The Judgement of Ballymore

The Judgement of Ballymore (From The Parish Chronicle 2000)

Lack of space prevents inclusion of the complete version of The Judgement of Ballymore. It is a mini epic poem, suggestive of Goethe's 'Damnation of Faust'. I was baffled by the popularity of 'The Judgement' until I learned that the author was the Sergeant of the R.I.C., aided and abetted by Dick Hynes who suggested the names of the various 'characters' worthy of damnation.

No greater honour could be conferred on an Irishman than to be branded as a felon by the R.I.C. The Royal Irish Constabulary were England's eyes and ears for the suppressionof natural aspirations. The complete version, words and music, may be had from Tom Nugent, Bishophill.

As a postscript to the epic, I have composed a couple of doggeral verses. Perhaps some local poet will improve on my feeble attempt. (Chronicle author's note)

The Judgement of Ballymore

One evening by a little brook in romantic Ardenode,

Beneath an old oak tree I sat, in tired and dreamy mood.

I soon fell into slumber deep and had a vivid dream,

A vision I shall ne'er forget down by the babbling stream.

It's imprinted in my memory fast, for I dreamt it oe'r and oe'r,

That St. Peter stood on Mount Cashel Hill to judge all Ballymore

Sitting on the judgement throne with an angel by his side,

He gazed upon the multitude that covered acres wide.

St. Peter said "I have come to judge, in accordance with my promise,"

And the angel's trumpet sounded forth, "Come forward Driver Thomas."

And then a big and brawny man, unwashed, unkempt, uncouth,

Came up to hear the escapades of his wild and sinful youth,

The list was long and varied and St. Peter's brow grew dark,

And darker, sterner still, it grew as he made this remark.

"The sentence it's a hard one but the only one that suits,

So take yourself to Hell out'f this and put laces in your boots."

Then down below poor Thomas goes to the unrelenting flames

And the angel's trumpet sounds again- come forward Carney James.

Then a thick and low set man came up, in slow and faltering style

And stood before St. Peter's throne with a broad and comic smile,

But that smile soon turned to fear and dread, his tan skin turned pale,

His fingers worked convulsively, and his knees began to quail.

St. Peter said "your sins are black and very wicked too,

Your good deeds have been very goood but very very few,

So down you go to the pits below to the darkest deepest tunnel."

And the angel's trumpet sounds again- come forward Thomas Fennan.

Tom Fennan came with faltering step, with slow and slouching gait

And stood before St. Peter's throne to hear his sins and fate.

St Peter asks, "What have you done to earn Heaven's reward?"

"I can't remember anything, but pardon me O Lord."

St Peter said, "Your face shows signs of many a parting glass,

Many an old rum yarn too, and many a winsome lass,

Of precious evening squandered in wild company at the Fall

And many a hard fought game of cards and many a midnight brawl.

To Purgatory for one hundred years for your black sins to atone"

Poor Fennan heard his sentence with a most unearthy groan

And as he left for the fiery pits the crowd sang Auld Lang Syne,

And the angel's trumpet sounds again, "Come forward now George Brien."

With an ashplant in his left and a caubeen in his right

George Brien came from the multitude into the judgement light.

And there he stood with a pious look upon his pious face

And in a few well chosen words began to state his case.

"I always took a pint or two and sometimes a little half one,

And if a neighbour joined me he was welcome too to have one.

I never injured anyone though I always took a sup

But don't send Bill Kane to Purgatory till he sends me back my pup."

"You'll want no pups in Purgatory, for there you'll surely go."

And the angel's trumpet sounds again,

"Come forward Michael Keogh."

St. Peter looked at Michael with a hard and stern frown.

Mike's features turned and twisted like the antics of a clown.

"I won't waste words condemning you, you're simply steeped in sin.

I'll wire the devil to see if he will take you in."

Then the angel's trumpet sounds again, another long reveille

Sounding clear on the evening air, calling up 'Trips Kelly'.

Trips looked a little frightened but still he bore up well,

Stepping smartly to the front, making the left foot tell.

He looked up at St. Peter with a most bewildered stare,

And in a hoarse and trembling voice he answered "I am here."

"I'm sending you," St. Peter said, "where you'll not have peace or joy."

And the angel's trumpet sounded clear, "Come forward Bill Conroy."

Bill answered quickly to his name and promply took his place

Looking round for inspiration with a grimace on his face.

"Ther's not a sin on the calendar but it's here before your name

Which clearly shows that religion has never been your aim.

The corporal works of mercy you never even tried,

But skinned your neighbours while they lived, and shaved them when they died.

Holy works of any kind you have always tried to shirk,

So now you bear the consequences, stand over on the left."

Then a silence fell on the multitude, not a sound, not a sigh, but hark!

Hear what the trumpet is sounding, "Come up here quick, Jack Clarke."

As Jack hurried up to stand his trial, the hat from his head he tore,

And looked around suspiciously, like an ox at the slaughter-house door.

He scratched his poll in perplexity and dolefully shook his head,

And St. Peter opened his book again and this is what he read,

"Many the sinful hour you spent on the famous flowery lawn

And attended many a cock-fight too, at the early streaks of dawn.

In business deals you've been straight enough, you never did anything shady,

But you've broken the ribs of many a man and the heart of many a lady.

To Purgatory for twenty years for you unremitted sins,

And when those twenty years are up a better life begins,

You can come with me to my Heavenly home with all your sins unladed."

And the angel's trumpet sounds again, "Come forward Martin Hayden."

"You've been a man," St. Peter said, "of hard and honest labour,

But you've had a cruel and bitter tongue that never spared a neighbour.

The malice of that bitter tongue has travelled far and wide

And in all your conversations many reputations died,

Tainted with an atmosphere where foul suspicicion floats

So Heaven is now debarred from you, stand over with the goats."

Then sounds of awe ran through the crowd like the sound of a swelling sea,

And the angel's trumpet sounds again, "Come forward Pat Magee."

The recording angel took his book and read Pat's offences out,

And the dark look on St. Peter's face left very little doubt.

That Pat's journey was a downward one to the fiery pits below.

"Stand over to the left," he said "with that hardened sinner Keogh."

Then cries of mercy rent the air from a sympathetic crowd,

And prayers were offered earnestly in accents clear and loud,

But the angel called for silence by raising up his wing,

And sounds his trumpet loudly for George Allen and John King.

Allen was first to answer and his crutch he slowly wields,

John King came pounding after, quite close on Allen's heels.

"This leg of mine," George Allen says, "has kept me well in bounds,

And in this world of care and strife I've had my ups and downs.

I always took a pint or two but nevered squandered much,

My sole support since early life was this old worn crutch."

John King chimes in, "As you're talking George why dont you speak for two,

As far as legs and crutches go, I'm in the same boat as you."

"Wait until your turn comes," said George, "and please let me alone,

I've enough to do with you misdeeds to think of half my own."


Before the dreamer woke from sleep, one final blast was sounded.

St. Peter's words rang loud and clear, the Sergeant was dumbfounded,

" For Thomas and Tom and Trips and Jack, there are rooms reserved in our mansion,

But the R.I.C. must ment their ways, or pay one hell of a ransom."

The ghost of that Sergent haunts Mount Cashel, pleading for mercy from the men he condemned.

Mick Shannon once heard his skeleton rattle and breather a prayer that his penance might end.

If anyone has the complete version, words and music, we would be delighted to hear from you.