4 August 1916
Lady Day In March.
The daisies white, with their hearts of gold,
Must have danced on the Irish leas,
And the blossoms gleamed on the sloe boughs old
Like the foam on tropic seas;
And the larks, I think, our island o’er
Sang songs of ecstasy
When Gabriel God’s message bore
To a maid in Galilee.
For the birds might well sing songs of mirth
And the boughs be gaily drest
In the land of all the lands on earth
Where Mary’s loved the best.
Our Irish skies were bright and clear
On that glad and happy day;
And the Irish brooks sang far and near
As they went their seaward way;
And the breeze, fragrant, fresh and keen,
With a joyous murmur swept
Through the swaying boughs of the larches, green,
As Patrick’s faith has kept,
For the larch might well its tassels ring,
And the rivers merrily run,
In a land where saints were yet to sing
The praise of Mary’s son.
4 August 1916
On Leaving Lough Derg.
Most holy shrine, where Patrick prayed, I’m going away from thee;
And hundreds more along with me will soon land on the shore,
And we trust in God’s Own Providence to visit thee once more.
Island most prized of Islands! Island of peace and prayer!
No worldly thought dare touch the mind when one is pilgrim there;
The soul finds rest – Ah! perfect rest –and hears his Master’s call
On that blest spot, dear old Lough Derg, in wild dark Donegal.
Souls steeped in prayer, in holy prayer, and the old world forgot
For “Thy Kingdom come” alone we pine when on that sacred spot.
St. Brendan’s Bed, St. Catherine’s, and St. Columba’s as well;
Hearts aglow while our tears flow round large Bed of all,
For God’s hand is there on blest Lough Derg, in dear old Donegal.
An answer prayer will obtain there – we’ve but to make request,
Our names are enrolled in the One True Fold–that work of God sublime –
To never part from the Sacred Heart until the end of time.
Oh when life’s May is o’er, we’ll meet to part no more,
Where is one Fold and Shepherd on the Eternal Shore,
Now I must leave thee, dear Lough Derg, and song famed Donegal.
7 October 1916
THE HAND OF THE PRIEST.
By ELEANOR C DONNELLY
There is something we prize more than gems, more than gold—
More than earth’s rarest treasures, its beauty, its brawn,
Be it fairer than lilies, or wither’d and old,
It hath ever a blessing, a charm of its own.
’Tis the hand of the Priest, of our Father in God,
No king can compare with its dignity grand;
Ev’ry saint of the Lord who this dark earth has trod
Owes life everlasting to that holy hand.
A marvellous grace from its touch ever rises,
God’s mercies are centered its pure palm within.
Tis the hand at the Font–’tis the hand that baptises,
Releasing men’s souls from original sin.
’Tis the hand that absolves when the penitent kneeling
In the sacred tribunal in sorrow and shame,
To the ear of the priest all his errors revealing,
Wins pardon and peace in the crucified’s name.
Again ev’r morn, when the Gift of all gifts,
The Lamb on the altar is slain, sacrificed—
’Tis the hand of the priest that enfolds, that uplifts,
The Body and the Blood of our God, the Lord’s Christ,
’Tis his hand that sustains, that gives food to our needs,
When we flock, in our hunger, to God’s holy Shrine,
For the priest, like his Master, the multitude feeds
With the Manna from heaven, the bread all divine!
When life is fast ebbing, time’s drama swift closing,
And the ties and the joys of this earth over pass’d,
The Christian in death’s gloomy shadow reposing,
By the hand of the priest is anointed at last.
Well, then, we may prize it–this treasure of ours–
May bless and revere it, night, morning and noon,
Whether wither’d and old, fairer, sweeter than flowers,
Thank God for the hand of our Soggart aroon!
These three poems are the only examples of Catholic religious poetry published in Sligo local newspapers in 1916. All of these appear to have been taken from other publications and none seems to be by a Sligo author. Such poetry was widely published especially in journals like the Irish Catholic and the Irish Monthly. The Sligo Nationalist published more of this genre than did the Sligo Champion.
"Lady Day in March" was written by "Magdalen Rock" which was a pseudonym of an author, apparently from the north of Ireland. She is mentioned in "Labour, Love, and Prayer: Female Piety in Ulster Religious Literature, 1850-
Lady Day in March is the Catholic feast of the Annunciation on 25 March. This poem was published in early August perhaps because Lady Day in August, the feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on 15 August.
Lough Derg is a lake in County Donegal, north of County Sligo and is best known for St Patrick's Purgatory, a popular site of pilgrimage on Station Island in the lake.
This poem was included in the folklore collection, Bailiúchán na Scol, from Corrduff National School, Aughavas, near Mohill, south County Leitrim. In 1937 the Irish Folklore Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, initiated a scheme in which schoolchildren were encouraged to collect and document folklore and local history.
Why this poem appears there is unknown. Perhaps it was written by a local poet. Maybe it was included in a collection and someone transcribed it because of the reference to a religious in a neighbouring county.
Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly (1838–1917) was a Catholic American poet, short story writer and biographer. Her father died of typhus when she was still an infant and she was educated at home in Philadelphia, USA, by her mother. Gatherings of prominent Catholic writers and intellectuals were held at the family home.
Her first book, Out of Sweet Solitude, published in 1873. A prolific writer, during her lifetime Donnelly published over thirty books and produced hundreds of poems largely addressing Catholic and spiritual themes. She also published a number of collections of children's verse.
She also served terms as chief editor of the Augustinian magazine, Our Lady of Good Counsel, and as an associate editor of the Philadelphia Catholic weekly paper, The Catholic Standard and Times. After her death she was described as "one of the foremost Catholic woman-