THE MEMORY OF TERESA BRAYTON LIVES ON

by ehistoryadmin on August 15, 2014

LEINSTER LEADER OCTOBER 10 1959

The Memory of Teresa Brayton Lives on

On Sunday week, October 18th, the President, Mr. De Valera, will unveil a memorial over the grave of Teresa Brayton, in Cloncurry Cemetery, near Kilcock. It will be a fitting tribute to a women whose entire life was dedicated to the service of her country, and who expressed in poetry a deep and intense love for Ireland.

She sang of simple things … of Angelus bells chiming out as the sun goes down, of Christmas morning dawning over the hill of Allen, of kindly priests and people, of the dancing streams, thatched cottages and rambling boreens of her beloved Kildare,

She sang, too of Ireland’s heroes of the past and of her own stirring times of the countless exiles who earned for their homeland, and of the passionate love for freedom that burned in the hearts of true Irishmen at home and abroad

Destined herself to be an exile for most of her life, she helped to fan the flame of freedom in the hearts of thousands of Irishmen and women in the United States.

A REMARKABLE WOMEN

Born Teresa Boylan, in Kilbrook, near Enfield and Kilcock, on July 1st, 1886, she belonged to a family with a tradition of nationality that went back to 1798. Her father was Hugh Boylan and her mother Elizabeth Downs.

She had two brothers and three sisters, and received her education at Newtown N.S. where one of her sisters was a teacher. Later Teresa assisted her as a monitor. She showed an early aptitude for writing poetry and to the delight of her parents won a prize of a guinea for a poem published when she was she was twelve.

After her father’s death she went to the United States. She worked in Boston, Chicago and New York. She settled in New York where she took an active part in Irish affairs and wrote most of her poetry. Some of her poems attracted attention when they were published in the Irish World and she became a contributor to the San Francisco Monitor, the Syracuse Sun, New York Monitor and the Rosary Magazine.

Her first book of poems was published by Messrs. H.J. Kennedy and Son, New York in 1913. Entitled “Songs of the Dawn”, it contained her well known poem. “The Old Bog Road”, the music for which was written by Mrs. M. K. O’Farrelly, a member of the King family, Rochfordbridge.

Her second book of poems, called “The Flame of Ireland”, was published in 1926 by The Irish Book Shop, Lexington Avenue, New York.  Her spirited verses had a remarkable effect on Irish people throughout the world and played no small part in kindling the flame of nationalism at a time when Irishmen at home were preparing to make the supreme sacrifice for freedom.

Years later, when she was leaving America in 1931, she was presented with a book of testimonial letters from friends in all parts of the States, and a fund of dollars. This book is still in the possession of her family.

Her surviving relatives are Messrs. Hugh and Leo Boylan, Kilbrook: James, Frances and Joseph Flanagan. Kilcock, nephews and nieces, Mrs. M. Lynch, Mullingar and Miss Betty Flanagan Kilcock. Her Husband, a French-Canadian died before she returned to Ireland.

SPARKLING INTELLIGENCE

After her return, she lived for some years, with her sister in Bray, and she then moved to Waterloo Avenue, North Strand. She was there at the time of the bombing of the North Strand in 1941.

This is a description of her then:  “She was small, dressed in black, and her hair was snow white. Reserved in manner, she would talk on anything but herself and her career. Her eyes were large and showed a sparkle intelligence, her mouth was firm but humorous.”

She returned to her home in Kilbrook shortly after the bombing, and died two years later on August 19th 1943. She died in the room in which she was born, and while her old home is long since vanished in ruins her nephews, the Boylans, live in Kilbrook the townland of her birth and the scene of her best-loved poem “The Old Bog Road.”

It is of interest to record that she spent a short time in the Edenderry Hospital before her death, and while there became a great friend of the late Padraig O’Kennedy, “Leinster Leader” staff reporter.

By unusual co-incidence, Mr O’Kennedy was able to show her something that linked to a member of this family. It was a copy of her “Old Bog Road” set to music, and which had been autographed by her about 1925 when she was in the U.S.A. She had sent it to Mr. O’Kennedy’s eldest son and on it had written: “To the boy who sings the “Old Bog Road” so sweetly.”

