Banada Abbey Ode - Sligo Poets

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Sligo Champion 11 October 1913
Sligo Nationalist 4 October 1913

Included in news report of the
celebrations of the golden Jubilee
of Banada Convent.

" . . . the following ode, which was
recited by Miss Spellman, and was
received with applause"

In Commemoration of the Golden
Jubilee of the Coming of the Sisters
to Banada.

Peal, peal the bells right merrily,
Let sweet-voiced music float on air,
And let glad anthems linger there,
’Tis, ’tis a day of Jubilee.

The rushing Moy bears song of glee
Thro’ brake and meadow, gorse and glen,
Its waters—like the hearts of men—
Today abound in minstrelay!

The Church—the Sisters’ constant friend,
Their mainstay in each trying hour,
Their champion ’gainst oppressor’s power,
Now comes its patronage to lead.

The pastor of St. Nathy’s See
With his good priests in grand array,
To honour our great Jubilee
Their patronage lend here to-day.

Old Banada, en fete today,
Bids all and each with her rejoice,
Bids all and each with heart and voice
Commingling, march in bright array.

Bids welcome to her festive board,
Bids welcome to her cup of cheer,
Bids all and each a welcome here—
A welcome true in heart and word.

'Tis fifty years ago today
Since hither our good sisters came
to light a torch of heavenly flame,
A torch of light celestial gay.

A torch to cheer the lonely poor,
To light the dark ways of distress,
A living lamp that will endure
And cheer the steps of loneliness.

O’er Banada, many a day
Had ruled the Jones’ in lordly power,
To God resigned the Jones his sway
Once in a bright propitious hour.

To God resigned His own again
From God once wrenched by spoiler’s hand
Then ended the usurper’s reign,
Then smiled kind Heaven upon our land.

Then God unto the Abbey led
His Sisterhood of Charity
(The Daughters of Blessed Aikenhead)
There his true servitors to be.

What golden pen in words may trace
The history of these fifty years,
The solaced misery and the tears
Wiped from the lonely orphan’s face.

What clarion tongue may true acclaim
What wretched misery, shame and vice
Have shrunk before the holy flame
Of the good Sisters’ sacrifice.

How oft that beacon light from heaven
Has flashed across the lonely moor?
Hoe oft o’er paths untrod, uneven,
Has it brought solace to the poor.

The Father of the fatherless
The orphan’s steps has hither led
To more than mother’s fond caress
To more indeed than daily bread.

What of the hearts that surge around,
O’erflowing with love and gratitude?
To probe too deeply might seem rude
When tokens true so much abound.

What of old Erin’s decadent art?
The world indeed gives proud acclaim
In every clime and port and mart,
Excelsior stamps our Convent’s fame.

The bard would fain sing on in praise,
Yet his unfinished task must stay,
Long rhymes do not endure always,
But, weary, pall on pleasure’s day.

The Sisters thank and bless you all,
They greet your kindly presence here,
And on you they God’s blessing call
To comfort, prosper you and cheer.

Let us in turn bend down and pray
The bounteous God we all adore
May on the sisters this blest day
Shower heavenly blessings down galore.

Above: The Chapel of the
Convent of the Sisters of Charity, Banada, County Sligo.
from The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage page.


Banada Abbey stands near the source of the River Moy close to Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo. After the Flight of the Earls and Plantations of Ireland at the beginning of the 17th century, the lands at Banada became the property of Roger Jones, Constable of Sligo.

They remained in the ownership of the Jones family until 1858 when a member of the family converted to Catholicism and handed over some lands at Banada to the Irish Sisters of Charity for the establishment of a convent.  

Mother Mary Aikenhead was the founder of the Irish Sisters of Charity.

In 1863 the sisters founded a school for boys and girls there and from then to 1958 the Sisters of Charity developed a convent, industrial schools, orphanages as well as a working farm. They also opened Banada Abbey Secondary School in 1958 and this remained in operation until 2002.

The Sisters of Charity vacated Banada Convent in the mid 1990s.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations in October 1913 were an impressive event, with the Bishop of Achonry, Dr. Morrisroe, celebrating Mass which was attended by clergy from all over the diocese.

The after-Mass entertainment included songs and recitations by children of the Convent schools and this poem was included then. No author is mentioned.

The Miss Spelman who recited the ode was
Maria Josephine Spelman, a daughter of local National Teacher, Patrick Spelman. Maria was a trainee teacher aged 17 in the 1911 census.

Perhaps Patrick Spelman himself composed the ode. It could also have been composed by one of the Sisters.

The Sligo Nationalist published a poem in honour of this occasion as well.


Below: The headlines of the Sligo Champion report of 11 October 1913.

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