THE FOUR FARRELLYS
In a small hotel in London I was sitting down to dine,
When the waiter brought the register and asked me if I’d sign.
And as I signed I ‘saw a name that set my heart astir –
A certain “Francis Farrelly” had signed the register.
I knew a lot of Farrellys and out of all the crew
I kept on “sort of wonderin’ “which Farrelly were you.
And when I’d finished dinner I sat back in my chair,
Going round my native land to find, what Farrelly you were.
Were you the keen-eyed Kerryman I met below Kenmare,
Who told me that when Ireland fought “the odds were never fair.”
If Cromwell had met Sarsfield, or met Owen Roe O’Neill,
It’s not to Minister Gladstone we’d be lookin’ for repeal.
Would have Ireland for the Irish, not a Saxon to be seen,
And only Gaelic spoken in that House on College Green.
Told me landlords wor the Divil! Their agints ten times worse,
And iv’ry sort of government for Ireland was a curse!
Oh! if you’re that Francis Farrelly, your dreams have not come true,
Still, Slainthe! Slainthe! Fransheen! For I like a man like you!
Or were you Francis Farrelly that often used to say
He’d like to blow them Papishes from Darry walls away?
The boy that used to bother me that Orange Lodge to join,
And thought that history started with the Battle o’ the Boyne. –
I was not all with ye, Francis, the Pope is not ma friend,
But still I hope, poor man, he’ll die without that bloody end. –
And when yer quit from care yerself, and get to Kingdom Come,
It’s no use teachin’ you the harp – you’ll play the Orange drum!
Och! Man, ye wor a fighter, of that I had no doubt,
For I seen ya in Belfast one night when Antrim road was out!
And many a time that evinin’ I thought ye wor dead,
The way them Papish pavin’ stones was hoppin’ off yer head.
Oh! if you’re the Francis Farrelly who came from North Tyrone –
Here’s lookin’ to ye Francis, but do leave the Pope alone!
Or were you the Francis Farrelly that in my college days
For strolling on the Kingstown Pier had such a curious craze?
D’ye mind them lovely sisters – the blonde and the brunette?
I know I’ve not forgotten, and I don’t think you forget!
That picnic at the Dargle – and the other at the Scalp –
How my heart was palpitatin’ – hers wasn’t – not a palp!
Someone said ye married money – and maybe ye were wise,
But the gold you loved was in her hair, and the di’monds in her eyes!
So I’d like to think ye married her and that you’re with her yet,
‘Twas some “meleesha” officer that married the brunette;
But the blonde one always loved ye, and I knew you loved her too,
So me blessin’s on ye, Francis, and the blue sky over you!
Or were you the Francis Farrelly I met so long ago,
In the bog below Belmullet, in the County of Mayo?
That long-legged, freckled Francis with the deepset, wistful eyes,
That seemed to take their colour from those ever changing skies,
That put his flute together as I sketched the distant scene,
And played me “Planxty Kelly” and the “Wakes of Inniskeen.”
That told me in the Autumn he’d be sailin’ to the West
To try and make his fortune and send money to the rest.
And would I draw a picture of the place where he was born,
And he’d hang it up, and look at it, and not feel so forlorn.
And when I had it finished, you got up from where you sat,
And you said, “Well, you’re the Divil, and I can’t say more than that.”
Oh! if you’re that Francis Farrelly, your fortune may be small,
But I’m thinking – thinking – Francis, that I love you best of all;
And I never can forget you – though its years and years ago –
In the bog below Belmullet, in the County of Mayo.
French, Percy. (1980) ‘Prose, Poems & Parodies.’ Dublin, Helicon Limited