World Poetry Day is on 21 March. List your favorite Irish poem/poet

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Filiocht na nGael - an leabhar iomlan.

The Irish language poetry collection, Filiocht na nGael, in its entirety contains almost every classical poem in modern Irish. I have an old copy, from my schooldays, and I turn to it every now and then for the relief of unbearable nostalgia. All the poetry I have ever most loved is there. About the author Thomas

Belinda, if you want information about Filiocht na nGael, I regret that I am on my way to Ireland for a couple of weeks but I'll look up publisher, editor etc., when I get back. I regret, however, that we'll probably find that it is long out of print. If you want the words to any classic poem(s), let me know and if I can find, or remember it, I'll transcribe it (them) for you.

The Tinkerman's Daughter

  • (Michael MacConnell)

    The wee birds were lining the bleak autumn branches
    Waiting to fly to a far sunny shore
    When the tinkers made camp at a bend on the river
    Coming back from the horse-fair in Ballinasloe
    The harvest being over the farmer came walking
    Along the Feale River that bordered his land
    'Twas there he first saw her 'twixt firelight and water
    The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    Next morning he woke from a night without resting
    He went to her father, he made his claim known
    In a pub in Listowel they worked out a bargain
    For the tinker a pony, for the daughter a home
    Where the trees shed their shadows along the Feale River
    The tinker and the farmer inspected the land
    And a white gelding pony was the price they agreed on
    For the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    With the wedding soon over the tinkers departed
    They're eager to travel on south down the road
    The crunch of their iron-shod wheels on the gravel
    Was as bitter to her as the way she'd been sold
    She tried hard to please him, she did all his bidding
    She slept in his bed and she worked on the land
    But the walls of that cabin pressed tighter and tighter
    On the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    White as the hands of the priest or the hangman
    The snow spread its blanket the next Christmas round
    The tinkerman's daughter slipped out of his bedside
    Turned her back on the land and her face to the town
    It's said someone saw her at dusk that same evening
    As she made her way out o'er Likelycompane
    And that was the last time the settled folk saw her
    The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    Where the North Kerry hills cup the Feale o'er Listowel
    At a farm on its banks lives a bitter old man
    He swears by the shotgun he keeps at his bedside
    He'll kill any tinker that camps on his land
    Whenever he hears iron-shod wheels on gravel
    Or a horse in the shafts of a bright caravan
    Then his day's work's tormented, his night sleep's demented
    By the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    (as sung by Arthur Johnstone)

  • there is also another version of this poem

My favorite is John O'Donohue's Beannacht. This Wednesday, I will attend the funeral of a first cousin. "The protection of the ancestors" - how consoling in times like this.

Beannacht – For Josie

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

thanks for that Belinda

The Ballad of the Tinker’s Daughter
by Sigerson Clifford

When rooks ripped home at eventide and trees pegged their shadows to the ground
The tinkers came to Carhan Bridge and camped beside the Famine mound.
With long-eared ass and bony horse and with blue-wheeled cart and caravan
And she the fairest of them all the daughter of the tinker clan.

O the sun flamed in her red, red hair and in her eyes there were stars of mirth
Her body held the willow’s grace and her feet scarce touched the springing earth.
The night spread its star-tasseled shawls; the river gossiped to her stones
She sat beside the camping fire and she sang the songs the tinker owns.

All the songs as old as turning wheels and sweet as the bird-throats after rain
Deep wisdom of the wild wet earth; the pain of joy, the joy of pain.
A farmer going by the road to tend his cattle in the byre
He saw her like some fairy queen between the river and the fire.

And her beauty stirred his brooding blood; her magic mounted all in his head.
He stole her from the tinker clan and on the morrow they were wed.
And when the sunlight swamped the hills and bird-song drowned the river’s bells
The tinkers quenched their hazel fires and climbed the pallid road to Kells.

It was from her house she watched them fade and vanish in the yellow furze
A cold wind blew across the sun and it silenced all the singing birds.
She saw the months run on and on, she saw the river fret and foam
At break of day the roosters called; at dim of dusk the cows came home.

The crickets strummed their heated harps in hidden halls all behind the hob
And they told of distant waterways where the black moorhens dive and bob
And shoot the glassy bubbles up to smash their windows on the stones
And brown trout hide their spots of gold among the river’s pebbled bones.

