K. Tynan - Sligo Poets

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Katharine Tynan (1861-1931) was born in Clondalkin, County Dublin, and educated at a convent school in Drogheda. Her poetry was first published in 1878. She became friendly with the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and with W.B. Yeats and played a major part in Dublin literary circles. During the war years she lived at Claremorris, County Mayo where her English-born husband was a magistrate. She had a son serving in Palestine and another in France. Her Collected Poems appeared in 1930.

She wrote a number of poems about the war but only one, Flower of Youth. is included in Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-45
(Gerald Dawe). Her poem, Joining the Colours, is sometimes included in war poem anthologies.

Some of her poems, including Flower of Youth, are here.
Others, including, Joining the Colours, are here.

The poems mentioned above show a sensitivity and an awareness of the sufferings of those left behind by soldiers. This poem is a straightforward recruiting poem. It repeats the usual content of recruiting posters, advertisements and appeals to Irishmen and their loved ones to encourage them to join up.

This poem originally appeared in the Irish Independent on 4 December 1915 and was reprinted in the Sligo Independent, Sligo Champion and Leitrim Observer on
11 December 1915. It also appeared in the Impartial Reporter, published in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh but covering parts of Leitrim, on 16 December 1915. It may have been part of an orchestrated campaign.

At the time conscription had not yet been introduced in any part of the UK and there were constant appeals for more men to join. In Ireland there was a perception that while towns and cities had contributed their share rural areas and the sons of farmers had not. Connaught was seen to be specially behind as regards enlistment. In Sligo it was stated that while the towns had done well the country areas had not.

There were a number of recruiting drives in Sligo as elsewhere during 1915 but these had little effect on recruitment.
At the end of May the Sligo County Inspector RIC said, "Farmers are getting big prices for their stock and produce but no class in the community has done less for recruiting", adding that most Sligo recruits were labourers from Sligo town or the other towns.


Sligo Champion  11 December 1915
       A Call to Connaught

The Connaught man loves Connaught
Brown bog and splendid sky,
The blue, blue lakes of Connaught,
The lordly mountains high.
The wild west wind comes sweeping
Soft as a mother’s kiss,
Is Connaught worth the keeping?
It is, my lad, it is.

The little homes of Connaught,
Gold-thatched and safe and warm,
Blithe falls the sun in Connaught
On many a kindly farm.
And oh, could lust and murder
Threaten such peace to-night?
Hell’s rapine and disorder,—
They might, my lad, they might.

The soft mothers of Connaught,
The darling girls and young,
Would any man in Connaught
Not die to save them wrong!
Proud heads uplifted ever
If they were bowed in shame,
What seas could cleanse, what river,
Your blame, my lad, your blame.

The pleasant land of Connaught
Has many a holy place
God’s house defiled in Connaught
Would be your black disgrace.
For God, for Home, for Women
It’s up and clear the way!
And smite the country’s foemen
To-day, my lad, to-day.
Katharine Tynan
(Mrs. H. A. Hinkson).

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