better, grew happier and made playful runs, while his mother's spirits deepened. One day he beheld a tear on her lovely face and asked why she was sad. No wonder that I mourn, she said, this cramped place is not our lot. If you knew what I have seen before this dismal place you would also be downcast. A great outer world of glory was formerly mine before this darkened place. But not knowing a happier place, he did not grudge the cold desolate prison. One obvious moral is, that people in this world are like the mother and child in prison, when compared with the everlasting glory of the heavenly realms. Lest the image may seem farfetched, it is well to remember that only a year ago a young mother, Charlotte wanted to care for her eight months old infant in jail after she was given a life sentence for the savage murder of her own mother's Kenyan partner..Prison rules allow for a child at the breast to be received into prison with its mother.
3. "O eastern hill near Ealla" - a long poem of 37 quatrains about the hill of Clara. No English translation is available in published form. I am indebted to Canon Padraig O'Fiannachta for providing one, on request, a few years ago. It is a fascinating poem, foil of historical and mythological references. For the poet this lofty grassy hillock is a hill full of tears. Though he was reared close to it, the illustrious hill of Clara to the east evokes painful memories. Felim McCarthy, grandson of Donal, the 3rd Earl of Muskerry was fatally wounded on its slopes in 1325. Also Fothad Canainne, ancestral head of the Owney people of NE Limerick was murdered at nearby Feic. He had desired and carried off the wife of Ailill, head of the Munster Fianna. Ailill and his battalions pursued him and a battle was fought in a nook NE of Clara. Fothad fell, having been severely wounded. Verse 35 links Clara with the O'Keeffes "0 green hill of leaning verdure, you are the rightful property of Donal O'Keeffe, hail to thee with many prayers. 0 hill named Clara".
The O'Keeffe clan originated in Cork and so firmly established themselves in the area of Duhallow that their territory acquired the name Pobal Ui Caoimh. Their lands stretched southwards towards Clara and included the town-lands of Shanacknock, Annagloor, Claratlea and the hill of Clara.
Clarach means bare. In 1950, a cross was erected on the hilltop to honour the Holy Year, and has been replaced twice since. When the parish newsletter was launched over 30 years ago it was aptly entitled "Clara News". The hill of Clara is visible from all parts of the parish and has derived its significance through time and history. It is therefore a fitting symbol of the parish itself, which is an enduring
reality, a repository of a long history of events and yet a changing reality as well.
Aongus Fionn O'Dalaigh.
Aongus is the other great poet of the area who lived through the second half of the 16th Century. He is known as Aongus na diadacht because of his many religious compositions. Of the 55 poems that have come down to us, only 4 have non religious themes. Fr Lambert McKenna S J edited his poems under the title "Danta do chum Aongus Fionn O'Dalaigh". Fr McKenna is of the opinion that he belonged to the branch of the O'Dalys long settled in Duhallow and was born in 1548, that he was chief of his clan as implied in the appellation "O'Dalaigh Fionn"; that he was a friend an tutor of Donal O'Caoimh of Duhallow. Both died around the same time, circa l610. He probably conducted a bardic school in Ballydaly, although this cannot be verified. He was a son of Amhlaoibh, but biographical details are obscure. He wrote poems to the Blessed Sacrament, to the Holy Cross and in honour of Mary.
An interesting devotional poem entitled "Laoi na mbuadh" invites Christ to abide in his heart every day of the week, to fill his heart with great love, to redeem hostility .and to save and heal the world. This is one of two poems selected by Ciaran O'Murchu (Lon Anama 2005 p. 176) as an indication of the spiritual interests of the time. It is the poet's striking way of saying that those striving for holiness should seek God every day of the week, for He is our protection and safeguard.
The second poem referred to, is devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and entitled "Failte Romhat a Ri na nAingeai". It is a popular Communion Hymn, still sung in Irish, in which Christ is invoked as King of Angels, a Lily in bloom and Heir of the High King, and Mary is praised for her role in the Incarnation (cf bilingual text in Lon Anama p. 172; and Veritas Hymnal no 28). Another Communion Hymn attributed to him by some writers is entitled "Gaibh mo chomairce a chuirp Iosa". Its opening lines are:
"Protect me, O Body of Jesus, Holy Wafer most precious Free my heart from darkness of sin, nothing in the world is difficult for thee.
Lord, who art within me, Bless me thou Shining One,
Sever my soul from my body (now) purged from evil deeds So that I fall not into them again".