Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Hanlon’s Ford

by Iain Muir

Bind back your raven hair, my son,
And tie it with red cord,
To make a warrior’s queue, my son,
And take up your father’s sword.

An old woman beats her clothes tonight
On the rocks of Hanlon’s Ford.

The Bane Sidhe wails without the walls
Of your father’s ancient dun,
But pay no credence to her calls –
Your time on earth’s not done.

And aye she sits and washes rags
On the rocks of Hanlon’s Ford.

The rievers came in dark of night
To steal your father’s cattle.
Your father lead the men to fight,
And we heard the din of battle.

The cry “ochone” resounds aloud
As she works at Hanlon’s Ford.

They carried your father back again
At the dawning of the day,
His body borne upon his shield
Back from the field of fray.

The crone, she beats the blood from shrouds
On the stones of Hanlon’s Ford.

Take up your father’s sword, my son
Our honour to redeem!
Bring me the head of Red Hanlon
To win back our esteem!

The waters run blood red tonight
O’er the rocks at Hanlon’s Ford!

© 2002 Iain Muir

Author's Note: Everyone’s heard of the Baen Sidhe, (pronounced Banshee), the Fairy Woman who wails outside the walls when a member of a great family is to die. Far more feared by the common folk was a little old woman who could be seen at the ford of rivers washing the blood from the grave clothes of an army about to suffer a severe defeat…

Iain Muir was born in London, and has since then dived in Mauritius, raced cars on dirt roads through African cane fields, been robbed in German pubs, and now resides in North Sydney. He drinks too much red wine, and spends too much on reading material. He plans on getting rich the old-fashioned way: by winning the lottery.

Find more by Iain Muir in the Author Index.

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