An Anthology of Poetry and Songs of Trim and South Meath

Compiled by Noel French

Wander with words Poetry Parade  — Litcrawl – path of poetry

  • Song of Dermot and the Earl  – Author unknown
  • King John’s Castle – Thomas Kinsella
  • Inspired  by Anne Crinion
  • The Old Ivied Cottage Near Trim – Author unknown
  • The Trim Giant School – Paul Farrell
  • The Yellow Steeple – Tommy Murray
  • The Small Towns of Ireland – John Betjeman
  • From the Wellington Monument – Frank Murphy
  • Stained Glass St. Patrick’s Church Trim – Michael Farry
  • Morning on the New Bridge at Trim  – Tommy Murray
  • Newtown Abbey  – Philip E. Daly
  • Our Lady of Trim – Patsy Farrell
  • The Echo Gate – Michael Longley
  • He Sees the Infant Skeleton – Michael Farry
  • Stella’s Cottage – Tommy Murray
  • A True And Faithful Inventory Of The Goods Belonging To Dr. Swift, Vicar of Laracor. Upon Lending His House to the Bishop Of Meath, Until His Own Was Built – Jonathan Swift
  • On Seeing Swift in Laracor – Brinsley Mac Namara
  • Father and Son – F.R. Higgins
  • Trimblestown Graveyard – Frank Kelly
  • The Parish of Boardsmill – Paul Farrell
  • Morgan’s Well – Maureen Connolly
  • Sweet Summerhill Memories – J.J.A.C.
  • The Wild Kildalkey Boy – Eugene Kearney
  • June  – F.R. Higgins
  • Goodnight Ballivor- John Quinn
  • Tobertynan Wood – Tommy Murray
  • Longwood – Val Vousden
  • The Shamrock Hotel – Patrick Cullen
  • The Ballad of John Doorley – Tony Leonard
  • Longwood – Oliver Slevin
  • Ribbontail – John Hopkins
  • The Haunting shoes – Joseph Patrick Stenson
  • The Bridge – M. Gilsenan
  • The Tenants of Rathcore
  • The Old Bog Road – Teresa Brayton

Song of Dermot and the Earl

Then the king summoned
Hugh de Lacy, first of all,
And his earls and his vassals
And his free-born barons.
The rich king then gave
The custody of the city of Dublin
And of the castle and the keep
To the baron Hugh de Lacy


Before that, at this juncture,
The king left Dublin,
To Hugh de Lacy he granted
All Meath in fee
Meath the warrior granted
For fifty knights
Whose service the baron should let him have
Whenever he should have need of it.


And Hugh de Lacy, who was so bold,
In order to plant his lands,
Set out to Meath
With many a renowned vassal.
Of this Hugh I will say no more,

 Concerning the noble earl I shall here leave off,
Of Hugh de Lacy I shall tell you,

How he enfeoffed his barons,
Knights, serjeants, and retainers.

Then Hugh de Lacy
Fortified a house at Trim,
And threw a trench around it,
And then enclosed it with a stockade.
Within the house he then placed
Brave knights of great worth;
Then he entrusted the castle
To the wardenship of Hugh Tyrrel;

 Author: unknown

The Song of Dermot and the Earl is a Hiberno-French chanson de geste which was composed in Ireland and survives only in a later thirteenth-century medieval copy, London, Lambeth Palace Library, Carew MS 596. The Song is a key historical source for the history of Ireland in the twelfth century, and presents a heroic narrative recounting the story of the 1169 English invasion of Ireland.

King John’s Castle

Not an epic, being not loosely architecture,

     but with epic force, setting the head spinning,

 with the taut flight earthward of its bulk, King John’s

     Castle rams fast down the county of Meath.

This in its heavy ruin. New, a brute bright plateau,

    it held speechless under its cold a whole province of Meath.

Now the man-rot of passages and broken window-casements,

     vertical drops chuting though three storeys of masonry,

Draughty spiral stairways loosening in the depths,

    are a labyrinth in the medieval dark. Intriguers

Who prowled here once into the waiting arms

    of their own monster, revisit the blowing dust.

Life, a vestigial chill, sighs along the tunnels

    through the stone face. The great collapsed rooms, the mind

of the huge head, are dead. Views open inward

    on empty silence; a chapel-shelf, moss-grown, unreachable.

Kind John directs at the river a grey stare, who once

    viewed the land in a spirit of moderation and massacre.

Contemplatives, tiny as mice moving over the green

    mounds below, might take pleasure in the well

of quiet there, the dark foundations near at hand.

    Up here where the wind sweeps bleakly, as though in remembrance

against our own tombstones, the brave and great might gather.

    For the rest, this is not their fortress.

Thomas Kinsella

From Another September, The Dolmen Press, 1958.


I walked in the footsteps of a saint

I know because I trudged the same river

I caught minnows there at the ford

I climbed the elder trees

I made ink with their berries

I know he arrived at that spot in 432

I read he left Loman there to replace him

I will remember Him on the 17th March.

Anne Crinion.

The Old Ivied Cottage Near Trim.

 I’m lonely tonight and my poor heart is breaking,

To think I must roam from my dear happy home,

And long ere the green vales at morning awaken,

Far away from the dear ones in Trim I must roam.

Dear home of my childhood where-ever I wander,

Though my life’s cup with sadness be filled to the brim,

In darkness or sorrow my heart shall grow fonder.

And cling to that old ivied cottage Trim.

Now fill up your glasses my lads and my lasses,

Fill up those old glasses ’til they flow to the brim,

Wher’er you be toast green Erin for ever,

And a toast to the old ivied cottage near Trim.

Oh never again at a race fair or meeting

Shall I join with the boys for a real Irish spree,

To while the gay hours with music and dancing,

Our light hearts o’erflowing with innocent glee.

Never again over Porchy’s green meadows,

Shall I roam with my colleen so fair by my side,

Where King John’s hoary castle throws forth its broad shadows,

And darkness the sheen of the Boyne’s silvery tide.

When at last my poor sad heart in deathless devotion

When at last I am sleeping in death cold and grim,

Shall my soul wing its flight o’er the broad bounding ocean,

Way back to that old ivied cottage near Trim.

The location of the cottage was on the banks of the Boyne opposite the present Garda Siochana Barracks and close to King John’s Castle.

The Trim Giant School

(Life in an Industrial Boarding Hotel, 1900)

Oh, we have got an institution

In the neighbourhood of Trim

Sam Kelly is the Master and two others under him

There’s Jim Robinson and Daly

Who are loath to spare the rule

In that college of all knowledge called Trim Giant School.


O’ the Trim giant school

Oh the Trim giant school

There is knowledge in that college

In the Trim giant school

We arise every morning at the hour of seven o’clock

When we have on our garments to the dining hall we flock

Where they sit us down to buttermilk and stirrabout like gruel

for our breakfast

Every morning in the Trim Giant School

When the bell is rung for dinner

We all hasten in a group

To spuds and greasy water – you might hardly call it soup

For supper bread and water to keep our young blood cool

And to make us strong and healthy in the Trim giant school.

