North Kerry has produced a steady stream of folk poets. One of the best of these was the late Dan Keane. Here is a typical Dan Keane piece from his collection The Heather is Purple. It tells a story of Penal Times, religious suppression, mass rocks and murders.  I don’t know if the subject matter of Dan’s poem  has any basis in truth but such events did occur in the Ireland of that time.

Daybreak o’er Rathea    Dan Keane

The sky is blue above the hill,

The hill is green beneath.

The songbird with a holy will

Pours out an anthem sweet.

And down the slope the sunbeams steal

A-dancing oe’r the lee

And fragrant flowers spring back to life

As the day breaks oe’r Rathea.

Just like the flower’s old memories

All sad and yet sublime

And heroic tales of bardic tongues

Steal down the roads of time.

The mass-rock where The Sagart prayed

To shield our destiny

Looks sacred in the morning beam

As the day breaks oe’r Rathea.

It was my grandsire’s uncle Ned

With sad tear- laden eyes

Who told how once at break of day

He saw The Sagart die.

The redcoats came with daggers drawn,

“I cursed them loud,” said he,

“For they drove the cold steel through his breast

As the day broke oe’r Rathea.”

“The first to reach the Sagart’s side,

was his young sister, Nell,

Who at that mass became my bride.”

And here his teardrops fell.

“The captain’s sword her bosom pierced

I could not set her free

But with a blow I took his life

As the day broke oe’r Rathea.

“I fled and cursed that godless crew,

I cursed empire and crown

And cursed I every power on earth

That tramples freedom down.

But I have never ceased to pray

For those who sheltered me

From demons vile who rent my heart

As the day broke oe’r Rathea.


The mass rock still looks oe’r the scene

In calm majestic pride.

The font that holy water held

Through summer ne’er has dried

But dear old Ned has passed away

To God’s own sanctuary,

For once the angels called him home

As the day broke oe’r Rathea.


Grafton Street 1945 from photos of Dublin


I’m going to St. John’s tonight.


Plus ça change…

Kerry Champion of April 18th 1936 reports Garda
investigation into report of 19 calf skins stolen from Newtownsandes Co-op.

paper also had an article on Juvenile Crime and remarked on lack of parental
control and absence of school instruction. 


John Kelliher took some lovely photos at the recent Ballydonoghue confirmations. The photos are available to purchase from John.