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Poetry of Ireland

Some of these Poems are about the Places, People, and Experiences of Ireland. Page compiled by Teena from the noted resources.

Poems include- Lay of the Land League Griffith’s Valuation; The Irish Broque; The Cairn of the Stars; Whom should I meet; The Spendthrift; MacDiarmod’s Daughter; The Market Town; Fare Thee Well My Native Dell; Irish Names; To A Young Lady in the Beginning of Winter; The Belfast Mountains.

Lay Of The Land League Griffith’s valuation
(A Poem based on Griffiths Valuation)

Farmers far and near,
Long despoiled by plunder,
Let your tyrants hear,
Your voices loud as thunder;
Shout from shore to shore
Your firm determination
To pay in rents no more
than “Griffith’s valuation”

That’s the word to say,
To end their confiscation;
That’s the rent to pay –
“Griffith’s valuation”

See their cheeks grow pale
When the word is spoken
Long and loud they wail
Because our chains are broken.
Yes the reign is o’er
Of begging and starvation
For now we’ll pay no more
Than “Griffith’s valuation”.

That’s the word to say
Down with confiscation!
Not a cent we’ll pay
But “Griffith’s valuation”.

Now o’er all the isle
They scorn it and abuse it;
Wait a little while,
You’ll see they’ll not refuse it.
Trembling on their knees
They’ll say in supplication,
Oh!, give us if you please,
“Griffith’s valuation”

That’s the simple way
To end their confiscation;
That’s the rent we’ll pay –
“Griffith’s valuation”

Farmers one and all,
From hill and dale and heather,
Hear your country’s call,
Band yourselves together;
Standing firm and strong
In dauntless combination
You’ll have your lands ‘erelong
At “Griffith’s valuation”

That’s the word to say –
Down with confiscation
That’s the rent we’ll pay
“Griffith’s valuation”

T.D.S. in Dublin Nation
(Donahoe’s Magazine, Vol. 5, 1881)

The Irish Broque

You may talk as you like of the tongue of Spain,
And the beauties of Latin and Greek explain;
But riddle me this! Is there one of them all,
Whose silvery notes of love can fall
From the ear to the heart of a maiden fair,
And create such terrible havoc there,
As the soothering tale of an Irish rogue
When told with a “taste” of the Irish brogue?
By the powers above!
Sure the god of Love
Learned his trade with an Irish brogue.

But of all the horrible sounds that Fate
Can send on an Irish ear to grate,
An Irish brogue with an English twang
Out-Herods the worst of the whole “jing-bang.”
‘Tis the hybrid voice of a hybrid mind,
And – whatever his station -a slavish kind,
But for him don’t bother! the course of Kishogue
Attends this same English-cum-Irish brogue.
(And he’ll want to be nursed
When he’s properly cursed
With the terrible ban of Kishogue.)

So, whether the blood in your Irish veins
Ran its infant course by Leinster’s plains
Or whether the air of Ulster hill
Has nurtured your sturdy Northern will;
Whether or not you’re a Munster boy,
Or a Connaught girl from the banks of the Moy,
Whenever your tongue feels inclined to collogue,
Let it keep a firm grip of its own sweet brogue;
With its hearty ring,
And its genial swing;
Hurrah! for the Irish brogue!

(of Brisbane, Australia. The poem appeared originally in The Sydney Freeman’s Journal) Rhyme with Reason by P.G. Smith, Chicago 1911.

The Cairn of the Stars

Among the hills that kneel around
A giant summit’s ancient mound,
I stood, one night, below a cairn
Of stars on cloudy Mullaghairn.*

And there, amazed, I saw a strange.
Pale Host descend the mountain range.
As the Years, like spectral Slingers, passed
The cairn on which Their stars were cast.

And as I wondered who, of all
Your Lovers, lay beneath the pall;
A Star of Hope fell on it, hurled
From heathery crags above the world.

Then suddenly, as come the streaks
Of dawn between two mountain peaks,
Another Year came up to fling
A Star of Freedom from His sling.

