Sunday, March 8, 2009


The castle and townland of Moyode is well documented for reasons such as its place in the establishment of the famous foxhounds, The Galway Blazers, and its connection with the Easter 1916 Rising in Co. Galway. A Moyode resident, Jackie Byrne, gave me a hand-written copy of the poem below recently and I thought I might share it with you. I'll put a synopsis of the history at the end.
(Since I posted this poem, I have learned that the author is Frank Galvin, of Slieverue, Athenry now -2010- living in retirement in Listowel, Co. Kerry. See comments for further information.)


On limestone land this castle stands,
Beneath ash and elm tree.
In years gone by, it caught my eye
As all that heaven could be.
Its four round towers stood out like flowers,
Along its lonely road,
When a coach-and-four pulled up to the door
Of the castle of Moyode.

Its large stone shone like gems upon
A gown made from turquoise
Or white squares on a draught board
Set before the players eyes.
In its big courtyard where I regard
Were the finest stories told
Of the fox chase up to Scarrif
From the castle of Moyode.

It's the polar star of Galway,
It's the Bethlehem of my birth.
Had Napoli known its whereabouts,
He would have headed west
And left behind the Alpine range
Where its mercury skies had snowed
And settled for a moonlight night
O'er the castle of Moyode.

Enshrined within its four grey walls
To mark its large domain (demesne?)
It's fifty years ago this year
Our freedom we did gain,
When the local boys with pike in hand
Along the road they strode
With such force that struck the belfry tower
Of the castle of Moyode.

Then the foxhounds, sleeping peacefully,
Upon their legs did stand
And looked into their Master's eyes
And begged for his demand (command?).
With a sharp blow on his trumpet,
That was heard from shore to shore,
He led them out the back gate
For the lawn in Ballymore.

This gate is made from spikes and plates
Just like the letter M,
And O and Y are found in joy
Which always seemed within.
When the cuckoo's call came o'er the wall
To soften life's heavy load
As your axe you swung and the echoes rung
Through the castle of Moyode.

The other O is a bullet hole
Pierced through an old ash tree
And the archways, in my childhood,
Looked like the letter D
And on top there's a weather-cock
Where you'll find an E.
And all linked up together spells

Moyode Castle, as it is today, is an example of a sixteenth-century fortified Burke tower house (which went to the Persse family) located 3.5 miles from both Craughwell and Athenry. It sits at the edge of a 35 acre grazing pasture. From being a ruin, it was restored by an American historian James Charles Roy in 1969. The real "Castle" was burned to the ground in the early 20th century.

It is interesting to record the origin of the "Galway Blazers". The pack hunted in Galway for several years prior to 1840 by Robert Parsons Persse of Castleboy. For a fortnight each year these hounds were invited by the Ormond Hunt to hunt the latter country. At the end of the visit the Galway men entertained the Ormond Hunt at Dooley's Hotel, Birr. On one occasion the festivities resulted in the burning of the hotel. This was the origin of the name "Blazers". Robert Persse died shortly afterwards and the hounds were disposed of. For a while, as the Seanachaí said, things rested so.
Later a number of sportsmen agreed to revive "The Blazers." Tom Tully of Rathfarn and John Denis purchased on their own behalf a pack of hounds that was for sale in Tipperary, and John Dennis was appointed master. He kept the hounds near Dunsandle until 1849 when he got a bad fall and had to give up hunting. In 1852 the mastership was taken over by Burton Persse who hunted the pack until his death in 1885, a apace of 33 years. .
In 1803 the first Hunt Club was established in Galway, called the Castle Boy Hunt with Robert Parsons Persse of Castle Boy as master.
The Galway Blazers today are located at The Kennells in Craughwell.


tierney said...

keep up the good work.Mary T.

Poitry2002 said...

Thank you for posting the picture of Moyode and the poem. My father's mother was a Persse, who grew up in the Mohawk River Valley of New York state. With the help of the Internet, and people such as yourself, I have been able to trace my lineage back to The Very Reverand Edward Persse's arrival in Ireland in 1602. Poems and pictures like the ones that you posted help to bring to that part of my heritage to life.

Jerry Galvin said...

Jerry Galvin.
The poem was written by my father Frank Galvin who grew up in Slievrue, Athenry and played around the castle grounds in his youth. It was originally written for a song competition in the Connaught Tribune in the late 1960's or early 1970's when we lived in Exeter, Devon. One of the Persse's lived in Alswear, North Devon and i can just remember visiting her when i was very young. Frank Galvin now lives in retirement just outside Listowel in Kerry.

Bogchick said...

Hello P.J., If you could be so kind as to credit my father as the poet. Frank Galvin of Slieverue, Athenry. Frank wrote the poem in 1966 whilst he was living in Exeter, Devon. It was since published in the Connacht Tribune in the 1980's. Frank is now retired and living in Listowel.
Thank you. Julia Galvin