By Peg Prendeville
Sounds of Summer
Rocking in my garden seat,
Creaking gently to and fro
Watching life continuing on,
Like a stream in constant flow.
Listening to the chirping birds
Busy at their daily tasks
The leaves are whispering in the breeze
A honey bee goes buzzing past.
A tractor drones in a neighbour’s field
Boasting of a busy day
Taking advantage of the sun
Cutting silage, turning hay.
A cow concerned for her calf
Calls him back with a gentle moo
The clothes are flapping on the line
Peaceful times like this are few.
Children play out on the lawn
Sending out their squeals of joy
Laughing, singing, cheering on
Their playmates in a rugby try.
I close my eyes to appreciate
The restful sounds that I can hear
It’s easy to believe in God
When His presence is so near!
June 2018; Happy 70th Wedding Anniversary
Tomás and Han Geoghegan met over seventy years ago
Han and Tomás
Like the Samaritan woman at the well
She was aware of the piercing eyes
Quickly she turned around to see him
It was Tomás her neighbour, what surprise!
Smiling shyly and with quickening breath
“Did you forget your bucket?” she enquired.
“My thirst is not for water” he replied
As he gazed with fondness into her eyes.
“May I walk home with you and share the load?”
And so the courting ritual began
Getting to know each other day by day.
Tomás Geoghegan and the lovely Han.
The seed of love was planted by the well,
Seventy years growth since the wedding bell.
By Peg Prendeville
CARNEGIE LIBRARY by Cyril Kelly
This was the man who led us, both literally and metaphorically, from the classroom every day. This was The Master, our Pied Piper, who was forever bugling a beguiling tune, a tune sparkling with grace notes of the imagination. He’d have us on the white steed behind Niamh, her golden fleece romping in our faces. Transformed by his telling we had mutated into forty spellbound Oisíns. Knockanore was disappearing in our wake. The briny tang of the ocean was in our nostrils, bidding us to keep a westward course, forbidding us to glance back at our broken hearted father, Fionn. We were heading for the land of eternal youth, Tír na nÓg.
On the very next antidotal day, we’d be traipsing after him, into the graveyard beside the school. The narrow paths, with no beginning and no end criss-crossed the place like some zoomorphic motif. We were on a mission to see who would be the first to spot a headstone which was decorated with a Celtic design. The diligent boys leading the line were in danger of overtaking the laggards at the tail who were hissing that, in the dark recesses of the slightly open tomb, they had seen, staring back at them, a yella skull.
But, on very special days, we crossed the road to the Carnegie Library. Master McMahon told us that it was the most magical building in the whole town. Even the whole world, if it came to that. He told us that we were so lucky because Andrew Carnegie, the richest man on earth, had bought all of these books for us. We were amazed because none of us knew Andrew and we felt sure that he didn’t know any of us. As a matter of fact, not one of us knew anyone who bought books, either for us or for anyone else. Master McMahon said that the Librarian, Maisie Gleeson, was minding the books for Carnegie and, especially for the boys in 3rd class.
On our first day in the library, we all had to line up on tippy-toes at Maisie’s desk to scratch our names with nervous N-nibs on green cards. Maisie eyed us all over her spectacles, welcoming each one of us ominously by name, telling us that she knew our mothers and woe-be-tide anyone who didn’t behave themselves, particularly any boy who did not take good care of Andrew’s books.
If you have a book, boys, Master McMahon’s voice was echoing around us. If you have a book, boys, you have an exciting friend.
Drumming his fingers along a shelf, humming to himself, he flicked one of the books from its place, tumbling it into his arms. Turning towards us, he held it like a trophy in the air.
The Clue of The Twisted Candle. Nancy Drew, boys. She’s a beauty. Blonde, like Niamh Cinn Óir. Solves exciting mysteries for her father.
The Master took his time to scan our expectant faces.
Here, Mickey, proffering the book to Mikey Looby whose father was a detective. Why don’t you sit down there at that table. Read the first few chapters. See what Nancy Drew is up to this time.
Turning to the shelves again, The Master threw back over his shoulder; Sure if I know anything, Mikey, you’ll probably solve the mystery before she does. Mikey, clasping the book in his arms, stumbled to the nearest chair, thirty nine pairs of envious eyes fastened to him. Sure it’s in the blood, Mikey boy. It’s in the blood.
