Community spirit: The recent opening of the new playground in Loughill is a welcome addition to the area
LOUGHILL VILLAGE has been in the news recently following the opening of their new playground and park which is attracting large crowds from the area and from passing motorists.
It is a wonderful facility for all age groups and great credit is due to all involved in its construction. The Irish name is Leamhchoill which means Elm Wood. This elm wood of the distant past was part of the great primeval forest that, even as late as the 16th century, still covered a large part of Ireland.
The Owvaun or White River which flows into the Shannon at Loughill has inspired many poets to put pen to paper, including Gerald Griffin who lived for some time close to its banks. The parish of Loughill/Ballyhahill can lay claim to a lot of local writers and poets who have been moved in the past to honour in print its beautiful landscape. Their creations have been included in books magazines and journals which is a wonderful treasure for the community.
In the past month I have heard of another local person who has been hidden under the radar and writing away about his own parish. On Thursday last May 2, which was National Poetry Day I visited that person to hear his story. Michael Herbert was born in Loughill in 1946 to parents Mary O'Donnell from Rathkeale, and Mick Herbert from Athea. He had two brothers John, and the late Con, and one sister Mary. The family moved to Finnoe in Ballyhahill and Michael attended Monamohill School, where the teachers were Mary Aloysius Lane, and Mrs Kelly. He found it hard to learn, and retain facts, which was not helped by missing days, preferring to pursue other amusements. He was self taught after leaving school with the aid of Ireland's Own magazine.
Michael liked music and learned to play the accordion and over the years has gone out in the Wren with the Mohernagh group. He worked most of his life as a farm labourer, mainly with local farmers, and enjoyed the great outdoors. He would be rhyming poetry in his head as he went about his work, and when he was alone with his thoughts. His compositions were written on paper and other material available to him. A lot of his work was scattered and lost as he moved around from time to time. The following is a sample of his work:
The’re grand spots in these pages I’ve written
I’ll now recite some as recall
The first it is down by the river
The second is proud Whiskey Hall.
The first it is sweet Ballyhahill
Where footballing sport is the rule
For other things three they have plenty
An Alehouse, a Church and a School.
The second is where the green bushes
Are mounted by black bird and crow
Round the arable land of high praises
Where daffodils yellow do grow.
The third it is over just yonder
Tis a place where the lark doesn’t yawn
And the people all rise with the rooster
In that spot that is known as Gowerbawn.
Knockgowera likewise is enchanting
Its sweet history voices rings on
Where the young ones are all getting older
And the old ones are all dead and gone.
The fourth sure it was the last passage
It is where the white goats are no more
Or either the crake in the meadows
They’ve gone like the snows of before.
The next place is called Shanagolden
At the foot of the fair Kerryhill
Where the dance hall is now gone all Bingo
And dould creamery donkey stands still.
So now to conclude and to finish
I hope it is me ye don’t sue
For the places that all got a mention
-Was written above in Finnoe.
As my thoughts today goes wandering back to the times now long ago
To that old mud whitewashed cabin and the places used to know
The horse’s car and tankards, the racer and the plough
The mowing-bar going brown with age, no more we see them now.
The corncrake has gone as well, the lark sings little more
Th’ould threshing mill, likewise, stands still, has faded into lore.
Ah but I was only dreaming my thoughts were far away
The old mud whitewashed cabin has now fell in to clay.
Ah, but my hand is getting weary now, my pen must put away
The crows have all come back to roost, the end of another day.
And now I gaze in hazy maze for, gone, alas, too soon
Those olden ways of bygone days beneath the harvest moon.
O’Brien has a great reputation he had
And I hope always will
For the hooley that takes place each summer
Two miles beyond Ballyhahill.
For the joy of the night it is pleasant
And the fresh summer breeze it is pure
That would bring all the weary to blossom
And present to their spirits a cure.
For the singers and dancers are thrilling
Their sweet notes so equal in tune
As they take to the stage in a whirl
Neath the bright silvery light of the moon.
The platform is made of strong timber
Trademarked by the print of the heel
From the Lancers and Clare/Kerry polkas
Not to mention the jigs and the reel.
But the modern Rock has collided
With that grand ould tradition of yore
That’s now buried almost without mercy
Never to return no more.
So now to conclude and to finish
If it e’er went it would be a sad loss
What it gave us all great entertainment
That hooley at John O’Brien’s Cross.
Oh daffodils, Oh daffodils,
Oh, daffodils aglow
You gave us all employment
from our homesteads in Finnoe.
And all around the neighbouring towns
A spot they found as well
A ploughing through the muddy fields
Picking the daffodils.
And when they’re picked and bundled
And measured with good skill
They’ll bring them to the factory
At the top of Griffin’s Hill.
Tis there they’ll be both washed and cleaned
And packed by Kate and Nell
And then when Mag has sealed the knot
They’ll bid their fond farewell.
And when the trucks are loaded
And that without delay
They’ll bring em to an aircraft
Bound for the USA.
And when your bourne and ready
And reaching for the sky
We’ll sing your highest praises
Oh, daffodils goodbye
Oh, daffodil proud daffodil
My daffodil good Buy!
A Peaceful Place
The silence of the breeze tonight
Makes whisper in the trees
The peaceful sound of a sleeping mound
No homelier than these.
No beauty fair could scent the air
Like starlight bounty free
The mountain hare with speed so rare
Took little fright of me.
The feathered roost in their height above
Made safe from wayward prey
The bouncing sound of a cunning hound
Make easy as they play.
The moonlight’s bright this summer night
Like rays from Heaven’s beam
No rest could break this fragile wake
Or blight this mortal dream.
Michael aged 72 now lives in Shanagolden village, and he has a box full of his written material. He bought a typewriter a few years ago and he now types his poems. He would like to see his work over the years published and dreams of some day reading one of his poems in the Limerick Leader. It has been a rocky road for Michael, but he has overcome many obstacles to become a self-taught poet. There is talent within all people all it needs is nurturing and exposure. Thanks to Peg and Donal for introducing me to Michael, and I hope you readers will enjoy his compositions.