We’ve a tailor stitching garments

And a baker baking bread

And a wonderful shoemaker, who could hardly wax a thread

There’s the carpenter – with his compass, square and rule,

Who will never get a tradesman in the Trim giant school.

Now the gardener is in the orchard house

He is rounding up the bees

And the maid s are in the doss house

Sure they are scourging all the fleas

For the bees suck the pollen

From the honesuckle path

And the fleas they suck the watery blood

From poor young urchins’ backs.

For the Queen may want for soldiers and enough of them she’ll get

For we have them in the Giant school who will join her army yet

For whosoever saw a schoolboy

Who could handle well a tool

From the botching institution

Like Trim giant school

Paul Farrell, Summerhill Road, Trim.

The Gaol at Trim only operated until about 1870 and then in 1890 it was transformed into an industrial school for pauper children. Known as the Trim Joint School it was often mis-named Trim Giant School. The school was established to prevent children being brought up as paupers in the workhouses and giving them a good trade. The unions of Drogheda, Trim, Kells, Navan came together to form the school. On 12 February 1912 John Kelly, an assistant teacher in the Trim Joint School, was killed in the schoolyard by a group of boys who were armed with brushes and sticks.

The Yellow Steeple

“Why yellow” I asked myself

Why not something less subtle

Grey or blue, perhaps

Something To match the sky

High above

The string courses and Staircases

Where crows pay

Homage to hyssop

And brown robed Monks

Stand sculptured

In stone stained with

The blood of martyrs

Could it be that ochreous glow

That touches the west

Wing on evenings

When the sun Bombards the battlements

With fire and brimstone

Tommy Murray

Beneath The Yellow Steeple

A glittering of footpath

paves the below Celsius

January morning

when the Yellow Steeple’s

Sheep Gate facing wall

is citrine as never before

with sunrise. From what latent

coals, what grated earth, what

amber, honey, dreaming spring

should such joyous light emerge?

Ah snowdrops I await the dance

in anticipation, lament

the closure of Dalgan woodland,

where always the same drooping

delicate, faint belles

are to be found by the icicle river.

COVID you are an geimhreadh

to restrictmovement beyond

a paltry 5 kilometres

in these liminal days

when it is not safe to pass

closely in parks. No breath.

Shush. Somewhere a suspiration.

No touch. No touch. A stirring.

Lo, how the ice melts,

and oft quoted Heaney

of the worst of the Troubles

and of shivering farm cattle –

“If we winter this one out,

we can summer anywhere.”

Orla Fay

St. Mary’s Abbey in Trim, Ireland is a former house of Augustinian canons dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Little remains of the abbey except for the Yellow Steeple, the ruin of the abbey bell tower named for the yellow colour reflected by the stonework in the setting sun, and Talbot’s Castle, an abbey building converted to a manor house.

An geimhreadh (the winter)

The Small Towns of Ireland

The small towns of Ireland by bards are neglected,
They stand there, all lonesome, on hilltop and plain.
The Protestant glebe house by beech trees protected
Sits close to the gates of his Lordship’s demesne.

But where is his Lordship, who once in a phaeton
Drove out twixt his lodges and into the town?
Oh his tragic misfortunes I will not dilate on;
His mansion’s a ruin, his woods are cut down.

His impoverished descendant is living in Ealing,
His daughters must type for their bread and their board,
O’er the graves of his forebears the nettle is stealing
And few will remember the sad Irish Lord.

Yet still stands the Mall where his agent resided,
The doctor, attorney and such class of men.
The elegant fanlights and windows provided
A Dublin-like look for the town’s Upper Ten.

‘Twas bravely they stood by the Protestant steeple
As over the town rose their roof-trees afar.
Let us slowly descend to the part where the people
Do mingle their ass-carts by Finnegan’s bar.

I hear it once more, the soft sound of those voices,
When fair day is filling with farmer’s the Square,
And the heart in my bosom delights and rejoices
To think of the dealing and drinking done there.

I see thy grim granite, O grim House of Sessions!
I think of the judges who sat there in state
And my mind travels back to our monster processions
To honour the heroes of brave Ninety-Eight.

The barracks are burned where the Redcoats oppressed us,
The gaol is broke open, our people are free.
Though Cromwell once cursed us, Saint Patrick has blessed us –
The merciless English have fled o’er the sea.

Look out where you cabins grow smaller and smallest,
Straw-thatched and one-storey and soon to come down,
To the prominent steeple, the newest and tallest,
Of Saint Malachy’s Catholic Church in our town.

The fine architécture, the wealth of mosaic,
The various marbles on altars within –
To attempt a description were merely prosaic,
So, asking your pardon, I will not begin.

O my small town of Ireland, the raindrops caress you,
The sun sparkles bright on your field and your Square
As here on your bridge I salute you and bless you,
Your murmuring waters and turf-scented air.

‘John Betjeman, Collected Poems’, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2006, pp. 251-253.

Sir John Betjeman wrote of his poem “My ballad has been illustrated with photographs of Trim in County Meath. It does not directly refer to Trim which must be one of the most romantic small towns in Britain but it tries give a view of those too little regarded places.” He provided an annotated version for his English readers so they could understand the references to Ireland and used Trim as the example.

From the Wellington Monument

The parish church

Bells ringing out

The measure of the day

A Mass perhaps

The Angelus

Or someone

Passed away

And everything

About his place

The steady hand

The measured pace.


Waiting to be off

The columns turned

The moments


Dressed, for

The Phoenix Park

And a good cigar

The woods laid out

The town below.

And eyed it all

The shadows cast

Cold colours

And the world


Frank Murphy.

Stained Glass St. Patrick’s Church Trim


The Roman centurion stands with the few mourners

Staring up at death forever, his confidence in classic

certainties unsettled by the last awesome hours

He cogitates over mysteries he had dismissed

as ridiculous, waits in wonder for what happens next.

St. Patrick on Tara

Druids plot on the margins to ensure their eternal

survival, festival flames await the king’s verdict,

a country’s history in the balance. The king

knowing the people’s fickle faith, pretends to pause

on the verge of surrender to the latest foreign zealots.

St. Brigid

She radiates calm power in her statuesque silence

among oak saplings, brazen crozier in her left hand

an unexpected testimony, flame bright and warm

in her right hand. Her abiding stare challenges us,

our blind catechisms of bland history and memory.

St. Oliver Plunkett

The seventeenth century hangman pauses, noose

cocked, sensing in the holiday of a heretic’s execution

years of dragged-out discord, the tables turned,

criminal sainted, his head honoured in high church.

Here, aghast at consequences, he hesitates forever.

Last year when these windows were removed

for restoration, replaced by sheets of clear glass,

I heard someone proclaim that it was better that way

to let light into our darker spaces, that coloured glass

trinkets had no place in our twenty first century.

