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My November Guest

My November Guest

By American Pulitzer Prize winning poet Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.



Horse & Jockey Singers Support Thurles Hospital

Horse and Jockey Singers support the Hospital of the Assumption Unit In Thurles.

The Horse and Jockey Singers annual variety concert is now a well-established event on the social and entertainment calendar here in Co. Tipperary.

Since its inception about five years ago, it has attracted a loyal band of regular supporters, who wouldn’t miss it for the world and many see it as the beginning of the festivities for the Christmas season.

Others point to the variety of entertainment that is regularly on offer, as audiences over the years continue to be enthralled by top class singers, dancers, choirs, soloists, musicians, not forgetting memorable recitations and sketches.

This variety concert has always supported charitable causes, both local and national, and this year will be no exception as the Comfort Fund at Unit C of the Community Hospital of the Assumption, will benefit from the proceeds.

Master Of Recitations Mr Noel Joyce

This year’s programme is as attractive and varied as ever.

  • The Doran family are back again on Saturday night, while the indomitable Jim O’ the Mill and family will entertain on Friday.
  • The singing of renowned soprano, Emma English, from Tipperary town will be a highlight of the evening.
  • Rathdowney’s Mick Creagh is new to the bill, but not to the stage as his one-man show has played to packed houses already this year.
  • Multi All-Ireland winner, Noel Joyce is back by popular acclaim and his recitations will, no doubt, have the audience in stitches.
  • The Presentation School dancers, recently returned from the stage at Nashville, the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee, are eagerly anticipated as are the group of Harpers who have delighted us in the past.
  • New to the programme this year are Sonas from New Inn, the Ryan Girls, Cashel and the talented Cailínís.
  • The ever popular Derrynaflan Male Choir has been busy rehearsing for the show.

The Horse and Jockey Singers are grateful for the wonderful support they have enjoyed in the past and are really looking forward to meeting old and new friends at the concert.

The choir first came into existence in September 2014 and comprises both male and female members. The love of singing permeates the group and the social outlet it provides enhances all their lives. Based at the Horse and Jockey Hotel, this fifty strong group, under the musical direction of Mr Patrick Conlon and accompanied by Ms Ann Marie Dwan, have participated in many concerts and choral festivals.

These popular concerts will take place on Friday November 22nd and Saturday November 23rd, at the Derrynaflan Theatre, in the Horse & Jockey Hotel, with winning author Mr Liam Ó Donnchú once again taking on the role of ‘Master of Ceremonies’.

Starting time is 8.00 p.m. sharp and tickets costing €20.00 are available from the hotel reception or from Connie O’Keeffe Tel: 087-6667988.

Please do come along and support this most deserving of causes.


Weekend In Thurles

A Weekend In Thurles Long Ago.

Poem Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

When Sunday was solemn and sacred in the town where I was bred,
I woke to the tang of rashers and fresh brown, home-made bread.
My father the Sunday Press in hand, and mother, in bib, making tay,
In the range the kippins crackle a greeting to the day.

The Cathedral bells were ringing by the grassy banks of the Suir,
And the birds their sweet songs singing outside our open door.
My Sunday shirt had been iron pressed, the shoes shone Saturday night.
The neighbours to be impressed, but the reason was “just to be right”.

On the path outside of the window, the neighbours, with missals in hand,
Or maybe the beads of the Rosary, brought from that far-off land,
Were hurrying to the Cathedral, for the first and swiftest Mass,
To be back for the train to Killarney, for the Munster hurling match.

My dad sold minerals bottled, Orange and Lemonade,
As we rattled along in the steam train, with the soot from black coal made,
Fortified by thick and stout sandwiches; lettuce and ingins and ham,
For myself it was orange and biscuits, with a sprinkling of gooseberry jam.

Six pence each for the min’rals and I loved the men from the Lee,
Who gave me a half crown or a tanner and a lot of sympathy.
The father fashioned the hurleys from the Killough mountain ash,
And remarked on the manner you’d grain it and the way the grain was set.

You had to get the messages, from Flaherty’s in Dempsey’s Square,
With crinkled red ten bob notes, when the fiver was mighty rare.
We sometimes shopped ‘by the book’ for potatoes and grinder bread,
For Lyons tea, a few rashers and occasionally a pig’s head.

Everything seemed right of a Sunday, as we tuned in to Micheal O’Hehir,
Mam on Saturday bought wet & dry batteries in O’Donoghues off the Square.
Crowe’s Laneway, at ten of a Sunday, they’d gather for pitch and toss,
The head and harp of the pennies, balanced on comb or match box.

Mam’s thoughts were not of the hurling, but the shillings to rig us all out,
For Confirmation or Holy Communion, or just for going about.
Later at Benediction she’d go and quietly pray,
“Send himself a job on the morrow, in the meadow saving hay.”

Or driving the uncle’s cattle to the market in the town
Through squelching manure on the Square and the shops with barriers down.
Sunday night there’d be no radio, we’d go coordeek for a while,
As a nimble fingered uncle Mick played the melodeon in style.

I remember still the father standing against the kitchen door,
His lovely “Rose of Mooncoin” drew a loud and approving roar.
Sunday was always prosperous, bright and for kids there was no school,
No leather would redden your skin that day, nor anyone call you fool.

In the winter we’d swap the comics, at the “Wan Above” or “Below,”
And roar at hero Flash Gordon, in the Sunday serial show.
Whatever else, we have memories of a richly innocent time,
And pals we’d fight and die for, whatever their sin or crime.
When the sun seemed to shine forever in skies of summer blue,
And I was just a chiseller and so, ould stock, were you.

The End

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


Tribute To Late Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson

Late Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson. R.I.P.

Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson passed away in her 90th year, at 10.00pm on June 5th last 2019, surrounded by her loving family and community members, at Temple Road in Dublin.

Possibly better known by her Christian name initials,GM, to all that she came into contact with during her life; she was born on November 8th 1929 in the picturesque, rural townsland area of Clogher, Clonoulty, Co. Tipperary.

Educated at the Presentation School, Cashel, Sister GM went on to complete her training as a nurse and later as a Midwife, in the Mater Hospital Dublin.
She entered the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary in 1951; making her First Profession in Killeshandra, Co. Cavan on August 26th 1954.

During a working life, spanning in all some 62 years, from 1946 until her retirement 11 years ago in 2008; Sister GM ministered as a Nurse; Ward sister; Matron; Hospital Administrator; Relief Worker; Regional Councillor; and as a fund-raiser for numerous projects undertaken in various missions, e.g. in the towns of Emekuku and Amaimo in Imo State, South Eastern Nigeria; the village of Adazi, Nigeria; in Thika, Kiambu County and Ortum in Kenya; in Philadelphia, U. S. A. and back here in Ireland.

During that tragic period of the Nigerian Civil War, (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War), fought back then between the government of Nigeria and the state of Biafra; Sister GM and her colleagues threw themselves into relief work at huge personal cost. Indeed, her family here in Tipperary were hardly able to recognise her on her return to Ireland, following her experiences which saw (following the blockade of the city of Port Harcourt) mass starvation. Indeed, during the two and half years of that war, there were overall about 100,000 military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died of starvation.

Following recuperation, Sister GM returned again to Africa to a new mission, this time in Kenya as an administrator in Thika Maternity Hospital. Over the next 30 years she continued to build and strength the hospital’s services, with emphases on establishing and improving a Midwifery Training school.

During this period also, Sister GM worked through and experienced the worst drought and famine in some 50 years in Africa in 1985; to be repeated again 1997. An unpublished poet, it is perhaps through one of Sister GM’s many expressed elegies that we can begin to understand her great sacrifice on behalf of those she had fully committed to giving support and guidance.

Days of Drought and Famine
I saw drought
On the face of the earth,
Or red raw dust.
No cloud in the blue sky,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw famine on the famished herd;
Weary herd, licking the ground,
Glad to find a twig, a leaf, a weed
Dumb beasts, ‘neath the sun,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw hunger
In the silent stare of the thin man.
No words between us.
Words are not food, ‘neath the sun,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw my heart dried too; helpless.
“God” I cry, “Do not forget
This earth You made,
Now in pain, ‘neath the sun,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw hope in the rainbow span;
God’s promise for everyman.
Joy of clouds, tears of rain watered earth
To yield again, ‘neath the sun,
Gentle sun, sobered sun,
Sobered sun.

Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson ( © 1985)

The first image in the observers minds eye, gotten of Sister GM was that of an “open door”. Regardless of her location, or indeed any persons own personal rank or status in society; you, the visitor, would have been embraced and then fed with whatever food was found to be available in the kitchen fridge.

This hospitality was especially evident in Ortum, Kenya. Because of the remoteness of the area and the dire state of the existing road surfaces, those visiting Turkana or Sudan would, most often, break their journey in Ortum, in the secure knowledge that Sister GM could and would provide a warm Clonoulty, Co. Tipperary style community welcome to all or any traveller.

Initially sleeping accommodation was provided on five large couches in the convent garage. Same hospitality offerings would later lead to 2 hospitality bungalows being built, thus ensuring comfort and space for all.

Through her entire lifetime Sister GM displayed a lust for life and later displayed true faithfulness to her missionary commitments. Amongst her many talents; she exhibited an abundance of empathy; artistic creativity, latter through the very strokes of her artists brush and through the verses she penned in her many poems.

She at all times displayed a love, not just of nature; through her love of flowers and animals, but also through her care of hospital patients; her outreach public health patients; her Mother & Baby Clinics and especially amongst her Student Nurses and staff; many of whom travelled from abroad, to say a last farewell.

A Funeral Mass was held for Sister GM at 12.00 noon on June 10th 2019 last, in the Church of the Holy Name, Beechwood, followed by interment in Shanganagh Cemetry, Dublin Rd, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Co. Dublin.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.


Thurles Water Tower

I was handed this rhyming, possibly local, poetic gem recently. Perhaps some of our regular readership may be able to cast further light as to the full identity of these three bardic composers, named hereunder.

Thurles Water Tower, Loughtagalla.

Great Big Water Tower

[Gaynor, Rochford, Reynolds – Christmas ’59]

Thurles town has several wonders the traveller loves to tell.
‘The Factory’ and ‘The Station’, the works at ‘Ladyswell’.
But now the greatest wonder – sure it went up in just an hour,
It stands on Loughtagalla Hill – that great big Water Tower.

The town took up the challenge in the year of ’53.
They filled the roads with trenches, they were there for all to see.
They laid ten miles of piping, which soaked in every shower,
And brought it up through Mitchel Street, to that great big Water Tower.

From Upperchurch and Littleton the workforce did arrive.
They made our noble Quarry Street look as busy as a hive.
They used pick-axe and shovel and great pneumatic power
To bring our water rations from that great big Water Tower.

And now the work is ended, from miles around ’tis seen.
It stands just like a rocket base above the Bowling Green.
You can talk about Cape Canaveral, which made Nikita Khrushchev cower,
But what would Joseph Stalin say, if he saw our Water Tower.

But then there was a failure, we thought that all was lost,
When in the year of ’59 it was broken by the frost.
But now there’s streams of water for those hot baths in Clongour,
(Which in Saxon means “Goats Meadow”), from that same big Water Tower.