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1915 > Sligo Poetry 1915 > Sligo Nationalist

The Enniscrone poem is an example of a common theme, the praise of a particular place, written with strong rhythm and full rhymes and with a repeated final line which ends with the placename.

What is unusual about this poem is that while it purports to be about the beautiful landscape around Enniscrone, the seaside resort in west Sligo, most of the places praised are quite a distance away. Enniscrone village itself is hardly mentioned.

The poem is full of historical references including a mention of the chieftain
Tighearnán Ua Ruairc and his part in the arrival of Normans in Ireland in 1169. Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster in 1152, abducted Derbforgaill, Ua Ruairc's wife. For this crime the King of Ireland deprived MacMurrough of his kingship and he solicited help from King Henry II of England.

It also refers to the landing of a French force at Killala in 1798. In
August 1798, a French expedition of 1,000 men under the leadership of General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert landed at Kilcummin, north of Killala. They defeated a British force at Castlebar but had to surrender at Ballinamuck in Co. Longford.

Patrick Flannery, the author, appears in the 1911 census here in Bonnieconlan, just across the county border in Mayo.

The second poem is an end of year poem. It notes that changes that have occured in rural lifestyles, mourns in particular the fact that shopkeepers are no longer giving regular customers "Christmas boxes" and asks for generosity, especially on the part of shopkeepers, towards the troops on the front.

Furbelows are
ruffles or flounces on clothing. Christmas boxes survived and were still common in Sligo in the 1950s.

This poem seems to have been written by someone from the Glencar area of Leitrim.

   Sligo Nationalist 20 March 1915
The Scenes around Dear Enniscrone.

To the fort just below Carrowhubbock
    Once with a friend I did stray,
To get a small share of the breezes
    That sweep o’er Killala’s broad bay.
The sun was then in its zenith,
    And danced on the silvery foam,
Making, as ’twere, a new Eden
    Of the scenes around dear Enniscrone.

When we got to the fort we just halted,
    And together we looked all around
On the charming creations of nature
    Which in millions did truly abound,
We were thus contemplating the scenery,
    When I thought I heard a moan,
And a voice say: "I see you are gazing
    On the scenes around dear Enniscrone."

We looked around and there all before us
    An old man stood straight on the green:
His hair was beginning to turn—
    Perhaps full sixty summers he’d seen.
I saw he was joval and talkative—
    I was sight-seeing from home,
And I came to see for my own self
    The scenes around dear Enniscrone.

"Well," says he, "as you’re a stranger,
    And I am a native of her,
I’ll show you some sights in particular,
    And I’m sure that those sights have no peer.
Now, we’ll look to the east to begin with,
    And loss of time you won’t bemoan,
For there’s naught in the world to equal
    The scenes around dear Enniscrone.

"Rathlee is the name of that place there
    ’Tis the home of the poet, ‘Willie John,’
Who wrote against graziers and landlords,
    And, thank God, he now sees they are gone.
The place to the right there is Easky,
    In history the place is well known.
There our fathers oft fought ’gainst the Saxon,
    And drove them from dear Enniscrone.

"Now follow the line of my finger
    To the mountains of fair Donegal—
The mountains of Teelin they call them—
    Where many brave heroes did fall.
Between us and them lies Bundoran
    To all tourists the place is well known,
’Tis the next in the list most enchanting
    Of the scenes around dear Enniscrone.

"Now look to the right over yonder,
    In Leitrim are those mountains you see.
Near them is O’Rourke’s ancient castle
    That’s mentioned in our history.
There Dermot met rich Devorgilla
    And stole her away from her home,
Thus causing the cruel invader
    To set foot around dear Enniscrone.

"Loch Gill lies right there where we’re watching,
    The ‘Killarney of Connaught’ ’twas styled
In a poem which appeared in the ‘Nationalist’—
    Sure the heart of the poet it beguiled.
You should go there when you are at leisure
    If for pleasure you again do roam
Sure Loch Gill will add to the beauty
    Of  the scenes around dear Enniscrone.

"Now we’ll look to the left o’er the waters
    That’s sleeping so quietly to-day,
And in spirit go back to the landing
    Of the French on this beautiful bay.
Though storms and trials beset them
    As they sailed to our help o’er the foam,
They found in this bay a safe anchorage
    Near the scenes around dear Enniscrone.

There beyond at the point of Kilcummin
    Brave Humbert arrived for our sake,
Took part in the ‘Castlebar Races,’
    While below him fled General Lake
But the French, to our loss, were outnumbered
    While on sea with more help was Wolfe Tone,
So the Yeomen again worked destruction
    In the scene around dear Enniscrone.

