The Story of Scailpe Mharcuis was told by Eoghan Mac Fionnghaile as Mullach Dubh, Ceann Caslach aged 86 years to schoolteacher Patrick O’Donnell as part of the School Folklore Collection in 1938.
Eoghan heard it from his father Domhnaill Ruadh Mac Fionnghaile (McGinley) from Mullach Dubh in 1862. This story can be viewed here
In 1992, Neil McGinley, a great grandson of Eoghan Mac Fionnghaile composed a song relating to these events entitled ‘Murder in the Rosses’ to the air of ‘The Homes of Donegal’
Pull up your chair and gather round and a story I will tell
Of two sons of the Rosses, in Ballymanus they did dwell
They were murdered by a Connacht Clan on the steep slopes of Glen Mor
All because a women fed a beggarman at the door.
A travelling man from Connacht knocked and begged to be fed
Sean’s wife said ‘Sure you are welcome but I’ve only oaten bread’
The Connacht man he ate his fill and with water washed it down
He gave a blessing oe’r the house, but his eyes they showed a frown.
I’ve often heard the old folks say round the Homes of Mullaghduff
That the blessing of a travelling man can often mean a curse
And the powerful curse of a Connacht man is well known far and near
The look the stranger gave Sean’s wife, it filled her heart with fear.
When Sean O’Donnell heard this tale his heart was full of woe
After the travelling Connacht man he decided he would go
To invite the man to eat a feed of fresh fish from the sea
But all Sean’s good intention alas were not to be.
When Sean reached Cruit Island, there here he caught up with the Connacht man
But the beggarman spurned his greeting when Sean offered him his hand
The Connacht man insulted Sean and a blow to his head Sean did land
It all ended with the Connacht man lying dead upon Cruit Strand
Sean rightly knew that the Connacht men revenge would seek with hate
For the Connacht men have fury like a river when in spate
On the red dawn of a harvest morn, from the hills the strangers came
An angry band of Connacht men to avenge their son who was slain.
Sean and his son Marcus fled in a Curragh off the shore
They headed for the Forth of Garth and onward to Glen Mor
The Connacht men they caught poor Sean and no mercy was he shown
They murdered him in a valley that to this day is known as Sean’s.
Young Marcus then he took to flight he was chased through woods and gorse
He headed for the Blue Spink Hills by the Old Glen of the Cross
He backed into an open skelp and there he made his stand
That brave Son of the Rosses he fought off the Connacht Clan.
Marcus fought from dawn to dusk he fought off each attack
Each time the Connacht Clan approached he bravely drove them back
But from the top of Beagga Gorma they tumble rocks and stones
They buried brave young Marcus as he proudly fought alone.
So fathers tell your children of this tale of grief and woe
That happened in the Rosses oe’r three centuries ago
So long as a curlews cry is heard along the Rosses Shore
We’ll remember Sean and his brave son now and forever more.
Composed by Neil McGinley (January 1992)
Photographs: Dúchas na Rosannach
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