In Scottish fashion to be wed
Hugh Mc Kee to the Tavern did go
And all were assembled there
Bar the bride who did not show
And Hugh was disappointed
Beside himself and distraught
Humiliated and angry
Decreed that marry the bridesmaid he ought.
And on her giving to him her consent
The ceremony it then went ahead
Only for the bride to turn up
As the bridesmaid and groom as man and wife were made
Of hearing the calamity
Her dressmaker held her up she exclaimed
And rode in all the way on horseback
And by her friend was shamed
And she eerily predicted
That the man she may have won
But Judgement would fall on her
And him for what they had done.
And in time came the troubles
And fear and fighting was great
The peasantry was up in arms
In the year of 98
And the croppies came a calling
To with violence settle a score
For McKee had men hung falsely
Claiming they attacked his house some years before
And they set fire to the welling
And in the inferno Hugh lost his life
As did his five sons and three daughters
And also his Bridesmaid wife
Some said it was just an event of the times
Others darkly said they were not surprised
For a brides curse is a powerful one
And it seemed the Brides Curse was realised.
The Story Behind the Poem
A JUDGMENT: OR A ROMANCE WITH A TRAGIC ENDING
Mr. William Orr, of New Line, Saintfield, who believes he may be a descendant of one of the parties involved in the burning of the McKee family, has a quotation from "A History of the Descendants of David McKee, Annahilt", published in Philadelphia in 1892. It includes the following story about the Hugh McKee whose family suffered the terrible fate:
"Hugh was engaged to be married to a girl in the Ards. He went on the day arranged to the tavern where according to Scottish fashion the marriage was to take place. The clergyman, bridesmaid and all were there, except the bride.
After what seemed an endless wait and everyone had given up hopes of the bride's appearance, Hugh, deeply chagrined and disappointed, turned to the bridesmaid with the question "Will you have me, then?" She consented, and the ceremony was immediately performed.
"The last word had scarcely been spoken, when the intended bride came galloping up to the door on horseback, having been delayed by her dressmaker. On learning the turn which matters had taken she violently upbraided her friend and bridesmaid, and left, telling her that some judgement would fall on her for what she had done.
"How tragic was the subsequent fate of Hugh, his wife, five sons and three daughters, at their farmstead at Craigy.
Dozens of Croppies attacked the house with firearms. A valiant but ineffectual defence was offered. Soon the house was ablaze, and in the end the inmates were immolated. The threat of the disappointed bride was fearfully realised".
The McKee family had 12 men hanged for falsely attacking their house, and were burned out by croppies and all perished. Was it justice... or a supernatural curse of a jilted bride that caused it?