Old Ringlin is a country wight,
Well used to sleeping out at night,
The way that he can drink and fight,
Is awful and surprising;
At Banbridge he got drunk one day,
And in returning lost his way,
To wander far by bog and brae,
Just as the moon was rising.
He happened soon to wander near,
An ancient fort that’s far from here,
Which country men regard in fear,
For they believe it’s haunted;
By fairies, bogles and banshees,
That roam at night among the trees,
But Ringlin had no fear of these,
He is not easily daunted.
His limbs were tired the hour was late,
His need of sleep was very great,
It seemed a cosy place to wait,
The appearance of the morn;
And so he clambered up the height,
And found a shelter for the night,
Where fairy flowers were gleaming white,
In the shadow of a thorn.
When he was sleeping sound and well,
The fairies entered through a dell,
And I will now proceed to tell,
Of the revelling so gay;
It was their custom to resort,
At midnight to this lonely fort,
To pass the hours in merry sport,
Till the dawning of the day.
But much amazed to hear a snore,
For no man ever came before,
At night to sleep in or explore,
That very uncanny scene;
With joy they all resolved to play,
A prank on Ringlin where he lay,
But none could settle on a way,
So they left it to their Queen.
Who mixed with other things unknown,
A powder made from witch’s bone,
With water in a hollow stone,
An orphan’s tear including;
She gently poured some on his eyes,
And then commanded him to rise,
Which Ringlin did in great surprise,
To see what was intruding.
The charm made him a fairy small,
And through the grass so thick and tall,
To move or walk without a fall,
He had the greatest bother;
But soon sweet music filled the air,
And banished all his great despair,
It made him dance o’er brake and brair,
As light as any other.
Oh! Never did so rare a sight,
Appear to mortal eyes at night,
The fort all glowed with magic light,
And the wind sung melodies;
And as the fairies danced around,
They scarcely seemed to touch the ground,
So full of grace was every bound,
As they winded through the trees.
And Ringlin’s heart was overjoyed,
For he was dancing round beside,
A fairy maid who was the pride,
Of all that airy throng;
And then a harper took his stand,
The greatest bard in Fairyland,
He played the harp with skilful hand,
As others sang this song.
“Let us gaily dance and sing,
Round and round our dewy ring,
For we have no power to stay,
Longer than the dawn of day.
Oh! A merry life is ours,
Dancing round among the flowers,
When the dew is gleaming bright,
In the pale moon’s dreamy light”.
And when the dance began to pall,
The fairy Queen did loudly call,
A mighty feast appeared for all,
On a giant paddock stool;
Most happy in his fairy state,
Now Ringlin sat and laughed and ate,
Said he, “Young fellows this is great,
Who denies that is a fool.
For they had bum-bee bacon there,
All cooked with nicety and care,
And other dishes rich and rare,
The wine in bluebell glasses;
And when they emptied all the plates,
He spent the time in long debates,
In ridiculing magistrates,
And all the higher classes.
He told how he was put in jail,
Because he only did regale,
Himself with whisky, beer and ale,
Such harmless stimulation;
(Alas how fleeting are the joys
That from the use of whisky rise)
The glow of dawn now stained the skies,
And caused great agitation.
An early cock began to crow,
The fairies knew ’twas time to go,
And vanished quicker than the snow,
Which falls into a river;
Then Ringlin woke and many groans,
Proclaimed the stiffness of his bones,
‘Twas sad to hear his sighs and moans,
And sad to see him shiver.
To make his misery complete,
A mossy boulder caught his feet,
And in the mire, he fell so neat,
The mud on him cementing;
Then he went home as black as ink,
Filling the air with awful stink,
Resolving never more to drink,
And loud in his lamenting.
Hugh Alexander 1906