Selecting another book, The Master faced us once more. This time he called on Dan Driscoll.
I saw you driving your father’s pony and cart to the fair last week. Three of the loveliest pink plump bonavs you had. And what a fine looking pony Dan Driscoll has, boys.
Well, here in my hand I’m holding Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. This man is a fantastic story teller. He’ll take you to the frontier lands of America. I promise that you’ll see and smell the rolling plains of Wyoming more clearly than if you were in the Plaza cinema down the street. You’ll ride with cowboys, you’ll hear the neighing not of ponies but of palominos. You’ll meet deadly gunmen, boys, noble Red Indians. And on the headstones in Boothill, boys, you won’t find any Celtic designs. And there, in the vastness of the library, The Master’s youthful tenor voice startled the silence; Take me back to the Black Hills/ The Black Hills of Dakota/ To the beautiful Indian country that I love. By the time he was finished he was besieged by a posse of outstretched hands and beseeching cries of Sir Sir Sir. Every one of us was demented to get our paws on that book, any book.
William Upton 1845
William Upton, carpenter, Fenian, novelist, poet and rural labourers' leader was born on 27 August 1845 in the village of Ardagh, Co. Limerick, one of eight children born to Frank Upton (1799-1881) and Catherine Nolan (1800?-1854). Frank, a carpenter, and his Catherine had married locally in 1829.
The Upton’s were artisans and Roman Catholic but their forebears, just a few generations back, had been Protestant landholders. It is unclear precisely why or how William Upton's line became tradesmen but it is probable that the marriage of his Protestant grandfather, Edward (born 1742), to a Catholic named Mary Dunworthy (or Dunworth) led to a familial exclusion.
William became a carpenter and cabinetmaker, and in common with many young nationalist artisans he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood during the mid-1860's. On March 5th 1867,as part of the ill-fated rising, he joined Limerick Fenians in an attack on Ardagh police barracks. Police reports identified him as one of the leaders and as having organised efforts to burn out the barracks when the frontal assault failed.
Following the failure of the rising, Upton went on the run, travelling to Roscommon and using the pseudonym William Cleary - he later incorporated 'Cleary' into his name, becoming William C. Upton from the 1870's. He was arrested as a suspect under his false name and spent a month in jail but was released without his true identity being discovered (2).
A reward was offered for his arrest and a description published in Hue and Cry on 4 June 1867: Upton - 23 years old, 5 ft 10 inches, stout make, fair complexion, round face, blue eyes, regular nose, fair hair, small fair whiskers, wore a dark tweed coat, cord trousers, light tweed vest, very good looking, walks very erect, is a carpenter by trade. Upton escaped to the US where he remained for more than two years, returning to Ardagh in late September 1869.
Local police immediately requested permission to arrest him but, although they were instructed to 'keep a close watch on his movements’, he was never charged with involvement in the 1867 rising, apparently because the informer who was to give evidence had already left the country (3).
On 1 November 1874 he married Mary Barrett (1854-1913) of Knockfinisk, Athea, and built a house in Ardagh village where he established himself as a small-scale building contractor. Upton remained active in local Fenianism throughout the 1870's and joined the Land League on its emergence. He was particularly concerned with the plight of the rural labourers and from at least 1880, spoke out on their behalf.
In October 1880 he was the central figure behind the formation of the Ardagh Labour League, which demanded a cottage, and acre, and fixity of tenure for rural labourers. The Ardagh League was one of the many formed throughout Munster during the 'land war', and Upton was a close friend of P.F. Johnson, the Kanturk-based rural labourers' advocate, and Daniel Histon, a tenant-farmer from Shanagolden and leading figure in the rural labour movement. Upton was one of the key activists behind the founding of the Munster Labour League in May 1881, and the following month he was part of a labourers' delegation to London to lobby the Chief Secretary for Ireland.
In September he attended the Land League national convention in Dublin, representing rural workers, although he was later critical of the Land League's neglect of the labourers. Upton's greatest and most innovative contribution to the agitation came with the publication of Uncle Pat's Cabin or Life among the Labourers of Ireland (Gill and Son, Dublin 1882), probably the first Irish social-realist novel written by a worker, The book depicts the life and conditions of a labourer called Pat McMahon.
