Mallon’s Bridge

Michael Hough

Now there’s a tale I’m after singing that my Grandpa used to tell
He said ’twas to enlighten me and chasten me as well.
You may laugh about your elders when the sun is shining bright
But be sure you’re on the Christian side of Mallon’s Bridge tonight.
The village kirk is strong and tall beside the river Wyth
And there are buried decent folk who said their prayers at night
But just across the river there’s a ring of standing stones
And there are buried hatreds older far than human bones

Sean Mallon was a mason in the village long ago
He set to build a bridge for the convenience of the road
He thought he’d make his fortune taking pennies for the toll
But he was swallowed up by something evil from of old

Sean Mallon was a headstrong man and burly so they say
And those who offered caution heard his laughter all the day
He built his bridge with stones he stole upon the other side
And cursed us all with vengeance from across the river Wyth

And so the story grew among the elders and their wives
Of those who ventured over Mallon’s bridge after midnight
For some were heard to scream and some were never found alive
And some were rendered speechless after running for their lives.

Now me, I’m no believer in such stories as they’re told
But things there are around us that can chill a heart so bold
And never will I laugh again at Grandpa and his ale
For I have been across the bridge and lived to tell the tale!
Oh, drunk I was at Paddy’s pub and turned to call for more
And there I saw a lovely lass I’d never seen before
Her wicked eye was gleaming and was greener than the sea
And I was sure she’d never seen as fine a man as me.

She said her name was Moira and she touched me on the knee
I offered her such gallantries as then occurred to me
She said that she would meet with me and spend the night alone
Across the river Wyth inside the ring of standing stones.

Oh drunk I was, ’tis true, and so too quick did I agree.
And quickly was she gone although I barely blinked my eye
And so I bid my friends farewell and stood out from the light
And made my way a-reelin’ over Mallon’s Bridge that night.
Now mortal man was never born more cowardly than I
But drinking Murphy’s whiskey throws my fear into the sky
And so I found myself feeling foolish and alone
And lusting for a woman in a ring of standing stones

The fear came sudden on me, I confess I turned to run
And something ran behind me how I wished then for the sun
And close it came behind me ever faster though I ran
And breath I felt and eyes I saw that were no beast nor man

I ran a-fearing more for my own soul than for my life.
And so I saw the moon was gleaming on the river Wyth
And what it was that hunted me I venture not to say
For devils walk in many forms that shun the light of day

So tell me of your weary faith and of the worldly load
I’ll tell you of the tracks of cloven hoofs there in the road
For I was found by day lying shivering in the dirt
With rents of claws and stains of Devil’s breath upon my shirt
Ah, but still I am a drinking man, and merry now for life.
For I outraced the Devil back across the river Wyth
And many a pot of ale I hoist to my own lowly feat
And to the lovely Moira whom I’ve no desire to meet.