I disagreed. Replaced, they glow as in the beginning

In the light flickering through I pace up and down

demand to know how they survive, what they wait for.

They have no answers beyond coloured silence

of all their storied pieces, leaded together, eternal,

the work of human hands – Mayer, Hardman, Earley.

Michael Farry

Morning on the New Bridge at Trim

Aluminium and steel gleaming in the

Early autumn ‘morn

Sparkling sings untouched by time or vandal

Welcome, urge and warn

Crumbling castles cast caustic eyes on this

This bloated bridle path and wait for

Sunset when

In awe inspiring silhouette they

Will dominate again.

Approaching Austin flanked by silvery standards

Sends a score of scolding sparrows

Towards the ever brightening sky

As a whistling cyclist and a Hiace van

Make their contribution to the

Morning rush.

By an uninviting seat two forlorn commuters

Wait while with sweaty singlet clinging to

Overlapping flesh a jogger pants across

With ponderous gait.

And downstream dislocated by technology

And speed the swan in search of solace

Lingers underneath the reed ,MORE?  Tommy Murray in Something beginning with Spring (1989)

By Newtown Abbey, Trim

‘Aurora Musis amica’

he says down corridor

grey after matins


Where once Sext rang

the dead are grave

all ghosts mingling

in the cold air.

The horses that graze

show the mystery of the ages

in their eyes,

humble, cast to the grasses.

About the ruins they walk

raising clumps of clay as

visitors lay flowers

by headstones.

Orla Fay

*Aurora Musis amica, dawn is friend to the muses

Newtown Abbey

My thoughts rush back to the olden days,

  As I muse on the bridge-head here,

When bard and piper piped their lays

  Of Newtown’s bright career;

And the Cloister stood with majestic pride

  In the rays of Freedom’s glow –

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

In fancy, my dew-dimmed eyes review

  The scenes of the precious past;

And with fancy’s eyes I again renew

  The Abbey’s pristine cast;

I dwell ‘mid a brief but glorious age,

  As my mental visions show –

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

I hear or seem to hear, the sound

  Of the matin bell for prayer;

I can picture the hooded monks around

  With saintly mien, repair

To chant the Psalms, at the altar’s step

  ’Twas a custom always so-

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

I hear the hum of the busy mill,

  Borne sweetly on the gale;

And the ringing notes of the anvil shrill,

  And the strokes of the sturdy flail,

Commingled with many a sound of trade

  That flourished long ago-

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

I see the boats sail up the tide

  Of the Boyne’s broad expanse

With human freight of the sons of pride

  From Germany, Spain and France,

To study here in Learning’s Hall,

  And the spoils of Truth to know –

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

‘Twas then the fame of our saintly sons

  Re-echoed from pole to pole

And foreign chiefs from dyes and duns

  Found Erin a worthy goal

To equip their minds with civilized arts,

  That supplanted a  barbarous show-

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

And kings discoursed in those halcyon days

  At the boards of festive cheer,

And enraptured heard the tales and lays

  From poet, sage and seer;

For savants then were a cherished train,

  As the bardic annals show-

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

But the scene has changed, and again I view

  The ruins of the present age;

The broken walls and somber yew

  Tell the tales of an envious rage-

When savage hordes, with hearts of guile,

  Caused crimson streams to flow- 

Ere hooded bands with beads in hands

  Surrendered to the foe!

A Nation small that has struggled on,

And never ceased to fight ,

Tho’ crushed, misruled and tramped upon

Shall soon see Freedom’s light.

And Peace and Plenty shall ensue,

With gifts of long ago-

Ere savage bands with unhallowed hands

  Laid Newton Abbey low!

Philip E. Daly from the Poems of Philip E. Daly

Our Lady of Trim

If you seek a real awareness

Of Mary free from sin,

Stand by the wall

When shadows fall,

On the eastern side of Trim.

While standing thereJusat say a prayer

Make sure it’s from within

To the Queen of all the universe

Our Lady Queen of Trim

Patsy Farrell from Life in the Fields (1993)

The Echo Gate

I stand between the pillars of the gate

A skull between two ears that reconstructs

Broken voices, broken stones, history

And the first words that come into my head

Echoing back from the monastery wall

To measure these fields at the speed of sound

Michael Longley from The Echo Gate 1975 -1979, Secker & Warburg, 1979.

In Search of the Fisherman

I chased you through the springtime

When the fields were wet with dew.

And as a small boy I hurried eagerly

To try and keep up with you,

Up past the Sally’s and the Round-Wood

In the perfumed morning air,

When the primrose and the hawthorn

They blossomed everywhere.

At the back of Mitchell’s Orchard

Where the banks were wet and soft,

You put me on your shoulders

And you carried me aloft.

When the sun shone down on Tay-Lane

Together we would stroll

Around by Canty’s Bottoms

To your favourite fishing hole,

As the damsel and the midges

They danced beneath the trees

And birds sang out their glories

On the summer evening breeze,

You crouched beside the waters

And with steel blue eagle eyes

You measured every fish

As he came rising for a fly!

Then the world it changed its colours

To her robes of red and gold

And in the innocence of childhood

I couldn’t see that you were growing old.

As you wrapped your coat around me,

To keep me from the chill

As the autumn mists came falling,

That evening we were fishing

In the shadow of the Mill!

And when winter’s icy reaper

Took you across that great divide,

You left the ones who loved you

Standing on the other side.

But each time that I go fishing

Or along the river Boyne I stray

Its rippling waters echo back

The words that you might say,

And I search to find you fishing

Behind every tree and bush

And I still can see you crouched there

In every clump of rush,

For I know when life is over

And I’m past all earthly care,

We will fish again in that stream

That flows by the throne of Heaven

For I know I’ll find you fishing there.

                                                               James Peppard.

He Sees the Infant Skeleton

I stopped and stared
at the two American students,
kneeling in the priory chancel,
absorbed in the task, silence essential.

Their wooden skewers loosened packed earth,
their brushes reverently scratched soil
from around a skull
as they uncovered the skeleton.
Stains marked the nails
of his or her small coffin.

I measured by eye,
guessed the age at less than one,
wondered what grief-stricken couple
ensured a burial in the holiest place
for their untimely corpse.
I asked nothing, scared of disturbing
their concentration but each, I’m sure,
chose a Christian name for the dead one.

It was gone the next day,
taken in a plastic bag for interrogation,
the answers to be noted
in an academic publication
adding to the sum of our knowledge
of burial, belief
and the uncertainties of childhood.

Only the name will escape them.
I called him Christopher.

Michael Farry at the Blackfriary Dig.

Blackfriary 1970

Dedicated to Rose Connor and the Gang

We called it Johnny Taafe’s Field and it was big, wild and green.

Near its ancient walls there flowed a stream,

Few knew and sight unseen.

The Friesian cows, like mass goers standing in groups,

Grazing on grass where bumblebees dart.