A review in the Nation described it as a work of 'angry discontent': We cannot for a moment doubt that he gives voice to the feelings and ideas of at least the labourers of his own district, and we must perforce conclude that the most bitter discontent, not only with the conditions of their lives, but with the mass of farmers around them, fiercely seethes amongst them.
Their language is nearly always the language of complaint or denunciation, or of resolve to tolerate no longer the hardships and humiliation that beset them (4). It was not particularly well-written (Upton later admitted to writing it in six weeks) and was penned primarily as a piece of social agitation. in general, it was well received and in 1887 Gill and Son published another book by Upton, Cuchulain: the Story of his Combats at the Ford: A Dramatic Poem. Upton had written poetry and songs during the 1870's and continued to do so throughout his life.
In the late 1880's the Upton family emigrated to the US and settled in New York, where William lived until his death on 8 January 1925. He and Mary had ten children, Francis,Hannah, Edward, James, Kathleen, Minnie, Lillian, William, John and Robert and there are now many descendants in America. In 1914 he published a revised version of Uncle Pat's Cabin in New York, adding a preface that claimed implausibly that the novel had impelled the enactment of the 1883 Labourers' Act. Nonetheless, and despite its literary weaknesses, Upton's forgotten novel remains an important early example of working-class literature in the cause of social reform. Fintan Lane.
Notes: (2) Maighread McGrath, "His book helped free the Irish slaves", Irish Independent, 3 May 1965; Desmond Shanid, "William Upton: the forgotten literary Fenian of Ardagh", Limerick Leader, 3 November 1956. (3) National Archives, Fenian files, police report from Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, 3 October 1869, 4696R.
(4) Nation, 7 October 1882.
Courtesy of Johnny Upton - John Upton
Shared on XO Chronicles:
In Memory of my mother
I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On the way to the station, or happily
Going to second mass on a summer Sunday
You meet me and you say,
“Don’t forget to see about the cattle.”;
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.
And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life-
And I see us meeting at the end of a town
On a fair day by accident, after
The bargains are all made and we walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.
O, you are not lying in the wet clay
For it is harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us – eternally.
Home Reading Room History & Heritage Pages in History An Mangaire Sugach: The Limerick Leader 1944-50 Heritage of the Irish Language in Limerick Wait till Cork meet ye - 3rd July 1948
Wait till Cork meet ye - 3rd July 1948
ODDS AND ENDS
"Wait Till Cork Meet Ye": Text Version
3rd July 1948
(By "AN MANGAIRE SUGACH")
Hilaire Belloc once said that the proper way to write a book was to begin at the end. (See link for story)
In his notes "Tir is Tenaga," on June 19th, my friend, "An Cabac Rua," had something very interesting to tell. It was the story of his recent meeting in Knockaderry with a fine old Irishman, who might be described as a native Irish speaker from Limerick. An t-Uasal Mac Uaid spoke the Irish he had learned from his father in Ath an t-Sleibhe in West Limerick. When the first branch of the Gaelic League was formed in my native district, in 1907, it included among its first members a native Irish-speaker from this very district of Ath an t-Sleibhe or Athea. All this leads up to something I've long been pondering on: When did Irish die as a spoken language in County Limerick, and where in the county was it longest spoken?
A NEW COMPETITION
My next competition will deal with this aspect of the story of the language in Limerick. These few remarks are by way of a preliminary announcement. Full particulars will be published later. In the meantime, you could get busy noting anything of interest: accounts of the last people who spoke Irish in your district, and how long ago that was; accounts of people who sang songs in Irish, or of churches where Irish sermons were preached. You might hear of houses where old books in Irish were kept, or of people who could read them – I don't mean books published since the founding of the Gaelic League. Collect the Irish words in every day use about you – amadan, oinsach, ciotog, buala-baisin, gabhairin rua, buachallan buidhe, etc. I have collected more than 300 words and phrases in my own locality. You'll know the kind of material that will be suitable. This should prove an interesting competition, and valuable prizes will go to the winners.
