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Francis A. Fahy

Connacht Tribune, 13th October, 1967

The unveiling of the memorial to Francis A. Fahy at Kinvara on Sunday last led to a large turnout.  A son of the Kinvara-born poet, Mr. Dermot A. Fahy, from Cambridge, travelled from England to be present.  With him were cousins of the poet, Mr. James Quinn and Miss Bofey-Quinn (Corofin), Mr. and Mrs. Marlborough(Corofin) and Mr. George Marlborough (Corofin). 
The local branch of Muintir na Tire organised the erection of the memorial and the County Executive of Muintir na Tire were represented by Mr. Peter Moylan, Loughrea, Mr. Joe Lally, Manager, Ireland-West was also present.
The late poet’s son, Dermot, unveiled the memorial and addressed the attendance.  Mr. Thomas Donlon, N.T., Dr. Francis Greene, Mr. Patrick Diskin, M.A., and Very Rev. B. Mulkerrin P.P., also spoke.
Fifteen year old Geraldine Quinn from Crushoa, Kinvara, presented Mr. Fahy with her own oil painting of the scene of the “Old Plaid Shawl.”  Mr. Richard J. Johnston, recited his own verse composition, “To Francis A. Fahy, Poet and Patriot: a Tribute.”

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Francis A. Fahy – Kinvara – 1924

Connacht Tribune 8th March, 1924 p.14

Main Street, Kinvara Photo: Cresswell archives
Main Street, Kinvara
Photo: Cresswell archives

Francis A. Fahy on Kinvara; (abridged)
I left Kinvara in ’73 (1873), a youth of 19.  Its scenes, its people, their customs, sports, recreations, their kindliness and affection, their good humour and lightheartedness, their abiding faith in God, are as fresh in my memory after 50 years of exile as things of yesterday, and have ever been the inspiration of my songs. I thank God that I have lived to see the first hues of a new dawn brighten over my native hills.

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A Lullaby – Francis A. Fahy – 1895

Irish Examiner 1st June, 1895 p.10

Like a bird on the bough of the brown hazel swinging. Photo: EO'D
Like a bird on the bough of the brown hazel swinging.
Photo: EO’D

Oh, to and fro on my bosom of love,
Like a bird on the bough of the brown hazel swinging;
While a husho falls from the stars up above,
And a lul-la-lo are the night-winds singing.
Sleep sthoreen bawn,
Sleep on till dawn;
Peace to my heart your sweet breath bringing.

Oh, wee-shee handies and mouth of the rose!
My share of the world in his warm nest is lying,
While husho falls as the blue eyes close,
And a lul-la-lo is the night-wind dying,
Sleep, flower of love,
Sleep cooing dove,
Softly above my heart’s glad sighing.

Allana macree, cling closer to me,
The daylight is flown and the pale stars are peeping,
While a husho falls o’er the land and the sea,
And lul-la-lo from the far hills creeping.
Sleep, sthoreen bawn.
Sleep on till dawn,
Angels their watch above you keeping.

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Francis A. Fahy – 1923

Irish Examiner 12th March, 1923 p4.

Home of Francis A. Fahy, poet and songwriter; 1854-1935 Kinvara Wikimedia Commons
Home of Francis A. Fahy, poet and songwriter; 1854-1935
Wikimedia Commons

Mr Frank Fahy’s paper on “ould Kinvarra” at the Irish literary Society last night was one of the most delightful things the Society has had for many a long day. It was an authentic picture of Irish life in a little country town in the sixties and seventies. It was real because the memories were Mr. Fahy’s own memories, and yet as he truly said, other things being equal, it might have stood for a picture of life in any other little Irish town in the same period.

Those of us who heard the paper saw the people of Kinvarra and heard their familiar talk in their homes and out of them, took part in their joys and sorrows, and were one with them in their passionate love of the scenes among which they moved, a love which years of exile from them and leagues of sea and land now lying between the exiles and them only seem to increase.

The success of Mr. Fahy’s paper lay not only in the sympathetic chords it touched in the hearts of his audience but in the artistry with which he drew his picture, and the inimitable way in which he made every word tell. Every inflection in his voice was full of meaning. No one else could have written the paper. No one else could have read it so well. It was little wonder that in the subsequent discussion there were appeals to Mr. Fahy to have “Ould Kinvarra” printed – and along with it the other lecture which he gave not so long ago before the Society in which he described the work of the Southwark Irish Literary Society in London in the eighties. The only drawback to the evening was that its attractiveness demonstrated severely how inadequate is the space in the Society’s room for such an occasion

William Boyle.

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Francis A. Fahy – Kinvara Amateur Theatricals – 1870

Nation 8th January, 1870 p9

Mr Francis A. Fahy, Kinvara. Photo: Connacht Tribune 8th March 1924 p14
Mr Francis A. Fahy, Kinvara.
Photo: Connacht Tribune 8th March 1924 p14

(from a correspondent)

On Monday evening the gentleman of the above amateur company gave a dramatic entertainment at the courthouse, Kinvara, for the benefit of the wives and families of the political prisoners, which brought together a large and respectable audience to witness tho production of a new piece, “The Last of the O’Learys,” specially written for the occasion by Master F’rancis A. Fahy, a young gentleman only just attained the age of fifteen, whose extraordinary talent foreshadows a brilliant and successful future.