And too the ebbing sea that flung a net of sound all about the stars,
It set strange hills dancing in her dreams and it meshed her to the wandering cars.
She stole out from her sleeping man; she fled the fields that tied her down
Her face moved towards the rising sun; her back was to the tired town.

And she climbed the pallid road to Kells against the hill and all against the wind
In Glenbeigh of the mountain-streams she came upon her tinker-kind.
They bedded her between the wheels and there her son was born
She heard the tinker-woman’s praise before she died that morn.

Now the years flew by like frightened birds that spill a feather and then are gone
The farmer walked his weedful fields and he made the tinkers travel on.
No more they camped by Carhan Bridge or coaxed their fires to fragrant flame
They saw him with his dog and his gun; they spat and cursed his name.

And when May hid the hawthorn trees with stars she stole from out the skies
There came a barefoot tinker lad with red, red hair and laughing eyes.
He left the road, he crossed the fields; the farmer shot him in the side
The smile went from his twisting lips; he told his name and died.

And that evening when the neighbours came they found the son there upon the floor
They saw the farmer swinging low between the window and the door.
They placed the son upon a cart and they cut the swaying farmer down
They swear a tinker woman came with them all the way to town.

And the sun flamed in her red, red hair and in her eyes there danced stars of mirth
Her body held the willow’s grace and her feet scarced touched the springing earth.
They buried them in Keelvarnogue and eyes were moist and lips were wan
And when the mound was patted down the tinker maid was gone.

We had a World Poetry Day reading here at my university, and this was one of the poems I read. 

The Rebel

by Pádraig Mac Piarais

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,

I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!

I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!

                                                   i loved a papish girl


I was born and bred in Sandy Row a loyal orange Prod. 
A follower of King William that noble man of God, 
My motto no surrender my fleg the Union Jack 
And every year I'd proudly walk to Finaghy and back. 
A loyal son of Ulster a true blue that was me 
Prepared to fight prepared to die for faith and liberty. 
As well as that a Linfield man far back as I can mind 
I had no time for Catholics or people of that kinds. 

But then one night in Bangor I met wee Rosie Brown, 
From the moment I set eyes on her my heart went up and down 
And when I thought she fancied me my heart was all a buzz 
I clean forgot to ask her what her religion was. 
I never slept a wink that night I just laid there in bed, 
I thought about wee Rosie and all the things we'd said 
I know I should have asked before I made a date 
Before I fell in love with her but by then it was too late 

When next we met I told her "I'm a Prod and staunch and true" 
She said "I'm a Catholic and I'm just as staunch as you." 
The words were harsh and bitter then suddenly like this 
The centuries of hatred were forgotten in one kiss. 
That night I dreamt about her a strange confusing dream 
I dreamt we both were singing " The Wearin of the Green" 
And as we walked to Finaghy full of harmony and hope 
Who was there to greet us but his Holiness the Pope. 

When I awoke I new that dream was even more than true 
The future we were heading for would be confusing too. 
Indeed when I thought about it, it was all to clear 
That was to be the understatement of the year. 
I knew our love could bring us little but trouble and distress 
But nothing in this world could make me love my Rosie less. 
I saved a bit of money as quickly as I could 
I asked her if she'd marry me and by God she said she would. 

Then the trouble really started her folks were flaming mad 
And when mine heard about it sure they were twice as bad, 
Her father said that from that day he'd hang his head in shame 
And by a strange coincidence my oul lad said the same. 
My mother cried her eyes out and said I'd rue the day 
I'd let a Papish hussy steal my royal heart away. 
And Rose's mother said when she'd recovered from the blow 
She'd rather see the Divil than a man from Sandy Row. 

In deference to Rosie we were married in her church 
But my clergyman was there as well; he didn't leave me in the lurch. 
The Priest was awfully nice to me he made me feel at home 
I think he pitied both of us for our families wouldn't come. 
The house we went to live in had nothing but four walls, 
It was far away from Sandy Row and farther from the Falls. 
And that's the way we wanted it for both of us new well 
That back among the ones we knew our lives would just be hell. 