Wait till Cork meet ye - 3rd July 1948
SONG OF THE WEEK
The song of the week comes from the prize-winning collection of Miss Brigid Corr, Foynes. It was also received from a kind reader in Ballygiltinan to whom I owe a letter – as I do to about a dozen more. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! It is a very interesting piece, and up to now was unknown to me. It is called:
My name is Mac Sheehy, from Feale's swelling flood,
A rapareerover by mountain and wood;
I have two trusty comrades to serve me at need,
This sword by my side, and my gallant grey steed.
Now where did I get them – my gallant grey steed,
And my sword, keen and trusty, to serve me at need?
This sword was my father's – in battle he died,
And I reared my bold Isgur by Feale's verdant side.
I've said it, and say it, and care not who hear,
Myself and grey Isgur have never known fear;
There's a dint in my helmet, a hole thro' his ear-
'Twas the same bullet made them at Limerick last year.
And the soldier who fired it was still ramming down,
When this long sword came right with a slash on his crown;
Dar Dhia! He will never fire musket again,
For his skull lies in two at the side of the glen.
When they caught us one day at the Castle of Brugh,
Our black-hearted foemen, a merciless crew,
Like a bolt from the thunder-cloud Isgur went through,
And my sword – ah, it gave them what long they may rue.
Together we sleep under rough crag or tree,
My soul! There were never such comrades as we,
I, Brian the Rover, and my two fiends at need –
This sword by my side, and my gallant grey steed.
Can any reader tell me who was this Brian Mac Sheehy, the raparee, or what is the story of the deeds recounted in the song?
Another Tan War Song - 14th Jan 1950
Another "Tan" War Song: Text Version
(By AN MANGAIRE SUGAC
From Listowel Connection March 2017
On World Book Day, March 2 2017 I was in The Seanchaí for a lovely shared reading over a cuppa.
I could hardly believe my ears when I heard Donal O'Connor of Tarbert stand up and recite Tom Mulvihill's poem from memory.
I enquired of Donal afterwards what he knew of Tom Mulvihill and he told me that he knew him long ago in Ballylongford. He was the son of the parish clerk.
His more famous brother, Roger, wrote Ballyheigue Bay and went on to run The White Sands hotel.
After Tom's death his family gathered his writings into a little book. Donal has a copy "somewhere". He'll share it when he finds it.
Local Poetry sample.
Orphans of Aleppo
I had a dream last night
of children – little fugitives,
refugees from Syria –
abandoned and bombed out,
crawling in a quest
for families they lost
like newly weaned lambs;
survivors of lethal waves
in overcrowded dinghies;
after the human chaos
then the frozen fear,
following urban air raids,
of those left alive
in honeycombs of horror;
and now they seek a lap
on which to lay their heads,
the orphans of Aleppo.
Matt Mooney – Orphans of Aleppo
Oct 27, 2016
Matt Mooney. Born in Kilchreest, Loughrea, Co. Galway in 1943, he has lived in Listowel since 1966. His first book of poetry ‘Droving’ was published in 2003 and this was followed in 2010 by Falling Apples’. His third collection ‘Earth to Earth’ was published by Galway Academic Press in 2015. His poems have appeared in ‘Feasta’, ‘West 47’ , ‘First Cut’ ,The Applicant’, The Kerryman, The Connaught Tribune, Peann agus Pár and The Galway Review.
Couples on a mid-week break
in a hotel down Wexford way
descending from their rooms,
their children running free,
assembling for afternoon tea
with the same anticipation
as the seagulls I remember
hovering over the full tide,
and a shoal of mackerel
near the surface of the sea
off the promenade in Galway
and later landing on the rocks
showing off their seagullness,
searching us with steady eyes
in their brilliant whiteness
capped with backs of grey,
tails tipped with black,
orange beaks and orange webs;
we resemble them in ways
in the simplicity of our needs
and we gladly meet and mingle
to celebrate in our sameness –
the sealing of a common bond.
I cry with joy this Easter Day for Ireland:
the tricolour is raised, a dream come true
at our centenary celebrations at the GPO,
there before its renowned portal columns.
I cry as well for war zones far from here
but not that far away that we do not care
enough to wish them their week of glory
when the sacrifices will lead to liberation.
‘Weep not for me’, Jesus said on Calvary,
on the first Easter to the weeping women,
‘ weep for yourselves and your children’;
did he think of Brussels and the bombing
and of the blowing up of football players
near Baghdad, a city recovering from war
or the Easter Sunday massacre in Lahore?