This stream unseen is known to childhood friends and me;

We’re told its where Lepers cleansed themselves for free.

That you’ll get sick if you should go too near

But we were just kids and knew no fear.

This stream was full of frogs you see;

They croak and hop with quickening speed,

The spawn they leave, we know for sure

Are tadpoles waiting to mature!

The tadpoles they would whirl and spin,

While we knelt with jam jars and big grins.

We’d fill the jars right to the brim

Then take them home the evening

Closing in.

“Let’s go to war “there’d come a shout,

“Now get your guns and cowboy hats out”

We’d race together to the Rock,

Geronimo’s hiding with his Injun Braves,” “they’re shot”.

This Rock is old, older than you or me;

It was part of a Monastery once you see,

The Monks said prayers by candlelight

And tilled this field to whet their appetites.

Its story, all us children know

For we were told by our elders long ago.

That Blackfriary from its ancient Tower,

The tolling of its bells sounding the hour, would rouse the Trim folk from their sleep,

Then Athboy Gate would be opened wide

Near De Lacy’s Keep.

From what is known and what I was told

It was the Town Corporation who stole the stones.

The Friary sadly now’s no more,

Save for the Rock with its ancient folklore.

Childhood friends have passed away,

The Rock still stands proudly, still grey,

Blackfriary is well known today,

But childhood memories remain,

And with old friend we oft recall

The stories of those summer games!

Cynthia Simonet

Rambles in Eirinn

(A poem)

Past the Courthouse they said

Turn left

And then out by Kilmessan

Across the Boyne

The drovers herding stock,

Hillsides sloping

Through the hedgerows

Empty tracts.

The trips down memory


And stopping at half-doors

Ask of the road,

The naggin of sheebeen whiskey


A Penny-Farthing

Gathering dust.

The one for the road!

Ruin, rath and woodland


Crowding out

To coal black porter


Of the promised


Frank Murphy

* A poem about William Bulfin’s journey from Ballivor through Trim and on to Kilmessan and his search for Tara.

Stella’s Cottage

Stella’s cottage

Smothered in autumn now

Its shrunken was still fighting off the fields

As youngsters we used to sack potatoes there

On damp days under tiner dry thatch

Hunkered and cramped

As we rummaged around the gaunt growths

For pinks and banners

And the odd golden wonder

Rubbing shoulders with the riffraff.

And where ‘tis said

Forbidden fruit once flourished

And angels strayed in from the straight and narrow

We slung poreens through the rough door

Without as much as a thought for the ghost

That stood on the step

Stella’s cottage

Struggling with September

What ghost stands there now?

My sack is full, youth

A crumpled pile in the corner

The thatch has given way

To bramble, sprig and sky

And by the rough door potatoes pose

For puzzled passers by

So what ghost stands there now?

What spirit lurks

In this skipful of briars by the roadside

Tommy Murray in Counting Stained Glass Windows (2009)

A True And Faithful Inventory Of The Goods Belonging To Dr. Swift, Vicar Of Laracor. Upon Lending His House To The Bishop Of Meath, Until His Own Was Built

An oaken broken elbow-chair;
A caudle cup without an ear;
A batter’d, shatter’d ash bedstead;
A box of deal, without a lid;
A pair of tongs, but out of joint;
A back-sword poker, without point;
A pot that’s crack’d across, around,
With an old knotted garter bound;
An iron lock, without a key;
A wig, with hanging, grown quite grey;
A curtain, worn to half a stripe;
A pair of bellows, without pipe;
A dish, which might good meat afford once;
An Ovid, and an old Concordance;
A bottle-bottom, wooden-platter
One is for meal, and one for water;
There likewise is a copper skillet,
Which runs as fast out as you fill it;
A candlestick, snuff-dish, and save-all,
And thus his household goods you have all.
These, to your lordship, as a friend,
‘Till you have built, I freely lend:
They’ll serve your lordship for a shift;
Why not as well as Doctor Swift?

Jonathan Swift

On Seeing Swift in Laracor

I saw them walk that lane again

   and watch the midges cloud a pool,

laughing at something in the brain –

   the Dean and Patrick Brell the fool.

Like Lear he kept his fool with him

   long into Dublin’s afterglow,

until the wits in him grew dim

   and Patrick sold him for a show.

Here were the days before Night came,

   when Stella and the other – “slut”,

Vanessa, called by him – that flame

   when Laracor became Lilliput!

And here, by walking up and down

   he made a man called Gulliver,

while bits of lads came out of town

   to have a squint at him and her.

Still, was it Stella that they saw

   or else some lassie of their own?

for in his story, that’s the flaw,

   the secret no one since has known.

Was it some wench among the corn

   has set him from the other two

some tenderness that he had torn,

   some lovely blossom that he knew?

For when Vanessa died of love,

   and Stella learned to keep her place,

his Dublin soon the story wove

   that steeped them in the Dean’s disgrace.

They did not know, ‘twas he could tell!

  the reason of his wildest rages,

the story kept by Patrick Brell,

   the thing that put him with the ages.

Now when they mention of the Dean

   some silence holds them as they talk;

some things there are unsaid, unseen,

   that drive me to this lonely walk, 

to meet the mighty man again,

   and yet no comfort comes to me.

Although sometimes I see him plain,

   that silence holds the Hill of Bree.

For, though I think I’d know her well

   I’ve never seen her on his arm,

laughing with him, not heard her tell

   she had forgiven all that harm.

And yet I’d like to know ‘twere true,

   that here at last in Laracor,

here in the memory of the few,

   there was this rest for him and her.

Brinsley Mac Namara from Poems of Ireland, The Irish Times, 1944.

Father and Son

Only last week, walking the hushed fields

Of our most lovely Meath, now thinned by November

I came to shere the road from Laracor leads

To the Boyne river – that seemed more lake than river

Stretched in uneasy light and stript of reeds.

And walking longside an old weir

Of my people’s, where nothing stirs – only the shadowed

Leaden flight of a heron up the lean air –

I went unmanly with grief, knowing how my father,

Happy though captive in years, walked last with me there.

Yes, happy in Meath with me for a day

He walked, taking stocks of herds hid in their own breathing;

And naming colts, gusty as wind, once steered by his hand

Lightnings winked in the eye that were half shy in greeting

Old friends – the wild blades, when he gallivanted the land.

For that proud, wayward man now my heart breaks –

Breaks for that man whose mind was a secret eyrie,

Whose kind hand was sole signet of his race,

Who curbed me, scorned my green ways, yet

increasingly loved me

Till Death drew its grey blind down his face.

And yet I am pleased that even my reckless ways

Are living shades of his rich calms and passions –

Witnesses for him and for those faint namesakes

With whom now he is the one, under yew branches,

Yes. One in a graven silence no birds breaks.

F.R. Higgins

Trimblestown Graveyard

Oh Trimblestown, I hear you sigh

From far beyond the grave

Your lonely castle high and dry

Looks far beyond the pale.

