Culture

Poetry Corner: The Ballad of St. Kevin

By Bernie Bell

The ‘Glendalough Poncho’ https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/01/14/the-stromness-dress/  put me in mind of The Ballad of St. Kevin.  Kevin was a monk, who went to Glendalough to get some peace and quiet in which to be a holy person.  Because he was such a holy man, people followed him there, and he got no peace.  So, he went to live in a cave by the side of the lough, hoping to be more out of the way.  He probably still didn’t get much peace, but I suppose he felt he could only go so far, and would always be followed – so, what’s a monk to do?

glendalough b bell

Glendalough is a beautiful place, but, if you’re thinking of visiting, go out of season.  In the holiday season, it’s heaving with visitors – coach after coach, disgorging shouting teenagers.

St. Kevin must be turning in his cave.

The Dubliners – The Glendalough Saint Lyrics

As sung on the following album: Best of the Dubliners,
Vol 2.

In Glendalough lived an old saint
Renowned for learning and piety
His manners was curious and quint
And he looked upon girl with disparity

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

He was fond of readin’ a book
When he could get one to his wishes
He was fond of castin’ his hook
In among the ould fishes

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

But one evenin’ he landed a trout
He landed a fine big trout, Sir
When young Kathleen from over the way
Came to see what the ould monk was about, Sir

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

“Well get out o’ me way” said the saint
For I am a man of great piety
And me good manners I wouldn’t taint
Not be mixing with female society

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

Oh but Kitty she wouldn’t give in
And when he got home to his rockery
He found she was seated therein
A-polishin’ up his ould crockery

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

Well he gave the poor creature a shake
And I wish that the Garda had caught him!
For he threw her right into the lake
And, be Jaysus, she sank to the bottom

Fol di dol fol di fol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy
Fol di dol rol di dol day
Fol di dol rol di dol ad dy

Songwriters: BARNEY MCKENNA, CIARAN PADRAIG MAIRE BOURKE, JOHN EDMUND SHEAHAN, LUKE KELLY, ROBERT ANTHONY LYNCH, RONALD JOSEPH DREW

The Glendalough Saint lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

I’ve been known to ‘sing’ this, at the Royal music nights – if you’d like to hear Brendan Behan ‘sing’ it – here it is…………..

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