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

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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 Others by Seumas O’Sullivan

From our hidden places
By a secret path
We come in the moonlight
To the side of the green rath.

There the night though
We take our pleasure
Dancing to such a measure
As earth never knew.

To song and to dance
And lilt without a name,
So sweetly breathed
‘Twould put a bird to shame.

And many a young maiden
Is there of mortal birth,
her young eyes laden
With dreams of earth.

And many a youth entranced
Moves slowly in the wildered round
His brave lost feet enchanted
With the rhythm of fairy sound.

Music so forest wild
And piercing sweet would bring
Silence on blackbirds singing
Their best in the ear of spring.

And now they pause in their dancing,
And look with troubled eyes,
Each straying children
With sudden memory wise.

They pause, and their eyes in the moonlight
With fairy wisdom cold,
Grow dim and a thought goes fluttering
In the hearts no longer old.

And then the dream forsakes them,
And sighing, they turn anew,
As the whispering music takes them,
To the dance of the elfin crew.

Many a thrush and a blackbird
Would fall to the dewy ground,
And pine away in the silence
For envy of such sound.

So the night through
In our sad pleasure,
We dance to many a measure,
The earth never knew.

The Others by Seumas O’Sullivan.

The Geraldines by Thomas Osborne Davis


The Geraldines! The Geraldines! – ’tis full a thousand years
Since, ‘mid the Tuscan vineyards, bright flashed their battle-spears;
When Capet seized the crown of France, their iron shields were known,
And their sabre dint struck terror on the banks of the Garonne;
Across the downs of Hastings they spurred hard by William’s side,
And the grey sands of Palestine with Moslem blood they dyed;
But never then, nor thence till now, has falsehood or disgrace
Been seen to soil Fitzgerald’s plume, or mantle in his face.


The Geraldines! The Geraldines! – ’tis true, in Strongbow’s van,
By lawless force, as conquerors, their Irish reign began;
And, O! through many a dark campaign they proved their prowess stern,
In Leinster’s plains, and Munster’s vales, on king, and chief, and
But noble was the cheer within the halls so rudely won,
And generous was the steel-gloved hand that had such slaughter
How gay their laugh! how proud their mien! you’d ask no herald’s
Among a thousand you had known the princely Geraldine.


These Geraldines! These Geraldines! – not long our air they breathed,
Not long they fed on venison, in Irish water seethed,
Not often had their children been by Irish mothers nursed;
When from their full and genial hearts an Irish feeling burst !
The English monarchs strove in vain, by law, and force, and bribe,
To win from Irish thoughts and ways this “more than Irish” tribe;
For still they clung to fosterage, to breitheamh, cloak, and bard;
What king dare say to Geraldine, “Your Irish wife discard” ?


Ye Geraldines! Ye Geraldines! How royally ye reigned
O’er Desmond broad and rich Kildare, and English arts disdained;
Your sword made knights, your banner waved, free was your bugle call
By Glyn’s green slopes, and Dingle’s tide, from Barrow’s banks to
What gorgeous shrines, what Brehon lore, what minstrel feasts there were
In and around *Magh Nuadhaid’s keep and palace-filled Adare!
But not for rite or feast ye stayed, when friend or kin were pressed;
And foeman fled when “Crom-abu” bespoke your lance in rest.


Ye Geraldines! ye Geraldines! since Silken Thomas flung
King Henry’s sword on council board, the English thanes among,
Ye never ceased to battle brave against the English sway,
Though axe and brand and treachery your proudest cut away.
Of Desmon’s blood through woman’s veins passed on the exhausted tide;
His title lives —- a Sasanch churl usurps the lion’s hide;
And though Kildare tower haughtily, there’s ruin at the root,
Else why, since Edward fell to earth, had such a tree no fruit?


True Geraldines! Brave Geraldines! – as torrents mould the earth,
You channeled deep old Ireland’s heart by constancy and worth;
When Ginckle ‘leaguered Limerick, the Irish soldiers gazed
To see if the setting sun dead Desmond’s banner blazed!
And still it is the peasant’s hope upon the Curragh’s mere,
“They live who’ll see ten thousand men with good Lord Edward here.”
So let them dream till brighter days, when, not by Edward’s shade,
But by some leader true as he, their lines shall be arrayed!


These Geraldines! These Geraldines! – rain wears away the rock,
And time may wear away the tribe that stood the battle’s shock;
But ever, sure, while one is left of all that honoured race,
In front of Ireland’s chivalry is that Fitzgerald’s place;
And though the last were dead and gone, how many a field and town,
From Thomas’ Court to Abbeyfeile, would cherish their renown!
And men will say of valour’s rise, or ancient power’s decline,
“‘T will never soar, it never shone, as did the Geraldine.”


The Geraldines! the Geraldines! and are there any fears
Within the sons of conquerors for full a thousand years?
Can treason spring from out a soil bedewed with martyr’s blood?
Or has that grown a purling brook which long rushed down a flood?
By Desmond swept with sword and fire, by clan and keep laid low,
By Silken Thomas and his kin, by sainted Edward! No!
The forms of centuries rise up, and in the Irish line
Command their son to take the post that fits the Geraldine!

Written by Thomas Osborne Davis.

Note: * Eochaill == Youghal, co. Cork *Magh Nuadhaid == Maynooth, co.Kildare Taken from “BREATHES THERE THE MAN” – – Heroic Ballads & Poems of the English-Speaking Peoples. Edited by Frank S. Meyer (La Salle, Illinois Open Court 1973. “Geraldines” is pronounced in our part of Ireland to rhyme with ‘lines’ and ‘fines’.

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.