May 162013


“Old Woman of the Roads ” by Irish Poet –              Padraig Colum – (1181-1972)








O, to have a little house                                                                                                                                To own the hearth and stool and all!                                                                                                    The heaped up sods against the fire,                                                                                                          The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,images-11
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!
I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!  *        * china

Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there’s never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house – a house of my own
Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.

This is an Irish poem that had an impact on me as a teenager growing up in Dublin, Ireland.  Here was an old woman who should have been afforded a home to call her own, and a place of pride where she would live out the rest of her life.  It is a sad statement that this woman is alone.  Where is her family?   What is her history?  How did she end up on the roads with nowhere to lay her head?  What also struck me as a teen, was her faith in God.  She was not blaming God or anyone else for her misfortunes.

 There is also a wistful, child-like quality to this old woman. She doesn’t want riches, just a clock with a pendulum that would tick and keep her company, and a dresser of plates, cups and saucers that are speckled with white and blue and brown.  Maybe she saw the delph (old word for these items) in a shop window or in someone’s home.  The poem so filled my heart and soul as a teen that I learned the words by heart.  I am happy to share them with you.  Proud of  the Irish poet, Padraig (Patrick) Colum for giving them to us.


These words are written in Gaelic (the original language of Ireland).  It is still spoken in parts of Ireland.  Erin go Bragh means:  “Ireland for Ever!”  and “Slainte” means cheers or “I’ll drink to that!”

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