Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erin Go Braugh

St Patrick's Day parade. Photo courtesy of Rockford Register Star

Wishing you all a happy and green St Patrick's day.

My mother's maiden name was Brennan. Her great-great grandfather immigrated to the US from county Galway in the 1800's to work on the railroads. The Brennan clan has a colorful history reaching far back into Ireland's past. Songs are still sung about one famous (or infamous) Brennan in the late 1700's. A harsh time when England invoked cruel laws on the country and Ireland relinquished its parliament.

This is the legend of William Brennan, Ireland's Robin Hood. Willie was the son of a tenant farmer on the banks of the Blackwater who witnessed his family's eviction from their home. His mother was forced from her sick bed and soon after died. Brennan resolved to protect the poor from such tyranny and revenge his family for the terrible injustice (or so the legend goes).

He gathered around him other men with similar tragic stories and took to the hills to begin robbing the rich and helping the peasantry. He was much beloved by the locals because of his aversion to killing and his generous character.

Tis of a famous highwayman
A story I will tell;
His name was Willie Brennan,
And in Ireland he did dwell;
And on the Kilworth mountains
He commenced his wild career,
Where many a wealthy gentleman
Before him shook with fear.

Brennan on the Moor,
Brennan on the Moor.

Bold, brave and undaunted

Was young Brennan on the Moor.

A brace of loaded pistols
He carried night and day;
He never robbed a poor man
Upon the king's highway;
But what he'd taken from the rich,
Like Turpin and Black Bess,
He always did divide it
With the widows in distress.

One day upon the highway,
As Willie he went down,
He met the Mayor of Cashel
A mile outside the town:
The Mayor he knew his features;
"I think, young man," said he,
"Your name is Willie Brennan; You must come along with me."

Now Brennan's wife had gone to town,
Provisions for to buy,
And when she saw her Willie,
She began to weep and cry;
He says, "Give me that tenpenny";
As soon as Willie spoke,
She handed him a blunderbuss
From underneath her cloak.

Then with his loaded blunderbuss,
The truth I will enfold,
He made the Mayor to tremble,
And robbed him of his gold;
One hundred pounds was offered For his apprehension there,
So he with horse and saddle
To the mountains did repair

Then Brennan being an outlaw
Upon the mountains high,
With cavalry and infantry
To take him they did try;
He laughed at them with scorn,
Until at length, 'tis said,
By a false-hearted young man
He basely was betrayed.

We are finally snow free. Temperatures in the 50's, even reaching into the 60's on a few afternoons, have melted all but the monster piles of filthy snow in parking lots. Maybe the luck of the Irish will bring an early spring and keep those late season snow storms away. Wherever you are, hope it's sunny and warm and things are starting to green up in your gardens.