CAOINEADH AIRT UÍ LAOIRE
Madam, - Kevin Myers is mistaken in suggesting (An Irishman's Diary, July 24th) that the Lament for Art O'Leary was an impromptu effusion by Eibhlín Dubh over her husband's body, and that some invisible hand noted it down for future use by nationalist propagandists. On the contrary, it was a carefully crafted poem which Eibhlín wrote after her husband's funeral, in response to her sister-in-law's accusation that she had slept during the wake. So it matters little whether she rode side-saddle or astride - she was mounted on Pegasus.
It is a cheap shot to accuse the O'Connells of having had it easy under the Penal Laws, in an article recalling (even with comic intent) how the husband of an O'Connell was outlawed and done to death.
I was not aware that the Lament had been used as propaganda. I should have thought that its potential for that purpose was limited: it is true that the murder was committed by soldiers, but they were punished by transportation - so the law can't have been all bad.
I am glad that Mr Myers has salvaged the reputation of Col Smyth by reproducing his order forbidding reprisals. The pity is that the crown forces so often disregarded it. - Yours, etc.,
MICHAEL DRURY, Avenue Louise, Brussels, Belgium.