March 13, 2013

The Fighting Prince of Donegal






Do you remember that subtle shift when one moment you watched movies as a little girl with little girl dreams, and then, almost overnight, you could feel your emotions stirring not as a young girl but as the romantic, starry eyed teen you would become in a few short years?  1965--Sound of Music.  What a charming story, but I really wasn't interested in the love stories of Maria and the Captain or even Liesl and Rolf.  I liked the bubbly song How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria and spent hours in the bathroom at home after the movie wrapping white towels around my head to look like a nun.  Not being Catholic, and having never attended a mass or seen a nun outside the movie, my attempts weren't too successful.  Not to worry, though, because I then moved right on to The Lonely Goatherd and tried to yodel like Julie Andrews (again, not too successfully).  O ho laydee o dl lee o, o ho laydee o dl ay O ho laydee o dl lee o, laydee o dl lee olay!  (try typing that three times really fast!)


Cut to 1966.  Only a year later, and I'm off to see the new Disney movie The Fighting Prince of Donegal.  Oh my.  This time it wasn't the history or the sword play or the accents that wooed me (okay, maybe the accents played a part--I still go a little wobbly at the knees over a British accent) but the love story...the love story!  Two young lovers, separated cruelly on the night they pledge their love to each other!  It made my little girl heart thump in a new way, and I remember standing outside after the movie, waiting for my mother to come pick me up, watching snowflakes drifting past the lamp post and thinking that it must be a wonderful thing to fall in love. 


I have a hunch that if I watched this movie now, it would be pretty awful.  In fact, I think it was pretty awful back in 1966, but it didn't matter because I fell in love with the idea of falling in love.  I wanted desperately to be a clan chieftain's daughter who would have a prince battle the British, break out of prison and fight his way back to me.  I bought the book with my next Scholastic book order ($.45!!), and it is still in my library today, tucked between all my books on Irish myths and poetry. I had planned to write about Irish bards and minstrels today, but when I entered my library last night and saw my beloved book, I thought perhaps you might enjoy a tale of love and derring-do as much as I did.
I added the hearts--what's the fun of graphics if you don't use them?!
If you aren't familiar with the story, the plot is pretty darn prosaic:  Set in the late 1580s, the film very loosely follows the real-life exploits of the 16th century Irish prince "Red" Hugh O'Donnell. The story begins when Hugh's father, the king, dies, leaving his son the throne of Donegal. With his ascension to the throne, an Irish prophecy is seemingly fulfilled which promises independence from Elizabethan and English rule. The O'Donnell lords see this occurrence as the opportunity to strike back at the foreigners by force, but Hugh convinces them the right plan is to band together with the other clans of the island, and bargain for their freedom from a position of strength. As he prepares for battle, O'Donnell also courts the beautiful Kathleen McSweeney, to further augment the clans of Ireland.  The movie was based on the book Red Hugh:Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Reilly. (source)  There is duplicity and betrayal, imprisonment and brave escapes, and a thoroughly happy ending for a starry eyed little girl (that would be me--I don't think the Irish had as happy of an ending.)

I had hoped to find the poem written by Maolmuire Macanward in 1587 to share with you today.  He wrote a poem of 196 stanzas (!!) encouraging Red Hugh to bear up while imprisoned in Dublin Castle.  But alas, no such luck.  So instead I'll share a (short) but lovely love poem by W.B. Yeats, Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

  by W. B. Yeats
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,   
Enwrought with golden and silver light,   
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths   
Of night and light and the half light,   
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;   
I have spread my dreams under your feet;   
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19413#sthash.I4rIQ78Y.dpuf











And here is another Irish blessing to speed you on your way.  May your day be filled with 
love, my friends.






Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

  by W. B. Yeats
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,   
Enwrought with golden and silver light,   
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths   
Of night and light and the half light,   
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;   
I have spread my dreams under your feet;   
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19413#sthash.I4rIQ78Y.dpuf

4 comments:

  1. All right. Clearly we were separated at birth. Who else in this world feels the same way I did about that movie? I watched it over and over - every time it was on television. I bought the paperback book and read it until it fell apart.

    I had a HUGE crush on Peter McEnery. I wanted to marry him. But Susan Hampshire was so beautiful I knew I didn't stand a chance!

    Love this post.

    xo
    Claudia

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  2. I loved that movie! You brought back some great memories of it and Peter McEnery. He
    made me swoon in The Moonspinners movie, too.

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  3. Oh, how my sister and I loved that movie, and Moonspinners, too, with Hayley Mills... gosh, they made us read and read and read!

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  4. Visiting from Claudia's at MHC ...

    Love this post, transported me back to the sixties. Such fun to see Peter McEnery and I do believe that's Susan Hampshire in the photo with him? I'll have to look that up, loved her as well.

    The Yeats poem is my favorite poem of all.

    Love the Irish blessings you've been sharing, Happy St. Patty's Day to you!

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