River Poems

THE ABBEY RIVER AND HER FISHERMEN

The silver Abbey river
Round St. Mary's does a tour;
How oft she gave her bounty
To the labours of the poor!

She leaves her mother Shannon
By turning left "above",
And steady flows by Sandy
Down past the Sally Grove.

She flows on by Athlunkard,
'Fort of the little ships',
And mirrors Bishop O'Dwyer Bridge
As underneath she slips.

Here I sometimes think, she pauses,
Maybe, it's my own whim -
I think she checks in homage -
To the Abbey Fishermen.

For here they lived in humble homes
The Old Sandmall beside,
And made their brocauns agile
To ride both fall and tide.

The Hayes's and the Clancy's,
And the McNamara's too,
And many others out of Park,
I mention but a few.

Here they shaped the pole and paddle,
And made snap-nets 'their way',
To snare the silver salmon,
In waters where they lay.

With silent skill their paddles dipped
In pools beside the Fuzee
As they trolled by swaying sallies
To the flats at Corbally.

With hopeful hearts they pulled their oar
In fair weather and foul.
And passed quickly by Lax Weir,
To the heights o'er Kilquane fall.

To Gabbett's Grove and the Pike Bridge
Their prows into the wind,
And on then to the Shannon Fields,
With the Devil's Path behind.

By Lanahrone to Plassey,
At late the early hour,
To fish the 'draws' at Lugshinnell,
Craglarack and Tannyvour.

Ah, Annaghbeg, that lovely place
And pleasant to this hour,
How sagely you accorded,
Your loveings to the poor.

Sylvan singing water place,
None fairer can we get,
Your silvery stocks depleted,
Dear stream you glisten yet.

Now a long and bitter struggle,
Changing times and harsher laws,
Caused these strong men to relinquish
The above-mentioned draws.

Let me salute in passing,
And reflect upon their fate -
The rush of 'progress' crushes,
So many, soon or late.

But returning to our river,
Which we left at the Sandmall,
She turns right and quickly shoots
Down past the Old Canal.

And here she does not linger
For she hears a low, sweet call,
Her mother's calling softly,
From a nearby surging fall.

So on towards Mathew Bridge she runs,
Thus to complete her tour,
And rejoin her parent water,
At storied Curraghgower.
SHANNON'S WAY

The Shannon runs fast from the falls of Doonass,
By banks that are sylvan and grassy.
And thence on from there flows She crystalline clear,
To meet the sweet Mulcair at Plassey.

Hilly waters spill out, at the Blackwaters mouth,
As she goes on by lea and by lawn,
To Groody's small tide edges in at her side,
And, together, they go flowing on.

Down past Lanahrone and the fall at Kilquane,
She courses as proud as the Nile,
Then forks for apace above the Mill Race,
And laps by St. Thomas's Isle.

She flows past the Lax Weir at Corbally fair,
And the while she is humming a ditty,
and at Curraghgower she is surging with power,
As she flows through the heart of the city.




LAMENT OF THE ABBEY RIVER

The fishnets are gone from the old Mall wall
No more do they hang there to dry;
Where are the men of the water?
Sad, searching winds seem to sigh,
"Gone evermore from the Abbey",
Swaying green sallies reply.

The brocuans are gone from the Abbey,
No more her clear stream they enjoy;
Where are the men of the small boats?
Freshing spring winds seem to sigh,
"Gone evermore from the river",
Swaying, green sallies reply.

Salmon grow scarce on the Shannon,
Corbally fall wonders why;
"Who depleted the peal and the salmon"
Soft river winds seem to sigh,
"Ah, it was not the men of the Abbey,
Swaying, green sallies reply.

The barges are gone from the Abbey,
No more the canal they go by;
"Where are the men of the big boats?"
Warm summer winds seem to sigh,
"Gone evermore from the river;
Swaying, green sallies reply.

And the sandmen are gone from Abbey,
No more by her fair banks they ply,
Where are the men of the sand cots?
Cool autumn winds seem to sigh,
Gone evermore from the river,
Swaying, green sallies reply.

The brocaun, the barge and the sandcot,
No more by her fair waters go by;
Oh where are the men of the water?
Drear winter winds seem to sigh,
Gone, gone, evermore from the river,
Grey, leafless sallies reply.

Envoi
Yet, flows the silver river,
And St. Mary's keep secure,
While her loss is keened by water-song,
At surging Curraghgower.



These poems were written by Arthur Lysaght, known as a parochial poet, he based his poetry around the Abbey river and it's surrounding area. His work recalls the great heyday of the Abbey river and the Abbey Fishermen, now long gone.

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Latest comments

05.12 | 01:07

I would love an historical tour of the Mill Road. I am delighted to have found your memories and descriptions of the Mill Road. Thanks for sharing it. Nuala

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22.11 | 19:07

Hi there..would I be able to get a print of the picture of the baths for my aunty....she grew up and learned to swim there so it would be a nice pic as a gift..

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18.11 | 22:01

Hi Mary, You must have known the area well living so close. Kind Regards.

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18.11 | 21:58

Hi Noel, I remember you from Peter Street, you took a great chance going on to the Pool with your motorbike during the big freeze in early 60's

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