Category Archives: Other

She-Who-Walks-Among-the-People by Paula Meehan

‘Tell me a story, Granny. Not the one
about the little girl lost in the forest,
not the one about the grandmother who turns
into a big wolf and eats the little girl up.

‘Child of grace, look into the flames.
Long, long ago, not in my granny’s time,
nor in her granny’s before her, but further back
in a world you couldn’t imagine, a bad spell
was cast on the whole island. The people lived
in fear and pain. The land itself was hurting,
as were the animals who shared it with the people.
One tribe fought against the next tribe
and at night their dreams were muddy and grey.
One tribe had many, many tokens
and owned all the land and chariots and most
of the things on the island. Another tribe
had some tokens, just enough for food and shelter.
And some tribes had no tokens at all.
None of them could get any peace or clear dreamings
with the worry about tokens, whether they had
any or not. The tribes who had nothing were
broken in spirit. Nobody cared about them,
and nobody listened to them. A terrible silence
stole over them. words were stones on their tongues.
Their children, charmed by strange potions, bad visions,
grew thin and sickened and faded away to death.
Or turned with the tide from the shores to carry
their learning and vigour like makeshift bundles
to the doors of strangers. Some went mad,
the burden of silence too heavy on their shoulders,
and were locked away in dungeons. They could make
no sense of a world that shifted them to
high towers or dumped them in huge encampments
with no tokens, no hope, no dreams for a future.
A little girl like you wouldn’t be safe walking
in the world for there were many damaged people
who had turned into monsters and forgotten
the human way. They were as sharks in the streets
of the city, ravening wolves in the countryside.

And the silence was heavy on the island
like a rnourning shroud; lies were thick
on the tongues of the rulers. Few were the lawgivers
who cared about justice, few were the doctors
who cared about healing, few were the teachers
who cared about truth. But some there were
and they were as shining warriors among the people.
And one in special who came from the Northwest,
near to the site of the Holy Mountain, where
the Great Sea beats the rock to sand under the sun.
The tunes of that place sparkle like salmon curving
upriver to their dark spawning ground. She
was a slip of a girl with laughter in her eyes and just
about your own age when her heart opened
with pity for the people and pity for the women
in special, for back then the women were slaves
and had to do what the men told them to do.
She studied hard at her books and learned
all there was to learn about the Laws,
and she saw that some Laws were cruel, especially
the Laws for the women. She went to the courts
of the island and fought for the women there
with her marvellous gift of speech. When she got
no satisfaction there she went to the big courts
on the mainland. And she was greatly
beloved by the people and they made her chief
among all the warriors. They had begun
to speak again and break the spell of silence.
They laughed at the liars and took away their Powers.
She’d come and stand among the people and listen.
Wherever they organized and struggled she’d be there
to give them courage and bear witness to their
hard work and service. And though her original
name is lost in the mists of Time and Change
we remember her as She-Who-Walks-Among-The-People.
That was the name the poets and song makers
gave her long ago, not in my granny’s time, nor
in her granny’s before her. but further back
in a world, child of grace, you couldn’t imagine.’

‘And, Granny, did the people live happy ever after?’

‘The people will endure. They are scattered
over the face of the earth like those stars
above you over the face of the heavens.
Our dreams are as clear as water from a good well
and we mind each other. But who knows when
a bad spell will be cast on the island again?
That’s why you must work hard at your books,
in case one day you’ll he needed by the people.
If you aren’t a good girl you’ll go down in the songs as

The Suir by Phil Smith

I’ve heard great talk of the river Barrow,
The Grand Canal, and Dungarvan Bay,
The River Nile, where the crocodile
And alligator do sport and play;
But of all the rivers in the Irish nation,
To hear them praised myself I can’t endure,
Barring one I doats on, where boats they floats on-
You know I mean the sweet river Suir.

This noble river presents a prospect
From Muckincannon to Slievenamon,
It has the most divinest aspect
You ever set your two eyes upon,
The stately buildings of Poulakerry
And Kineer Castle that’s so demure,
If you walked from Paris to where Rathgar is,
You’d never meet the river Suir.

You sons of Neptune, I mean the boatmen,
You are the rulers of this fine stream-
You are the navigators and conservators,
The best that Nature could ever frame.
When hauling horses and warbling sea-gulls,
They join a chorlls-melodiuus, pure-
Sure the flukes and eels dance jigs and reels
By the lovely banks of the sirver Suir.

