In September 1607 the village of Fianaise Bhréagach was hit by an unidentified disease, taking the lives of all the villagers. The village was razed and official records expunged. In 2007 an account written by the local undertaker was found buried in the roots of a tree in the quarantined village’s square which unearthed details of this disaster.
They sent a horse along the roads to say our town had been closed in,
its bloodied hooves had been unshod. The shoes were kept to save the iron
or bless the fate of those who stayed across the glens or down the coast.
This horse’s message came our way while sentries occupied their posts,
the note was tied around its neck declaring death was soon to reach
where all would feel its fevered knock: the butcher’s shop, the mill, the church.
The hardest village men played tough until the store of ale ran dry;
the women stopped their mouths with cloth and held their husbands as they died.
Disease took hold with sudden force. We thought that we could hush the moans
so skinned and burned the flagging horse and let the fire consume its bones.
My children’s skin turned cold and flushed. Acquainted as I was with death
I saw their end and held their trust so cut their throats and sucked their breath.
I dug their graves and then some more.