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Searc's Web Guide to 18th Century Ireland - The Convict of Clonmel (Anonymous, circa. 1750's)

The poem The Convict of Clonmel dates from the middle of the 18th century. The poem was written during a time of agrarian unrest in Ireland, when peasant farmers, known as 'Whiteboys', destroyed crops and cattle in protest against high rents and absentee landlords. A 1765 Act proscribed 'Whiteboyism' and imposed Capital punishment and stringent prison sentences on those accused of being members and within two years the movement was violently suppressed. Whiteboyism was most prevalent in the Province of Munster and in County Tipperary, where numerous hangings, drawing and quartering of Whiteboys took place at Clonmel.
There are are several Irish language versions and various English translations of the poem. The Irish version below is by Padraig Pearse and was first published in his journal An Claidheamh Soluis on 24th of December, 1904. The English verse translation is by J.J. Callanan (1795-1829) and was first published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1823 at the height of Daniel O'Connell's movement for Catholic Emancipation. ©


Ó, bliain 's an lá amárach
'sea d'fhágas an baile,
ag dul go hArd Pádraig
'cur lásaí lem hata
bhí Buachaillí Bána ann
is rás acu ar eallaibh -
is mé go dubhach uaigneach
i bpríosún Chluain Meala.

Tá mo shrian is mo dhiallait,
ar iasacht le fada,
mo chamán ar fiaradh
faoi iarthar mo leapa,
mo liathróid á bualadh
ag buachailí an ghleanna -
is go mbuailfinn poc báire
chomh hard leis na fearaibh.

A Chiarraígh, bídh ag guí liom,
is bog binn liom bhur nglórtha,
is beag a shíleas-sa choíche
ná fillfinnse beo oraibh -
's go mbeidh ár dtrí cinn-ne
ar thrí spící mar sheó acu,
faoi shneachta na hoíche
is gach síon eile 'á ngeobhaidh
chughainn.

Go hUíbh Ráthach má théann tú,
beir scéala go dtí mo mhuintir
go bhfuilim daor ar an bhfód seo
is nach bhfuil beo agam
ach go hAoine.

Bailídh gléas tórraimh
agus cónra bhreá im thimpeall -
sin críoch ar Ó Dónaill
is go deo bídh ag guí leis.
How hard is my fortune
And vain my repining
The strong rope of fate
For this young neck is twining!
My strength is departed,
My cheeks sunk and sallow,
While I languish in chains
In the gaol of Clonmala.

No boy of the village
Was ever yet milder;
I'd play with a child
And my sport would be wilder;
I'd dance without tiring,
From morning 'till even.
And the goal-ball I'd strike
To the light'ning of Heaven.

At my bed foot decaying
My hurl-bat is lying;
Through the boys of the village
My goal-ball is flying;
My horse 'mong the neighbours
Neglected may fallow,
While I pine in my chains
In the gaol of Clonmala.

Next Sunday the patron
At home will be keeping
And the young active hurlers
The field will be sweeping;

With the dance of fair maidens
The evening they'll hallow,
While this heart once so gay
Shall be cold in Clonmala.



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