JJ ( Jeremiah Joseph ) Callanan (1795-1829)
The poet and translator of Irish verse, was born in Ballinhassig, Co. Cork. JJ died in Lisbon, in exile from his native home, he wrote this poem about Gougane Barra that many Irish people learned at school, maybe you remember it?
or would like to learn it? This is just the first two verses to get you started…
‘There is a green island in lone Gougane Barra,
Where Allua of songs rushes forth as an arrow,
In deep-valley'd Desmond - a thousand wild fountains
Come down to that lake from their homes in the mountains.
There grows the wild ash, and a time stricken willow
Looks chidingly down on the mirth of the billow;
As, like some gay child, that sad monitor scorning,
It lightly laughs back to the laugh of the morning.
And its zone of dark hills - oh! to see them all bright'ning,
When the tempest flings out its red banner of lightning;
And the waters rush down, 'mid the thunder's deep rattle,
like clans from their hills at the voice of the battle.
And brightly the fire-crested billows are gleaming,
And wildly from Mullagh the eagles are screaming,
Oh! where is the dwelling in valley, or highland,
So sweet for a bard as this lone little island.’
Máire Bhuí Ní Laoghhaire (1774-c.1849)
Renowned Irish-language poet and songwriter,who lived,after marriage, close to the entrance to the pass of Keimaneigh, near Gougane Barra.
'Cath Chéim an Fhia' (Battle of Keimaneigh) is a vigorous rousing ballad and a partisan account of a battle between local Whiteboys and a battalion of Yeomanry in 1822.
Máire had little formal education, but had a great store of traditional learning, ballads, aislings, and laments in the locality where they are still being sung in the Irish language in the local schools.
Robert Gibbings (1889-1958)
Robert Gibbings was born in Cork and educated in University College, Cork, and the Slade School in London. In the 1940’s, he came to Gougane Barra Hotel for a week and stayed for six months!A writer of fascinating travel books he was a very skilled artist and illustrated many of his own books including 'Lovely is the Lee' (1944) and 'Sweet Cork of Thee'.(1951) in which the area and the family are mentioned frequently and with great affection. Neil's Mom Breda said when she was a child she thought he was Santa Claus!
‘On these I ponder
Where'er I wander,
And thus grow fonder,
Sweet Cork of thee.’