A Ceilidhe And A Song - 15th Nov. 1947


A Ceilidhe And A Song: Text Version

15th November 1947


The ladies of the Rathkeale Guild of the Irish Countrywomen's Association are Irish in more than name. To their many praiseworthy activities, including handcrafts and homecrafts, cooking and talking, must be added their patriotism. They are holding a ceilidhe on the 23rd of this month. Now, for some reason hard to know, a ceilidhe is a rare event in this part of Ireland. Alas, it is only across the border, in unredeemed Ireland, that Irish dances are given their rightful place. This patriotic Rathkeale Guild has also given prizes for collections of local history, and has now given a good example to its sister guilds in other places. Molaim iad.


From "sweet Rathkeale to Doneraile, and thence to Banks of Ara" is a big jump –- a distance only worth travelling for a ceilidhe. 'Tis not of a ceilidhe these lines tell, however, but of a gentleman called Tommy Saunders. He was a notorious agent who did business for many landlords in Limerick and Tipperary in the last century. Old people often talk of "limping Tommy Saunders." In Aherlow he acted for Massy Dawson, a descendant of that James Dawson who, on his 200 years ago, drew forth that terrible satire from Sean Clarach Mac Domhnaill of Rathluirc.

"Taiscighidh, a chlocha, fe choigilt i gcoimead criaidh,

Ann feailaire fola, is an stollaire Dason liath."

"Squeeze down his bones, o ye stones, in your hall of clay,

You reeking, gore-sprinkled boar, old Dawson the grey."

And from storied Aherlow, from the pen of the Fenian, J. J. Finnan, came these seven stirring verses on..


Oh you who sweat for what you eat,

And you who pay a high rent,

Come swell the throng to hear my song,

'Tis of a heartless tyrant.

Of Ireland's foes he's one of those

Land Garrison Commanders,

Who scourge her sad with iron rod,

His name is Tommy Saunders.

From Cove of Cork sail to New York,

Where Hudson stream meanders,

But you won't sight a black or white

To match old Tommy Saunders.

For thirty years through woe and tears,

He plied his vile vocation,

And gathered rent at five per cent.

For thieves that rob our nation.

The finest known rackrenting drone,

Our hard made money squanders,

A tool would find his serfs to grind,

In limping Tommy Saunders.

From Cove of Cork sail to New York, etc.

From sweet Rathkeale to Doneraile,

And thence to Banks of Ara,

He's known right well – aye to Clonmel,

And up to Toomevara.

At the last named place our patient race

Were plucked and fleeced like ganders,

And homeless cast to starve and fast

By limping Tommy Saunders.

From Cove of Cork sail to New York, etc.

'Twould make my song by far too long

Were I to trace his doings,

The orphan's wail, the black ship's trail,

The cabins left in ruins.

Enough to say there's not to-day

From Dublin town to Flanders,

A cooler knave to lash a slave

Than limping Tommy Saunders.

From Cove of Cork sail to New York, etc.

You're all aware of that affair

Of Thady Burke's of Pallas,

How he and his were used by this

Embodiment of malice.

An iron hut with horse and foot,

And veteran commanders,

Were brought from town to keep us down

By limping Tommy Saunders.

From Cove of Cork sail to New York, etc.

Some days ago, as you must know,

He thought to get his claws on

The half-year's gale, the drone's blackmail,

That's claimed by Massy Dawson.

But Galtee men, united then,

Behaved like Alexanders,

And blow the cent at Griffith's rent

They'd pay to Tommy Saunders.

From cove of Cork sail to New York, etc.

Lest I intrude, I'll now conclude,

With loathing he's regarded,

By high and low, by friend and foe,

Alike, he's now discarded.

He's like to-day an iron grey

Old garron with the glanders,

Our glorious league had brought a plague,

On limping Tommy saunders.

From Cove of Cork sail to New York, etc.

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