By Victor O’D. Power

Early last September I was on my travels from Doneraile to Kilavullen and I sat down to rest myself on a mossy bank under the big beach tree just alongside the grounds of Castle O’Grady, one of the finest old demesnes you’d meet with in a long day’s journey.

There was an old woman gathering a bundle of sticks in the wood just inside of where I sat, mossa, and ‘twasn’t long till I put talk on her, so I did. She up and told me the whole history of Castle O’Grady and of May Connolly and Denis O’Riordan and ‘twas as elegant a little story as ever I heard in my life, so it was.

May Connolly, it seems, was the loveliest girl in that part of the country – a tall, well-built stately colleen og, with curly hair shining like gold, and her cheeks as pink as June roses, and her eyes like the blue violets in the sheltered nooks under the hawthorns in early summer.

And, faix, all the boys living near May Connolly’s home were mad in love with her, so they were, but, mavrone, ‘twasn’t one atom of good for ‘em, so it wasn’t, to be throwing their sheep’s eyes at May Connolly and all on account of Squire O’Grady’s son, Maurice, who happened to fall in love with May Connolly one day he was out fowling in the hills above Castle O’Grady; and whatever passed between the pair of them that day no one ever knew for certain. But after that day, some sort of change came over May Connolly and she wouldn’t even look at any of her old companions, and can you be surprised at all the jealousy and rage they felt inside their hearts after that?

castle-ogradySo Maurice O’Grady and May Connolly were secret lovers, sure enough, and months went by and the true story wasn’t found out by anyone only May’s former sweethearts before Maurice O’Grady came home from his schooling abroad to settle down for good.

Maurice O’Grady, I’m told, was a dashing, good-looking young man, just come of age at this time, mossa, so there was no doubt at all that himself and May Connolly were well met so far as youth and beauty went, imbeersa fain.

But everything is found out in the long run, so it is, and, molaire, and Maurice O’Grady’s mother and his two hard-faced sisters managed to get wind of the whole truth at last, and glory be to goodness, such a pilamoo ruz up at Castle O’Grady that you’d hear the shouting and bawling and women crying with the dint of rage morning, noon and night. And the end of it was that Maurice O’Grady ran away from home and didn’t May Connolly hook it after him, and for a year and a half after that, no tale or tidings reaching the neighbours of the pair of them, good nor bad.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own April Spring Special (issue 5597)