"You speak in whispers of the devils I have slain"

Part of the Annotated Lyrics Horslips Pages

Recorded On - Source Tune- Covered By - General Notes from Albums - Annotated Lyrics - Comments from Guestbook and Facebook - Comments

My love is colder than black marble by the sea.
My heart is older than the cold oak tree.
I am the flash of silver in the sun.
When you see me coming you had better
From Dearg Doom.

You speak in whispers of the devils I have slain
By the fire of my silver Devilís Blade,
And still you dare to flaunt yourself at me.
I don't want you, I don't need you,
I don't love you, can't you see

I'm Dearg Doom.

And when the stars go out
You can hear me shout
"Two heads are better than none,
One hundred heads are so much better than one."

I'm a boy who was born blind to pain
And, like a hawk, I'll swoop and swoop again.
I am the flash of hawkeye in the sun.
When you see me coming you had
From Dearg Doom.

Recorded On:

  1. The Táin
  2. Horslips Live
  3. Tracks from the Vaults
  4. The Belfast Gigs
  5. Horslips, The Best of

Source Tune:

O'Neill's Cavalry: AKA O'Neill's March, O'Neill's Cavalcade, O'Neill's Cavalry March, Mairseail Ui Neill

Recordings (Before Horslips):

  1. Marcshlua Uí Néll [O'Neill's March], Sean O'Riada, Le Seaon O Se Agus Ceoltoiri Cualann

Recordings (After Horslips):

  1. Blackthorn Ceilidh Band, Blackthorn Ceilidh Band
  2. Champion Of Champions, Sean McGuire
  3. Irish Music, Sualtam
  4. Poirt An Phiobaire, Paddy Keenan
  5. So Many Partings, Silly Wizard
  6. Southwind, Glenn Morgan
  7. The Chieftains Live, The Chieftains
  8. The Humours Of Lewisham, Volume Three, Aidan Crossey

Covered By:

  1. Larry Mullen, sampled in "Put 'Em Under Pressure," Italia 1990 World Cup campaign
  2. Christian Reigneau, France
  3. Emm Gryner, Canada
  4. Celtic Hangover, France
  5. Horslypse - Tribute with a Capital T, Omagh
  6. The Watch, Enniskillen

General Notes from Albums:

Meanwhile the men of Ulster are ill with labour pains, the legacy of a curse put on them for their inhuman treatment of a pregnant woman. The one man exempt from this curse is Cu Chulainn, whose very birth is shrouded in mystery. Single handedly he takes on the defence of Ulster, harassing Maeve's soldiers, "And like a hawk Iíll swoop and swoop again" beheading those who stray from the main force. "You can hear me shout 'two heads are better than none, one hundred heads are so much better than one!'"

Cu Chulainn is a hard man. Originally called Setanta, he became known as Cu Chulainn - the Hound of Culann, because of his savagery.

Notes on The Táin, Edsel Records

Like many of the band's songs, the melody was based around a traditional tune, O'Neill's Cavalry. The lyrics were based around a traditional Marvel Comics issue. The name Dearg Doom is technically a macaronic. Dearg being the Irish for red and doom being the English for erm, doom. So, Red Doom. Thank you Stan Lee. Despite this bastard geneaology Dearg Doom still causes mayhem in the discos thirty years on. Zimmer frame city.

Notes on Horslips, The Best of..., Edsel Records

Annotated Lyrics:

"black marble by the sea"

"My love is colder than black marble by the sea" and I knew immediately what he was talking about. It was basalt. He was talking about basalt. It was the Giants' causeway. It was Ulster and Ireland. It was Cuchullainn and Fionn MacCumhail and all those stories we'd been read as children.

Maurice Linnane, Booklet accompanying Return of the Dancehall Sweethearts DVD, 2005

"Dearg Doom"

"We have no real understanding where this 'Dearg Doom' came from, other than he was an anti-hero and there was a great anti-hero in the Marvel Comics called Doctor Doom, who was the nemesis of the Fantastic Four. And then, there was this 'Dearg' being red, being Ulster's bloodied red hand, so it fell together as 'Dearg Doom' and it just seemed to stick. As well as it, if you like, had a cabalistic resonance to it."

