The melody of Let
Erin Remember the Days of Old is based on "The Red Fox".
The lyrics by the Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852) tell the
story of heroic Malachi, the 10th century King of Ireland, who
successively defeated two Viking champions in hand-to-hand
taking a collar of gold from the neck of one, and carrying off
the sword of the other, as trophies of his victory.
Máel Sechnaill mac
Domnaill (948 - 2 September 1022), also called Máel Sechnaill
Mór, Máel Sechnaill II, anglicized Malachy II, was King
of Mide and High King of Ireland. His great victory at the
Battle of Tara against Olaf Cuaran in 980 resulted in Gaelic
control of the Kingdom of Dublin. Olaf Cuarán, King of Dublin,
summoned auxiliaries from Norse-ruled Scottish Isles and from
Man and attacked Meath, but was defeated by Máel Sechnaill at
Tara. Reginald, Olaf's heir, was killed. Máel Sechnaill followed
up his victory with a siege of Dublin which surrendered after
three days and nights.
The Red-Branch Knights
were a hereditary order of the chivalry in Ulster.
orders of knights were very early established in Ireland: long
before the birth of Christ we find an hereditary order of
Chivalry in Ulster, called Curaidhe na Craiobhe ruadh, or the
Knights of the Red Branch, from their chief seat in Emania,
adjoining to the palace of the Ulster kings, called Teagh na
Craoiobhe ruadh, or the Academy of the Red Branch; and
contiguous to which was a large hospital, founded for the sick
knights and soldiers, called Bronbhearg, or the House of the
Neagh, sometimes Loch Neagh, is the largest freshwater lake in
Northern Ireland. Its name comes from Irish:
"Lake of Eachaidh”. The origin of the lake and its name is
explained in an Irish tale that was written down in the Middle
Ages. According to the tale, the lake is named after Echaid,
who was the son of Mairid, a king of Munster. Echaid falls in
love with his stepmother, a young woman named Ébliu. They try to
elope, accompanied by many of their retainers, but someone kills
their horses. In some versions, the horses are killed by Midir.
Óengus then appears and gives them an enormous horse that can
carry all their belongings. Óengus warns that they must not let
the horse rest or it will be their doom. However, after reaching
Ulster the horse stops and urinates, and a spring rises from the
spot. Echaid decides to build a house there and covers the
spring with a capstone to stop it overflowing. One night, the
capstone is not replaced and the spring overflows, drowning
Echaid and most of his family, and creating Loch n-Echach.
Let Erin remember the days of old,
Ere her faithless sons betray'd her;
When Malachi wore the collar of gold,
Which he won from her proud invader;
When her kings, with standard of green unfurl'd,
Led the Red-Branch Knights to danger;
Ere the emerald gem of the western world
Was set in the crown of a stranger.
On Lough Neagh's bank as
the fisherman strays,
When the clear, cold eve's declining,
He sees the round towers of other days
In the wave beneath him shining;
Thus shall memory often, in dreams sublime,
Catch a glimpse of the days that are over;
Thus, sighing, look through the waves of time
For the long-faded glories they cover.