Garland Sunday - Sligo Poets

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1912 > Sligo Poetry 1912 > Sligo Champion

Sligo Champion. 17 August 1912

On Garland Sunday.

To Westport town I slowly came
Like pilgrim bound for Patrick’s Reek,
Within my breast no sacred flame,
Base passions’ food my heart did seek.

Great Patrick, who the Mount didst climb,
And passions strong thereon didst rule,
Oh! guard me, guide me every time
That Satan would his dupe befool.

Fool I have been and fool shall be
Unless thou and Mary strive to right
What’s warped, what’s loose, what’s wrong in me
And lead me forth unto the light.

Dear Westport may you ever move
In Patrick’s faith and sense of prayer;
God grant that I these virtues love
Who for some days did tarry there.


An intriguing poem by an author who, at least under this pen name, seems to have no other poem published in the local Sligo newspapers of the times.

The sharp, concise nature of the narrative is impressive as is the relative simplicity of the language. The repetition of "fool" at the exact centre of the poem, end of second stanza and beginning of third stanza, is particularly effective.

Garland Sunday is the last Sunday of July, a day of pilgrimage to many sacred places in Ireland but especially the day and night of the climbing of the "Reek", the holy mountain, Crogh Patrick, near Westport, County Mayo, associated with Saint Patrick.

This poet seems to regret that his (or her) visit to Westport at that time was of a more secular nature and he seems to pray that the coincidence may help him overcome whatever temptation comes his way. Whether this refers to some particula temptation he succumbed to in Westport on this visit is not clear.

Lugawarry is a townland in the parish of Ballisodare along the main Sligo - Ballina road. There were only thirteen families there in the 1911 Census. In that census a married couple, James and Jane McNeice, lived in Lugawarry and gave their religion as "Tramp Preachers".

The same couple were recorded in a nearby townland, Stonehall, in 1901 and gave their religion as "Church Ireland". It is tempting to think that this poem may have been written by one or other of these in spite of the reference to Mary and the fact that it was published in the Sligo Champion.

Wikipedia article on Tramp Preachers.

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