Could He see Syrian refugees in a huddle
in flooded field camps steeped in misery,
Europe deliberating on their destinations?
‘You may boast and speak of Easter Week’
and our independence won a century ago
but now we have to watch these terrorists
with Kalashnikovs or wearing bombbelts
marauding mercilessly, delivering death,
like thieves out of the night or hell itself;
distraught men and women bowed down,
weeping for their children and themselves.
Oct 10 2016 posted
Barbara Derbyshire is an author of short fiction and poetry. Originally from London and now an Irish citizen, her home is in Kerry where, with more time to think, observe and remember, she has rediscovered her love of writing. Her first published book is Tapestry of Love, Life and Spirit, and, together with other writers from North Kerry and West Limerick, she has contributed to the anthology, Striking A Chord.
AN EASIER PAST
Let us not go backwards
Like the women of Afghanistan
Who lost the freedom
Their grandmothers enjoyed.
Their men are enemies
The women in Afghanistan
Told how to dress
While the opponent is armed
With rusty knives
To cut away their beauty, their pleasure;
With shadowed veils
To cover the faces of those wondrous women;
The ultimate WMD.
Unnoticed, this crafty enemy
Crept upon them like a slow death
Only now, we look back and we see
That not long ago, in Afghanistan, women were free.
Darkness surrounds her, yet
When she is calm she is content to rest.
She lies hidden, hooded, enfolded in beauty.
The softness which protects her
Keeps her safe and sleepy
Until she is ready to blossom
She needs love; that is all.
Love and whispered words
To gently encourage her from her hiding place
To awaken that sensation
Which makes her
The best she can be.
When the bud is ready to show herself
In all her beauty
Hearts race, then stop for a second
The world disappears
And she is in full and fragrant flower.
THE A24 AT WHITSUN
Cars so close, like lovers, steaming,
Every one heading towards the sea
Drumming fingers, overheating,
Tempers flying, a radio crying.
Another screaming “Hold Me”.
PJ Proby making us laugh. “He split his pants”
Although we had no evidence,
Just horror stories from the elders.
We were shrieking with laughter and excitement
At the thought of his bum
On show to the world.
While the grown-ups wished we had never left home.
This Whitsun morn on the A24
We could have been speaking in tongues.
No-one would have known.
This was sent in to me by one of my readers.
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm;
– Life isn’t always fair;
– And maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
– I Know My Rights
– I Want It Now
– Someone Else Is To Blame
– I’m A Victim
– Pay me for Doing Nothing
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.
Thomas H. Brymer II
Listowel Castle by Dan Keane
Grey edifice, piercing the dark
With your bare bony limbs
And shielding from searing sun
The grassy mounds.
What other use art thou?
Silent, grey, dim
Amid such sweet surrounds;
Or art thou not aware of living so long
And yet I hear thy walls
Throw back the song
Of river sweet
And every other voice
In which your playful echoes
What hands raised
Your grey skeleton so tall
Hast thou known the tramp of men
And buglers’ call?
They tell me chieftains dwelt
And great men here kept guard.
That thou hast known the strum of harp
And song of bard.
I called upon your storied walls
To pour their knowledge out
And all your echoes answered back
And out I went and out again
And do not know
The mystery of your grey wall
I brood, a child again
And in my heart
The love and mystery remain.
THE GIDYA TREE.
Where roll the great plains to the west,
Near a homestead pleasant to see,
With far-stretching limbs and spreading crest,
Grows a grand old acacia tree.
Nor winter winds, nor sun's fierce heat
Can change its staunch solidity,
For many a century's storms have beat
On this great, grey, gidya tree.
At early morn, their joyous lay,
The butcher-birds sing in melody,
And merrily pass the hours away,
All under the gidya tree.
The grey doves in its shade rejoice.
From eyes of kites they're free,
And call their loves in plaintive voice,
From under the gidya tree.
In scarlet bloom, the mistletoe swings,
From its branches droopingly;
And all around its odour flings,
Right under the gidya tree.
The milk-plant twines its length along,
As if 'twould hidden be;
Creeping its way 'mong the leaves so strong,
Of this ancient gidya tree.
