Yeats' FAIRY AND FOLK
TALES OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY
THE PRIEST OF COLOONY
W. B. Yeats
Good Father John O'Hart
In penal days rode out
To a shoneen1 in his freelands,
With his snipe marsh and
In trust took he John's lands,
--Sleiveens2 were all his race--
And he gave them as dowers to his
And they married beyond their place.
But Father John went up,
And Father John went down;
And he wore small holes in his shoes,
And he wore large holes in his gown.
All loved him, only the shoneen,
Whom the devils have
by the hair,
From their wives and their cats and their
To the birds in the white of the air.
The birds, for he opened their cages,
As he went up and
And he said with a smile, "Have peace, now,"
his way with a frown.
But if when anyone died,
Came keeners hoarser than
He bade them give over their keening,
For he was a man of books.
And these were the works of John,
When weeping score by
People came into Coloony,
For he'd died at
There was no human keening;
The birds from Knocknarea,
the world round Knocknashee,
Came keening in that day,--
Keening from Innismurry,
Nor stayed for bit or sup;
way were all reproved
Who dig old customs up.
[Coloony is a few miles south of the town of Sligo. Father O'Hart lived there
in the last century, and was greatly beloved. These lines accurately record the
tradition. No one who has held the stolen land has prospered. It has changed
owners many times.]
1. Shoneen--i.e., upstart.
2. Sleiveen--i.e., mean fellow.