Then came the morning, Ireland;
But not before the fading hand
Of the pale Star-Slinger crowned the heap,
In a dream that would not let me sleep.

At last the day came up to me;
But not before the alchemy
Of Fate had changed the Songs I threw,
As silver sparks, on the Lover, who,

For all these marvels, slumbered on.
O Ireland of the Dream of Dawn,
When I shall rest without a theme
In sleep that shall not let me dream,

May some young Singer, warm of word
Beside the Twilight’s shallow Ford,
Cast silver stones on heedless clay
A thousand years from yesterday!

Nor is the wish too bold for one,
Whose love was kindled at the sun;
For one whose fire shall yet be white
As embers on the hearth of Night.

But O! that I might claim a spark
From off that mound, built up to mark
Some long-forgotten Lover’s bones –
A cairn of stars instead of stones.

*Mullaghairn (townland) in the civil parish of Drumragh, Barony of Omagh East, Co. Tyrone

Whom should I meet

Whom should I meet at the dawn, at the dawn,
Whom should I meet at the dawning.
But the King of the Wee Folk, and faith, he had on
The jewels that I would be pawning.

“Why do you think such a wish, such a wish;
Why do you wish for my wealth, boy?
With the stir-about waiting for you in a dish,
You are wealthy enough with your health, boy.”

Whom should I meet in the night, in the night.
And I with the dew of my sorrow.
But the Good People’s harper who played with delight
On the harp I endeavored to borrow.

“Why do you ask such a boon, such a boon;
Why are you wishing to play, boy?
With a song for the morning, a whistle for noon,
And a dream for the rest of the day, boy!”

Whom shall I meet at the dawn, at the dawn,
Whom shall I meet in the morning?
Troth! silly am I, for the Fairies are gone
With the wisdom that I would be scorning.

The Spendthrift

I know a bright meadow and four bushy fences
With blossoms that hide in the dark of the haw;
But their fragrance and beauty are lost to the senses
Of one who is always away from Ardstraw.*

And there, on a summit beside an old high-way,
Are two mossy towers I knew as a lad;
But the road and the ruins lie not upon my way,
For all the desires the heart of me had.

O Field, guinea-golden, your hedges of honey
Are far from my world and the labor thereof;
But while the rich bees have no business with money,
I’ll squander my thoughts on the flowers I love.

And while the cold walls of that castle are standing
In which, as a boy, all my fancies began,
I’ll squander my dreams on the mountain commanding
That view of Ardstraw I would see as a man.

*Ardstraw – a townland, Village, and Parish in Co. Tyrone

MacDiarmod’s Daughter

There is much to be said
For Mac Diarmod’s young daughter,
And much to be sung
Were a poet about;
Since her eye is a mirror
Of Ulster’s Blackwater,
When ripples shine over
The dark-dappled trout.

And much might be said
For his daughter’s fair dower
Of heifers and bullocks
And meadowy grass;
But my head might be hanging
From Omagh* gaol’s tower,
For all the concern
That the heart of her has.

So I’ll not spend a thought
On Mac Diarmod’s young daughter,
But much might be sung
Of her land and her looks;
Since her fields are the fairest
Near Ulster’s Blackwater,
And her eyes are dark-dappled
Like trout in the brooks.

*Omagh a Town in the Civil Parishes of Cappagh & Drumragh

The Market Town

When I was ill in the long ago
That lately seems so nigh,
They placed a mirror before me so
I could see the passersby;
Market women and trading men,
Children and ballad-singers,
Farmers coming to town, and then
The noisy auction-ringers

With their “Hark, ye! Hark ye!
At twelve o’clock in Ballinaree -*
Twenty acres of turbary land
To be sold at the fall of the hand,”

Again I’m buried deep in bed,
But in this looking-glass
I see the folk who passed instead
Of those who now may pass;
Market women and trading men.
Children and auction-ringers,
Farmers coming to town, and then
The welcome ballad-singers

