Merry Croom - 5th May 1945


Merry Croom: Text Version

5th May 1945

(By An Mangaire Sugach)

It is six o'clock post meridian in Croom and all is well. In the neat cabbage garden in front of the barrack a perspiring Garda is busily hauling out by the two-mile-deep roots a few incorrigible presaugh buidhes that have dared to raise their saucy heads of tinker hue almost in the very shadow of the "noxious weeds" notice. Down the road a horse-drawn bread van comes jogging along and the cairn of cream-crusted loaves piled high on top of the van is a heartening sight. Two artistically lettered banners spanning the street invite all comers to "Visit our Carnival." Around the corner a donkey has pulled his cart right across the main boulevard and seems to be taking an asinine delight in playing the part of a military barricade, and seeing the traffic wriggle around the heels of the wagon.


The 'bus has just arrived and is belching forth an odd assortment of men, women and children, together with parcels of every shape, size and hue. Half the youthful population of Croom gather round it in the twinkling of an eye. They have seen it a hundred times before, but age cannot wither nor custom stale its infinite variety. Martin O'Keeffe, that most obliging of conductors, appears at the door and is met by a battery of questions that would cause even the geniuses of "Information Please" to give up in despair.

"Have you a parcel for Mrs. Mulligan?"

"What time is the ha'pasht eight 'bus in the mornin' for me murer an' she want to know av ye'll take her av the 'bus is too full?"

"Did there any woman get off wearing a white coat with blue glasses?"

When Martin has answered, or attempted to answer, the hundred and one odd questions hurled at him from every angle, he handles a dozen large parcels, and marches across the street with them into D.B.'s.

Freddie, the driver, gets out for a breath of fresh air. I don't believe that thee is a more universally popular favourite than that, same eternally good humoured Freddie Wyatt. He is soon in conversation with two of his travellers and I'm sure 'tis all about that prize-winning pup one of them promised him.

In the meantime young Croom, ranged around the 'bus, amuses itself by peeping through the windows and giving brief character sketches of those inside -– and not exactly in whispers either –- much to the embarrassment of the supersensitive passengers.

From the M.P. two soldiers come marching with militant stride. They look very well in their faultlessly creased green uniforms and shining boots and gaiters. One of them has his cap balanced at such an amazing angle that his success as a juggling balancer is assured, should he choose so romantic a career when he sheathes his sword and steps out of the bearna baoghail, a civilian once more. As they swing along two Croom colleens ally approach from the other direction and .... –- well, you know the old story:

"None but the brave, none but the brave;

None but the brave deserve the fair."


Leaning over the bridge where the flowering chestnuts dip their tapering fingers in the storied Maigue, and viewing the old mill wheel, now covered with the rust of years, one cannot but think of the Croom that was. On how many a - drenched field where the Geraldines charged for Faith and Fatherland did its name ring out,

"And foemen fled, when 'Croom Abu' bespoke your lance in rest."

And I remember the Croom of the first half of the 18th century – "Cromadh an

t-Subhachais," "Croom of the Jubilations," the "Merry Croom" of the sweet Maigue poets. From where I stand I can see the trees sway gently over the spot where reposes all that is mortal of Sean O Tuama an Ghrinn (Sean O Tuomy the ). But a few paces from this bridge he had kept his tavern. Over his door, in the language Croom spoke in those days, was his generous welcome to all thirsty travellers:-

"Nil fanuidhe na sar-fhear d'uaisle Gaoidheal,

Brathair na damh glic na suairc fhear groidhe,

I gcas a bheas laithreach gan luach na dighe,

Na beadh failte ag Sean geal O Tuama roimhe."

For the benefit of those who unfortunately do not know their native language, I give a translation:-

"Should one of the stock of the noble Gael,

A brother bard who is fond of good cheer,

Be short of the price of a tankard of ale,

He is welcome to O Tuama, a thousand times here."

Gay, hospitable, great-hearted Sean O Tuama, what a stir a poetic invitation like yours would cause if displayed to-day in Croom, outside a certain tavern where now a doubly anachronistic notice says: "I.O.C. motor 'bus stops here"!

To the river into whose sunlit waters I stare Aindrias Mac Craith (the original Mangaire Sugach and bosom friend of Sean O Tuama) addressed that loveliest of all our songs of farewell:-

"Slan is cead on dtaobh so uaim

Cois Maighe na gcaor na gcraobh na gcruach,

Na stat na sead na soar na sluagh,

Na ndan na ndreacht na dtrean gan ghruaim…

O seoladh me chum uaignis."

"I was sent away to loneliness." No wonder it broke the heart of Aindrias to have to leave the friends and the place he loved.

Hither from his home near Rathluirc came Sean Clarach Mac Domhnaill, the greatest of the Poets of the Maigue, bringing his vast store of classical learning and ure to the gathering of the Bards in O Tuama's home. In dark and evil days of their country's history they set her sorrows in sad verse and passed on to better times the glorious heritage of their song.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since the swinging sign outside Sean O Tuama's tavern rattled in the breeze. In the intervening years Croom has lost the language of the singers of the Maigue. But she still can be merry, and I'm sure if Sean or Aindrias were alive to-day they'd write a rousing Gaelic poem of invitation to the carnival that young Croom would understand and appreciate.

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