THE REVISED WORDS TO THE ROCKS OF BAWN, BY PATRICK KELLY

Published 1941, in "THE SALLEY RING"
Published 1977, in "POEMS FROM CONNEMARA"

    On May 27, 2008 I received an email from "My new best friend", Dennis Lien, of the University of Minnesota, (who had been trying to find their copy of the book "Poems From Connemara" for me).  He said that he had found the book, at long last.  He looked in it and found that YES, INDEED, the poem "THE ROCKS OF BAWN" IS IN THE BOOK!  I was absolutely elated!  Many, many thanks to you, Dennis.  I now have a copy of said book and below are the original words to this poem.


THE ROCKS OF BAWN
written by Mr. Patrick Kelly, 1879-1940, of Cashel-in-Connemara, Ireland

"Oh, rise up, Piper Sweeney--"
The woman's voice was sweet;
The piper took his pipes and stick
And followed thro' the street.
As he was first so he was last
From clear daylight till dawn--
He said: "We won't be able
To plough the rocks of Bawn."
----------------------------------------------------------
All weary walked young Sweeney,
The woman went before:
At high-noon sun he stopped to play
Beside her father's door.
Her father came in anger loud
And drove him from his lawn--
Said she: "I go with Sweeney
To plough the rocks of Bawn."
----------------------------------------------------------
She stayed her steps when day was nigh,
She loosed her golden hair--
"I bid you look in yonder well
And say what dream is there."
Young Sweeney looked and he was pale:
He saw a splendid dawn--
"Oh, lady, are we able
To plough the rocks of Bawn?"
---------------------------------------------------------
She bound her hair, she took his hand--
"Now turn you home," said she,
"And rest and wait - 'tis my command--
For Ireland will be free."
She kissed his hand, she drew her cloak
Against the chilling dawn--
"I'll meet you, boy, and by and by,
All on the rocks of Bawn."
---------------------------------------------------------
"What seek you, Piper Sweeney?
King William rides this way."
"I seek a woman fair and young
That I to her may play.
I looked at noon into a well,
A Queen she walked her lawn:
And I shall meet her by and by,
All on the rocks of Bawn."
---------------------------------------------------------
printed by Ennistymon Printing Works
In his introduction of "The Salley Ring", Aodh de Blacam writes of a memory of Mr. Patrick Kelly:

"During his last year of life, he wrote from his dear Connacht (sic) to tell me how he longed to see his scattered verses brought together in a book, and sent me a draft of a foreword, in which he apologized for their simplicity.  Here, he said, were no such grand themes as folk in the cities expect, only the homely, natural things of a quiet land."

I wish this man could have known how much the "folk in the cities" love his poem of "homely, natural things".
UPDATE On June 9, 2008
    I received a copy of "The Salley Ring, and other poems" and this poem is in it, as well.  This book was published March 1941.
email me
This page was last updated: March 28, 2014
UPDATE: On October 16, 2008
    I received an email from the University of Arizona Library.  Roger found the poem "The Rocks of Bawn" in their copy of "Ballads", published 1922, Dublin, for the author.
UPDATE: On November 8, 2008:
    I received copies of "BALLADS", published 1922.  "The Rocks O' Bawn" is on page 21.  Directly under the title, Patrick Kelly wrote "From a Street Ballad".  That shows that he wrote his version of the song, using the tune of the Original.  (See below for this oldest version of the song in print, which is slightly different than the one he gave to Roddy the Rover in 1939.)   

UPDATE: On December 20, 2008
    I found the Irish Press Newspaper article by Roddy the Rover which first printed "The Rocks of Bawn", by Patrick Kelly.  The article is dated July 29, 1939.  (See my page "Rise Up, Piper Sweeney" for a copy of the article.)
    Roddy says that he is "glad to be able to print a new song by a real poet.  Patrick Kelly of Cashel-in-Connemara is one of the few living bards who sing for us with the perfect traditional sweetness in music of language and in mind.  I would go far to get one of Patrick Kelly's ballads; and behold you, he has made me a present of this one, written to an old Western refrain that I often heard-- 'I fear you'll ne'er be able To plough the Rocks of Bawn.'  As the Bard of Connacht has written, his poem is an allegory, a modern aisling, a vision-poem with meaning."

THE ORIGINAL WORDS TO THE ROCKS OF BAWN, BY PATRICK KELLY
Published 1922 In "BALLADS"

THE ROCKS O' BAWN
written by Mr. Patrick Kelly, 1879-1940, of Cashel-in-Connemara, Ireland

"Oh, rise up, gallant Sweeney--"
The woman's voice was sweet;
The piper took his pipes and stick
And follow'd thro' the street.
As he was first so he was last
From clear daylight till dawn--
He said: "We won't be able
To plough the Rocks o' Bawn."
----------------------------------------------------------
All weary walk'd young Sweeney:
The woman went before.
At high-noon sun he stopp'd to play
Before her father's door.
Her father came the youth to curse
And drive him from his lawn.
She said: "I go with Sweeney
To plough the Rocks o' Bawn."
----------------------------------------------------------
"Now rest you, loyal comrade,
Beside this clear spring well;
And look you there and what you see
To me I bid you tell."
Young Sweeney look'd thro' Life and Death
And saw a golden dawn--
He said: "I know we're able
To plough the Rocks o' Bawn."
---------------------------------------------------------

"Why sit you, Piper Sweeney,
So idle thro' the day,
And where is she you follow'd far
As cuckoo follows May?"
Young Sweeney said: "She weeps alone
Beside her father's lawn,
And so I sit me idle
All on the Rocks o' Bawn."
---------------------------------------------------------

"Oh, rouse you, handsome Sweeney
And rouse the woman too;
Why sigh you here, why weeps she there
While work is still to do?"
But Sweeney said: "Tho' we may toil
From clear daylight till dawn,
I fear we won't be able
To plough the Rocks o' Bawn."
---------------------------------------------------------
"Where go you now, Boy Sweeney,
Or roving in the May?"
"I go to her I'd follow still
Thro' dark and stormy day.
I look'd into the well she knew,
A Queen she walk'd her lawn--
And so I know we're able
To plough the Rocks o' Bawn."
---------------------------------------------------------

printed for the author, in Dublin 1922
Dollard Printinghouse, Dublin Limited