Old Irish Poems

ONE FINAL GIFT Scatter me not to the restless winds Nor toss my ashes to the sea. Remember now those years gone by When loving gifts I gave to thee. Remember now the happy times The family ties are shared. Don't leave my resting place unmarked As though you never cared. Deny me not one final gift For all who came to see. A simple lasting proof that says I loved and you loved me. (by D.H.Cramer) The limbs that move, the eyes that see, these are not entirely me; Dead men and women helped to shape, the mold that I do not escape; The words I speak, the written line, these are not uniquely mine. For in my heart and in my will, old ancestors are warring still, Celt, Roman, Saxon and all the dead, from whose rich blood my veins are fed, In aspect, gesture, voices, tone, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone; In fields they tilled, I plow the sod, I walk the mountain paths they trod; Around my daily steps arise - the good, the bad - those I comprise. by Richard Rolle c 1300 - 1349, early English Mystic


SONG OF INNISFAIL by Thomas Moore from The Poetry and Song of Ireland


They came from a land beyond the sea, And now o'er the western main Set sail, in the good ships, gallantly, From the sunny land of Spain. "Oh, where's the Isle we've seen in dreams, Our destined home or grave?" Thus sung they as, by the morning's beams, The swept the Atlantic wave. And lo, where afar o'er ocean shines A sparkle of radiant green, As though in that deep lay emerald mines, Whose light through the wave was seen. "'Tis Innisfail - 'tis Innisfail!" Rings o'er the echoing sea, While bending to heaven, the warriors hail That home of the brave and free. Then turn'd they unto the Eastern wave, Where now their Day-God's eye A look of such sunny omen gave As lighted up sea and sky. Nor frown was seen through sky or sea, Nor tear on leaf or sod, When first on their Isle of Destiny Our Eastern fathers trod.


LINES TO ERIN by J. J. Callanan


from The Poetry and Song of Ireland When dullness shall chain the wild harp that would praise thee, When its last sigh of freedom is heard on thy shore, When its raptures shall bless the false hearth that betrays thee - Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more! When thy sons are less tame than their own ocean waters, When their last flash of wit and genious is o'er, When virtue and beauty forsake thy young daughters - Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more! When the sun that now holds his bright path o'er the mountains Forgets the green fields that he smiled on before, When no moonlight shall sleep on thy lakes and thy fountains - Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more! When the name of the Saxon and tyrant shall sever, When the freedom you lost you no longer deplore, When the thoughts of your wrongs shall be sleeping forever - Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more!


STANZAS TO ERIN by J. J. Callanan


from The Poetry and Song of Ireland Still green are thy mountains and bright is thy shore, And the voice of thy fountains is heard as of yore: The sun o'er thy valleys, dear Erin, shines on, Though thy bard and thy lover forever is gone. Nor shall he, an exile, thy glad scenes forget - The friends fondly loved, ne'er again to be met - The glens where he mused on the deeds of his nation, And waked his young harp with wild inspiration. Still, still, though between us may roll the broad ocean, Will I cherish thy name with the same deep devotion; And though minstrels more brilliant my place may supply, None loves you more fondly, more truly than I.


REMEMBER THEE by Thomas Moore


from The Poetry and Song of Ireland Remember thee! yes, while there's life in this heart, It shall never forget thee, all lorn as thou art, More dear in thy sorrow, thy gloom, and thy showers, Than the rest of the world in their sunniest hours. Wert thou all that I wish thee, great, glorious, and free, First flower of the earth, and first gem of the sea, I might hail thee with prouder, with happier brow, But oh! could I love thee more deeply than now? No, thy chains as they rankle, thy blood as it runs, But make thee more painfully dear to thy sons - Whose hearts, like the young of the desert bird's nest, Drink love in each life-drop that flows from thy breast.




Whether or not World War I soldiers knew the whereabouts of Tipperary, they knew what they meant by it. This anthem of a generation concludes 'For my heart lies there'. The song was written in 1912. One of the first to popularise it was Al Jolson. Among the countless recordings of it is one by John McCormack. Wandering, tramping, going on a pilgrimage; a complex of motifs related to such activities has recurred in Irish writing since Buile Suibhne. In the modern period, particularly, Irish writers great and small have made extensive use of one form or another of peregrination. The epigraph for Tipperary, the book in which the poem appears, quotes the modern Greek poet George Seferis: 'beacons in this temporary archipelago/where we live'. The town of Tipperary lies at the head of the Golden Vale, one of the most fertile areas in Ireland. Limerick Junction is a noted railway station near Tipperary town, it is extensively used as a place to change trains - one line to Limerick, the other to Cork. Its name has a particular resonance for generations of emigrants to England.


