THE POEMS OF NED DILLON
By Jim McCarthy
On several occasions in these pages I have mentioned the local wit and poet, the late Ned Dillon who lived many years ago at Rath near Churchtown. Ned composed several songs on local happenings, horses and racing, etc. Many of the songs are now forgotten as the people who sang or recited them have all passed away. One of Ned’s songs was called Fading Memories:
As I strolled home one Sunday evening,
From a match in Ballyhea,
From Shinanagh to Tom Fitz’s Bridge,
I leisurely made my way,
Tom Fitz stood on his kitchen floor,
And he saw me passing by,
Then he called me in to have the “Tae”,
With himself and his wife Maria.
We talked for hours about days gone by,
And we never missed the night,
The cocks were crowing in the morning,
As I went up Dooly’s Height.
All Churchtown lay in slumber,
As I walked up the village street,
As I went to my home down the “Old Black Road”,
Not one living soul did I meet.
I worked on many farms, in this my native place,
With the strapping men I worked beside,
I always tried to keep up the pace.
I drank porter at many a threshing,
I dug spuds out from many a ridge,
And I fished in the Awbeg River,
Down to Tom Fitz’s Bridge.
I drove cattle home from Kerry,
I drove cattle home from Clare,
I walked the Bogs of Annagh,
A million times I declare,
I attended every fair and meeting,
The country up and down,
And I always finished up the day,
At Brien’s in old Churchtown.
My life has been a happy one,
I enjoyed it every day,
With what little work I’ve ever done,
I always mixed some play.
I’m now grown old and weary,
My days are winding down,
Soon my friends will lay me,
In the clay of old Churchtown
I do not remember ever seeing Ned Dillon or I do not know if he was alive when I first went to school. I would love to know more about him but I am afraid there is now nobody around who would remember him. He was a good entertainer we are told, and a teller of tall yarns. One story he often told was the one when he was driving cattle home by road from a fair in Dingle. The Dillons were a large family and when they were growing up they were known to disagree and many were the rows that flared up between them.
Ned in his story tried to tell his audience how well known his family were and how far their fame had travelled. A few miles out from Dingle on that warm fair day, Ned Dillon felt like getting a drink. He came to a small house by the roadhouse where he decided to ask for a drink of water. When he went to the door he saw a family of about twelve having a terrible fight in the kitchen. They were fighting like terriers and throwing everything they could lay hands on at one another. The mother of the fighting family tried to make her way to the door to see what the caller wanted. With the shouting and roaring the poor woman could not hear a word of what the caller said and she turned around and in a loud angry voice, she shouted, blast ye, shut up, ye’re worse than the Dillons from Churchtown.