I dreamed of Lisburn long ago
It rose up through the mist,
The year was seventeen ninety eight
And the present did not exist.
I found myself in a shadowy place
At the top of a cobbled street,
I looked around at the quaint old town
And its people I hoped to meet.
The sound of a bell began to clang
Its tones rang loud and clear,
And suddenly recognition came
I was standing in old Market Square.
A stirring began in the streets nearby
As the bell pealed out its derge,
From out of the doorways small and dark
The people began to emerge.
Women with skirts trailing over the stones
And their hair in a woven shawl,
The children they carried or held by the hand
On their feet wore nothing at all.
The clip clop of horses feet I heard
Converging on old Market Square,
And those in the carriages that they pulled
Were dressed in clothes so rare.
Dark hats with plumes and ruffled shirts
And buckled shoes so fine,
It was clear to see that these people must be
From the wealthier part of the town.
For some event they had appeared
To me as yet unknown,
And a tension seemed to fill the air
For a deed as yet undone.
Along the street I heard a noise
‘Twas the tramp of many feet,
And soldiers in uniform carrying arms
Marched along to the drummer’s beat.
I stepped back into my hiding place
Alarmed by the sombre sight,
But the men in red looked straight ahead
And glanced neither left nor right.
The marchers stopped and I suddenly saw
A gallows was placed nearby,
From out of the ranks stepped a figure tall
Appointed there to die.
“Tis Henry Munro,” the whisper arose
From the watching crowd all around,
“A Lisburn draper a few years ago
And respected man of this town.”
“If he had not led the rebellion,
Nor dabbled in military strife,”
“He fought the battle but lost in the end,”
Said another, “To-day he pays with his life.”
As the execution prepared to begin
The condemned man raised his hand.
“Give me one moment, that’s all I ask,
A few last words with my trusted friend.”
What words were passed I did not hear
Nor those who viewed this sight with awe.
A prayer was said, he turned to face
The final dictate of the law.
With arms bound fast one step he took
Up on the ladder to his end,
A stumbling fall he rectified
“All right” said he and did ascend.
The hangman’s noose was round his neck,
The prisoner’s steady gaze held fast,
Swift action and the deed was done,
Henry Munro had breathed his last.
Up from the crowd a wail arose,
And sadness filled old Market Square
The hangman finished his grisley task
“The head of a traitor!” he did declare.
The watchers started to disperse
The execution was complete,
Some whispered, others shed a tear,
As they made their way down the cobbled street.
The time had come for me to go,
The mists arose I could not wait,
And through the annals of passing time,
I awoke from my dream of ‘Ninety eight.’