Tadgh Hughes Recitations



A Chara,

I was pleasantly surprised on going through your excellent web site to discover the recitation "Love" subscribed by Sean Kelly of Clifden. Sean and myself are former comrades, having served as members of An Garda Siochaha in the Division of Galway West. The said recitation was the sole preserve of one Tadhg Twomey late of Aharas, Ballingeary. Tadgh would hold any audience spell bound when he gave his rendition. He was known locally as "Tadgh Hugh".

 I knew this man very well as he was a very close associate of our family, spending many days and nights at our house. During some of those visits he gave me the honour of writing down 4 of his other recitations, which  gives me very much pleasure in now reproducing for your site. Apart from having this great gift of delivering recitations and being a raconteur he also possessed other skills, which I will reveal, with those very gifted pair of hands he possessed. I well remember him performing the art of basket making on our farm at Rathagaskig. He produced 4 types of baskets, all of which would be in big demand long before they were made. These were made with hazel twigs, which reproduced themselves every 3 years. The basket types being (a) The "kitch", which was used for drawing turf out of the bog. It measured roughly 3foot high by 2 wide by 2 deep. It had 2 slots at the top to accommodate a rope, for the purpose of fixing it over the shoulders. It was usually placed on a ramp, on the turf bank, while being filled, - sounds like a definition of hardwork. (B) was the message basket, which was made of finer twigs than used for (a) It would measure roughly 18 inches in diameter and roughly 18 inches high, completed with a semi-circular handle. This was in very popular demand by housewives. Who used it as a message basket, it being so designed to fit on the carrier of a bike . (C) was the egg basket. This would be roughly half the size of the one described at (B), A bed of hay would be placed on the bottom on which would be placed a layer of eggs. This exercise could be repeated until the basket was full. (D) This was a type of an ornate basket which could be used for many purposes. This was usually very small and made of light twigs and was designed as requested.

Though this was not generally known Tadgh was an expert when it came to tying fishing flies. In my mid teens it is many the time he asked me to get him feathers of Woodcock, snipe and grouse. Having seen the finished product it certainly looked a work of art. These flies would be given only to the very close friends, one of whom would be the late Denny Cronin, Gougane.

In the post war era – early l950s – Tadgh Hugh was in his element and by the same token a very lucrative business, in the trapping and snaring of rabbits, which were in high demand in England during the post war era. During that time fur and feather merchants would not purchased rabbits which had broken backs or were damaged or partly eaten in any way, by another animal. Rabbits were frequently damaged while caught in traps or attacked and partly eaten by cats, Tadgh was not outdone in this field. Should he find a rabbit with a broken back he would easily remedy the situation by pushing the spoke of a bike through his rear end and up along the spine, until the back became rigid again, thus avoiding detection, Should it be a case that he would have partly eaten rabbits he would, if it was feasible, pack then with moss and then pull the skin tightly and neatly stitch same – never detected that is until they were prepared for cooking in England. It is my firm belief that he got a good kick out of this, because when he was "operating" on his rabbits there was always a roguish look in his eye.

Tadgh Hugh made a lasting impression on the many people that he encountered during his life and none more so than at threshing balls, which were widely held during the l930s and l940s. My late father, Dan Lehane, Rathagaskig owned a threshing set during this era – in fact it was the first rubber tyre tractor in the area. Annually he travelled the Kerry area during the autumn and early winter. His crew consisted of Tadgh Hugh, Jerh Kelleher, Aharas and a Mike Buckley from Clondrohid. Thus the opportunity for attending "Ball nights" where Tadgh was no doubt the centre of attraction with his recitations. In the early l980s , in the course of my duty as a member of the Garda Siochana, I called on a house at Moulykevane, Headford, Co. Kerry one evening. One word borrowed another and on discovering who I was they immediately asked about "Tadgh Hugh" even some of the people present could still recall portions of the recitations

Tadgh though small in stature was stout at heart. He certainly, by his disposition, brought hope and brightness to many a person on the darker days of their lives. He was a genuine friend. He was also possessed of some very fine proverbs in the native tongue and more is the pity that they now are lost. Should he have lived into a later decade perhaps he would have been immortalised  by some author.

He lived at Aharas with his brother Sean Hugh and his wife Julia. Sean will be remembered by my generation for his fine turn out every Sunday of his horse and trap – the brass decorations on the horse tackling were a sight to behold

I hope that this will in some small way help to keep the memory of a silent and gentle genius alive

I give hereunder his recitations.


Pat Lehane.




In the year of Our Lord, 1906 in Sweet July When the leaves were Green

There was a wedding held one day near to the place they call the Coalquay

And now I most solemnly declare I’ll tell ye all I saw there.

Such a rabble there came from Caren’s shore about 11 and 20 score

Of tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors, barbers, brewers, bakers

Cobblers, Carpenters and brogue makers, seamen, fishermen and divers

But the jolliest of all were the motor drivers.

Before the Coshaire there came a multitude I cannot name

With harps, fifes and fiddles too, They were a funny and jolly crew..

They all got seated around a barrel of treble X stout –

And at intervals they had at will plenty of buttermilk to drink their fill.