The panting cattle gladly come.
And sheltered fain would be,
From burning heat of noonday sun,
Camped under the gidya tree.
Like the shade from a great rock cast
O'er the land so soothing lay;
All Nature seeks some rest at last,
Far under the gidya tree.
When life is o'er and troubles past,
How sweet that rest will be,
For weary ones who come at last,
Safe under the gidya tree.
"Nunc dimittis," my work is done,
And soon from care set free;
That peace I wish will soon be won,
Deep under the gidya tree.
From Mickey MacConnell
Boys of the Byline Brigade
It’s four in the morning, the paper’s in bed
The Newsroom’s as quiet as the tomb.
When the old man gets up from his seat by the door
Another day’s nightwork has been done.
Like a greying old shadow he peels on his coat
And he knocks off the lights on his floor
And he melts with the shadows into the grey dawn
Just before the presses start to roar.
And the glass in his hand feeds the pain in his eyes
Alone, insecure and afraid
A victim of booze, overwork and old age
And the boys of the byline brigade.
That morning the byline brigade will arrive
Those bright keen young men -about -town.
And they’ll shout into three different phones at one time
And get the whole damn thing written down.
When the country edition’s being flogged on the street
And the City’s being checked on the stone,
That old man who once interviewed princes and kings
is quietly drinking alone.
And he stands at the bar and remembers the time
When he was as good as the best.
In those days when his shorthand was clear-cut and plain
and he’d work twenty hours without rest.
In the days when his copy ran just as it stood
lead stories and bylines galore.
The first with the angles, the first to the phone
the first with his foot in the door.
If he'd only licked more arses and got drunk with the boss
God knows where he might have been today.
Not manning the doomwatch at the dead of the night
and curing the shakes half the day.
He had died on the day that his shorthand broke down
From too long pushing pen, soul and mind.
And they’ll bury his body along with his pride
In six lonely lines on page nine.
From a Mennonite song book called “Sing the Journey.”
This is the Welcome Table of our Redeemer,
and you are invited
Make no excuses, saying you cannot attend;
simply come, for around this table you will find your family.
Come not because you have to,
but because you need to.
Come not to prove you are saved,
but to seek the courage to follow wherever Christ leads.
Come not to speak but to listen,
not to hear what’s expected, but to be open to the ways the Spirit moves among you.
So be joyful, not somber, for this is the feast of the reign of God,
where the broken are molded into a Beloved Community,
and where the celebration over evil’s defeat has already begun.
Mary Morton was born in Limerick but spent her adult life in Belfast where she worked as a teacher and with Belfast PEN. She published widely in magazines and produced three collections, Dawn and Afterglow (1939); Masque in Maytime (1948); Sung to the Spinning Wheel (1952). Spindle and Shuttle shared the Northern Ireland poetry award for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and was published by HM Stationery Office in that year. The full text of the poem is available in A.A. Kelly’s Pillars of the House: An Anthology of Irish Women’s Poetry.
from Spindle and Shuttle
Last night I darned a damask tablecloth.
Back and forth
Warp and woof:
The cloth was old; a hundred years and more
Had come and gone since, master of his loom,
Some skilful weaver set the hare and hounds
Careering through the woodland of its edge
In incandescent pattern, white on white.
It was my mother’s cloth, her mother’s too
(Some things wear better than their owners do)
And linen lasts; a stuff for shirts and shrouds
Since Egypt’s kings first built their gorgeous tombs
And wrapped their dead in linen, it may be
They held it symbol of a latent hope
Mary Devenport O’Neill: Irish Woman Poet
Mary Devenport O’Neill is one of a number of forgotten Irish women poets from the early part of the 20th century. She worked with W.B. Yeats on A Vision and her Thursday salon was frequented by many of the key Irish literary and artistic figures of the era. This short poem is from her one book, the 1929 Prometheus and Other Poems. Her work is all out of print and does not appear in many of the numerous anthologies of Irish verse.
It seems to me
I live perpetually
On the cloudy edge of the sound of a bell
For ever listening.
I cannot tell
If it is memory
Of something that rang beautifully
Or if a bell will ring.
July 7 1934 Kerryman
Camogie At Listowel. LISTOWEL V. BLENNERVILLE.
