Spring in Blackhall
(by Mary Briscoe (nee King), 1879-1955)
Will you come little maiden and ramble with me
To that clear shining lake near the old chestnut tree.
Where the wild duck abound and the swans come and go
And the waterhens hatch in the sedge down below.
There are thousands of warblers whose song will enthrall
And what is their song? It is Spring in Blackhall.
Come! The daffodil meadow is fair to be seen
With blooms peeping up from their mantle of green
Like bright golden carpet, they nod and they sway,
There are wee fairies dancing and what do they play?
Sweet music you'll hear as the waves rise and fall
And what is their tune? It is Spring in Blackhall.
You will see the wild cherry right now at its best
With fair dainty blossoms the bright tree is dressed
If you peep through the branches right up to the sky
You'll feel close to heaven with angels nearby.
As I hear them sing softly, other days I recall
For this is their song, 'It is Spring in Blackhall'
Shall we climb the high tower and look at the sea?
Or a shy little squirrel alert in some tree?
I remember the people who once passed this way
When spring was awakening, just the same as today.
As I walk through the laneways, I think of them all
And I feel they'll come back when its Spring in Blackhall.
(Written c.1880, concerning the setting up in 1879 of the Termonfeckin Branch of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish language, a forerunner of the Gaelic League. 'Newtown's old steward' was a John Dagg.)
Of late this world so much has changed
That nought should make us wonder
Or think good people are deranged
If they but make a blunder.
Now in Termonfeckin, what's the go
They want to understand
To read and write and thoroughly know
The language of their land.
With this intent Newtown's old steward
Commenced his aspirations
And boldly said he felt assured
It would be done by patience.
He next a meeting did declare
And young men good invited
They placed him promptly in the chair
Which made him quite delighted.
To fill the post of Chairman vice
Two men were nominated
And Peter Carolan was the choice
Of all there congregated.
For rule and orders to devise
They appointed a committee
Those seven men sedate and wise
Who would do business for a city
To give the name of every man
That is my fond desire
Well there is Mr. Sheridan
With P and J Maguire.
And there is Mr. Flanagan
A man of stately air
And Mr. Wogan who is named
To fill the second chair.
Bill Johnston too, though R.I.C.
Is likewise on the list.
He is going to leave I understand
And sorely shall be missed.
(by Revd. J.F.G. Magill)
(Born in Dromara, Co. Down, Rev. John Fulton Gilliland Magill (1875-1953) was appointed curate-in-charge of Termonfeckin in 1941. Rev Magill must have been taken with his new parish because he wrote the following poem about it not long after his arrival.)
Beauteous village, country’s pride.
On the river Ballywater,
Sweeping onward to the tide.
There, the castle of the primates
Standeth yet - impressive sight.
There two Fanes with spires resplendent
Seek to guide our steps aright.
Modest village, yet with ‘Big Street’,
It’s a place of consequence!
Come and see it, you will love it
And make there your residence.
An Old Timer’s View
(Air: The Rising of the Moon)
(by Nicholas Sharkey)
(Nicholas Sharkey, ‘The Bard of Clogherhead’ wrote this poem in 1967 for Tommy Simpson (RIP), then the Principal of Sandpit School, as the latter acquired an interest in the workings of the County Council.)
Please tell me Mr. Simpson, when the day is going to be
We’ll have car-parks and flush toilets on the back road to the sea.
And the humpy bridge abolished that’s causing such revolt
To the tearing reckless speed hog when he gets the rattly jolt.
To speculate, ten thousand might give it better shape
Whisper to the County Council and you’ll see the members gape.
For the NFA might block it and ban the golden shore
Else dip deep in the pocket as the rates are bound to soar.
From the scenic burrow there’s no way but turn back
Long before the great MacMurrough it has been a cul-de-sac.
Appeal then, tax the tourist, the petrol and the beer.
For the slaughter on the highway makes us wish it twice as dear.
The town and county got too small, likewise the pubs and bars.
It seems to me a free for all since the rabble got the cars.
They’re no asset to the locals, they’re confusion in the shops.
They’re a headache to all the farmers, opening gates and spoiling crops.
They’re a menace on a Sunday, with cold rudeness how they pass
And they make us wish for Monday when we suffocate at Mass.
Our best friend is St. Swithin when the basking idlers strip
He turns on the pressure and the semi-nudists skip.
A homogeneous Fuhrer some day may clear the mess.
Between the Jews and Vietnam it’s anybody’s guess.
Then give us back the halcyon days of tall hats and cigars
For the roads are like a shambles since the rabble got the cars.
Memories of Old Terfeckin
(by Frances Harmon)
(Submitted to the Society by Marie McLaughlin. Written by Frances Harmon, Big Street and sent to her uncle Paddy Harmon in Woodriver, Illinois, USA in 1960. Frances, now 95, is in the Cottage Hospital, Drogheda.)
There’s a village by the sea
Where I first saw light of day.
More about it I will tell you
If the time is yours to stay.
It nestles in a valley
Bedecked by Nature’s lavish hand
With a river running through it
On its way to silvery strand.
A chapel on the hill
Overlooks the school nearby
Where in childhood’s happy days
We went with many a sigh.
The bridge, a favourite landmark
Sees battles fought and won
By Youth and Age who congregate
From noon to setting sun.
Down Strand Road we’ll wander
Gaze on its fields and dells.
The castle, the wood, the river
And the stones of Trinity Well.
The castle, a living memory
Of generations long ago
Their names are on its storied walls
Where now the lichens grow.
Up Thunder Hill we’ll ramble
No chapel now is found.
But the village hall stands proudly
Where once was holy ground.
Rath Wood looms dark and gloomy
The sea looks angry too
But the Big Street is embracing us
With its ever lovely view.
Our little tour is ending
One more place left to see.
Where, branches bare, of memories rare
It stood, the old Big Tree.
Here rest awhile and ponder those
Whose feet once lightly trod
Our eyes on churchyard yonder, pray
Their souls rest, aye with God.
Our journey o’er, our hearts reach out
With the glow of memory
To those dear ones who are far away
From their village by the sea.