With their ”Hark, ye! Hark, ye!
The Blushing Rose of Ballinaree –
Twenty verses of a ballad made
For the best of the Dublin trade,”

Maybe a moon in another sky
Shall be as a mirror so
It might reflect the world which I
Would still desire to know;
Market women and trading men,
Children and ballad-singers,
Farmers coming to town, and then
The rambling notice-ringers

With their ”Hark, ye! Hark, ye!
At twelve o’ the clock in Ballinaree –
A ploughing match with a guinea’s prize
For the skill of your hands and eyes,”

* there is a Ballinarry townland, Civil Parish Saul, in Co. Down and a Ballynarry townland in Co.’s  Antrim, Armagh, Cavan & Donegal. Above from ‘The Cairn of Stars and Other Poems’, by Francis Carlin, 1920.

Fare Thee Well My Native Dell

Fare thee well, my native dell,
Though far away I wander.
With thee my thoughts shall ever dwell,
In absence only fonder.
Farewell ye banks, where once I roved,
To view that lonely river,
And you ye groves so long beloved,
And fields farewell forever!

Here once my youthful moments flew,
In joy like sunshine splendid.
The brightest hours that e’er I knew,
With those sweet scenes were blended –
When o’er those hills at break of morn,
The deer went bounding early,
And huntsmen woke with hounds and horn
The mountain echoes cheerly.

Fare ye well, ye happy hours
So bright but long departed!
Fare ye well yet fragrant bow’rs
So sweet, but now deserted!
Farewell each rock and lonely isle,
That make the poet’s numbers;
And thou O ancient, holy pile,
Where mighty Brian slumbers!

Farewell, thou old, romantic bridge,
Where morn has seen me roaming,
To mark across each shallow ridge
The mighty Shannon foamin.
No more I’ll press the bending oar
To speed the painted wherry.
And glide along the shady wood,
To view the hills of Derry!

There’s many an isle in Scariff Bay,
With many a garden blooming,
Where oft I’ve passed the summer day
Till twilight hours were glooming.
No more shall evening’s yellow glow
Among those ruins find me;
Far from these dear scenes I go,
But leave my heart behind me.

by Gerald Griffin

Irish Names

Names wid the musical lilt, of a troll to thim,
Names wid a rollickin’ swing, an’ a roll to thim,
Names wid a body, an’ bones, an’ a soul to thim —
Shure, an’ they’re poethry, darlint, asthore!
Names wid the smell o’ the praties, an’ wheat to thim,
Names wid the odor o’ dillisk, an’ peat to thim,
Names wid a lump o’ the turf, hangin’ sweet to thim —
Where can yez bate thim, the whole world o’er?

Brannigan, Flannigan, Milligan, Gilligan,
Duffy, McGuffy, Mullarky, Mahone,
Rafferty, Lafferty, Connelly, Donnelly,
Dooley, O’Hooley, Muldowny, Malone;
Maddigan, Caddigan, Hallahan, Callahan,
Fagan, O’Hagan, O’Houlihan, Flynn,
Shanahan, Lanahan, Fogarty, Hogarty,
Kelly, O’Skelly, McGinnis, McGinn.

Names wid a fine old Hibernian sheen to thim,
Names wid the dewy shamrocks clingin’ green to thim,
Names wid a whiff o’ the honest potheen to thim —
Shure, an’ they’re beautiful, darlint, asthore!
Names wid the taste o’ the salt o’ the earth to thim,
Names wid the warmth o’ the ancisthral hearth to thim,
Names wid the blood o’ the land o’ their birth to thim —
Where can yez bate thim, the whole wurruld o’er?

Brannigan, Flannigan, Milligan, Gilligan,
Duffy, McGuffy, Mullarky, Mahone,
Rafferty, Lafferty, Connelly, Donnelly,
Dooley, O’Hooley, Muldowny, Malone;
Maddigan, Caddigan, Hallahan, Callahan,
Fagan, O’Hagan, O’Houlihan, Flynn,
Shanahan, Lanahan, Fogarty, Hogarty,
Kelly, O’Skelly, McGinnis, McGinn.

