Dear Old Clogherhead
"Although today I'm far away from scenes I roamed a boy,
And that old home across the foam which was my pride and joy,
There by the sea so dear to me, that quaint old village stands
Where I in childhood rosy hours, made castles in the sands;
The years have come and gone, but still where'er my footsteps led
My heart to you was ever true, my own dear Clogherhead.
The times were bad when I, a lad, to Ireland bade adieu,
Like many more, I left her shore, where I, to manhood grew,
With visions grand of that great land, beneath the western skies,
Where Erin's sons oft found a home and freedom's banner flies.
Old friends I knew bade me adieu and tears were freely shed,
By parents, kind, I left behind in dear old Clogherhead.
Oft in my dreams, to me, it seems I tread youths path no more,
And see my old homestead there with roses round the door;
The long bright strand with silvery sand - the sea and skies of blue,
The little churchyard on the hill is in my vision too;
The chapel were I knelt in prayer, while Holy Mass was said,
To all the kindly generous folk of dear old Clogherhead.
By the Giant's bed, like a carpet spread, lies heather around my feet,
And Martin's Rock, where the sea-birds flock and the restless surges beat;
And dimly seen, so calm, serene, the Mourne's majestic sweep,
While many a boat, like toys afloat, come sailing o'er the deep,
Oh, I have prayed, where'er I strayed, as years of exile fled,
That I might live, to see again, my own dear Clogherhead.
The news I get is scanty, yet it tells there are but few,
Old comrades left in Clogher now who in boyhood knew,
some like me, have crossed the sea, in other lands to roam,
And some content with what God sent, preferred to stay at home,
While other strayed to towns afar, and some, alas are dead,
And lie beneath their native clay in dear old Clogherhead.
The years have sped and youth has fled and old age comes my way,
And I have put a few pounds by, to meet the rainy days,
Soon I will be, beside the sea, among my old time friends,
My exile past, content at last, until my life's journey ends;
And when to that bright home above my spirit shall have fled,
Just rest my bones 'neath the churchyard stones, in Dear Old Clogherhead.
The above poem was written in approximately 1935 by my Great Grandfather Richard Clarke who was born and grew up in the village of Clogherhead in Co.Louth, Ireland, although later moved to Mell in Drogheda. Some of the lines appear to be a nod to the song "(My Own Dear) Galway Bay" by Frank Fahy, which I would imagine would have been popular in his lifetime, and perhaps inspired him to pen this poem, which has a similar sentiment.
Clogherhead is a small fishing village on the east coast of Ireland. Located just north of the mouth of the river Boyne and approximately 12km/7 miles northeast of the town of Drogheda and has a population of a around two thousand. It has amazingly long deserted sandy beaches nearby and breath-taking views (on a clear day) to the majestic Mountains of Mourne, in County Down, north of the border.
The nearby fishing port (also known as Port Oriel) has a wonderful stone pier, built in the 1880's onto which the fishing fleet land their catches, most of which is prawns (the village has an annual Prawn Festival that takes place in July) and the pier was often the location for dances in the 1930's, as many an old photo will attest (such as the one above!)
Clogherhead also has a lifeboat station which uniquely (for Ireland) has a beach launched lifeboat and has been operating since 1889.
In nearby Mayne, in the church graveyard, which is home to a famous gravestone epitaph (which my father used to tell me about) dated from 1793 which reads
"Beneath this stone their lieth one,
that still his friends did please,
to heaven, I hope his soul is gone,
to enjoy eternal ease,
He drank, he sang while here on earth,
Lived happy as a lord,
And now he hath resigned his breath,
God rest you Paddy Ward"
Apparently his friends erected the unusual and daring monument, much against conservative public opinion. However the local Priest allowed such a scandalous monument remains a mystery!
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