"That village beyond is Rathlacken,
    In which are sixty dwellings or more
Exposed to the ozone-laden breezes
    That gently blow in from the shore.
See the historic town of Killala,
    With its tower looking back sad and lone,
To the days when as freemen our fathers
    Viewed the scenes around dear Enniscrone.

"Now we’ll look to the West—there is Nephin,
    To the South we will give a glance too,
And we’ll follow the range of the Ox hills,
    All robed in a heathery hue.
But I fear I’ve delayed you too long, sir
    You may be in a push to get home."
"Oh, no! my dear man, ’tis a pleasure
    To look around dear Enniscrone.

"I’m thankful," said I, "for your kindness,
    I feel much indebted to thee
For all you have so kindly shown us—
    Those sights I have long wished to see.
Whenever again I’m at leisure,
    If in search of nice scenery I roam
I’ll come with my friend here beside me
    To look around dear Enniscrone."

"Yes," mournfully answered the old man,
    "I’ve lived in this place many years,
And the thoughts of the days of my childhood
    Are accompanied by fast-growing tears.
I love all these scenes I have shown you,
    In Carrowhubbuck there is my home,
Nothing but death me can sever
    From the scenes around dear Enniscrone.

                             PATRICK FLANNELLY.
Carrowcastle, Bonniecolon.

Sligo Nationalist 25 December 1915
  Christmas Box Obituary, 1915

Good-bye, good-bye, our dear old friend,
    We’ll see you now no more;
You’re but a mem’ry of the past—
         Like good old days of yore—
When our grandma’s and grandpa’s
    Wore furbelows and wigs,
And face each other on the floor
    In real old Irish jigs.

           OLD TIMES

When the fiddler and the piper
    Beside the fire sat,
And Mary with the curling hair
    Threw big sheep’s eyes at Pat;
While boys and girls, drest in their best,
    Kept whirling round the floor;
And for the poor and needy
    There was an open door.

Than Sheliah, with the mellow eyes
    Sang of her native land,
And Murty, to encourage her,
    Clung to her fair, white hand:
And then a merry group stood round
    To dance the rinnca more,
And all was fun and frolic
    ’Till night’s dark hours were o’er.

And just within the ingle
    Of the great, wide chimney brace,
Musing sat the grey old sire
    Mirth beaming on his face:
And in an old time arm-chair
    Placed closely by his side
Sat the partner of his lifetime
    Who looked around with pride.

Those days are gone, for good or ill,
    And naught for me remains
But mem’ries of those distant times
    Which come in sad refrains,
Awakening echoes in the heart
    Of joys, or sorrows deep,
Bringing back dear boyhood’s dreams
    Which long had lain asleep.


So now, my good old Christmas Box,
    To oblivion you are doomed!
Along Ballymote’s winding streets
    The stern decree has boomed;
For that town’s merchant men,
    In solemn conclave met,
Have "knocked you out" by ten per cent,
    On all the goods we get.

The chorus then was taken up
    By peaceful Strandhill,
And on it came a-ringing
    Down by Garavogue’s rill.
Then Dromahair joined in as an ally—
    The rudest of all knocks—
And solemnly decided
    To close the Christmas Box!

The power of example
    In this doth clearly show—
The Christmas box has got the rout
    From the good town of Sligo!
And on our jovial spirits
    This has put a damper,
For we won’t get from Noone’s
    The great big Christmas hamper.

And Dolan, at the other end:
    Who does things up to date,
No more shall send the Christmas gifts
    That all pronounced "first rate."
And so with other traders
    Who run both east and West—
The fiat’s out—the "Box" is dead—
    Its "spirits" are at rest!"


But while we here at home may grieve
    As old time customs dip,
We can’t forget the men who stand
    Where battle rages high—
Who bravely fill the trenches
    In chilling frost and snow,
And face the pouring shot and shell
    Of daring German foe.

They are our loved relations—
    Father, sons or husbands dear—
And in this season of "good-will"
    Let’s send them Christmas cheer;
Let’s help the gallant Connaughts
    To swell the rising tide
When stern advancing Justice
    Shall sweep the foe aside!

And now that good old Christmas Box
    Is numbered with the dead,
The merchants that have killed him,
    Can something do instead—
They can help to swell the County funds
    For the comfort of the "boys"
Who’re far away from kith and kin
    And have few Christmas joys.

They’ve been set a good example
    By the men of Glencar,
Who have landed out a good fat pig
    To help the men at war.
And others have done likewise
    In the playing of the game;
Then Ballymote and Manorhamilton
    And Sligo should do the same.

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