The temporary theatre was handsomely decorated, and the scenery and other properties, including dresses, were quite in keeping with the taste and judgment with which the pieces were put upon the stage. The young gentlemen who took part in the representation displayed a far more than adequate conception of the role entrusted to them, and acquitted themselves in a manner that elicited continuous and well-merited applause.

As “The O’Leary,” Master Francis Fahy’s acting displayed, a considerable amount of skill and histrionic merit, and repeatedly brought down the house. ” Irelington,” an English adventurer, possessing the confiscated patrimony of the “O’Learys,” was admirably personated by Mr. St. George Joyce; while “Bill Scratch,” his friend and accomplice, was as equally well delineated by Mr. Joseph Fahey. The impersonation of “Larry Duggan,” by Mr. H. Kilkelly, was rendered with much effect. Mr J. P. Linane, as “Captain Harly,” was most happy in his selection of the rollicking, swaggering English officer; as was also Mr. T. F. O’Gorman, in the character of “Terry,” his valet. The other characters were equally well sustained.

The amusements concluded with a laughable farce, entitled ” The Spectre Bridegroom;” so that a pleasant and entertaining evening, in every sense, was enjoyed by those present, and we have only to add that the gentlemen who cater for the public amusement with such a noble object, are deserving of a meed of praise for their patriotism and public spirit. Wo understand the company propose giving a series of Irish entertainments.

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Mr Thomas Fahy

The Burren Wikimedia Commons
The Burren
Wikimedia Commons
NEW ZEALAND TABLET VOL XXII IS 6 – 7th June, 1895 p21

Mr Thomas Fahy, one of the oldest, best known, and most esteemed of the Irish residents at Clapham, London, died at 33 Leppoc road, the residence of his son, Mr F. A. Fahy (the popular Irish poet and humourist), on Ash Wednesday. Mr Fahy’s circle of friends extended far beyond Clapham. Indeed, in every part of London the news of the death of this kindly, genial, and most lovable of Irishmen, was heard with the deepest regret. He was born close on 80 years ago at Burren, Clare, but most of his long life was spent in Kinvara a town on an inlet of Galway Bay, famous as the home of The little Irish Colleen,” of his son’s charming and popular ballad, “The ould plaid shawl.” He was emigration agent for the district during the exodus that followed the famine of ’48, and he booked thousands for the land of the Stars and Stripes. He was the medium through which thousands of pounds reached the hands of the lrish emigrants’ relatives. His remains are interred in the Catholic cemetery at Mortlake, on the Upper Thames, and close to the remarkable tomb, in the form of a tent, of that famous Galway man, Sir Frederick Burton, the Eastern explorer and Orientalist. Kilkenny.

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An Dreoilín – 1895

An Dreoilín Wikimedia Commons
An Dreoilín
Wikimedia Commons
New Zealand Tablet 12th July, 1895 P11 (abridged)

Francis A. Fahy is a writer who seems to have struck the popular vein in his productions. Like Mr Graves, he has written a number of songs to familiar airs, and as they are all of the “catching order,” they sink deep in the fancy of the masses. In reading his songs one is struck with the peculiar domination of the national spirit in them, It is interwoven with every other sentiment of the poem and seems inseparable from his verse. Even in his songs of affection, begun in a tender strain, we hear the tread of the soldier and the jingle of his sabre.

He was born at Kinvara, County Galway on September 29, 1854, and entered the Civil Service in 1873. He has resided in London since that time, and has taken part in many Irish movements, notably the Southwark Irish Literary Club and its successor, the Irish Literary Society. At sixteen years of age he wrote a play “The Last of the O’Leary’s,” which was produced in his native town. In the same year his first printed poem appeared in the Nation. Since then he has contributed from time to time to nearly all the leading periodicals of Ireland and to many in England. Most of his writings appeared over the nom de plume of Dreoilín (the wren).

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Kinvara 1902

Ballybranigan, Kinvara Photo: Norma Scheibe
Ballybranigan, Kinvara
Photo: Norma Scheibe



From E.P. STANTON  Donahoe’s Magazine (abridged)

Kinvara was, and probably is yet, an Irish-speaking district, for, although the national school has been an institution there ever since the planting of that intellectual exotic in Irish soil, the old ways and the old ideals have, nevertheless, held their own.  The Celtic spirit breathes in “ould Kinvara” still, and why should it not?  Within sight of what have been aptly called “The Last Fortress of the Celt”  – the Islands of Arran – and almost within sound of the league long breakers that encircle them with a belt of foam, it is not to be wondered at that the principles that made those islands saintly and storied should linger in the vicinity of Kinvara.  Therefore, it is safe to assume that it is as Celtic and Catholic today as it ever was.

There are two fairs held there yearly, and there is the weekly market.  At these the business used to be conducted principally in the old tongue.  This is possibly the case to this day.  The religion of the community being what it is, “God save you, kindly sir” of the ballad is the well-known and universal salutation, turned into English for the purpose of the rhythm.

The braedheen cloak and the plaid shawl, former for matrons and the latter for young women, are yet characteristic articles of female attire, and a picturesque garb they make in that quaint town and neighbourhood.

Note; The ballad is “The Auld Plaid Shawl” by Francis A. Fahy (1854-1935)