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Miss Fanny Parnell
Josie Baker
Cahermurphy, Kilmihil
Recorded in Conway’s Bar, Mullagh, September 1973

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

A flower that was cherished has fled from our bosom,
And shrunk up the balm leaves that illumed our green isle.
Our hearts’ deep affection with a tear moist the blossoms,
That weeps o're the grave of our dear rose of toil.
In story we mourn the loss of our fair one,
The love that we bore her sure no tongue can tell.
Our hearts deep devotion flies over the ocean,
With a prayer for the soul of Miss Fanny Parnell.

Oh father, have mercy on this stainless daughter,
Who died far away from her own native shore.
Away from her friends and her tutors who taught her,
To love dear old Ireland and love nothing more.

The harp’s sweetest notes are now muffled in muteness,
The hearts that were blissful are gored their the knell.
Our hopes are all fruitless and laid down in dutifulness,
Since we lost our chieftain - Miss Fanny Parnell.

No more through the green scented valleys she’ll wander,
No more through the groves will she roam with delight.
No more her sweet notes round Avondale squander,
Nor cherish the hearts that beats lonely tonight.
And to those bereaved ones with confidence and sympathy,
We bring to old Ireland her woodlands and dells.
Oh may God in His glory take thee, maid of story,
And bring to His kingdom Miss Fanny Parnell.


“Fanny Parnell (1848 –1882), sister of Charles Stewart Parnell, was an Irish poet and nationalist. She was known as the Patriot Poet, most of her poetry being about Irish nationalism. She began publishing in Dublin in 1864 under the pseudonym Aleria in ‘The Irish People’, the newspaper of the Fenian Brotherhood. Most of her work was published in ‘The Boston Pilot’ which was the best known Irish newspaper in America during the nineteenth century. Two of her most widely published works were ‘The Hovels of Ireland’, a pamphlet, and a collection of poems, ‘Land League Songs’. Her best known poem is ‘Hold the Harvest’, which Michael Davitt referred to as the ‘Marseillaise of the Irish peasant’. ‘Hovels of Ireland’, published in 1880, was a twenty seven page pamphlet attacking the injustices suffered by Irish people, in which she expressed her disgust for the land-owning class, which, ironically, was the class to which she belonged. Here Fanny uses the following quote to explain that, even though her family owned land, they were Irish nationalists: ‘That moral energy which inspires men with the ability and the desire to oppose themselves to injustice, to protest against the abuse of power, even when this injustice and this abuse do not directly affect them, is the virtue which is the guaranty of order, security and independence’. It was widely published in newspapers and journals and sold for 25 cents each, the money sent home to the Famine Fund. She died of a heart attack in 1882.

Hold the Harvest
Now are you men or cattle then, you tillers of the soil?
Would you be free, or evermore in rich men's service toil?
The shadow of the dial hangs dark that points the fatal hour
Now hold your own! Or, branded slaves, forever cringe and cower!

The serpent's curse upon you lies – you writhe within the dust
You fill your mouths with beggars' swill, you grovel for a crust
Your masters set their blood-stained heels upon your shameful heads
Yet they are kind – they leave you still their ditches for your beds! –

Oh by the God who made us all, the master and the serf
Rise up and swear to hold this day your own green Irish turf!
Rise up! And plant your feet as men where now you crawl as slaves
And make your harvest fields your camps, or make of them your graves! –

But God is on the peasant's side, the God that loves the poor,
His angels stand with flaming swords on every mount and moor,
They guard the poor man's flocks and herds, they guard his ripening grain,
The robber sinks beneath their curse beside his ill-got gain.”
Jim Carroll


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