The Athboy river flows slowly by

Along its weary way

To join the Boyne at Kilnagross

To wait the break of day

The roll of the drum

And the bugle sound

Are well now in the past

To remind us of the times gone by

Of our long and warlike past

Your lord and ladies we no longer see

We only sing their praise

Of mighty deeds on the battlefield

That brought men to their grave

The castle too a lonesome sight

Her walls are crumbling down.

She stood the test of Cromwell’s might

Cannon, flood and rain.

A sentinel now she stands alone

You can see her for miles around.

Against the background of the thunder clouds

The lightening and the rain

In the old graveyard not far away

Lie those who rest in peace.

The Barnwalls in their table tombs

Lie here side by side

They were mighty men so history tells

They stood the test of time

But now they lie in Trimblestown

To wait the bugle sound

The autumn moon shines brightly down

And casts her shadows long

On the high grey walls

Of a castle proud

That once was Trimblestown

On the final day

When Gabriel blows

That long and lonesome wail

We will pray we will all be there

To greet poor Trimblestown.

Frank Kelly, Kildalkey

The Parish of Boardsmill

Sure ‘tis many a year ago to-day

   I left my native home

To wander far across the sea to that

   Grand old U.S.A.,

My mind it sometimes rambles

   Back to a spot so far away

To Ireland and the Co. Meath and

   a spot called sweet Boardsmill.

Now it’s four and forty years to-day

   on that morning long ago,

I said goodbye to all my friends

   round my Boyneside cottage


I closed the door in old Fearmore

    As tears bedimmed my eyes,

Then I sailed away for Massachusetts

    bay three thousand miles away.

Our ship she lay at anchor by the

   side of Boston Quay

A lonely exile on the shore in a

   strange and foreign soil,

Then Uncle Sam, he beckoned me

    for to pick the great highways

Far, far away from the Co. Meath

   and the parish of Boardsmill.

I’ve worked the mighty freeways

   from Quincy to Rockland,

And down around New Hampshire

   Too, I’ve laboured on the land

I’ve tramped the open high road

   From Pittsfield to Cape Cod,

Far, far away from Granuaile and the

    parish of Boardsmill.

No more at race or meeting on the

   hill of Dalystown

Or strolling through the green

   groves of dear old Scariff wood,

Or tripping o’er the Sheehan hills,

   those small twin mountains


All in the tranquil scenery round

   the parish of Boardsmill.

From the shady roads of Castle-

   town to Kilmurray’s grassy


From Roristown along the Boyne

   to Drinadaly bridge,

In dreams I see sweet Carey’s Cross

   and that school of Batterstown

Where in bygone days as children

   played in the parish of


And when I make the last journey

   across the Atlantic foam

Take me to that wayside church

   from where the trout stream


Then lay me down in Brannocks

   town beneath that old oak tree,

And I’ll sleep a peaceful perfect

   sleep in the parish of Boardsmill.

Paul Farrell, Summerhill Road, Trim.

(Air – The Felons of Our Land)

Morgan’s Well

Sometimes when I think of Brannockstown

The place where we used to dwell

I recall the delights

Of those moonlights

When we went to Morgan’s Well.

I can clearly see

You, Puxty, and me,

As down the road we ran

Singing at the top of our voices

And our drum was the big tin can.

The moon seemed to smile

As we danced on the road,

The frost lay white on the ground,

And except for the racket that we made

There wasn’t another sound

We carried the water between us,

Although it was mostly me,

And stood with our load

In the middle of the road

And sang the “Rose of Tralee.”

But Brannockstown has changed now

Since  progress came to stay,

And cars race up and down that road

Every minute night and day.

And the water gushes through the taps

In that place where we used to dwell,

So workmen took their shovels

And filled in Morgan’s Well.

So whenever I think of Brannockstown

I think of you and me

And the simple things that pleased us

In those days that used to be.

The kids today their pleasure find

In “groups” that scream and yell

They’ve never know  the fun we had

Just going to the well.

Maureen  Connolly, London  (Puxty was the family’s cat)

The Wild Kildalkey Boy

Got old folk to tell you a funny tale

   of the men of days gone by,

But the one whose picture now I hail

  oft passed before my eye,

Many an ancient father may keep

  a memory that was a joy,

But had he heard, he’d smile in his sleep

   of the wild Kildlakey boy.

In that hamlet’s repose of peace

   ‘neath tale and stately trees,

Laughter can never forbear to cease

   but with music fans its ease.

For that figure of fun will wander by

  And all cares of life destroy,

They see the merriment in the eye

   of the wild Kildalkey boy.

To cover his curls he wears a hat,

   at which the wind often leers

It might have served as a doormat

   for at least a dozen years

With his every step it goes up and down

   like the waves with a harbour buoy.

And dares you over to cast a frown

   at the wild Kildlakey boy.

The mantle outlining his stalwart  mion

   claims no colour of its own,

As though a dictator the tailor had been

   it takes every hue on loan,

While patterns deck it numbers odd

   as the men at the siege of Troy

Or the daisies that bloom on the native

   sod of the wild Kildalkey boy.

Cupid for him had created a form

   as lovely as she is rare,

Her eyes of blue with love were warm

  and gold shone in her hair.

But he threw to the winds that treasure

   of his, that sweet magic he did destroy.

“I have no time for love and bliss”

   said the wild Kildalkey boy.

In every shadow his face is seen

   at every corner his shoulder leans

He can listen to the crooning stream

   and tell you what it means

Oft at his touch did music rise,

   in all her charms so coy,

And a softness he shed in many eyes

   The wild Kildalkey boy.

As he took himself by with distinctive

   gait, and your eyes half curious followed him on

You ask yourself why you had noticed

   so late that character quaint, when the figure was gone

The aroma of even, the shadow of night,

   made fragrant that memory no time can annoy,

As I last saw passing out of my sight

   the Wild Kildalkey boy.

Eugene Kearney. Written about 1940.

Sweet Summerhill Memories

Methinks that when Almighty God

   Created Father Adam

He said “I fear he’ll lonely be

   So I’ll create a madam.”

He looked around at Eden, fair

   All beautiful and bright.

And after that the sun went down

   Poor Adam gasped “’Tis night!”

Now God was pleased and next day said:

   ‘Tis well for now I will

Create a second Eden and shall name it Summerhill.”

And now its in its beauty passed

   The fairest of fair Meath,

With trees and shrubs, with cows

   And calves and little lambs to bleat

With daffodils, forget-me-nots,

   With asters, columbine

With roses smelling sweetly

   As ivy creeps to climb

The stately trees of Springvalley

Where roars the rippling rill,

Now rushes on to meet the Boyne

   Not far from Summerhill.

You may have come from ol’ Kilcock

   You’re halfway on for Trim

She’s sitting there, this lady old

   So proper and so prim

The castle of royal King John

    Hardby the Yellow Steeple

And you’ll not find where e’er

   You go a warmer-hearted people.