‘Tis there you’d see the sweet maids a-maying,
The jackass braying in strains so pure,
Quails, rooks, and rails, and the sweet wagtails,
That adorn the’,banks of the lovely Suir.
‘Tis there you’d see Mat Tyran’s daughter
Washing praties fornenst the dure,
And on the other side, as you’d cross the water,
You’d hear Cullinan’s bulls most melodious roar.
‘Tis there the roses so sweetly growses
That gives your roses so sweet a scent,
And the daffadowndillies, and little Billy
Harney reading his Testament.

Oh, if I had the famed tongue of Homer,
Titus, Vespasian, or Daniel Bran,
Nebuehadnezzar, or Julius Ccesar,
Or Harry Stottle, that mighty man,
To describe its beauties they were never able-
Its meandering banks, so transparent pure;
It far surpasses mugs, jugs, and glasses-
The heavens be with you, sweet river Suir.

By Colehill as oft as I did stroll,
That lies to the north of sweet Fairy Hill,
Where the pretty lasses in summer passes
Leading from the Spa to Dudley Mill.

Written by Phil Smith.

Ninety Eight by Dr. John Thomas Campion

In the old marble town of Kilkenny,
With its abbeys, cathedrals and halls,
Where the Norman bell rings out at nightfall,
And the relics of gray crumbling walls
Show traces of Celt and Saxon
In bastions, and towers, and keeps,
And graveyards and tombs tell the living
Where glory or holiness sleeps;
Where the Nuncio brought the Pope’s blessing,
And money and arms to boot,

While Owen was wild to be plucking
The English clan up by the root;
Where regicide Oliver revelled,
With his Puritan Ironside horde,
And cut down both marble and monarchy,
Grimly and grave with the sword.
There, in that old town of history,
England in famed ‘Ninety-Eight
Was busy with gallows and yeomen
Propounding the laws of the State.

They were hanging a young lad – a rebel –
On a gibbet before the old jail,
And they marked his weak, spirit to falter,
And his white face to quiver and quail;
And he spoke of his mother, whose dwelling
Was but a short distance away –
A poor, lorn, heartbroken widow –
And he her whole solace and stay.
“Bring her here,” cried the chief of the yeomen;
“A lingering chance let us give
To this spawn of a rebel to babble
And by her sage counsel to live.”

And quick a red trooper went trotting
From the town to the poor cabin door,
And he found the old lone woman sitting
And spinning upon the bare floor.
“Your son is in trouble, old damsel!
They have him within in the town,
And he wishes to see you, so bustle,
And put on your tucker and gown.”
The old woman stopped from her spinning,
With a frown on her deep wrinkled brow:
“I know how it is, cursed yeoman!
I am ready – I’ll go with you now!”

He seized her, enraged, by the shoulder,
And lifting her up on his steed,
Struck spurs, and they rode to the city,
Right aheadd, and with clattering speed.
They stopped at the foot of the, gallows,
And the mother confronted her son,
And she hugged his young heart to her bosom,
And kissed his face pallid and wan. .
And as the rope dangled before her,
She held the loop fast in her hand –
For though her proud soul was unblenching,
Her frail limbs were failing to stand.

And when the raw yeomen came crowding
To. witness the harrowing scene,
The brave mother flushed to the forehead,
And spoke with the air of a queen:
“My son, they are going to hang you
For loving your faith and your home.
And they called me to urge you and save you,
And in God’s name I’ve answered and come.
They murdered your father before you,
And I knelt on the red reeking sod,
And watcheed his hot blood steaming upward
To call down the vengeance of God.”

“No traitor was, he to his country –
No blot did he leave to his name –
And I always could pray at his cold grave –
Oh! the priest could kneel there without shame.”
“To hell with your priests and your rebels,”
The captain cried out with a yell,
whilst from the tall tower in the temple
Rang out the sweet Angelus bell.
Blessed Mother,” appealed the poor widow,
“Look down on my child and on me.”
“Blessed mother,” sneered out the vile yeoman,
“Tell your son to confess and be free.”

“Never, never – he’ll die like his father –
My boy, give your life to the Lord, –
But of treason to Ireland, mavourneen,
Never speak one dishonouring word.”
His white cheek flushed up at her speaking,
His heart bounded up at her call,
And his hushed spirit seemed, at awaking,
To scorn death, yeomen and all.
“I’ll die, and I’ll be no informer –
My kin I will never disgrace,
And when God lets me see my poor father,
I can lovingly look in his face.”