But life out there for Rosie was lonely I knew well 
And of course we had our wee religious differences too, 
When Friday came along and Rosie gave me fish 
I looked at it and then at her and said "That's not my dish." 
I mind well what she answered though she never said it twice 
"To ate no meat on Friday is a poor wee sacrifice 
To make for Christ who died one Friday long ago." 
But anyway I ate the fish and it wasn't bad you know. 

Then Sunday came and I lay on and she got up for Mass. 
Then Rosie turned to me and said " Will you shift your lazy ass 
You've got a Church to go to and that's where you should be 
So up you get this minute you'll go part of the road with me." 
We left the house together but we parted down the line, 
She went off to her Church and I went off to mine 
But all through out the service although we were apart 
I felt I was worshiping with Rosie in my heart. 

The weeks and months went quickly by and then there comes the day 
That Rosie up and tells me that a child is on the way. 
Then from that day my life becomes a wondrous thing 
Like a lovely flower unfolding its petals in the spring. 
We wrote and told our families for they never came to call 
And we thought this news would heal the breach and so it did an all. 
My Mother and then Rosies come to visit us in turn 
And I marveled at the power of a wee child yet unborn. 

Och but I was awful disillusioned when I found out why they came 
It wasn't just to heal the breach or make it up again, 
Rosie's Mother had come to say the child would be RC 
And mine had come to say it would be a Protestant like me. 
The rows before the wedding were surely meek and mild 
Compared to all the rumpus that was ris about the child, 
From both sides of the family insults and threats were hurled 
O what a desperate way to welcome a wee angel to this world. 

The child must be a Catholic no the child must be a Prod, 
But the last and powerful voice I heard was the mighty voice of God 
When to is awful wisdom I had to hang my head 
When Rosies time had come at last the child was born but dead. 
That night I sat by Rosies bed and just before the dawn 
I kissed her as she left me to join our angel son. 
This orange heart was broken within these four bare walls 
Where the hells the Shankill and where the hells the Falls. 

In all the years that's past since then years of grief and pain 
I'd give my life and even more just to see her face again. 
But the loneliness is near over now I'll see her soon I know 
For the Doctor told me yesterday that I haven't long to go. 
And when I go up yonder they'll let me in I hope 
And when the ask me who I'm for King Billy or the Pope, 
I'm going to take no chances I'll answer loud and clear 
I'm just a loyal Protestant who loved, a Papish girl. 

But one way or another I think they'll let me through 
And Rosie will be waiting there, and our wee angel too 
Then a little child will lead them the Papisher and the Prod 
Up the golden steps of Heaven into the house of God.


BROTHER MICK - Sigerson Clifford Poems

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Poems » sigerson clifford » brother mick

The mountain frowned upon the school,
The school stared at the street,
And rich men's sons came there in shoes
While I ran in bare feet.
The rich had meat and cakes to eat,
And butter like the Danes, (1)
While I had only spuds and fish,
And fish, they say, makes brains. (2)
But still the rich boys passed exams
While I kept thin, and thick,
And thanked the stars that he had come
Among us... Brother Mick.

We had the world's slowest clock
That drowsed upon the wall,
While I cursed the Roman scoundrels
That let Caesar loose in Gaul.
There, too, was Euclid with his cuts,
And trigonometry.
That Peachy, Ring and Chas could do
But they were Greek to me.
And there were sums on trains and tubs
Of water running quick:
'Twas Chinese torture till he came
To save me... Brother Mick.

For Brother Tom no patience had
With duffers such as I
Who never could be taught to solve
The mystery of pi.
And Brother Jim had even less
For those who didn't prize
The hairy men of hither Gaul
As seen through Caesar's eyes.
Then Brother Tom whacked like a bomb,
While Jim could wield the stick.
But that was all before we knew
The smile of Brother Mick.

Still the great Power that will not let
The sparrow fall to earth
Took pity on bewildered brains
No Latin could alert.
For Brother Jim was sent to Trim (3)
To march with Caesar there,
While we sprawled in our desks and heard
The new man on the stair.
We saw him smile as he came in,
His footsteps short and quick;
His name was Brother Michael
So, of course, we called him Mick.

And as the weeks meandered on
We watched with puzzled eye
And wondered if some archangel
Had strayed down from the sky.
He did not shout, he did not clout
But went his gentle way
To bring the light to souls that stood
Full ankle-deep in clay.
He locked the leather in the press
And burned the hazel stick;
‘Twas then we all threw doubts upon
The mind of Brother Mick.