For they have learnt this virtue fair

   By word and deed in still

From neighours wandering in

   Adays from Sweet Ol’ Summerhill.

Go east to Tara’s raths and mounds

   Bemuse there on its Kings;

Its banquet hall, where Patrick stood

   And preached on sacred things;

Where druids picked the lyric lyre,

    Whilst softly sonnets sing,

To please His Majesty Laoighaire,

   A tall and fearsome King,

Or take by the Bullring to the east

   To pretty church at Kill,

Returning by the Agher road

  Again to Summerhill.

Go east, go west, go north, go south

   Around the world wind,

Where can you if you seek throughout

   A people half so kind

They’re not in Dublin’s smelly streets

   In Galway or Mayo.

They’re not in London, Paris, Rome;

   No matter where you go.

And when you’ve gone the world o’er

    Return then to swill

The welcome there awaits you

    In Sweet Ol’ Summerhill

J.J. A.C. 1955


The Eel-fisher:

‘She gathers wet strawberries down in Ballivor

For so I was told by a man on the Boyne,

Who pushed his old raft through a crush of bulrushes

And laughed when I told him I loved her.

Come, Playboy, now this is the day for Ballivor;

I’ll go there and leave you alone with your hounds –

While young squirrels dive here among the dark branches

And the Boyne is alive with blue salmon.”

The Fox-catcher:

‘Then, lover, O why should you go to Ballivor

To stain your proud lips with a strawberry kiss?

If she cools her red mouth with waves of the river

May the Boyne bring you that berry!’

F.R. Higgins fromFather and Son Selected Poems.

Goodnight Ballivor

In Joe McLaughlin’s General Stores

Or, as the signboard said General Joe McLaughlin Stores –

They sold Indian meal and women drawers,

Rat-traps, rashers and six-inch nails

Pints of porter, stout and ales.

Oh goodnight Ballivor. I’ll sleep in Trim.

Master Conway held sway in the village school

He taught us to rhyme and he taught us to rule

We froze in our desks as to Algebra we aspired

But we thawed out again as we read by the fire.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

And the little townlands all around

I sing the music of their sound

Muchwood, Shanco, the Hill of Down

Portlester, Glack and Crossanstown.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

The law as enforced by Sergeant Quinn

For whom unlighted bikes were the greatest sin

The people’s crimes kept his notebook full

Of uncut thistles and unlicensed bulls

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

We cut turf in coolronan bog, Spread it, footed it – an awful slog

But ‘twas a day off school,

so there was no hurry

As we rode home in style in Jim Rickard’s lorry.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

In his forge the genial blacksmith Bill Kelly

Crouched beneath a horse’s belly

Amid sparks and steam and smut and smoke

He hammered and turned and shaped – a joke.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

And do you remember the September of ‘49

When we brought home “Sam” for the very first time

Oh Cavan’s Mick Higgins never tried his tricks on

When faced by Stonewall Dixon.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

At endless Mass on Easter morning

Father Farrell intoned the dues with warning

“One shilling each the following – Thomas Dunne Moyfeigher”

While Michael Leddy de-waxed his ears.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

And once there came out of the sky

A mysterious German spy

He came not to plunder or to pillage

But said on seeing our sleepy village

Oh gute nacht, Ballivor, ich will in Trim schlafen.

To Sherrock’s Garage we trudged through the snow

To see Sikey dunne’s great Picture Show

And frozen to oil-pocked seat

We basked in James Cagney’s Heat.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

On fair day for a few bob we minded cattle

And looked important with ash-plant and prattle

A deal was done with slapping of hands

And we bought Peggy’s Leg from McGovern’s van.

Oh goodnight Ballivor…

And when I come to the end of my days

Be it natural causes or nuclear haze!

Whatever waits in eternity – My last words will surely be

(Even if I am the sole survivor)


John Quinn

Tobertynan Wood

I had expected to find trees
Ivy clad overhanging
the sort that flash past
Between towns

But the world stopped that day
In Tobertynan Wood as I rummaged
Among the cascades
And avalanches of early May
For something to rhyme with blue
And emerald, Lilac, faded Primrose too

I tried gorgeous
And grand was hardly a word
That one would associate
With the progress of a bumble bee
In a horse chestnut, or
The scaly bark of a sky scraping pine

It would have to be something special, I figured
An adjective perhaps
With vowels broad enough
To cover an acre of bluebells
Embrace the biggest oak
Consonants as slender as hazel
sound something like birdsong
The play of raindrops on beech leaves
The creak of ageing ash overhead.

Tommy Murray in Counting Stained Glass Windows (2009)


I wandered back here after long years of touring

Across the broad world thro’ the queer ways of men

And I thought of the days when I first saw sweet Longwood

Though the years since my visit be two score and ten

I only came here like a young wandering minstrel

And the days when all life was a beautiful dream

And much water since has flowed under

The bridge that is over the Blackwater stream

Historic the memories, they came all a haunting

And the pike men of Meath showed the foe they were brave

And grand is the landmark for all to be scanning

The boast of good Longwood, the proud Croppy’s grave

And thus we are reminded that reverence is living

For those of the past who had liberty’s gleam

Now those were the thoughts friends, that came wishing onwards

On the bridge that is over the Blackwater stream.

I watched the calm flowing as it sped its way onward

To greet the Boyne water where King James went in flight

I saw on his white horse, the orange King Billy

Urging his myrmidons on to the fight

The vision of sorrow and bitter strife brooding

The hate and rancour, since then was its’ theme

And I wondered if ever ,we’d all be united

As I sat on the bridge of the Blackwater stream

I followed the stream on its various ways mending

Through the sally, the elm the oak and the pine

Till I felt I was nearing a ground that was sacred

And I knelt with devotion before a great shrine

The memory of Tyburn and the cruel death given

To the saintly good Prelate – then the sun shot a beam

And I felt it was a glance from the great Saint Oliver

As I sat on the bridge o’re the Blackwater stream

I minded the time when this Royal Meath was famous

For hurling and football were much to the fore

When the King up at Tara had summoned hurlers

And bards with their music, their rhyme and their lore

I thought of a rumour I heard on that morning

That Longwood was thriving, and had a good team

And I hoped that the standard would be up to my thinking

As I sat on the Bridge of the Blackwater stream

“Longwood’s hard laws beat the stranger” they’re saying

But I’ll not believe it, for I don’t think it’s true

I can vouch for their kindness to actors though strangers

In the whole of all Ireland to compare there are few

So thus I am singing this “come all ye” to please them

Tho’ crude in its making and quite senseless may seem

So fare thee well Longwood for I must be going

From the bridge that is over the Blackwater stream.

Val Vousden (1885-1951)

Val Vousden (Bill MacNevin) was an Irish actor, poet, and playwright. He was a well known entertainer and appeared on the Walton’s Sponsored Radio programme. He served in the British army as a young man and again during World War 1. He was part of a drama troupe which toured Ireland and England.

