John Gillan 3 - Sligo Poets

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John Gillan Poems 3 - The Sligo Nationalist 1913

The final set of John Gillan poems from 1913. These deal with local public happenings, a local beauty spot, Sligo Quay, a funny, or not so funny, incident that happened to him and a seasonal offering.

The frequent mention of temperance and alcohol in his poetry reflects the strength of the temperance movement at the time. Fr. Brian Crehan was head of the Temperance Society in Sligo town which organised debates, dramatic classes, films, outings. Its base was the Gilhooley Hall often called the Temperance Hall.

The Catch-My-Pal Society which promoted temperance among non-Catholics had a flourishing branch in Sligo town organising similar types of activities.

John Gillan seems to have had a keen ear for non-standard pronunciation and often renders them phonetically within quotes - 'tin' for ten, 'Kay' for Quay, 'dacent' for decent are some examples from these poems.

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     Sligo Nationalist 4 October 1913
        Welcome Back from Lourdes

                 (By John Gillan).

(Written on the return of the Rev. Father Crehan,
President Sligo Total Abstinence League,
from Lourdes on Saturday night last).

Welcome, Father Crehan, back to our dear town,
For your pilgrimage to holy Lourdes you’re a credit to your gown.
The members of your Society are always proud of you,
And they showed on Saturday night to your holy Cause they’re true.

The crowd at the railway station of your fine Temperance men
I’m sure filled you with the greatest joy when reaching home again.
The addresses that were presented you in the beautiful Hall
On last Sunday afternoon, you’re deserving of them all.

If only that each one of us would take your advice
There would be no drunkenness or any other vice.
No unhappy homes would be, or children for bread cry,
Alas! so many early graves, and less in hospitals lie.

No half-naked youngsters on the streets there would be found,
Business men of every class wouldn’t come so often "to the ground."
Each Monday at the Borough Court the cases would be few,
And solicitors and policemen wouldn’t have so much to do.

The pawns wouldn’t be so well stocked with people’s Sunday clothes;
Never anyone would be seen with "black eyes" or broken nose.
Black-mailing at street-corners would, indeed, be very rare,
Or poor, heart-broken wives stricken down with grief and care.

Robberies would be unheard of (in Sligo, I go bail)
If we’d keep from too much whiskey, porter, and from ale,
Every true Irishman, who loves his coun-try,
Should remember Dan O’Connell’s words: "Ireland sober, Ireland free!"

"Cead Mille Failthe," Father Crehan back to dear Sli-go,
To rule again the Society that keeps down misery and woe.
Your journey was a weary one—travelling so long a time—
Both going to and coming from Our Blessed Lady’s Shrine!

    Sligo Nationalist 8 November 1913

                  The Wrong Man
                   (By John Gillan)

Well, one leaving home in the morning doesn’t know
What’s going to happen, even in this quiet town of Sligo,
If a motor car doesn’t cross you, or some other wheeler,
You may knock up against a big "lump" of a "Peeler."

One morning last week, about five minutes to "tin,"
I was going to work in the usual "trim";
A tall, black-moustached constable boldly said "I want you!"
And I had to walk off to Wine Street "Number Two."

Into the day-room at once I was brought.
Says the "Bobby" "I think I’ve the lad I want caught!!!"
But, to my good luck the "dacent" Sergeant was there,
Who said: "That’s not the man—he hasn’t the same colour hair!"

The constable’s comrade then whispered "Be japer,
That very hack will put you down in the paper.
The rhyme on the Borough Court, sure he was the author,
And it’s the same fella wrote ‘There’s a Man in the Water!’"

Well, I will not in this poem mention his name,
As I know it was a mistake, and he wasn’t much to blame.
But I think he should know "Paddy" from "Jack,"
For one has red hair and the other has black.

Now, I think I’ll be a "T.T." as long as I can
Afraid of another "invitation" from this "great" pol-ic-man;
For instead of the wrong man I would be the right
If I happen at all to get any way "tight."

So I’ll say good-bye for ever to stout, whiskey and beer.
Then of the R.I.C. gentlemen I need have no fear;
Because ’twou’d be dangerous to be "takin’ a sup"
For instead of the day-room, next time would be the "lock-up."