“You’ll see him in hell,” cried the yeoman,
As he flung the sad widow away –
And the youth in a moment was strangling
In the broad eye of shuddering day.
“Give the gallows a passenger outside.”
A tall Hessian spluttered aloud,
As he drove a huge nail in the timber ,
‘Mid the curses and cries of the crowd.
Then, seizing the poor bereaved mother,
He passed his broad belt round her throat,
Whilst her groaning was lost in the drum-beat
And her shrieks in the shrill bugle note.
And mother and son were left choking,
For this, cries the patriot brave –
Whilst angels looked down on the murder
And devils were wrangling beneath.

For this, cries the exile defiant –
For this, cries the patriot brave –
For this, cries the lonely survivor
O’er many a horror-marked grave –
For this, cry the priest and the peasant,
The student, the lover, the lost,
The stalwart who pride in their vigour,
The frail as they give up the ghost-
For this, we curse~Saxon dominion,
And join in the world-wide cry
That wails up to Heaven for vengeance,
Through every blue gate in the sky!

Written by by Dr. John Thomas Campion.

After Aughrim by Arthur Gerald Geoghegan

Do you remember long ago
When your lover whispered low,
“Shall I stay or shall I go,
And you proudly answered “GO!”
And join King James and strike a blow
For the Green.”

Mavrone, your hair is white as snow,
Your heart is sad and full of woe,
Do you repent you made him go,
And quick you answer proudly, “No!
Far better die with Sarsfield so,
Than live a slave without a blow
For the Green.”

Molly Asthore

As down by Banna’s banks I strayed, one evening in May,
The little birds with blithest notes made vocal every
They sung their little notes of love, they sung them o’er
and o’er:
Ah gramachree; ma colleen oge, ma Molly Asthore!

The daisies pied and all the sweets the dawn of Nature
The primrose pale, the violet blue, lay scattered o’er the
fields :
Such fragrance in the bosom lies of her whom I adore,
Ah, gramachree, ma colleen oge, ma Molly Asthore!

I laid me down upon the bank bewailing my sad fate,
That doomed me thus the slave of Love and cruel Molly’s
How can she break the honest heart that wears her in its
core ?
Ah, gramachree, ma colleen oge! ma Molly Asthore!

You said you loved me, Molly dear; ah, why did I believe ?
Yet who could think such tender words were meant but
to deceive.
That love was all I asked on earth-nay, heaven could
give no more.
Ah, gramachree, ma colleen oge, ma Molly Asthore!

Oh, had I all the flocks that graze on yonder yellow hill,
Or lowed for me the numerous herds that yon green
pastures fill;
With her I’d gladly share my kine, with her my fleecy
Ah, gramachree, ma colleen oge, ma Molly Asthore!

Two turtle doves above my head sat courting on a bough,
I envied them their happiness to see them bill and coo;
Such fondness once for me she showed, but now, alas,
’tis o’er!
Ah, gramachree, ma colleen oge, ma Molly Asthore!

Then fare thee well, my Molly dear! thy loss I e’er shall
While life remains in Strephon’s heart it beats for thee
Though thou art false may heaven on thee its choicest
blessings pour,
Ah, gramachree, ma colleen oge, me Molly Asthore!

Molly Asthore by George Ogle.

The Man of Songs by Paddy Tunney

“That day I scored the winning goal!”
the cobbler said and seized the tongs
he spat upon the half-burnt coal
“A stranger boys, the man of songs!”

He stooped beneath the lintel low
a troubador from legend lands
and settling near the greeshagh glow
round blackthorn hasped a harper’s hands.

The mountain marrow braced his bone
hard granite set in monarch mould
his tongue untethered sweetest tone
of silver sound, well veined with gold.

An urchin from the shadows sprang
and straddle-legged on an upturned creel
he lilted loud; the rafters rang
with riot of a mountain reel.

A fiddler drew a long bent bow
the eager dancers couldn’t wait
as fast they rallied heel and toe
and flaked it out to Bonny Kate.

From flagstones faster fly the splanks
all fiddle-frenzied, hard they flail
then sudden wheel to face the ranks
and hobnails bring a handclap hail.

“And now we’ll have the man of songs'”
the cobbler said, and silence fell
as if the love the lone heart longs
for, cast before it’s binding spell.

And music bounded in the breeze
by dark, trout-throw and salmon-leap
where shepard pined and pressed his cheese
and moorcocks cackled in their sleep.

He sang a song the mountains sing
when mating thunders in the blood
and torrent-torn temples fling
from high the fury of the flood.

