Friday, 26 April 2019

Remembering an Irish Priest and Poet

Since 1998 Canada has designated April as National Poetry Month “to celebrate poetry and its vital place in Canada’s culture”.

Last April we celebrated this event by sharing some of the poems Cardinal Carter had written and self published in his book The Poems of a Soul Friend.

These remain some of our staff favourites, however Cardinal Carter was not the only poet in the history Archdiocese of Toronto.
 
Photograph of Reverend James B. Dollard, from the introduction of Irish Lyrics and Ballads by James B. Dollard, 1917

ARCAT Reference Library 811 DOL 1917
 
Reverend James Dollard served as pastor in the Archdiocese at St. Columbkilles’s in Uptergrove and St. Monica’s and Our Lady of Lourdes in Toronto. He also wrote and published prose in his free time, specializing in sonnets and Irish ballads.
 
The Archives has three volumes of Rev. Dollard’s poems in our reference library. While these aren’t what we normally consider reference material, we are happy to have his poems available for researchers to access.
 
Dollard, James. Irish Mist and Sunshine: A Book of Ballads. Toronto: W.E. Blake, 1901. 

Dollard, James. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

Dollard, James. Irish Lyrics and Ballads. Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Steward Ltd, 1917. 
 
Born in Kilkenny in 1872, many of his poems evoke a sense of longing for the Ireland of yore, often calling the country “Erin” in the style of romantic nineteenth century poets and Irish nationalists. While most of the poems are about Ireland, Father Dollard also wrote poems about Canada and religion.
 
Reverend Dollard was uncertain that his Irish ballads would be appreciated in North America, and yet the press offered high praise for his 1910 collection. Nathan Haskell Dole wrote in the Boston Book Culture that "Father Dollard's ballads have all the fire and dash of Kipling's with a firmer poetic touch," and Dr. Thomas O'Hagan in his Canadian Essays wrote: "I have no hesitation in pronouncing Father Dollard the best writer of Irish ballad poetry now living. "

Here is a sampling of poems from Rev. Dollard that are particularly relevant to this year’s National Poetry Month theme, “celebrating nature with poetry:”
 
In Erin.

A broken tower, an ancient cross,
  A brown, bare hill behind;
A sob and a sigh, where the stream flows by,
  A rustling of reeds in the wind.
(Lone whispering of reeds in the wind!) 

A crumbling gable, a ruined cot,
  Dank weeds that batten on the floor;
A gray bog nigh, where curlews cry,
  Like Banshee wailing at the door.
(Ah! The moaning of the Banshee at the door!)

A grim, black coast, and a wintry sea,
  A broken boat on the land,
A fitful caoine from lips unseen,
  Loud clamor of waves on the strand.
(Wild trouble of the waters on the strand.)

A flash of sunshine, a glint of green,
  A hamlet white in the vale;
A laugh and a song where the hurlers throng,
  God’s hope for the future of the Gael.
(Joy springs from the sorrow of the Gael.)
-

Dollard, James. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

ARCAT Reference Library 811 DOL 1910
 
Lakes of the North.

Lakes of the North, flash out in sheed,
Of silver and engirdling green,           
        White birch and fragrant tamarac,
Your myriad beauties vainly screen.

Lakes of the North, how quaintly ring  
Those native sounds---Temiskaming,
Temagami of jewelled sands,
And deeply mirrored Couchiching !

Blue spaces of the happy sky,        
Reflected in your waters lie,          
           When in the hush of cloudless day,
The fretful loon makes eldritch cry!

God’s artist free --- the autumn air,      
The shore-line touches here and there,
    Till deep with gold and rubies set,
The bright wave burns --- a crystal rare.

Lakes of the North, though winter close
Your death-cold lips in mute repose,    
  Not all his icy breath can chill,
The glow your lover’s bosom knows. 
-

Dollard, James. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

ARCAT Reference Library 811 DOL 1910




Song of the Little Villages.*

The pleasant little villages that grace the Irish glynns
Down among the wheat-fields,--- up amid the whins,
The little white walled villages crowding close together,
Clinging to the Old Sod in spite of wind and weather:

Ballytarsney, Ballymore, Ballyboden, Boyle,
Ballingarry, Ballymagorry by the Banks of Foyle,
Ballylaneen, Ballyporeen, Bansha, Ballysadare,
Ballybrack, Ballinalack, Barna, Ballyclare.

The cosy little villages that shelter from the mist,
Where the great West Walls by ocean-spray are kissed;
The happy little villages that cuddle in the sun
When blackberries ripen and the harvest work is done.

Corrymeela, Croaghnakeela, Clogher, Cahirciveen,
Cappaharoe, Carrigaloe, Cashel and Coosheen,
Castlefinn and Carrigtohill, Crumlin, Clara, Clane,
Carrigaholt, Carrigaline, Cloghjordan and Coolrain.

The dreamy little villages, where by the fire at night,
Old Shanachies, with ghostly tale the boldest hearts affright;
The crooning of the wind-blast is wailing Banshee’s cry,
And when the silver hazels stir they say the fairies sigh.

Kilfenora, Kilfinnane, Kinnity, Killylea,
Killmoganny, Kiltamagh, Kilronan and Kilrea,
Killashandra, Kilmacow, Killiney, Killanshee,
Killenaule, Killmyshall, Killorglin and Killeagh.

Leave the little villages, o’er the black seas go,
Learn the stranger’s welcome, learn the exile’s woe,
Leave the little villages, but think not to forget
Afar they’ll rise before your eyes to rack your bosoms yet.

Moneymore, Moneygall, Monivea and Moyne,
Mullinahone, Mullinavatt, Mullagh and Mooncoin
Shanagolden, Shanballymore, Stranorlar and slane,
Toberheena, Toomyvara, Tempo and Stabane.

On the Southern Llanos,--- north where strange light gleams,
Many a yearning exile sees them in his dreams
Dying voices murmur (passed all pain and care)
“Lo! the little villages, God has heard our prayer.”

Lisdoonvarna, Lissadil, Lisdargan, Lisnaskea,
Portglenone, Portarlington, Portumna, Portmagee,
Clonegam and Clonegowan, Cloondara and Clonae,
God bless the little villages and guard them night and day!

*All the names are genuine
-

Dollard, James. Irish Mist and Sunshine: A Book of Ballads. Toronto: W.E. Blake, 1901

ARCAT Reference Library, 811 DOL 1901

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