      Sligo Nationalist 20 December 1913

                       Christmas Day

                      (By John Gillan)

Holy Christmas has come!—which with joy our hearts fill—
May it bring to all, happiness, peace, and goodwill.
The king and the peasant are happy and gay
At the thought of approaching another Christmas Day!

The student who’s absent great delight to him come
To think that he’s going to his friends and fend home,
By "bike" and by car, or by the railway,
He must be with his parents for Christmas Day!

The jolly young sailor and the soldier so bold,
For sometime before they are saving their gold;
As they are determined that they shall not stay
Away from their "townies" on Christmas Day.

Each person you see has a new suit, hat or tie,
Collar or handkerchief, and each child his "di-di";
New black or brown boots to make you walk so gay
Along with your comrades on Christmas Day.

The labourer, the tradesman, the clerk or "shop-boy,"
"Don’t know where ’e are" he’s in such "awful" joy,—
The lover, the bachelor, let them be where they may,
Must be with their dear friends on Christmas Day.

Each night before Xmas, our grand shops well are lighted,
To see them purchasers flock and are all delighted.
Any turkeys or geese come off lucky if they—
Don’t lose their heads before Christmas Day!

Sligo Nationalist 29 November 1913

   Verses on Sligo Harbour
           (By John Gillan)

I’ve made my mind up this week
   A few words to say
About our excellent harbour
   And our splendid Sligo "Kay".

In the summer weather,
   Just at each day’s close,
People for a pleasant walk
   Down to the "Deep Water" goes.

There we see boats land with corn
   And with flour called "Purity,"
On a steamer named the Wheatlands,
   Which no better there could be.

Large cargoes of this fine flour come
   (From which loaves are made by millions),
To the great agent here in Sligo,
   Mr. "Georgie" Williams.

And the skipper of the Wheatlands
   Praise is always winning—
That very popular gentleman,
   The brave Captain Glendenning.

To walk about the Quay and see
   The coal there—such a height!—
To Col. Campbell and Mr. Flanagan,
   Which in our fires burn so bright!

There are on duty night and day,
   From the "Slip" to the Glasgow Shed,
Six powerful constables,
   Mr. Scallan as their "Head."

They protect all the property,
   No matter small or large,
That is left on the Harbour
   And is in their charge.

They look after people’s lives, too,
   Who for a walk might stray,
Afraid by any accident
   They’d topple into Sligo "Kay."

All those clever watchmen
   No doubt are very smart,
But there’s none of them can equal
   Harbour Constable "Hughie" Harte.

There’s a change since times gone by—
   If a poor fellow "in" would roll—
When the watchman roared: "If me stick you can’t ketch
   Lord have mercy on your soul."

Sligo Nationalist 6 December 1913
            (By John Gillan).

Near the Infirmary there’s a little road
   where people love to walk,
All dull cares to chase away and have a
   pleasant talk;
There’s no "beauty spot" in Sligo that
   is better known
Than the place I now write about—
   beautiful Ardowen.

Once Mr. Fenton’s gate is passed a short
   while ’twill only take
to bring you down to the big tall trees
   along our lovely Lake;
There to think of days gone by and joys
   that have from us flown,
When we were merry, young and gay,
   strolling through Ardowen.

After each day’s work was o’er, in the
   summer time,
To roam through this grand promenade,
   was, indeed, sublime,
And hear the birds’ soft thrilling notes
   and see flowers there full grown,
While people sit and laugh and chat on
   the grass in sweet Ardowen.

The boats going up Lough Gill, from
   there we can view,
And hear the songs and music from each
   jolly crew,
As their oars they pull while on they
   sail, dashing through the foam,
Making their way for a dance on the
   Rock, passing by Ardowen.

Often on a Sunday a young man and his
Just for a short ramble they’d go "out"
   the Mall,
Or you’d see coming slowly a "stale
   ould bachelor" alone
To have a quiet wander along through
   sweet Ardowen.

In the times of long ago there used to be
   good sport
Telling weird ghost stories on the old
   Green Fort;
But, no matter what their fun the boys
   couldn’t still go home
Till they had a "dander" last of all down
   to famed Ardowen.

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