Lament for Thomas MacDonagh – by Poet Francis Ledwidge
“He shall not hear the bittern cry in the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds above the wailing of the rain.
Nor shall he know when loud March blows thro’ slanting snows her fanfare shrill,
Blowing to flame the golden cup of many an upset daffodil.
But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor and pastures poor with greedy weeds,
Perhaps he’ll hear her low at morn, lifting her horn in pleasant meads.”
This coming May Bank Holiday Weekend (2nd – 5th May 2014) the town of Cloughjordan [Map Ref .] here in Co Tipperary invite you to the home of the late great Poet, Writer, Gaelgóir, Dramatist, Patriot and Signatory of the Irish Proclamation, Thomas MacDonagh, (Irish: Tomás Mac Donnchadha; 1st Feb 1878 – 3rd May 1916).
(Please do ‘Right Click’ on picture here [Left] to ‘View Image’ of Weekend Programme of events in greater magnification.)
Thomas MacDonagh was born here in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, one of eight children born to parents Joseph MacDonagh, latter a schoolteacher and Mary-Louise neé Parker. It was in this environment that he developed a love of music, poetry and education together with a passion for both English and Irish culture. He went on to attend Rockwell College near Cashel at the age of fourteen, where he initially aspired to become a priest or brother, spending several years studying, before realising that this life was no longer for him personally. Soon after, while residing in Co Kilkenny, saw the publication of his first book of poems; “Through the Ivory Gate,” (1902), followed one year later by “April and May,” (1903) and “The Golden Joy,” (1904).
MacDonagh’s lament by Francis Ledwidge, shown above, is a metaphor where “the wailing of the rain” represents the obvious grief associated with MacDonagh’s death. The words “when loud March blows thro’ slanting snows represents the poets hope that perhaps out of this historic grief might come something better thus conjuring up vivid images of weather, wild daffodils, both the appearance and sensation that today remains the Cloughjordan countryside, which visitors this weekend will experience themselves. In Ledwidge’s mind “the Dark Cow leaves the moor,” is a metaphor for Ireland as a nation, in the expectation that things will improve eventually for his beloved country and perhaps MacDonagh’s own execution will become acknowledged as not being totally in vain.
This subject I feel sure will be discussed in even greater debate here in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, this May weekend, so teachers do encourage you students to attend.
Cloughjordan May Weekend Programme
The weekend long programme features talks on various aspects of the historic events that shaped our nation. Events extend out into the surrounding countryside, which was a source of inspiration for many of MacDonagh’s poems; a guided walk through Knocknacree Wood, a field trip to sites of heritage interest (Modreeny Medieval Settlement) and numerous exhibitions. Come along and enjoy music and song agus beidh fáilte roimh cách ag an Oíche Ghaelach. ( Latter translation from Irish: “and everyone is welcome at the Irish Night.” )
The talks, a painting workshop, exhibitions and evenings of song and story will take place in the Thomas MacDonagh Heritage Centre, Lower Main Street, Cloughjordan and other venues in the town. In this year of commemorations Thomas MacDonagh, World War I and Cumann na mBan (Women’s Association) receive special attention. The programme invites people of all ages to reflect on our past, which is manifest in the rich heritage of this area.
Volume VIII in the Cloughjordan Heritage series will be launched on Friday at 8;00 pm. The Thomas MacDonagh Summer School begins at 11.00 am on Saturday. On Sunday Prof. Peadar Kirby presents a talk on MacDonagh and later Dr. Mary McCauliffe will speak on Cumann na mBan. Enjoy a family friendly afternoon with Heritage Games and the MacDonagh Pipe Band from Templemore. The programme concludes on Monday with a guided walk in Knocknacree Wood, a CineClub presentation of “War Horse” (based on WWI) agus Oíche Ghaelach le ceol agus caidreamh. (Latter translation from Irish: “and Irish Night music and relationships.” )
This area in North Tipperary, “in calm of middle country” (T. MacDonagh’s own words) is rich in heritage and natural environment. Cloughjordan is now home to the International Award Winning Sustainable Community and visitors are welcome to come on a guided tour of the Eco Village on Sunday at 3.00 pm. Stay in the Eco Hostel and in local B&B accommodation. Enjoy the evenings in a friendly festival atmosphere.
Bí linn ag comóradh Tomás Mhac Donnachadha ina bhaile dhúchais. ( Latter translation from Irish: “Join us in commemorating Thomas MacDonagh in his home town.” )