Poems from, or about, the Roe Valley

From "The Irish Sketch Book 1842" by William Makepeace Thackeray. He prefaces the poem with this introduction.

 
Peg of Limavady

	Riding from Coleraine 
(Famed for lovely Kitty),
Came a Cockney bound
Unto Derry City;
Weary was his soul,
Shivering and sad he
Bumped along the road
Leads to Limavaddy


Mountains stretch'd around,
Gloomy was their tinting,
And the horse's hoofs
Made a dismal clinting;
Wind upon the heath
Howling was and piping,
On the heath and bog,
Black with many a snipe in;
'Mid the bogs of black,
Silver pools were flashing
Crows upon their sides
Picking were and splashing.
Cockney on the car
Closer folds his plaidy,
Grumbling at the road
Leads to Limavaddy.
Yonder lay Lough Foyle ....
"Yonder lay Lough Foyle" Oil painting by Anna Nicholl

     
Through the crashing woods
Autumn brawl'd and bluster'd,
Tossing round about
Leaves the hue of mustard;
Yonder lay Lough Foyle,
Which a storm was whipping,
Covering with mist
Lake, and shores, and shipping.
Up and down the hill
(Nothing could be bolder)
Horse went with a raw,
Bleeding on his shoulder.
'Where are horses changed?'
Said I to the laddy
Driving on the box:
'Sir, at Limavaddy.'


Limavaddy inn's
But a humble baithouse,
Where you may procure
Whisky and potatoes;
Landlord at the door
Gives a smiling welcome
To the shivering wights
Who to his hotel come.
Landlady within
Sits and knits a stocking
With a wary foot
Baby's cradle rocking.


To the chimney nook,
Having found admittance,
There I watch a pup
playing with two kittens
(Playing round the fire,
Which of blazing turf is,
Roaring to the pot
Which bubbles with the murphies);
And the cradled babe
Fond the mother nursed it!
Singing it a song
As she twists the worsted!


Up and down the stair
Two more young ones patter
(Twins were never seen
Dirtier nor fatter);
Both have mottled legs
Both have snubby noses,
Both have - here the Host
Kindly interposes;
'Sure you must be froze
With the sleet and hail, sir,
So will you have some punch,
Or will you have some ale, sir?'


Presently a maid
Enters with the liquor
(Half a pint of ale
Frothing in a beaker).
Gods! I didn't know
What a beating heart meant,
Hebe's self I thought
Enter'd the apartment.
As she came she smiled,
And the smile bewitching,
On my word and honour,
Lighted all the kitchen!


With a curtsy neat
Greeting the new comer,
Lovely, smiling Peg
Offers me the rummer;
But my trembling hand
Up the beaker tilted,
And the glass of ale
Every drop I spilt it:
Spilt it every drop
(Dames, who read my volumes
Pardon such a word)
On my whatd'ycall'ems!


Witnessing the sight
Of that dire disaster;
Out began to laugh
Missis, maid, and master;
Such a merry peal,
'Specially Miss Peg's was
(As the glass of ale
Trickling down my legs was),
That the joyful sound
Of that ringing laughter
Echoed in my ears
Many a long day after.


Such a silver peal!
In the meadows listening,
You who've heard the bells
Ringing to a christening;
You who ever heard
Caradori pretty,
Smiling like an angel
Singing 'Giovinetti,'
Fancy Peggy's laugh,
Sweet, and clear, and cheerful
At my pantaloons
With half a pint of beer full!


When the laugh was done,
Peg, the pretty hussy,
Moved about the room
Wonderfully busy;
Now she looks to see
If the kettle keep hot,
Now she rubs the spoons
Now she cleans the teapot;
Now she sets the cups
Trimly and secure,
Now she scours a pot
And so it was I drew her.


Thus it was I drew her
Scouring of a kettle¹
(Faith! her blushing cheeks
Redden'd on the metal!).
Ah! but 'tis in vain
That I try to sketch it;
The pot perhaps is like,
But Peggy's face is wretched.
No: the best of lead,
And of Indian-rubber,
Never could depict
That sweet kettle-scrubber!
Peg of Limavaddy  
		  

See her as she moves!
Scarce the ground she touches,
Airy as a fay,
Graceful as a duchess;
Bare her rounded arm,
Bare her little leg is,
Vestris never show'd
Ankles like to Peggy's:
Braided is her hair,
Soft her look and modest,
Slim her little waist
Comfortably bodiced.


This I do declare
Happy is the laddy
Who the heart can share
Of Peg of Limavaddy;
Married if she were,
Blest would be the daddy
Of the children fair
Of Peg of Limavaddy;
Beauty is not rare
In the land of Paddy,
Fair beyond compare
Is Peg of Limavaddy.


Citizen or squire,
Tory, Whig, or Radi-
cal would all desire
Peg of Limavaddy.
Had I Homer's fire
Or that of Sergeant Taddy,
Meetly I'd admire
Peg of Limavaddy.
And till I expire,
Or till I grow mad, I
Will sing unto my lyre
Peg of Limavaddy!


In case you've missed the link in the poem, here is a link to an old photograph of Peg's home, kindly donated by Eileen Gough.


From Archibald Mc'Sparrans book: "Donnell and the Norman De Borgos"

 
Finvola, the Gem of the Roe

In the lands of O'Cahan, where bleak mountains rise,
O'er whose brown ridgy tops now the dusky cloud flies,
Deep sunk in a valley a wild flower did grow,
And her name was Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
And her name was Finvola, the gem of the Roe.

From the Isles of AEbudae, appeared to our view,
A youth clad in tartan,'tis strange as 'tis true,
With a star on his breast, and unstrung was his bow,
and he sigh'd for Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
And he sigh'd for Finvola, the gem of the Roe.
Finvola?
	
No more up the streamlet her maidens shall hie,
For wan the cold cheek, and bedim'd the blue eye,
In silent affliction our sorrow shall flow,
Since gone is Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
Since gone is Finvola, the gem of the Roe.

The text to "The Londonderry Air" by Frederic Weatherly

 
Danny Boy

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow -
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy, I love you so.

And when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an 'Ave' there for me.
And I shall hear though soft you tread above me,
and all my grave will warm, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

Until recently a different version was popular locally:

 
In Derry Vale

In Derry Vale beside the singing river,
Where oft' I played - ah many years ago!
And culled at morn the golden daffodils,
That came with spring to set the world aglow.
Oh Derry Vale my thoughts are ever turning,
To your broad stream and fairy cirled lea,
For your green hills my exiled heart is yearning,
So far away across the sea.

In Derry Vale amid the Foyle's dark waters,
The salmon leap above the surging weir;
The seabirds call - I still can hear them calling,
In night's long dreams of those so dear.
Oh tarrying years, fly faster ever faster,
I long to see the Vale beloved so well,
I long to know that I am not forgotten,
And there at home in peace to dwell.

I don't know the author of the following poem.

 
Bineveneagh

In silent majesty thy towering form
Unchallenged monarch of the realms below,
Uplifts its riven precipice through storm,
Through morning mist, clear noon and sunset glow.

Thrones and dominions rise and pass away,
To time alone thou dost thy tribute pay.


Back to the start
Two Tudors