THE BOREEN by Nora J Murray
There is a rugged grey boreen
It steals its lonely way
Between the gorse bells full of gold
That shine the night and day.
The cowslips wave shy, dimpled heads
Along the sun-kissed green,
Where fairies lurk in moonlight mists,
And weave love charms unseen.
And down below a big white bush
In spreading regal state ,
Is guarding where the Mass path leads
Unto the chapel gate.
A sacred bush is overall,
But with the morning dew
The skylark like a cherub sings
When soaring in the blue,
The heart of me goes thinkin’ long,
I feel that side by side
The dead ones wander here in joy
When comes the eventide.
The twilight smiles on every leaf,
And whiter grows the grey,
For heaven’s path my boreen is
When fades the toilsome day.
– Written in 1918 by Nora J Murray (1888-1955) An old road between the Blue Door and Clownings which was closed by the building of the canal served as a mass path from before the days of the building of St Anne’s church in 1810 until the last century.
THE THIRTEENTH LOCK by Arthur Griffith
Every night of the year about twelve of the clock
The spirits and spooks of the dread thirteenth lock
Sit winging their bodies a-this and that way
And singing in chorus: “Ri tooril li lay.”
Ri tooril li looril ri tooril li lay
Ri tooril li looril ri tooril li lay
Oh what would you think sir, and what would you say?
If you met with a ghost singing “Tooril li lay.”
There once was a captain so gallant and bold
He scorned all the warnings of young and of old
“Do you think, you poor oinseachs,” he’d scornfully say,
“That I’d fear a ghost sing “Tooril li lay.”
But one night at twelve coming home from Athy
He halted his ship when the lock he came nigh
And he jeered at the ghosts sitting there by the say
All mournfully singing “Ri tooril li lay.”
When we came to the harbour his wife good and true
Says “Jamesie my darling. Oh that it’s you.
And what will I get for your dinner ntoday?
“Oh Janey,” he answered, “Ri tooril li lay.”
Then off to the manager’s office he went
The log of the voyage to him to present
The manager, nodding, said “Very fine day,”
“Och aye,” says the captain “Ri tooril li lay.”
The manager jumped like a man on a tack
And he ups and he gives the poor captain the sack
And home to his wife went the sailor away
A-sighing and sobbing “Ri tooril li lay.”
When he got to his home sure he took to his bed
And to questions they asked and to all that they said
He just wagged his head in a sorrowful way
And mournfully answered “Ri tooril li lay.”
The doctor was sent for and just shook his head
“the divil a know I know what ’tis.” he said
“There’s no such disease in the Pharmacopay
That I ever heard tell of as “Ri tooril li lay.”
That evening at midnight the bold captain died
With his poor weeping wife and his friends by his side
And the last words he said when they asked him to pray
Were “Tooril li tooril. Ri tooril li lay.”
– Arthur Griffith (1871-1922). Although he may have chosen the lock for its unlucky number, boatmen claimed that the 13th lock was haunted as the canal had been dug through a graveyard there. Clonaghlis graveyard is nearby.
STRAFFAN STATION RAIL TRAGEDY by William Allingham
The magic car of modern skill,
Nor hour nor distance heeds;
With heat and roar and whistle shrill,
On through the dusk it speeds.
Our friends in Dublin city gay,
Expectant name our names;
“The fog is out to-night,” they say,
And stir the kindly flames.
Oh! chiller than October’s touch
Is freezing many a smile!
Terror and mortal torments clutch
What love expects the while.
Love’s self, however true and warm,
Might fail to recognise
The dear, the well-remember’d form,
If set before its eyes
‘Mong twisted metal, splinter’d wood,
Half buried in the ground,
‘Mong heaps of limbs crush’d up in blood,
Must wife, child, friend he found.
No hostile cannonade, or mine,
Perform’d the cruel wrong;
Through peaceful fields they sped to join
The city’s sprightly throng.
– William Allingham (1824-1889). His tribute to the dead in the Straffan rial tragedy was included in Day and Night Songs (1854). He was working in the customs service at the time.
THE BISHOPSCOURT HUNT (anonymous)
Mr Ponsonby he was there
And well prepared he was to go
He was mounted on a gallant horse
Which went by name of brave Stingo
Mr Ponsonby being the first man up
It’s after him he did leap in
He sank unto the bottom deep
And for his life was forced to swim
Each man and horse was at a stand
To see him plunging into the deep
But Stingo brave, that ne’er gave up
It’s o’er the hole with him did weep
They hunted fain from morn till night
Killed their fox, which crowned the sport
And returned again by moon so bright
To the sporting place called Bishopscourt
•- Words collected from Ellen Murray of Templemills
BALLAD OF CASTLEDILLON FIRING RANGE (Anonymous)
There is an isolated, desolated spot I’d like to mention
Where all the folks quick march or stand to attention
It’s miles away from anywhere, bedad it is a rum one
A chap lived there for fifty years and never saw a woman
And when the war is over we’ll capture Kaiser Billy
To shoot him would be merrciful and absolutely silly
So send him down to Castledillon among the mud and clay
And let the Crown Prince watch him, as he slowly fades away
– Author unknown, collected from Maurice Sammon. There were other verses.