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Matthew Mahon, Poet – Dooras, Kinvara

National Folklore Collection, UCD. The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0615, Page 073

Collected by May Burke, Turlough, Co. Clare from her mother 21st April, 1938
My mother tells me the only poet she know personally, was an old man, names Matthew Mahon. He lived near Kinvara in a village called Durras. When she first saw him, he was a very old man, and he was lame from his birth. He was very poor. He used to travel around the country on foot, taking notes of rivers and lakes, or any thing of note.
He would then go home and shut himself in for weeks, composing verses in thanks and praise of those who would be good to him or give him lodging’s. A few of these verses are the only ones she remembers of the poems -:

Just in winter before the spring
I went to Turlough there for to sing,
To take down notes of each place I pass,
I arrived in Turlough just after Mass.
My mind at first was in great grief
Knowing they might repose it would give relief,
My feet were panting, for alas I’m lame
and to ask for lodging’s I felt great shame.


Collected by Margaret McGann, Turlough N.S, from her father Thomas McGann, Aughavinane, Bellharbour, Co. Clare
April 21st 1938
The only poet that they knew of around here was Matt Mahon. He lived in Duras in the parish of Kinvara. He was fairly well educated. He used to come around here with an ass and car. One of his hands and one of his legs were disabled. When he would come into a house if he was not well received he would make up a bad song about the people of the house and if he was well received he would make up a good song. He was travelling one Sunday and he went into a lot of houses and he got nothing until he came to Peter McGann’s.

He was highly received there and he composed the following verse:-
I been from Connaught and in in (sic) Clare And by my conscience I must declare
That the likes of Peter and his family are not living now in this country.
They are kind, they’re mild, they’re good and grand, they’re likes I find are not in this land.
For their hearts are wide, I really swear, surpassing all I know in Clare.

He used used to have these songs written in ballads and he used to sell them for 1d each.


Collected by Brigid Hynes Ballymanagh N.S., from Stephen Donohoe, Ballymanagh – 24th June 1938
National Folklore Collection, UCD. The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0036, Page 0161

There were no poets in this district formerly, but there was a wandering poet from Dooras, Kinnara (sic), Co Galway. His name was McMahon. He made a poem relating to anyplace he was ill treated in. He made a poem about Michael Cunniffe, Cahergal Craughwell, because he wasn’t entertained in it. The poem is as follows.

In Ballymana there are nice people,
Kind and decent, when strangers pass,
Especially those who are old and feeble,
And poets are often of the class,
But when a poet has walked the parish,
To where Mick Cunniffe has got his home,
The latter he did not him cherish,
So now I will begin my poem.
I
Mick so bold, proud, and haughty,
Thinks all others are a botch,
If people speaks they are faulty,
Because he carries a curious watch.
II
He is old enough to marry now,
I think he is fifty nine,
He wants a son to drive his cos,
who yet will have his coin;

McMahon died in the year 1924. He was sixty two years of age. He is buried in Doorus, Kinvara, Co. Galway. One day he was talking to children on their way to school and he asked a slate of them. They gave it to him, and he wrote on it this verse;

The world is round, and it goes on wheels
And death is a thing that everyone feels,
But if death was a thing that money could buy,
The rich would live, and the poor would die.
But God is so merciful, it would not be so,
The rich and the poor on their turn must go.

About The Burren and Beyond

B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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