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.

Seán returning to his Ballymanus home

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.

A Mullaghduff Home

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.

Fresh fish on the griddle

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

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.

scailpe map
Places named after Seán Ó Domhnaill


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.

scailpe 1
The Old Glen of the Cross, Marcus’ resting place under the public road

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.

Scailpe Mharcuis where Marcus held off the Connaught men’s attack

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.

The original recording of the story from 1937 can be viewed here

Composed by Neil McGinley (January 1992)  

 Photographs: Dúchas na Rosannach                                                            

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