by ehistoryadmin on October 16, 2014

Poem about 1798 in Kildare by Richard Oulahan, published in the Irish American Weekly, New York, 1 January 1881.

Author’s Note:

Several parts are illegible in newspaper reproduction, I have guessed words (in brackets) or used …

The “grandsire” mentioned in the third stanza of the following poem was John Oulahan, who was born at Rahilla or Red Hills, in AD 1750, and died, at (Tully) in 1834. He was one of the local leaders in ’98, his eldest son, Simeon (Simon), was killed at the disastrous attack on Monastereven, on May 24, led by Roger Garry (not “Mc” Garry, as his name is given in the “trooly loyl” Harrop’s “irish Rebellion”). Captain Dooley (Doorley?), whose sister was married to (Pierce) Oulahan, of Lacka, near the town of Kildare, the granduncle of the author, was another gallant Kildare leader. Many of the United Irishmen were living (in) and around the town of Kildare, in 1830 and 18.., but while their “story of Ireland”, and the part each (had) taken in the struggle is faithfully remembered (their) names except those of a few, are forgotten. Mat. W…, John Hyland, Stephen Garry, John Oulahan (or as (he) more recently wrote it: “Houlahan”) and eight or … more of the “boys”, would talk, freely, of (that) (eventful) year, without appearing to notice the (eager little) listener at his “grandsire’s” knee. – John Malone



The fairy scenes of early youth on a fairy’s tablet stand,

Perennial as the shamrock green that clings to fatherland;

And few of Erin’s wanderers, – a very worthless few,-

But think the fairest spot on earth is that their childhood knew.

Her lordly Shannon bathes the feet of countless virgin isles,

Potomac’s fish-bonanza is ocean-like for miles;-

To my thy little river once was queen of waters fair,

That ran through fields of Paradise – through Tully, in Kildare.


At Bride’s cathedral city, of Killdara, on the hill,

Whose ivied ruins, far apart, attest her splendour still,

With beautiful Pamela, – star of gentleness and grace,-

Lived Ireland’s hero Geraldine, the lion of his race,

What wonder that those vet’rans grim, survivors of the band,

Still drink the “Union” toast of toasts to “Let the Nation Stand”

What wonder if, for fifty years, I’ve treasured up with care

The rebel lore of Edward’s men, at Tully, in Kildare.


Though two and thirty springs had passed, since glorious “Ninety-eight”,

They’d sit and talk o’er bloody days, in secret, long and late;

At eighty (still “the Captain”) my grandsire loved to tell

How brave, at Monast’reven fight, his boy for Ireland fell!

And hats were raised at mention of young Lord Edward’s name

By comrades of the martyred chief, – by partners of his fame:

From Curragh to Kildangan, from Red Hills and Ballifare,

No Reynolds* marched to Tully Moat, the drill ground of Kildare.


I’ve loved thee, mother darling, all the years, and ev’ry day,

From bud of blooming boyhood, down to waning Autumn gray;

And brighter hopes than ever yet revivify my soul

To see the robber-lords at bay – as freemen near the goal –

“God speed the plough” and ploughmen! and paralyze the tongue

Of knave, or fool, that prates of war, the Parnell ranks among!

No men, but means; not guns, but gold; from allies ev’rywhere,

Can win the Land League battle now, for Ireland and Kildare.


Some Christmas night, not distant, this chair will vacant be,

Evoking filial tears, perchance, mid song and jubilee;

And when they point to relics old, with loyal care preserved,

Mementoes of the Union war in which their parent served;-

If other treasured household goods receive no kindly word,

Should Fashion mask the Green that wreathes an “Irish Legion” sword,-

May one, more gallant than the rest, with pride of blood declare:

In life and death my father loved Old Ireland and Kildare!”


Washington, DC, Christmas 1880.

*Reynolds was the betrayer of Lord Edward Fitzgerald

Biographical note on author, compiled by John Malone –

Richard Oulahan was born in Co. Dublin in 1822, but apparently spent much of his youth with his grandparents at Tully in Kildare. He emigrated to the United States around 1849, following involvement with the “Young Ireland” movement, and having been a contributor to The Nation magazine. At the outbreak of the US civil war he joined the Union forces as First Lieutenant in the 164th New York Infantry in 1862. He was destined not to serve long with the 164th, being wounded and discharged due to disability in Sept. 1813. Oulahan received a brevet-major rank for his services. He was a committed Fenian both before and after the US Civil war, campaigning and fund raising for various Irish causes, and was later an advocate of Home Rule – he carried out a correspondence with Charles Stewart Parnell on the issue.  His post-war career saw him working in the Treasury Department, a position secured by political connections. Richard Oulahan died in Washington on 12th June, 1895, where his remains were interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

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