Eamon Carr, Ireland's Greatest Hits, broadcast on RTE

[Doctor] Doom is considered the arch enemy of the Fantastic Four, but has also been added to the rogue galleries of the Avengers, the Silver Surfer, Iron Man and Spider-Man. He is one of the comic book industry's recognizable and archetypal supervillains and many of his characteristics - his dominance over a small nation, his use of scientific genius for evil and his eerie name - have been endlessly copied and parodied.

"And, like a hawk, I'll swoop and swoop again"

" is like a hawk, a hawk of the air,
It has swooped down--and this swoop makes the third--"

W. B. Yeats, The Hour-Glass, 1914

Comments from the Official Guestbook:

My one and only 11-year old nephew David shows signs that his obsession with speed-death-grunge-ozzy-riffola-prog-trad-metal-noise music is not a passing fad. So much so that I have found it necessary to introduce him to "Spinal Tap" at an early age.

But, teaching him the riff to "Dearg Doom" over the Holidays - gratifyingly, he played it back to me in better shape than I had handed it to him - something blindingly obvious about this Tradition thing struck me for the first time...

I wasn't teaching him "O'Neill's Cavalry" on the guitar, I was teaching him "Dearg Doom" or, as his mother refers to it "that football thing". And it is "Dearg Doom" that will almost certainly replace "O'Neill's" in the Tradition, as it is passed along.

Phil Chevron, Saturday 3 January 2004

Tough now to convey the excitement of hearing "Barney Boom" for the first time. Everytime Johnny's riff came round, I had to remember to breathe. Nothing had prepared us for this, not Eric Bell, not the Horslips themselves.

It was some time before I got round to noticing the great Shouting Song the riff was attached to. Other riches unfolded gradually - the bizarre uileann pipes on the middle eight, Locky Jim's counterpoint organ riff (listen specially for this next time), the rhythm section tight as a clenched arse (making a mockery of Mr Sinnott's denigrations), the demonic key change at the end and the sudden valedictory introduction of banjo and bodhran....

Phil Chevron, date unknown

What 'young Chevron' said about teaching his nephew the 'Dearg Doom' guitar riff, as opposed to a Trad. tune (O'neills Cavalry) is very true. It is etched into the psyche of the Nation as the 'Dearg Doom'guitar riff/football song,and as he pointed out, has long since overshadowed the simple tune it used to be.Johnny Fean created the 'Greatest' Irish rock guitar riff of all Time(Dearg Doom).If that wasn't enough, 'Trouble With a Capital T' and 'Sword of Light' guitar riffs were to follow! That simply changed the face of Irish Music forever! No mean feat, I rest my case.

Unknown Guest, Monday 5 January 2004, West Mudlands

File under Things Found While Looking Up Other Things: from "The Checkpoint" by Lawrence W. Cloake, in CHASING DANNY BOY: POWERFUL STORIES OF CELTIC EROS--

"To the beat in his head of the Horslips' "Dearg Doom," Tony's hazel eyes glimmer inside his black helmet. He thinks himself the Red Destroyer descending from the hills..."

Dorie, Monday 17 May 2004 - 18:24:05

As regards Dearg Doom and Chris de burgh, I suppose i might as well throw in my tuppence worth (about 0.03 euros, or NZ$34). The tune is a march called O'Neill's Cavalry, hence the confusion over the name. Now there is a history between Horslips and CdeB, to the extent that I am fairly sure that he was lined up to be in the band and (this part could be the drink taking over) that Johnny Fean was brought in to teach him how to play lead.

Anyway, regardless of the mono-browed wankstain's parlous ability, fair is fair: the guitar riff from Revolution differes very slightly, but crucially from Dearg Doom, in that about three of the first weight notes are different, thus avoiding any nasty plagiarism suits. If you don't believe me, listen to both and play spot the difference. Anyway, work calls. To horse.

Donnacha, Saturday 26 June 2004

Comments from Facebook:

As for Dearg Doom? It's the name of my bass, it's my ring tone, it's the signature tune of 70s Ireland.. and 80s Ireland... and 90s and noughties Ireland. It's black and red and silver and muscle and tradition and balls and bombast and rhythm and delicacy... on a plate.

Marianne Ashcroft, Saturday 23 October 2010

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First Posted: 10 August, 2005
Last Revised: 23 October, 2010