The last line spoken and the speed
of lightening swept us from the peaks
like Ossian from the famed white steed
for spirit sings but mortal speaks

And as the cobbler raked the fire
and held once more the flat-toed tongs
he sought the land of heart’s desire
and lingered with ‘the man of songs’.

The Man of Songs by Paddy Tunney.

To My Father by Orlaith Hearns

In years to come when I am grown
And sense and truth come to your words,
When deafened youth no longer screams
Defiantly in wisdom’s face,
I see them now the memory triggering sights…

Alone on the edge of morning,
The sun shedding light on confusion,
I picture you chanting the magical words of mystical men,
Furtively trying to enlighten,
The mind a sleepy tangled web of dreams.

Walking the infinite deserted shore,
I sense the eternal presence of your spirit,
As a wrathful gull screams it’s warnings
To hesitant fledglings
So too is your constant echoing cry
Engraved upon my soul, forever guiding.

Resting alone in cool, menacing shade,
Having parted ways and faced responsibilities
A reminder of your greatest gift ever,
The sun creeping towards me.
Bringing warmth and security,
Such feelings always present,
Because of your love for me.

To My Father by Orlaith Hearns.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men hath made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother’s life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know – and wise it were
If each could know the same –
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun;
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde.

The Wreck of the Gwendoline by C. J. Boland

From the day I was nine, the wish was mine
A sailor bold to be ;

I began to pine for the stormy brine,
And a life on the deep blue sea.

And so one day on the old Bridge Quay,
I kissed my blue-eyed Nell,

And I shipped with joy as a cabin-boy
To a boatman of Clonmel.

‘Tis a dreadful shock to leave Poulslough
When the heart is young and bright,

The street called Hawke, and the Gravel Walk,
And Duckett Street by night.

My sweet abode on Kerry Road
Is shrined in memory’s cell ..

Ah, cruel fate! Good-bye, West Gate,
And Shambles Lane-farewell.

The morn was still; near Hughes’ mill
The Gwendoline was moored.

Wo laid in grog, and a terrier dog,

And a cargo of oats-insured.

So we poled away at break of day
And waved all friends adieu ;
And a loud farewell rang the friary bell
As the brewery hove in view.

At the word” Avast” we manned each mast,
And we cheered for Murphy’s stout,

As the cheer arose, we frightened the crows
On the Waterford bow with the shout.

But the day grew dark, and our bounding barque
Was struck by a sudden squall;

The captain grew pale in the driving gale,
As we swept by the gashouse wall.

Her timber creaks, and now she leaks;
With a shovel we try to bale,

Hli t not even that, nor the captain’s hat,
Nor all old top-boot avail.

We neared the bank and threw a plank
To the Tipperary shore;

One whirl it gave, then in the wave
It sunk, to rise no more.

I cried “Farewell” to my blue-eyed Nell,
And I brushed away a tear,
But my heart gave a bound as we ran aground
On the wall of Dudley’s weir ;
Then we walked ashore, half dead or more,
The dog, and myself and the tar,
And we shouted “Ahoy” to a creamery boy,
and went home in an ass’s car.

And the captain cried, as we homeward hied
That his luck for eer was gone,
For a gipsy foretold in the days of old,
He’d be wrecked at “Kilnawan”
“What harm,” said he, “if it chanced to be
Where Kilnashan’s bellows foam?
But the Board of Trade will me degrade,
For it’s half a mile from home.”

She was stuck in weeds, but some twenty steeds
That were chargers in their day,

They towed her back, on the sternward track,

To her berth beside the quay.

And other boats with Tartary oats,
May sail to Carrick Green,

But never more, by sea or shore,
Will sail the Gwendoline.

Written by C. J. Boland.

Am I Remembered in Erin? by Thomas D’Arcy McGee

Am I remembered in Erin?
I charge you, speak me true!
Has my name a sound – a meaning,
In the scenes my boyhood knew?
Does the heart of the Mother ever
Recall her exile’s name?
For to be forgot in Erin,
And on earth, were all the same.

Oh, Mother! Mother Erin!
Many sons your age hath seen –
Many gifted constant lovers
Since your mantle first was green;
Then how in may I hope to cherish
The dream that I could be
In your crowded memory number’d
With that palm-crowned company?

Yet faint and far, my Mother!
As the hope shines on my sight,
I cannot choose but watch it
Till my eyes have lost their light;
For never among your brightest
And never among your best,
Was heart more true to Erin
Than beats within my breast.

Written by Thomas D’Arcy McGee.