The Dark Glen of McCance


One cold and misty Christmas morn’

As the world below them slept

A band of hardy worshippers

Up the frozen valley crept

The icy wind was biting

Like the cruel penal laws

As the dawn in all its glory

Over Colin Mountain draws


They reached the secret clearing

Where the peace would calm the fears

Where the sacred rock lay hidden

As it had for many years

They waited in the silence

‘Neath the falcon’s lonely cries

And prayed the priest would make it

Past the redcoats’ watchful eyes


The lookout strains his weary glare

Far off into the trees

To watch for signs of movement

In everything he sees

When suddenly behind him

A rustle caught his ear

As the priest himself presented

To the folk assembled there


He blessed them, then removed his cloak

Showing vestments of red and gold

Then the faithful knelt upon the snow

With no thought for the cold

The sacred words were whispered

With reverence and awe

With the owl perched high above them

Transfixed by what she saw


The fox and badger cast their eye

Bemused by such a sight

As as a sudden breeze ‘thru the ancient oaks

Made the morning thrush take flight

The purling stream continued

With its timeless watery dance

The gentle sound, like a mother’s arms

Enfolding the Latin chants

Then soon the Mass was over

And the priest gave final grace

He vanished just as he appeared

Without a single trace

The faithful took a different path

For fear they might be seen

And McCance’s Glen returned once more

To a silent winter scene

As twilight fell that Christmas night

The soldiers searched the Glen

The sergeant on his tall black horse

And his troop of redcoat men

He saw the footprints in the snow

And he knew he’d missed his chance

He didn’t find the priest that day

In the dark glen of McCance

Composition by: Patrick Davey

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