Song By John Ludlow
(Originally published in The New York Tribune) ‘Rhyme with reason; a garland of Irish shamrocks, many of them grown in America’ 1911

To A Young Lady in the Beginning of Winter

In vain shall winter boast his reign,
O’er smiling mead and flow’ry plain;
In vain shall boast the rose has fled,
And tell of fairest lilies dead;

While yet, sweet maid, thy cheeks I view,
Still brighter than the summer’s hue;
What, tho’ his wings are tinged with snow,
And cold the piercing winds do blow,

Tho’ one wide ruin heaps the green,
Where late but smiling flow’rs were seen,
Still on thy bosom, white and fair,
Sweet summer blossoms all the year.

What tho’ amidst the leafless trees,
No linnet’s soft’ning notes shall please,
No melting murmur fill the grove,
No echo swell the song of love,

Yet, while thy sweeter voice I hear,
My soul feels summer all the year;
What, tho’ no balmy airs convey
On zephyr’s wing the breath of May;

No spicy odour fills the grove,
To heighten the repast of love;
Yet while thy sweeter breath is near,
I feel its fragrance all the year;

What tho’ no grape or melting pear,
Hangs from the bough t’enrich the year,
No meads with dews ambrosial crown’d
No honey drops from trees around;

Yet, while thy balmy lips I press,
Oh! say, like this can summer bless?
What tho’ with dull and cheerless ray,
The sun drags on the winter’s day,

While clouds and storms and whirlwinds rise,
And veil the splendour of the skies;
Ah! what their glory lost to me,
If I thy brighter eyes but see?

Yet, fairest of these charms possess’d !
A brighter gem shines in thy breast;
Tis this gives beauty to the eye,
And bids with snow the bosom vie –

Nor gold can buy’t, nor time impair,
Diffusing summer all the year –
This, this, lov’d Mary! is the charm,
That can the tyrant Death disarm;

‘Tis this that wings the raptur’d soul
Above where suns and comets roll –
There thou, a brighter star, shalt shine,
And Heaven’s eternal day be thine.

David Colhoun (of Ardstraw Parish County Tyrone 1814)

This man, (David Colhoun) amidst the cares of a large family, and of a farm, which he occupies in the vicinity of Mary Grey, found leisure, to cultivate the Muses to whom it seems, from the earlier periods of his life, he had been particularly attached. Of the pieces which he has written on various subjects, many breath the true spirit of poetry and it is owing to the discernment of a judicious friend, that they have been lately published at Strabane by subscription. (A Statistical Account, Or Parochial Survey of Ireland, Vol. 1, By William Shaw Mason 1814)

The Belfast Mountains

On the Belfast mountains, I heard a lovely maid,
Making her lamentation, down by yon chrystal stream,
She says I am confined, all in the bands of love,
By a brisk young weaver who does inconstant prove.

She says my loving Johnny, don’t treat me with disdain,
To leave me here behind you, my sorrows to bewail.
She clapped her hands and cried. Johnny, love farewell
And to those Belfast mountains my story I will tell.

It’s not your Belfast mountains can give to me relief,
Nor is it in their power to ease me of my grief.
She clasped her hands around me. like violets round the vine
That bonny weaver laddie that stole this heart of mine.

If I had all the diamonds that grow in yonder hill,
I would them to my laddie, if he would for me feel,
If I had a tongue to prattle I would tell my love fine tales,
To my bonnie weaver laddie my mind I would reveal.

Now since my love has gone from me his face I’ll never see
He’s left me here behind him in woe and misery.
But I hope he will return safe back to me again
That bonny weaver laddie that’s won this heart of mine.

J. S. Crone.
Ulster Journal of Archaeology poem to be found in British Museum, press mark 11621, b. 12, a chap book printed by P. Buchan, Peterhead, 1810