TIPPERARY Tipperary: from the Irish Tiobraidarann: The fountain of perception or enlightenment, intelligence


It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go - and various. It's a torture of twists, and about-turns, disillusions, disappointments. The way to Tipperary appears perennially dark with only occasional twilight's. If you decide to go to Tipperary set out while you're young, plucky; at that age when you're bright-eyed and visions of radiant horizons of revelation and achievement and you know nothing of twilight's or the dark; that age when all creation, all life shines clear as spring sunlight, bright as light-catching gold. When you set out you must go alone. There are no maps of the way to Tipperary. Your only compass is your own heart. Trust that! Some see their Tipperary clearly from the start; see it's a long road, full of daily pitfalls, a labyrinth of curious sidestreets, inviting, guesthouses; giddy with the temptations of those bogey people's trinket stalls' hokeypokey - daily thieves of eternal energy - easy come, easy go, you've sold your soul, you've no more choice. They sell bedlam! Explore all those sidestreets, enjoy your chosen resthouses, fool with a few trinkets to learn something of the way to Tipperary. The way to Tipperary darkened with the shadows of all those who never got there anyway; those who settled for some resthouse, some casual trinket thief of time. Don't let those shadows, mumbling in their own gloom, deter or deviate you. Hold to your main road. Keep going! Once you've decided to go to Tipperary you'll realise you no longer belong to yourself but must keep Tipperary in your sights daily - although you can't see it. Purpose is all. Without your Tipperary you too are a mere shadow at those Limerick Junctions of daily resolution. On the way to Tipperary keep your eyes open for signals of direction, encouragement: that nod of understanding, comradeship, a cherishing arm on your pillow. You'll see beautiful sights on the way to Tipperary; man's mirage tales, imagination's monuments. You'll behold the endless vistas, panoramas of vision. Be curious about them all for the gracious gifts they will afford you. Without them you'd live that much the poorer. It's a long way to Tipperary and when you get there nothing awaits you. You'll find no roadsign, no brassband and welcoming committee with a proclaiming you're in Tipperary and a medallion to hang around your neck. You'll find only what you brought with you in your heart. Then, what you must do is make and leave some record of what your Tipperary means to you - as witness for all those behind you on their ways to their own Tipperaries. It's a long way to Tipperary But all our hearts lie there. by Desmond O'Grady (1991)


THE ROSE OF TRALEE William Pembroke Mulchinock (1820?-1864) composed this ballad. Living just outside of the village of Tralee, William fell in love with a girl who was a maid in one of the nearby houses. Since a romance with an Irish servant girl could hardly be tolerated by the Pembroke Mulchinocks, in no time at all William was sent to join a regiment in India. And so the young man soldiered, his thoughts remaining on the girl he left behind. Three years passed before he returned to Tralee. As he came into the village, he saw a funeral procession passing down the street. It was the funeral of the girl he loved, who had died, it was said, of a broken heart. In the public park just outside of Tralee there is memorial to these ill-fated lovers. On the marble stone beneath a carved cross is this inscription: "To the memory of William Pembroke Mulchinock and the Rose of Tralee. She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer." 'Of Irish Ways' Mary Murray Delaney


The pale moon was rising above the green mountains, The sun was declining beneath the blue sea, When I stray'd with my love to the pure crystal fountain That stands in the beautiful vale of Tralee. She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer, Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me, Oh, no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever beaming That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee. The cool shades of evening their mantle were spreading, And Mary, all smiling, was list'ning to me. The moon through the valley her pale rays was shedding When I won the heart of the Rose of Tralee. Tho' lovely and fair as the rose of the summer, Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me, Oh, no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever beaming That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee. from '1000 Years of Irish Poetry' edited by Kathleen Hoagland


 DEDICATION by Patrick MacGill (1890- ) from 1000 years of Irish Poetry


I speak with a proud tongue of the people who were And the people who are, The worthy of Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel, My kindred- The people of the hills and the dark-haired passes My neighbours on the lift of the brae, In the lap of the valley. To them Slainthé! I speak of the old men, The wrinkle-rutted, Who dodder about foot-weary - For their day is as the day that has been and is no more - Who warm their feet by the fire, And recall memories of the times that are gone; Who kneel in the lamplight and pray For the peace that has been theirs - And who beat one dry-veined hand against another Even in the sun- For the coldness of death is on them. I speak of the old women Who danced to yesterday's fiddle And dance no longer. They sit in a quiet place and dream And see visions Of what is to come, Of their issue, Which has blossomed to manhood and womanhood - And seeing thus They are happy For the day that was leaves no regrets, And peace is theirs And perfection. I speak of the strong men Who shoulder their burdens in the hot day, Who stand on the market-place And bargain in loud voices, Showing their stock to the world. Straight the glance of their eyes - Broad-shouldered, Supple. Under their feet the holms blossom, The harvest yields. The their path is of prosperity. I speak of the women, Strong hipped, full-bosomed, Who drive the cattle to graze at dawn, Who milk the cows at dusk. Grace in their homes, And in the crowded ways Modest and seemly - Mother of children! I speak of the children Of the many townlands, Blossoms of the Bogland, Flowers of the Valley, Who know not yesterday, nor to-morrow, And are happy, The pride of those who have begot them. And thus it is, Every and always, In Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel - Here, as elsewhere, The Weak, the Strong, and the Blossoming - And thus my kindred. To them Slainthe!



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