Another Tan War Song - 14th Jan 1950

Another "Tan" War Song: Text Version

14th January 1950


Last week we had a song of the black and tans war. This week we have another - "Cahirguillamore" - in which we learn of a terrible happening near Bruff on St. Stephen's Night, 1920. An I.R.A. dance was in progress in Lord Guillaghmore's unoccupied mansion when the place was surrounded by British forces in great strength. In the ensuing fight five I.R.A. men lost their lives. They were: Daniel Sheehan, the sentry who raised the alarm, Martin Conway, Eamon Molony, John Quinlan and Henry Wade. Here is a song that commemorates the tragedy. It was sent to me by Peter Kerins, Caherelly, Grange. As in the case of last week's song I have not learned the author's name.


O Roisin Dubh your sorrows grew

On a cold and stormy night,

When Caher's woods and glens so bold

Shone in the pale moonlight.

Within your walls where alien balls,

Were held in days of yore,

Stood many an Irish lad and lass,

At Cahirguillamore.

Did you not hear with fallen tear

The tread of silent men?

As a shot rang our from a bright,

To warn those within.

The sentry brave the alarm gave,

Though he lay in his gore:

His life he gave his friends to save,

That night at `Guillamore'.

I need not tell what there befell,

All in that crowded hall;

The black and Tans worked quite well,

With -butt and ball.

Charmed men lay dying and ,

Their life's did out pour;

They sleep now in their hollow graves,

Near Cahirguillamore.

The commander of those legions

Would more suit a foreign field,

Where he would meet some savage foes,

His methods they would green,

And not those laughing youths

Who were taught to love and pray,

And who received the of Christ,

On that same Christmas Day.


A much discussed article was "Here's Why," by Rev. Father R. F. Walker, C.S.Sp., which appeared in the "Sunday Press", on November 13th last. The article, neatly printed on a card, suitable for hanging up, may now be had free, on application to the "Sunday Press". In case some of you may not have seen it let me quote the concluding paragraphs. (The question asked at the beginning of the article was: "Why should I learn Irish?" Father Walker, enumerating the reasons, says "Here's why". I want you to take me very seriously here.

"Nearly everyone will agree that the most immediate peril to us here in Ireland just now is not Communism, but what prepares the way for Communism; superficial living.

"Our character as a Catholic nation is in danger of being submerged by the tidal wave of superficiality and vulgarity pouring in upon us from our nearest neighbours east and west through radio screen, printed word and pictured page. It is difficult to see how we can survive. But at least, we can fight for our survival. And the weapon is to our hand and tongue; our language.


"There is nothing tawdry or shallow or vulgar about Irish. In face, it is doubtful if there is any language in the world to-day so sanctified with the names of God and Our Lady and the saints. You cannot avoid them. Instead of a pallid 'Hallo' o f 'Good Morning', you must say 'God be to you' or answer 'God and Mary to you'. The last thing an Irish speaker would think of saying by way of thanks would be 'Go raibh maith agat' He must say ' May God strengthen your arm'. God must come into it always.

"This is an aspect of the language which takes the foreigner by storm. It is a life-line running straight through centuries of accumulating un-belief right back into the ages of the Faith, when men were much happier then they are now.


"Hold on to that life-line. Under God it is our sole hope of national survival. Learn your Irish and love your Irish, not matter what you may hear the cynics say. Any little word or phrase at all that you know if it speak it as the most natural thing in the world with those who will understand. Always quietly. No fuss or stration.

"But just go ahead everyday and keep Irish spoken in your own little corner of the world. No matter how little you know, use it. It is the living word that will save us,"

These, good reader, are the words of Father Walker. Honestly, have they made you think? Or do you ever spare a thought for Ireland's language?


As so anois go ceann cuple mi beidh caoi again go liet no ag muintir na tuaithe, go hairithe crann, no dho, no tri, no nios mo do chur. Ba cheart go ndeanfaidh gach duine e, o is obair mhor naisiunta e. Mar tair idir dha Chomhairle I dtaobh a thabhachtai is atha se faigh coip de "The of Ireland" le John Mackay." Is maith is fiu e a leamh. "Tir na bFiodhbhadh" a tugtai as Eirinn uair; ach thainig an la gur scriobh file:

"Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad,

Ta deire na cgoillte ar lar"-

Agus file eile:

"Acht anois to an choill da gearradh",

Ar naian leatsa go mdeadh an sceal mar sin in gcomhnai?



We now come to our account of the decay of Irish as the spoken language in Limerick. John Murphy, Doonakenna North, Templeglantine, who sent interesting details, wrote: "There are not any old Irish speakers living now in the locality, My grandfather who died some twenty four or twenty-five years ago, was the oly old Irish speaker I remember," My correspondent then went on to describe a game played in the district. As an almost similar game was recorded by the Radio Eireann Mobile Recording Unit, in Connemara, and broadcast some time ago, I think it should be included in this account, as it is another relic of Limerick's vanished Gaeltacht.


"The players," says the writer, "sit on the ground in a circle, passing an old shoe from one to one, behind their backs, or under their knees, all the time singing out at the top of their boices: "Siubhail, siubhail, sean-bhrog, siubhail", and getting every stroke they can at the player who remains standing in the circle, until he finds the shoe with some of the other players. The one discovered in possession must then take his place in the centre of the circle."

Donnchadh O Conchubhair of Cahirhayes, Abbeyfeale, in a letter in Irish, relates that his grandfather spoke Irish, and was able to read simple Irish books like "Breagan" and "Seanchus." He also notes that Padraig O Conaill, of the Cahirhayes district, who died aged 70, about 18 years ago was a fluent Irish speaker.


Tomas OConba, of Newcastle West, was one of the first Irish teachers to hold classes in West Limerick. In those not so distant days scores of Irish speakers still lived in the western part of the county. Tomas met them inside Newcastle town, in Abbeyfeale, Barna, Templeglantine, Monagay, Knockaderry, Castlemahon, Mountcollins and Kilmeedy. Fortunately, Tomas O Conba did what few others did. He brought his note book with him when he came to visit these last native Irish speakers, and he took down from them songs, poems, prayers, stories and sayings, enough to fill a large book.

Some time ago Tomas sent me part of the collection he had thus made. Beginning this week. And continuing in future issues, D.V., extracts from it will appear in the Irish column in this paper. In this week's column you will find a caoine, or lament, taken down from Michael Mac Piarais.


From this one man, Michael Mac Piarais, called Micheal Na Feile, because he was born near the Ricer Feale, Tomas collected a wealth of lore, including many long poems composed by Seamus O Cuinliohain (1775-1841), a West Limerick poet, who was swept from his horse and drowned, while crossing the swollen river Feale, one winter's night in 1841. Micheal na Feile, who had stored up in his memory such an amazing amount of oral literature, was just an ordinary workman, who earned his day's pay on the farms around Newcaslte.

According to Tomas O Conba, Mountcollins, near Abbeyfeale, was the most Gaelic part of Limerick at the beginning of the present century. Not alone was it the old people, who had Irish there at that time, but many of the middle-aged too.

Templeglantine was also very Gaelic. When the first branch of the Gaelic League was organized there by Fionan Mac Coluim in 1905, among the native Irish speakers of the locality who attended the inaugural meeting was a young man of 25, Sean O Ciuire by name. He spoke Irish fluently, having learned it at home from his father and mother, And as well as speaking it he could read and write it. He came form a good, nationally minded home, where there was respect for a nation's heritage. Unfortunately, however, death claimed him at a comparatively early age.

(To be continued).

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