The occasion to which Teresa Brayton referred was a farewell party to Mr Charles Dillon, Edenderry, who emigrated to New York. At the party’s closing Mr. O’Kennedy’s son, Philip sang “The Old Bog Road” Years later when Mr. Dillon met Teresa Brayton, he had her autograph a copy of her song, and sent it to his friend in Edenderry.

The memorial to Teresa Brayton is being erected by a committee set up by Enfield Guild of Muintir na Tire. The project was inspired by the guilds vice-chairman, Mr. Padraig McQuillian  Kilshanroe, an insurance official.

It is Celtic Cross 7 and a half ft high, with a limestone kerb and cement surround. An Irish inscription, written by Mr. Criodan O’Higgins, son of the poet , Brian O’Higgins, may be translated as follows – “In loving memory of Teresa Brayton, poetess patriot, who died 19th August,1943. On the Right Hand of God may she be.”

FOREGIN SUBSCRPITIONS

The memorial was built by Messrs. Walsh and sons, Carlow. Subscriptions towards the construction and erection have been received from friends of the poetess in the U.S. Britain and Ireland. One of the largest subscribers to the fund is Mr. M. Hilliard, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, native of Navan, County Meath, Mr. Turlough Cott, the well-known Kilcock businessman, Mr. W. Norton, T.D., Mr. P. Dooley, T.D., and Senator Michael Prendergast, native of Engfield, are also among the subscribers.

Another memorial to the memory of this great Kildare women is the erection of a plaque by Bord Failte, at the request of the committee in charge of the Cloncurry Memorial. It is a sign – “The Old Bog Road”- and it will be erected at the entrance to the road that made Teresa Brayton’s name a benediction in the hearts of every Irish exile.

Finally let us conclude this brief tribute by quoting from a poem written by Teresa Brayton when she was 20. It commemorated the death of a neighbor which took place in Kilbrook at the age of 20. It may fittingly be applied to-day to the women who wrote them in sorrow fifty-three years ago.

 “You have left us alone in sorrow, and we mourn you now in vain.

For the dead can n’er return, to the dwellings of earth again.

 But better the life you’ve entered in the regions above we know.

Through death is darkened portal, and hearts are broken below.”

 

“THE OLD BOG ROAD”

My feet are here on Broadway this blessed harvest morn.

But O’ the ache that’s in them for the sod where I was born:

My weary hands are blistered from toil in cold and heat.

And ‘tis O’, to swing a scythe today through fields of Irish wheat.

Had I my choice to journey back or own a king’s abode

‘Tis soon I’d see the hawthorn tree by the old bog road.

 

When I was young and innocent my mind was ill at ease

Through dreamin’ of America and gold beyant the seas.

Ouh sorrow take their money but ‘tis hard to get that same

And what’s the whole world to a man when no one speaks his name

I’ve had my day and here I am with buildin’ bricks for load.

A long three thousand miles away from the old bog road.

 

My mother died last springtime when Ireland’s fields were green.

The neighbours said her wakin’ was the finest ever seen

There were snowdrops and primroses piled up around her bed

And Ferns Church was crowded when her funeral Mass said

And here was I on Broadway with buildin’ bricks for load

When they carried out her coffin from the old bog road.

There was a dacent girl at home who used to walk with me

Her eyes were soft and sorrowful like moonbeams on the sea

Her name was Mary Dwyer – but that is long ago,

And the ways of god are wiser than the things a man may know

She died the year I left her, but buildin’ bricks for load

I’d best forget the times we met on the old bog road.

 

Och, life’s a weary puzzle, past findin’ out by man,

I take the day for what it’s worth and do the best I can

Since no one cares a rush for me what need to make a moan

I go my way and draw my pay and smoke my pipe alone

Each human must know its grief though bitter be the load

So God be with old Ireland and the old bog road.

 

From Teresa Brayton’s first book of poems published by P.J. Kennedy and Son, New York, 1913: Songs of the Dawn and Irish Ditties.

Treasured 1916 Relic

A portion of the flagstaff of the Republican flag which flew over the G.P.O., Dublin, during the 1916 Rising was Teresa Brayton’s most treasured possession. Countess Markievicz presented it to her. Mrs. Brayton was instrumental in gathering funds for the Rising while in America. She knew many of the Irish leaders personally.

Secretary of the Memorial Committee of five is Miss Margaret Kearney. Others are Messrs, Liam Corrigan, Michl. Kearney, Padraig McQuillan and Thomas Walsh.

Re-typed by Lynn Potts, June 2014

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