GLORIOUS _ViCTORY FOR LISTOWEL.
There's joy to-night in every heart from Tarbert to Kllflynn,
From Ballyduff to sweet Duagh, from Newtownsandes to Glin,
While bonfires bright blazed through the night by Shannon, Brick and Gale,
To welcome home those champions fine with victory in their trail.
As the golden sun was sinking fast behind the western hill,
The very air reeked with delight, although 'twas calm and still.
The streets with sheer excitement blazed, all woe was turned to weal,
As the clash of seasoned ash was heard roll down the River Feale.
When Blennervllle marched to the line it was a pretty sight,
To see the far-famed pink and green. mixed through the black and white.
With swords across we won the toss and hurling towards the town,
The magpies on Liz Kiely's goal at once came swooping down.
Liz kept her fort to clear the rush to touch she drove the ball,
Where dark-haired Jenny Mulvihill applauded was by all.
But in a wink the green and pink was at the other end,
Where Maggie Foley showed the boys how well she can defend.
But Blennerville came down again more eager than before,
Till Kathleen Wilmott pulled them up and robbed them of a score,
Each time they pressed, she stood the test, in fierce but fair attack.
With lightning-like velocity, she met and drove them back.
And out before this stonewall back her gallant sister stood,
A hurler grand, with brilliant hands, to pass her nothing could.
No stag unloosed, nor hound unleashed, than Baby Joe more fleet,
'Twas her defence that spanned the bridge 'twixt victory and defeat.
At midfield where the battle raged we starred in the pink and green.
With the veteran Julia Mary Stack, the "Kingdom's" hurling queen
Through forests of ash she'd dive and dash, when danger threatened there,
Her line intact she held, in fact, none with her could compare.
The champions broke the line again, they swept along the right,
And from this Ballaclava charge, sure things were looking bright.
They spoiled their chance by fouling here. Bride Foley took the free,
But Kathleen Stack pulled down the ball and filled our hearts with glee.
The pink and green were aggressive seen, and fighting for a score.
Nan Tyndall's posts were threatened now more serious than before,
For Josie Kiely, dashing in was not on pleasure bent,
She fired a shot, a goal she got, then up the green flag went.
The pace was fast, the hurling fine, the strokes were quick and clean,
The Kerins pair along the left were to advantage seen.
For more than once they stopped the rush, backed by the Foleys two,
May Moynihan and Maggie Moore, Peg Connell helped them too.
With change of sides, the champions now were hurling down the hill.
And victory seemed within their grasp. showing extra speed and skill.
Joan Brosnan out-manoeuvred them in some mysterious way.
And beat Liz Kiely for a goal—she gave a fine display.
But nettled by this fluttering flag, the lovely pink and green
Took all before them in a charge and quickly changed the scene.
For through a bunch of shivering ash, brave Maureen Moran tore,
And pulled Nan Tyndall's barrier down, she well deserved the score.
The sands of time were running out, the light was on the wane,
The magpies forced a fifty free, but failed to score again.
Fitzgerald May and Wilmotts two, across the goal were drawn,
And Blennerville's best was beaten by the champions' brain and brawn.
The Wilmotts two, I've still in view, with Julia Mary Stack,
With dash and vim they're out to win, from nothing they'd pull back.
This gallant three, you'll all agree, have never let us down,
They're a credit to the dress they wear and to their native town.
Babe Holly over on the right was doing a lion's share.
Likewise the dark-haired Peg O'Shea, the darling from Kenmare,
Nan Connor, thirsty for a score, a trier to the last,
This trio of sharpshooters their best form more surpassed.
The magpies made a last great dash, they came along the right,
Till May Fitzgerald called a halt, which closed the friendly fight.
The Sullivans true, both tried and true, and grand old Duffy Pat,
When extra steam was turned on, they gave us tit for tat,
But, listen! there's the whistle, now the gruelling hour is o'er.
See a smile on faces here that never smiled before.
Old people bent, with sticks crawled in, to see their idols play.
With fair excitement now going out they threw their sticks away.
Give us your, hands, you gallant band, we'll shake them every one.
from goal to goal, from left to right, all through the field you shone
We'll follow you from field to field, we'll sing; your praise aloud.
Dishonour never soiled your dress of you we're justly proud.