Fethard at Your Fingertips
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Tommy Ryan was in the saddle
One bright November morning
The echoing glades of Ballinard wood
Re-echoed to his horn

The varied tints of autumn
Still lingered on the wood
And on the leaves the morning sun
Poured out a golden flood

All nature seemed rejoicing
That glorious morn to see
All seemed to breathe a fresher life
Beast, insect, bird and tree

But sound and sight of beauty
Fell dull on eye and ear
The huntsman’s heart was heavy
His brow oppressed with care

High in his stirrups raised he stood
And long he gazed around
And breathlessly and anxiously
He listened for a sound

No voice of hound, no sound of horn
The woods around were mute
As though the earth had swallowed
His comrades, man and brute

He thought ‘I must essay to find
My hounds at any cost
A huntsman who has lost his hounds
Is but a huntsman lost’

Then ‘round he turned his horse’s head
And shook his bridle free
When he was struck by an aged fox
That sat beneath a tree

He r aised his hand to touch his horn
And shout a “Tally-Ho”
But mastered by that fox’s eye
His lips refused to blow

For he was grim and gaunt of limb
With age all silvered o’er
He might have been an artic fox
Escaped from Greenlands shore

And thus the huntsman he addressed
In tones distinct and clear
Who heard as they who in a dream
The fairies music hear

Print my words upon your heart
And stamp them on your brain
That you to others may impart
My prophecy again

Strong life is yours in manhood prime
Your cheer with heat is red
Time has not laid his finger yet
In earnest on your head

But ere your limbs are bent with age
And ere your locks are grey
The sport that you have loved so well
Shall long have passed away

No more shall generous Donoughmore
Your hunt consent to keep
In vain shall Captain Williams
With cash your stores shall keep

“Vain all their efforts spite of all
Draws near that fatal morn
When the last bold Tipperary fox shall hear
The latest huntsman’s horn

Yet think not, huntsman, I rejoice
To see the end is near
Nor think the sound of horn and hound
To me a sound of fear

Now oft I heard the White Heathers cry
As James cheered on the pack

And laughed to see his baffled hounds
Hang vainly on my track.

Better in early youth and strength
The race for life to run
Than poisoned like the lowly rat
Or killed by snare or gun

For not on Tipperary”s Hills alone
The doom of sport shall fall
But o’er the fields of Ireland creeps
The shadow on the wall

The wood and grove where my race bred
To “dozer and digger “shall yield
Hedge and ditch shall cease to shade
The ever widening field

The Gaelic sports- your forefathers played
Shall vanish one by one
The manly blood of Irishmen
In weaker veins shall run

Time honoured faith of our fathers
Will not stand the test of time
Religion shall be held in jest
And loyalty a crime

No word of prayer, no hymn of praise
Sound in the village school
The peoples education
The politicians rule

The homes where love and peace should dwell
Now worship at a box
And liberated woman strive to prove
Herself the coarser sex

The footstep of the invader
Old Ireland’s shore shall know
While homebred traitors give the hand
To Ireland’s every foe

Disarmed before the foreigner

The knee shall humbly bend
And yield the rreasures that she lacked
And yield the treasure that she lacked
The wisdom to defend

But not forever, yet once again
When purged by fire and sword
The land her freedom shall regain
And manlier thoughts restored

Again the blooming hedgerow
Shall field from field divide
Again among Tipperary’s hills
The scarlet huntsman ride

Again it seemed that ancient fox
More prophecies would say
When suddenly came upon the wind
“Hark Forrard gone away

The huntsman started from his trance
He sat there all alone
That well known cry had broke the spell
The aged fox was gone

The huntsman turned
Spurred on his steed
And to the cry he sped
And when he thought upon that fox
Said nought, but shook his head.


This site is maintained by Joe Kenny, Rocklow Road, Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.