County Cork: Tooreen

Old Boggeragh’s rugged hills I prize,
Harmony hills of brown,
That proudly prop the bending skies
From And there amidst these pleasant hills
Preside their summer queen,
The world forgets its woes and ills
When summer’s on Tooreen.

‘Twas there I strayed and oft delayed,
For schoolboys all delay,
And ne’r thought I that doubts and fears
Of man would come one day :
But hills of mine I’ll not repine
For parts that might have been,
Life’s not in vain, I’m once again
With summer on Tooreen.

As April showers there passed the hours
Of boyhood’s golden dawn,
O’er road and ditch, o’er field and glen,
From *Shourneagh to *Sullane:
‘Twas by those streams, in boyhood dreams,
I crowned “Dark Rosaleen”;
Nor do I fret, we’ll crown her yet,
When summer’s on Tooreen.

Adieu, dear hill, when death shall still
This heart that loves thee best,
‘Twill be my hope, that southern slope,
To guard my final rest:
The evening’s gale o’er Dripsey’s vale
Will chant my funeral *caoin’
And *Cumar na mBó will whisper low —
‘Tis summer on Tooreen.

* ‘Shourneagh’ say ‘surenoch’ (‘noch’ as in Scottish ‘loch’)

* ‘Sullane’, the river that flows through Macroom.

You say ‘Sullane’ as in this rigmarole:

Salaam, ye khans of Sullane,
Ye’re camels can't get past Rylane!

The ‘a’ in ‘Sullane’ has the same sound as the ‘a’ in ‘khans’ and in ‘can’t’.

* ‘caoine’ (say: ‘keena’) is Irish for a lament (‘keening’).

* ‘Cumar na mBó’ (say: ‘cummernamow’) = ‘The Glen of the Cows’ (‘cumar’ = Welsh cymer’ – both words are pronounced the same).

This lovely poem was written by Corney Crowley, a relative of Paddy Naughton, former owner of the Olympos Hotel, Penylan, Cardiff. Paddy, who has now returned with his wife Joan to their homeland in Berrings, near Blarney, County Cork, Ireland, gave the words to me.

My mother (born April 1909, died February 2003) grew up a few miles further west in Ballinagree.

This whole region, in the barony of Muskerry, was made famous by the song The Bould Thady Quill. It has always been blessed with a tradition of song and poetry rooted in its Gaelic past.

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