The Shamrock Hotel

Come you true sons of Erin
that want a repose.
Just step into Longwood and
you’ll get a fine dose,
Call into Montgomerys
They will treat you right well
In the grand lodging house

called the Shamrock Hotel.

It’s for ages of years this mansion has held up its name.
For indulging the blind and for helping the lame,
While Mary gets the coppers
And Mick rings the bell
And them all keeping time
In the Shamrock Hotel.

From all parts of Ireland
They come here to sleep
The cooper, the hooper, the tinker, the sweep.
There’s Kennedy and Irwin
Tint Pole and Mad Nell.

and they all flocks like crows,
To the Shamrock Hotel.

On the last ship that landed
There sailed home a yank.
A well-to-do tradesman with money in bank
At the last fair of Longwood
he cut a great swell,
With batterfaced Mag from the Shamrock Hotel.

There is Mrs Gough she got a terrible fright.
She met a big tramp in the dead of the night.
To make matters worse he was stripped in his pelt,
And he following a bug that ran off with his belt.

When the soldiers and peelers they came to the scene.
They ordered the beds to be thrown on the green.
Mag fell a fainting and Mick roared like hell

Saying we lost all we’ve made in the Shamrock Hotel.

This beautiful mansion it is going to be sold.
To the Princess of Wales in ten guineas in gold.
The haggard, the stables and the boglands as well.
They are all going in with the Shamrock Hotel.

Composed by Patrick Cullen, Clondalee, Hill of Down. “Shamrock Hotel” was a lodging house in Longwood.

The Ballad of John Doorley

Come gather round me people

And a story I will tell

About a brave United Irishman

We should remember well.

John Doorley came from Lullymore

In the heart of old Kildare

And ‘twas in the Bog of Allen

That he first drew God’s clean air.

John Doorley loved his farmstead home

But freedom twice as well

And for the sake of Ireland

At Rathangan fought so well.

When the Black Horse they rode up the street

With a show of arms and might

It was the man from Lullymore

That put them all to flight.

And on the Hill of Ovidstown

John Doorley bravely stood,

Against that foe – as well we know

Were craving rebel blood.

But in Athy where he did fly,

To raise the standard green,

John Doorley found himself alone –

No comrades could be seen.

Those Yeomen knaves – the hireling slaves,

Searched far and wide the land,

Till they came down to Longwood town

That craven, ruffian band.

And by Blackwater’s banks they found

John Doorley ‘neath a bush,

With swords upraised and eyes half crazed,

They knocked him with a rush.

Oh, they marched him far to Mullingar,

On the gallows his life he gave

And for Old Ireland’s noble cause

He found a felon’s grave.

His broken –hearted mother

From Lullymore had come

To claim the battered body

Of her darling, loving son.

But home she went with an aching heart

For the Yeoman answered “No”

That cruel band will sure be damned

Eternally, below.

God rest your soul, John Doorley,

And may Heaven be your bed;

And may the sons of Erin ne’er forget

That for Freedom’s cause you bled.

Tony Leonard.


Longwood you are my Tir na nOg

Where we played on the green when we went to school

Cycled down Ribbontail on sunny days.

Swam and fished while daylight burned.

Black and Tans have left the street; they are part of history

Courthouse long closed down, no law to beat the stranger

No bobby in the Station to patrol and make the old feel safe.

The fairs are gone forever where the tangler tricked the farmer

Forefathers spilt their blood in Flanders and against Hitler’s folly wars.

Travelled to England for work, for Ireland was rural then.

Oh Longwood you have changed since I was a kid

A football Club where the young can make new friends

Three times more people, three times less in Church

No missionaries to shout and rant.

“Many are called but few are chosen”

Could park my Cortina at any spot along the kerb;’

Now three rows, cruisers and Pajeros and fancy cars,

Three pubs to wet our thirst

Still no chemist or butcher’s stall

But I love you dearly, like love long ago.

Oliver Slevin


A balmy spring day dawns – a time to rejoice

Surrender our senses to nature’s sweet bounty

Eco Friendly

Down the boreen again we ramble

Picking blackberries on our way.

The big one’s, oh! So tempting

Lots go from hand to lips

Our jam jars take some time to fill.

Insects Pollinate Our World

Onward we go looking forward to our day

Ribbontail delightful

Young and old flock here throughout time

My thoughts rest with them awhile

Our space of wonder

Handed on from father to son.

Consider Bio-diversity

Ribbontail – the pride of the Royal Canal

We are drawn by her charm

Beneath the bridge we learn to swim;

about the banks we spread the towels.

Picnic fair is spread around.

Appearing in silence,

an elegant sight of proud swans parade their cygnets

Nature thrives given a chance.

Wild flowers, trees and hedgerows flourish.

Colourful butterflies on the wing.

Fishermen’s eyes only for their floats.

A waiting game – landing nets at the ready.

Botany is our Saviour

Hush. Listen will ye, she is coming.

We all clamber up the bridge.

Spellbinding is a train.

Spirits soar, as she clatters down the line.

Those aboard look to the bridge.

Ahh! … the lambs jump for joy, as she whistles her farewell.

Bumble Bees – A Good Indicator

Ribbontail you are the pride of the Royal Canal

Strolling along the bank is a couple hand in hand

We can tell by the way they look,

As he whispers in her ear, it won’t be long

‘till they show a diamond on her finger.

Honey Bees for Our Pleasure

Ribbontail we love you; you’re never far away,

As we lie down in bed at night

It is the train we hear go by,

sending us all to sleep.

Looking forward to the morn,

When no doubt we will be on the trail

To our lovely Ribbontail.

John Hopkins

The Haunting Shoes

Who were you, left starving shoes, among our evening shadows

For the annals would conspire to catch your sad and burdened bare-toes

When you passed this way, be it March or May, however did you quip

No shoe, no scarf, not moneys due, would you need aboard that coffin ship

You came from west, unknown the rest, that’s all is said for sure

But how could you while, so far a mile, and make such a troubled tour

In stocking feet, your soul was beat, fled from darkest dungeon

Wasn’t it hunger, that drove you yonder, like lash from devil’s truncheon

So why this place, to toughen your race, did you cast your shoes aside

Did you know, at some river show, they would be immortalised

Weren’t sorrows aplenty, with stomachs empty, and a dreaded road ahead

Yet with sorry strife, and hungered life, they would never be buried, broken, lost nor dead

Were they shoes, that danced to tunes, of the old song-writers wild

Did they chance to marry, and see you carry, that special, new-born gift of child

