Posted in Posts and podcasts

Three wishes – 1928

Nenagh Guardian 15th September, 1928 p.5

Dun Guaire Photo; Norma Scheibe
Dun Guaire
Photo; Norma Scheibe

The Three Wishes

In Iniscaltra’s holy fane,
Once in the long ago,
In pious converse sat, their hearts
With love of God aglow,

Kevin, the abbot of the Isle,
From penance worn outright,
And he whom still Confert reveres,
Cumain the erudite;

And, with them, Guaire, Connaught’s King,
To Eire’s utmost bound.
For his beneficence to all
Who sought his aid, renowned.

“And now, O Guaire,” Kevin said,
“Did Heaven grant you your will,
With what, as most desired, would you
This house of prayer fill?”

With gold I’d fill it to the roof,
Nor then be satisfied,
Wishing it held as much again,”
The King to him replied.

“With gold,” said Kevin in surprise
“Guaire, can this be true?”
“With gold,” he answered, “for the good
That I, with it, would do.”

“Part to the churches; part I’d give
The saints, for me to plead;
And alms to all who’d ask me grant,
And no one leave in need.”

“Guaire,” said Kevin, “as to all
You’re helpful in their need,
God, in return, yourself will help,
And Heaven shall be your need.”

“Well be thankful,” Guaire said; “and now
Cumain, had you your will,
With what instead of gold, would you
This house of prayer fill?”

“I’d fill it all with books,” he said,
“For studious men to read,
And with the doctrine in them stored
Christ’s hungry flock to feed.”

“And now, O’Kevin”, said they both,
“With what, had you your will,
“Instead of books or gold, would you
This house of prayer fill?”

“I’d fill it,” Kevin to them said,
“With all the ills that be;
All human sorrows, ailments, pains,
And wish them all on me.”

Each had his wish.  To Guaire gold
was in abundance given;
With books unnumbered Cumain gained
Unnumbered souls for Heaven.

And Kevin suffered. With disease
His flesh dissolved; with pain
His frame was racked till scarce a bone
Did in its place remain.

By Charity and doctrine true,
And, for our sins, by pain
Should God ordain it so – may we,
Like them, to Heaven attain.

P.S. Iniscaltra, now called Holy Island, is situated in Lough Derg, a few miles above Killaloe.  The
“Great Church” there, destroyed by the English, was erected by St. Kevin
the Abbot of the island.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

From the Burren – 1928

Connacht Sentinel 10th January, 1928 p.4

Burren flower Photo: EO'D
Burren flower
Photo: EO’D

No hint, no touch of grim utility,
Earth’s busy functions sleep abandoned here;
Corn-grower, root-grower, nourisher of grain,
All are forgotten, nakedly austere.
Nought but herself, her inmost core, survives,
Stripped to the elements; enskyed and pure,
Remote, and stern, and coldly sanctified;

And therefore, Burren hills, to me you seem
Shrines meet for that which is, and which is not;
Approach beloved ones! Hasten! All is clear,
No bidding need you – you the unforgot!
The door stands open; only come; ah, come;
Come from your far-off realms, with noiseless tread,
Come as you were, no dearer could you be
The Loved, the Lost, the Sundered and the Dead!

Wide glistening pavements fit for ghostly feet,
Where never thought of mart or street intrude,
Only from ledge to ledge spent rain-drops drip,
And half-heard tinklings stir the solitude.
Imponderable wanderers! Shadowy all!
Ghost after ghost; half-veiled; grey muffled; while
With spirit-looks, visions seen in sleep,
Eyes seem to glimmer, lips austerely smile.

Again at dusk-time, or when moonbeams lie
Far on the sheeted silence, fold on fold;
Then with a swifter sequence, soft as light,
Life’s semblances enwrap this shadowy cold
Like autumn leaves, like high-borne clouds, they come
Strange shapes; and others, others, ah, not strange!
Not strange, God knows, but intimately dear
Untouched by time, defiant of all change.

And therefore, Burren hills, grey Burren hills,
Soul of fierce Clare, wild West of all our West,
No mindless tract of earth or strand thou seem’st,
Such as dull maps and solemn charts attest.
Here mid your solitudes, as mid the crowds,
Alike for me thou shinest, realm apart;
Open to all we pine for, pray for, hope;
Sanctified Home-land of th’ unchanging heart.

Emily Lawless.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Galway – 1928

Oliver St. John Gogarty

A gray town in a country bare,
The leaden seas between,
When light falls on the hills of Clare
And shows their valleys green,
Take in my heart your place again
Between your lake and sea,
O city of the watery plain
That means so much to me!

Your cut-stone houses row on row,
Your streams too deep to sing,
Whose waters shine with green as though
They had dissolved the Spring:
Your streets that still bring into view
The harbour and its spars;
The chimneys with the turf-smoke blue
That never hides the stars!

It is not very long since you,
For Memory is long,
Saw her I owe my being to
And heart that takes to song,
Walk with a row of laughing girls
To Salthill from Eyre Square,
Light from the water on their curls
That never lit more fair.

Again may come your glorious days
Your ships come back to port,
And to your city’s shining ways
The Spanish dames resort!
And ere the tidal water falls
Your ships put out to sea.
Like crimson roses on grey walls,
Your memories to me.