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THE TENTH GLEN

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Posted by: waterfarm, on 29/06/2011, in category "Social History"
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Abstract: The 'Tenth Glen' was written by Patrick McQuillan or 'Big Patrick' as he was affectionately known. He was born in Glenravel in 1881 and studied to become a teacher. He was principal of St.Patricks Primary School in Ballymoney from 1903 until 1948. He was passionate about all things 'Glenravel' and always kept up to date with all that was going on in the Glen. He was a prolific writer of poems, short stories and plays, several of which have featured on the radio and in various publications. The Tenth Glen is his best known poem and shows us his great love of Glenravel. Patrick died in 1963

THE TENTH GLEN

 

Unsung and unhonoured is Antrim’s Tenth Glen,

Unlimned and unstoried by palette or pen,

Unlisted,unlettered in the scroll of the Nine

Yet to me ever dearest because it is mine.

 

The Nine Glens may bask in the sun’s early glow,

Warm sea winds waft o’er them the harsh winter snow,

Soft wavelets may lave them and lull them to sleep

While sheltering cliffs o’er them their night vigil keep.

 

But the Tenth Glen no early sunrise may know,

No warm sea-borne breezes may o’er her brow blow,

No singing wavelets may lull her to rest

For her gaunt, grey old face looks afar to the west.

 

Deep under her mountains the miner has burrowed,

By pit-head and pit-mouth her face often furrowed,

Her brow and her breast carry wounds deep and sore

Where strong men have tunnelled her iron-rich store.

 

Not a bank, not a brae, not a heath clad hill,

Not a clear, placid pool, not a rippling rill,

Not a rugged old rock, not a hedgerow or tree

But, entwined in my heartstrings, is ever with me.

 

In the morning of life we gathered and gamed

By its sheddings and crossroads in contests unnamed

By its sheeptracks and burnsides our boyhood steps stayed,

Our hearts then as light as the footprints we made.

 

We knew the deep pool where the mountain trout lay,

The hazel nut copse and the blaeberry brae,

The wild raspberry bed, the red rowan tree,

‘Twas all in God’s garden and to us it was free.

 

We’ve seen her in winter when ice silvered her rocks,

And we’ve dug in deep hollow for snow buried flocks,

And again in high summer, brown autumn and spring

With the gold on the gorse and the purple on ling.

 

Oft ravelled and ribboned by loop-twisted loan,

By rough, rutted cart track, crooked ditch of grey stone,

Oft raped by ravine, by peat carrying rodden,

By cliff paths and passes, by hill herds deep-trodden.

 

Oft tortured by torrents as from hillside they sweep,

Where dark, yawning caverns their black secrets keep,

But to us every wrinkle grim nature could trace

Was a time-worn line on a loved mother’s face.

 

We climbed to Cairncormick and full was our view,

To Ballsallagh’s brown brae-face , Carnanard and Slievedhu,

From Cargan’s grim fortress to hill skirted Clough

And, when mountain mists cleared, afar off to the Lough.

 

We scaled the steep slopes of high Slieve-na-nee,

Our eyes swept the vale from Ivish Lough to Bailee

And we knew, though we spoke not, where life bade us travel,

That our hearts would still beat in the Glen of the Ravel.

 

And deep in that glen lies a hallowed spot,

Where our every prayer and our every thought,

Mingle with tears we silently weep,

‘Ts the Ravel-washed rood where our loved ones sleep.

 

They gave us their life and they gave us their love,

Through full years and lean years, forever they strove;

They toiled and they taught by word and by way

That on life’s rugged path we might walk straight as they.

 

In that little grey church how oft did they kneel,

With what fervour and faith did they pray for our weal,

Now dust into dust in its shadow they rest

While their spirits watch on from the house of the blest.

 

                                                      By Patrick McQuillan

 

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