She belonged to him, no other man,
So he said to her each day she left.
To sell the eggs and the dress she made,
To pull them from the line of the poor.
On the way to town each day she passed,
The rings of County Tipperary.
The ancient rings that live the wee folk,
Who dance in moonlight and trick us all.
That day she waited to see her kin,
But she left no gift to please the old.
So home she came with arms still heavy,
and a chest that weighed a cough so foul.
“My Bridget” as he knelt by her bed,
Holding her hand as it shook with cold.
In the crack of the flame voices he heard
To hang him from his grief with despair.
The news he heard was of his father
Whom died the evening he felt alone.
Mr Cleary swore and slammed his fist.
“Midnight tonight or Bridget is lost!”
The men in village knew the tale,
Of the wee folk who cursed Bridget.
The woman in the Cleary home bed,
Was an echo of the wife he loved.
They held her down and asked her, her name,
She screamed and growled but did not reply,
Three times they asked and still she refused.
So tight the grips they beat her to sleep.
The morning arrived, Bridget awoke,
To her husband who looked upon her.
His eyes full of loss and fear as-well,
“my Bridget?” he asked “are they gone now?”
She smiled and agreed, she was alone,
So the priest came to deliver mass.
Mr Cleary agreed and drank from the cup
But he knew that his wife was not home.
He asked her again, three more times; “Speak,
Your name to me now, are you my wife?”
Each time she replied “It is I, Yes.”
Michael still knew his wife was away.
That evening men from the town arrived
And took Bridget deep into the bog,
Where they bound her and lay her down flat,
As she screamed for her husband to help.
“It is I, It is me, Your sweet wife,
Believe me my husband I am here,
No faerie has seized my soul from me,
No witch has uttered a devil curse.”
Her mouth was covered and bound so tight
Her screams were made only with her eyes.
In front of the men, Michael asked her.
“Are you my wife? My Bridget Cleary?”
No voice or reply came from the girl.
Her body lay still in the bog land.
So onto a bed of wood she was placed,
And burned in the cold evening moon light.
The story was told through the village,
That Bridget had fled with another,
A man who bought all her eggs each week,
But not everyone believed this tale.
The priest of the village found Michael,
Praying blood, sweat and tears in the church.
He told him the fairies had taken,
The changeling they had placed there before.
The priest told the men of the Garda
That murder was rife in this village.
That men had taken a sick women
And burned her to death in the bog land.
Michael was guilty of Manslaughter
No conviction of murder was passed
For the people believed his story,
The woman who burned was not his wife
To this day the rings of Tipperary
Still grow foxglove and weeds in the cracks,
The Faerie mounds are feared like darkness
And steered clear of, by those who live near.
Even now it is heard in the school,
By the children who skip on the rope.
“Are you a witch, or are you a fairy,
Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”