Girl of Glenavoo - Sligo Poets

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Sligo Times 10 August 1912

                    The Girl of Glenavoo
                               A Ballad

"Romeo—What shall I groan and tell thee?
Benvolio—Groan? who, no;
            But tell me sadly who." —Shakespeare.

Oh once when roaming blithe and free upon the mountain side,
I little thought how soon I’d be by care and crosses tried;
My place, thought not a paradise, could very well compare
With any bachelor’s I know, from Easkey to Aclare
And sitting by the fire alone, ‘twas nice to have in view
The cosey cot where lived a girl, the best in Glenavoo—
The cosey little cot where lived the girl of Glenavoo.

We always were good neighbours, though the goats and horny sheep,
From trespassing, howe’er repaired, our fences would never keep,
I told her we should not keep up a mearing fence at all,
We had such trouble with it, and the holdings were so small;
And if she’d agree to make one holding of the two
We’d live content and happy all our days in Glenavoo—
I’d be for ever happy with the girl of Glenavoo.

I chatted in the evenings and I dropped down after work,
About the time for “dipping” or the sudden rise in pork,
How creameries were paying, and what business were a pair—
With many side-long glances meant my feelings to declare—
My sootherings had no effect, no responses drew,
And after all I failed to win the girl of Glenavoo—
She would not give her heart or hand the girl of Glenavoo.

The last time that I parted her my heart was sad and sore;
I told her as I lingered at the turf stack near the door,
Though light would fail, the bright moon wane, and clouds the sun obscure,
Love’s flame would in my bosom burn for ever bright and pure;
And climbing up upon a rock to wave a last adieu
I vowed that I’d return to her and lovely Glenavoo—
That some day I’d return to her—the girl of Glenavoo.

Year after year, year after year, have since that day gone by,
And have I now forgotten, or ceased for her to sigh?
Here gay and stylish damsels who might tempt the best to range,
Display in vain, their charms for me, for I can never change;
Whatever eyes upon me beam, mild brown or witching blue,
My heart beats true and constant for the girl of Glenavoo—
Oh! I’ve been true and constant to the girl of Glenavoo.

A jovial way I oft “put on” though feeling sad and lone,
But Fortune’s wheel may turn again, I yet may get my own,
The men of famous Kilmactigue were always true and staunch,
And they will do me justice when I go before the Branch;
Another now enjoys my place—no need to mention who,
But soon I shall go back to it and pleasant Glenavoo—
Back to the old spot again and the girl of Glenavoo.

I often get accounts of her from neighbours whom I “see,”
And still does she recall my name, and still her hand is free;
Her heart may not be now so cold as in the time gone by,
And rich in nothing but my love, my luck again I’ll try;
When midst the scenes of other days acquaintance we renew,
She may consent to be my own in dear old Glenavoo—
Oh; Bridheen Dhas may be my own in dear old Glenavoo.
                                                         Jem Gouldrick.
Tobercurry, August, 1912.

This is a remarkable effort by the same poet who wrote about the Tobercurry Waterworks earlier in the year. The quotation from Romeo and Juliet, the easy rhymes, confident rhythm and the clever ending of each stanza with its repetition of Glenavoo is striking.

Glenavoo, more usually Glenawoo, is a townland in the parish of Kilmacteige along the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. The penultimate stanza suggests that the subject of the poem has lost his small holding in Glenavoo.

His reference to Kilmacteige "Branch" is to the local branch of the United Irish League which, as well as having an important political function, often acted as arbitrator in disputes over land.

Jim Gouldrick, is probably the James E Goldrick, sixteen years old, in the 1901 Census in Glenawoo with his parent and eight siblings. In the 1911 Census the family is still in Glenawoo but James is not there. I have been unable to find Jim Gouldrick, Goldrick or Golderick elsewhere in Sligo in the 1911 Census.

It is tempting to see the ballad as autobiographical but the author's family are still in Glenavoo in 1911, his age in 1912 would suggest that neither himself or the girl were in a position to own land of their own and a search in the 1912 Census shows no female called Brigid in Glenavoo aged within five years of 26. The author is composing a traditional Irish ballad.

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