
[30] , then forgot ;
Not least deserving, though thy lot
Was last :- fair maid - if verse can give
A deathless name, thine, sure, must live,
And faithful numbers shall unfold
Thy worth, nor leave a charm untold.
'Twas thus, all innocently gay,
The sportive youths did pass away
The social hours, till watchful night
Bathed the dark sky with lunar light ;
Their constant signal to depart.
And yet with an unwilling heart
They leave ; so firm their friendships prove,
So strongly glows their mutual love.
But rules unalter'd must remain,
Rules were adapted to restrain
Imtemperance, the bane of life,
And source of ill-digested strife.



1. Edward and Donatus O'Brien, Esqrs., sons of Sir Edward O'Brien, Bart.

2. Edward and James O'Brien, sons of Captain C. O'Brien of Ennistymon.

3. Hugh Hickman, son of Luke Hickman of Fenloe, married to Miss Palliser.

4. Barclay Westropp, son of Thomas Westropp, Esq., of Ballystein, Co. Limerick.

5. Thomas McMahon, Esq., of Ballykilty.

6. Andrew Creagh, Esq., of Carbane, married to Miss Fitzgerald.

7. Thomas Browne, Esq., of New Grove, lover of Miss O'Brien of Dromoland.

8.William Butler, Esq., of Castle Crin.

9.George Colepoys, of Ballycar, married to Miss Casey.

10. Robert Harrison, Esq., of Garrura, married to Miss Tuthill.

11. Thomas Spaight, Jun., Lodge, married to Miss Hutchinson.

12. James Fitzgerald, Esq., son of C. Fitzgerald, Castlekeal.

13. Thomas Morony, Esq., of Milltown.

14. Henry Miller, Esq., Toonagh.

15. William Purdon, Esq., of Corbally.

16. Quin Abbey - the sacred, ivy-clothed pile.

17. Kilnasulagh Church - the sacred Fane.

18. Sir D. O'Brien's Monument - a beautiful likeness of the Knight.

19. The appointed Inn, Granahan.

20. King George the Second.

21. Boyle, Lord Shannon.

22. Burton, of Buncraggy, ancestor of Lord Conyngham.

23. Colonel R. Hickman, of Kilmore.

24. Patrick England, Esq., Lifford.

25. George Stamer, Esq., Carnelly.

26. The lovely Misses O'Brien, of Dromoland.

27. The beautiful Molly Colepoys, Ballycar, married to James Fitzgerald of Shepperton.

28. Mary Henn, whose exquisite beauty caused her to be called "The Bird of Paradise", daughter of Richard Henn, Esq., married to Donatus O'Brien, of Dromoland.

29. Mary England, of Lifford, sister of General England, married to Captain James O'Brien, of Ennistymon.

30. Mary Casey, of Seafield, married to George Colepoys, of Ballycar.




Clare Literature