Or had they hurt, and lost their worth, as you still went on and on

Maybe they were left, in fear of theft, for someone following beyond 

Your shoes are passed by many and such, a tourist traveller today

But few who pass that bronze are seen, to bow their head and pray

And some sure trace, the same old race, as you did upon this quay

But all should view, upon your shoes and never, ever look the other way

Me, I hope that someone found you, before you made those city docks

And they gave to you, some saving shoes all along with comfort socks

But it’s sad to say, that in those days, worst outcome feared I do

The coffin ship set sail for sure, and within its holds were you

This you should know, there’s a robin below, that resides now in this place

She appears to me, for company, and perches on your lace

She guards your shoes, with trills as blue, over you so long ago lost

Least she seems well fed, with gifts of bread…

And I think that she’s your ghost

Joseph Patrick Stenson ©

The National Famine Way commences at the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park and finishes at the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship and EPIC Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin. Commemorating the poignant ill-fated journey of 1,490 famine emigrants in 1847 this 165 km cross country trail follows the Royal Canal. The trail is way marked with thirty plinths and pairs of nineteenth century bronze shoe sculptures and a story has been written for each of these sculptures. There are bronze shoes along this portion of the Royal Canal at Hill of Down Harbour, Longwood Harbour, Enfield Harbour, Moyvalley Bridge and stories associated with each pair can be found on

The Bridge

The bridge at the Hill of Down

Stumbles across the Royal Canal

And the railway tot eh west,

An awkward, narrow bridge,

A menace to motorists

But a vantage point to overlook

Three neighbouring counties.

To the right is Westmeath,

Stretching out past the lakes

Around Mullingar

And away out over the lush grass

As far as the Shannon

Rippling under the Bridge of Athlone.

Straight out ahead is Offaly,

Around the Grand Canal,

Through Edenderry, the home of the Berminghams,

Past Tullamore of the ancient dew

Till it, too, reaches the Shannon

At Clonmacnoise of the ancient kings.

Over to the left is Kildare,

The rich land God-given to Brigid,

The flat acres of the Curragh

Bringing sportsmen from the ends of the earth

To take part in racing

And maybe buy the finest of bloodstock.

But turning my back

On the threefold wealth

Of history, geography and sport

I face north

To the royal County

To Meath of Saints and Kings.

Close by is the site of the ancient monastery

Of St. Fenian of old,

And keeping beside the river Boyne,

I come to Trim

Built around the huge castle

Of notorious King John.

Onward still to Navan town

Where the Boyne joins the Blackwater

Coming down from Kells

Wehre Colmcille wrote his famous book

Still one of the world’s great treasures

Around past Slane

Whose glorious rooms

Are now reduce to ashes.

And then I thread the fields

Where Stone age men

Built Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

Still the river flows along

Till Drogheda comes into view,

Where Cromwell’s name

is linked with cruelty and arson

But Oliver, our own Meath saint,

Triumphed over terror.

The sea, at last, the wide sea,

The river spreads and glides along

Into its destiny.


The Tenants of Rathcore.

Come all ye loving Christians of every class and creed,

For Dyas is preparing to sow clover and hayseed

Where our forefathers lived two hundred years or more

He brought death and desolation on the people of Rathcore.

He gave them notice for to quit, the land being out of lease

And said you must be ready and provide some other place

They wanted him to renew their lease at £l an acre more

But he said he had his mind made up to drive them from Rathcore.

With their fathers and the mothers and their children young and small

Knows not the say or hour the sheriff he will call

To drive them from their houses and the land they did adore,

For they had full and plenty on the lands around Rathcore.

Now I mean to let the public know of Dyas from Athboy

He paid Reynolds, the Petty Sessions Clerk those people to annoy

And Reynoldsd said ye’s must go out, he will not let you’se in

But  he was repulsed and driven back by Nugent, Byrne and Flynn.

I am employed by Mr. Dyas and his orders I’ll obey

I’ll be here in splendour when you’se are far away

So now give up possession, it’s long ago, ye should,

For we will never surrender to the Fenian Brotherhood.

When he spoke about the ‘Fenians’ , young Fowler of Templemore

Shot Reynolds in his parlour in December ’64

No one to recognise him the night being cold and dark

And he went back to Tipperary when he took down his mark.

This gallant bold offender went straight into the stack

He shook hay around the walls for fear he might be tracked

No one to recognize him the being cold and damp

And he went back to Templemore when he blew out the lamp.

Early the next morning when Dyas got the news it grieved his heart sore

He said he wouldn’t leave a Papist on the lands around Rathcore

No matter a priest or layman he’d never mind their talk

He’d level all before him and make a dark sheep walk.

His death was left on a gunshot the day of his inquest

The police on suspicion young Flynn they did arrest.

At Longwood Petty Sessions for him they take no bail

He had to stand trial and thank God with no avail.

Councillor Curan to get him out that day done all he could

It’s for our member McEvoy he was of little good

He and his fellow magistrate this hero sent to Trim

It’s at the next elections we’ll remember him.

Now Dyas you know you are the man left Reynolds in his clay

You know not the day or hour you may be called away

For there’s men in Tipperary who’d shoot you just for fun

And I hope they will go meet you and pay you for what you done

For that’s their country’s fashion, to fight a good cause

To shoot landlords and bad agents that’s the Tipperary laws.

Now to conclude and finish let young and old implore

The Lord may grant them patience on the lands around Rathcore

Since this exterminator he won’t renew the lease

When young Fowler he does meet him, we’ll all remain in peace.

(Thank you to Michael “Stoney” Burke for the words of this.)

The Old Bog Road

My feet are here on Broadway this blessed harvest morn.

But O’ the ache that’s in them for the sod where I was born:

My weary hands are blistered from toil in cold and heat.

And ‘tis O’, to swing a scythe today through fields of Irish wheat.

Had I my choice to journey back or own a king’s abode

‘Tis soon I’d see the hawthorn tree by the old bog road.

When I was young and innocent my mind was ill at ease

Through dreamin’ of America and gold beyant the seas.

Ouh sorrow take their money but ‘tis hard to get that same

And what’s the whole world to a man when no one speaks his name

I’ve had my day and here I am with buildin’ bricks for load.

A long three thousand miles away from the old bog road.

My mother died last springtime when Ireland’s fields were green.

The neighbours said her wakin’ was the finest ever seen

There were snowdrops and primroses piled up around her bed

And Ferns Church was crowded when her funeral Mass said

And here was I on Broadway with buildin’ bricks for load

When they carried out her coffin from the old bog road.

There was a dacent girl at home who used to walk with me

Her eyes were soft and sorrowful like moonbeams on the sea

Her name was Mary Dwyer – but that is long ago,

And the ways of god are wiser than the things a man may know

She died the year I left her, but buildin’ bricks for load

I’d best forget the times we met on the old bog road.

Och, life’s a weary puzzle, past findin’ out by man,

I take the day for what it’s worth and do the best I can

Since no one cares a rush for me what need to make a moan

I go my way and draw my pay and smoke my pipe alone

Each human must know its grief though bitter be the load

So God be with old Ireland and the old bog road.

From Teresa Brayton’s first book of poems published by P.J. Kennedy and Son, New York, 1913: Songs of the Dawn and Irish Ditties.