John O'Dowd - Sligo Poets

Go to content

Main menu:

1914 > Sligo Poetry 1914 > Sligo Champion

Picture from the Sligo Times 18 June 1910

Sligo Champion 24 January 1914
    In Memory of the Martyrs.

         BY JOHN O’DOWD, M.P.

They’re not forgotten, still within our hearts
Is shrined the memory of the gallant three,
Who dared the foe, his power and knavish arts,
And bravely died their native land to free.

As ever, ever as the day comes round,
Which saw them stand upon the scaffold high,
And gaze undauntedly on those around,
Their savage foes who swarmed to see them die.

Our hearts grow sad, we sigh in grief and gloom,
And vow to yet avenge the cruel fate
Of these brave hearts who nobly met their doom,
And victims fell to English rage and hate.

Martyrs they are—no truer martyrs e’re
Upon the gloomy scaffold took their stand;
With their last sigh arose to heaven a pray’r
Beseeching God to save the dear old land.

Shall we forget them? No, while earth shall live
They’ll be remembered by our race with pride,
Their deeds we’ll emulate, our all we’ll give
To free the land for which they bravely died.

       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       

Their pray’r is answered, for our land, at last,
Comes forth victorious from the centuries fight,
Our cause is won—the wrongs of centuries past
Lie trampled ’neath the heavenly sword of right.

Sligo Champion 8 August 1914.

              IN MEMORIAM.
              E. P. Kelly, M.P.

        (By JOHN O’DOWD, M.P.)

The vengeful lightening bolt has fallen, and
   The truest, bravest of our patriot brand,
Is stricken down in battle just as we
   Were chanting the proud poem of victory

Ah bitter thought! How can we say farewell
   To one who served his native land so well—
Who fought for her when clouds of blackest gloom
   Enshrouded her in slav’ry’s icy tomb!

Oh how we’ll miss that smile so kind and gay—
   Bright as a sunbeam on a summer day!
The voice that charmed our very bosom’s core
   No more shall charm us—never never, more!

Yes, he is dead but time cannot efface,
   The loving image of that genial face;
For in the hearts of those he leaves behind
   His memory shall ever be enshrined!

House of Commons, August, 1914.


Sligo Champion 11 July 1914


Now God be praised, our flag upraised
     Floats free o’er tow’r and steeple,
No more we’re slaves, that banner waves
     Above a conquering people,
That flag long crushed in mire and dust
     Through liberty’s light appears,
’Twill guarded be, right gallantly,
     By old Ireland’s Volunteers.

See that bold mass of marching men
     Who come from hill and valley,
They gather from city and towns and glen—
     An uprisen nation’s rally,
Our new-born freedom to maintain
     Through all the coming years,
This is the motto—this is the aim
     Of old Ireland’s Volunteers.

Then here’s to Redmond, our leader grand,
     To Dillon and Devlin glorious,
And here’s to each man of their fighting band
     Who carried the flag victorious;
They have foiled each plan of the Tory clan,
     They have scattered the gloom of years,
Oh these are the men to lead in the van
     Of old Ireland’s Volunteers.

We have won the fight for Ireland’s right
     By patience and sterling bravery,
Blest liberty’s light has pierced the night
     Of Ireland’s cruel slav’ry;
We’ve burst the chain, it is rent in twain,
     We’ve dried dark Rosaleen’s tears,
Three cheers for Redmond—and here’s again
     To old Ireland’s Volunteers.

John O'Dowd

John O'Dowd (1856 - 1937) was Irish Nationalist MP for North Sligo, March-Sept 1900, and for South Sligo, 1900-18.

He was born in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo but emigrated to the USA at an early age, returning in the later 1870s to Bunninadden, Sligo, where he became
a farmer and merchant and lived for the rest of his life.

On his return in 1878 h
e became very active in the Land League and in the IRB and was imprisoned in Dundalk Jail in 1881-82. He was an active in the early development of the United Irish League which helped reunite the Irish Party. He was chairman of Sligo County Council for many years.

During his parliamentary career he was returned unopposed at each election until 1918
when he was defeated by the Sinn Fein candidate Alexander McCabe.

He published a volume of poems, Lays of South Sligo, in 1889. His grave stone is in Cloonameehan cemetary, Co. Sligo (picture below)

The Manchester Martyrs – William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin, and Michael O'Brien – were members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, also called the Fenians, who were executed for the murder of a police officer in Manchester, England, on 23 November 1867. The anniversary of their death was usually commemorated by lectures, speeches or marches.

O'Dowd's Volunteer poem seems to have echoes of the well-known rebel song "The
Bold Fenian Men" by Michael Scanlan. The first stanza:

See who comes over the red blossomed heather
Their green banners kissing the pure mountain air
Heads erect eyes front, stepping proudly together
Freedom sits throned on each proud spirit there".

Author Page

Back to content | Back to main menu