How short is time with one you love,
A year is like a while.
The things you will not do for stick
You learn for a smile.
We passed exams and scholarships,
Our mothers thought us fine,
Though greater than the loaves and fish
The miracle of mine.
The gods be praised I even got
Marks in arithmetic;
'You'll be a second Einstein yet,'
Said surprised Brother Mick.

The big lads reaped their excise jobs,
We all marched to the train
And shook their lordly hands and praised
The old school once again.
The engine panted up the rails,
We flung our cheers out loud
And watched it sprinting past the bridge,
Its whistle long and proud.
And as we laughed we little knew
The card Fate chose to pick,
How soon he'd be an exile too,
Our splendid Brother Mick...

The world has wheeled a lot since then,
Quiet are the hobs of home
And far from me these things are now
As is the moon from Rome.
But I can see the old school still
Stand tall above the street,
I smell the heather from the hill
And hear the running feet.
And in the door he walks again,
His footsteps short and quick,
And back across the years I wave
Goodbye to Brother Mick.

                                               THE TRAMP
In a lonely part of Ireland,near the town of Mullingar
We were gathered in the evening,in a little village bar
Through the door there came a stranger,just a tramp
he seemed to be
In his face the sign of hunger,almost anyone could see
But he brought a breath of summer,as he slowly wandered in
Dressed in rags that someone gave him,and the boots
now worn so thin 
Someones son my mind was thinking,someone fallen
by the way 
Or perhaps a long lost father,who had seen a better day

Could i join you for a minute,just before i go my way
In a voice as sweet as music,mindful of a summer day
I have wandered o'er the moorland ,seen the rising of 
the sun,And my poor old feet are weary ,lifes hard battle
must be won 
To a seat i saw him totter,heard the whisper of a sigh,
Then i saw the old face brighted,with a twink.e in the eye
Lonely there he sat and listened,to the stories that were told
Someones son or father ,who had wandered from the fold

Surely there must be a story,hidden somewhere in the 
Of a tramp who roams the moorland,something different
from the rest
As i made my wayto join him,something told me
he was glad 
Folk around me gazed in wonder,some they even
thought me mad
Thank you sir,i heard him saying
Lonlinesscan bring a chill
Maybe i should tell a story
Though with tears my eyesthey fill 
In my youth i was an artist,painted pictures by the score
Then one day i found an angel,married her in Annaghmore

I was happy with my ,sunshine came our way
And eack night we knelt together,just to meditate and pray
But a fhief he came and stle her ,took the flower I
cherished rare,
Isn,t there a god in heaven to protect a life so fair
Did you ever lose a fortune,did you lose your only friend
Did the sunshine never bless you,nor the lonely not bend
Did you ever see the finger,pointed at you all the day
Broken hearts are never mended,in this hard and cruel way

I left home with all its sadness,left the place where i
was born
Made the sky my onlt blanket,and my friend a
sundecked morn
When they told me she was dying,even after all
the years
Like a baby i was crying,finding solace in my tears
To the place where she is lying,every year i
make my way
And i place a wreath of roses, on that brown and 
sacred clay
Roses plucked from out the hedgerows,but she seen 
them just the same
And i know she hears me whisper,as i quietly breathe
her name 

You may ask why i remember,why she's always in
my dreams 
But true love is ne'er forgotten,and a fond smile 
always beams 
I forgave and granted pardon,even in my prayers i say
That a souls not lost to heaven,just for erring
on the way
Summer brings its gladness,and the birds
sing high above
Just to bring me consolation,an an atmosphere
of love 
But a tramp in lonely exilemstill within his native land
Must keep trying,just keep trying,only god san understand

Thank you, sir, for all your goodness,i must now be on 
my way
I have many miles to wander,ere i meditate and pray
God alone now brings me comfort,only he can give
me peace
Till this worldshall mark me absent,ans all worry
it shall cease
In a lonely part od Ireland,near the town of Mullingar
We were gathered in the evening ,in a little village bar,
Through the door there passed a stranger,just a tramp
he seemed to be 
In his face the sign of heaven ,almost anyone could see

...i learned this poem when i went to Kildimo National School(.Limerick) I am now 67yr old man...the poem and others are as fresh and lovely as the first time i heard them.


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