Delicious food was next brought in on large dishes - made of tin Lobsters, oysters and cowheels, cockles, muscles and fresh eels,

Hens, cocks, ducks and geese, five stripper goats and 9 old beefs,

Lambs, rams, ewes and wethers, five sheeps heads and one goats udder.

Then Pat rushed in his rustic pride, his bunny blossom by his side

Her father he was a jolly old blade - he was a souper by trade.

At the Supper he ate too much jelly and out in the night got a pain in his belly

And you could hear his shout " O my God, my belly break.

And now the truth to ye I’II tell his daughter he did fortune well.

She got a Cuckoo, a tub, a plate, a can, a ladder, a trencher and a pan,

A knife and fork a po, a spit, a reel a three legged stool and a spinning wheel.

Of flax and toe she got three stone and of donkeys she got 94

And the promise of the Jennet’ s foal.

She wore a bonnet on that date and it was made from the skin of a buck goat.

They danced , they sang and they played, but, between the kettle

And the teapot they spoiled the tea .

And if they don’t live happy that we may.




With the Sign of the Cross on my Forehead, as I kneel on this cold stony floor.

I kneel at your feet Reverent Father, with no one, but, God, to the fore.

I have told you the faults of my boyhood, the folly and sins of my youth

And now about this crime of my manhood, I’II speak to you with the same open truth.

You see, Sir, This land was our people’s for 90 long years was their toil.

What once was a bare hungry mountain is a rich fruit bearing soil.

T’was our hands built the walls of this cabin,

Where our children were born and bread,

Where our weddings and Christenings were merry,

Where we waked and lamented our dead.

We were always good friends with the Landlord we paid the rent to the day.

It wasn’t our fault if our heart’s sweat he squandered and wasted away,

On the cards, on the dice and on the racecourse and often in deeper disgrace,

That no tongue could relate without bringing a blush to an honest man’s face.

But the day came at last they looked for, their Castles estates and the lands

Which they held in trust for the people passed away from their hands.

Our place too Sir, went to the Auction and by many the acre was sought.

What cared not the stranger who purchased when he had the good soil he bought.

The Old fold were gone, thank God for that, to a place where neither troubles

Or cares can pursue. But, I had a wife and young children

And Father, I didn’t know what to do.

Well, I said I’d talk to the new man and tell him about me and about mine

And all the money I gathered together I’d place in his hand for a fine.

I chased him to hour and to office and everywhere I thought he’d be met.

I offered him all he’d put on it, but, no ‘twas the land he should get.

I prayed only as meant to God pray, but, my prayers were spurned and denied.

No matter how just my poor right was, that wretch had the law to side.

I was young and only a few short years married to one with a voice like a bird.

When she sang the wild songs of our country every feeling within me was stirred.

I see her before me this moment, her foot wouldn’t bend a traneen.

Her laughing lips lifted to kiss me my own darling bright eyed Coleen.

Ah ‘tis often with joy I watched her soft arms fondle our boy,

Till he silenced the song of her joy.

Whist, Fr, have patience one moment until I wipe this big drop from my brow.

O Fr, I’II try not to curse him, but, I tell, you don’t preach to me now.

You are exciting yourself, yes, l know it, but, the story is now nearly done.

Fr, your own breast is heaving I see the tears down from you run.

Well he threatened, he coaxed, he ejected for I clung on to that place that was mine- far more than it was his . Sir, and told him so straight to his face.

But the money I had melted from me making in making a bid for my own

And a beggar with three helpless children out on the road I was thrown.

Ah yes there was another that never drew breath.

The neighbours were good to us always, but, what can they do against death.

For my wife and children before me lay dead and by him they were killed

That is as sure as I am kneeling before you to own my own share of the guilt.

I laughed all concealing to scorn I didn’t give a wrap for what I said

When my wife was a corpse in the barn and a bundle of straw for a bed.

The blood through my veins rushed to madness did they think a man was a log.

I tracked him once more for the last time and shot him that night like a dog’.

Yes Fr. I shot him -I did it.

Let those who make laws for the land look to it for justice at judgement

For the blood that is red on my hands.

If I drew that piece, ‘twas they primed it, which left him stretched cold on the sod, and from their bar where l got my sentence I appeal to the bar of my God,

The mercy I never got from them the right in their hands is unknown,

Fr, I’ll say that l am sorry, l took the law into my own.

I stole out that night in the darkness, in anger in grief and despair

And I drove the black soul from his body without giving him time to say prayer,

Now Fr, you have the whole story. May God forgive him and me for my sins.

To-morrow my life is ending, but, for the young ones, you see it begins.

Will you look after our young orphans.

May God bless you and now I am at peace and prepared for the death

That to-morrow is stating me straight in the face.





The yeos were in Dunshaughlin and the Hessions in Dunrea

And spread through the plains of Monyalty were the Lancers of Rea

And Roden’s Godless troopers ranged from Skryne to Mullachau

When hammered were the pike heads first by Paud O’Donoghue.

Young Paud he was a brave a lad as ever hammer swung

And the finest hurler you would meet the lads of Meath amongst

And when the wrestling match was over no man could boast,

He threw the dark haired smith of Curraghglass, Paud O’Donoghue.

But ninety eight’s dark season came and Irish hearts grew sore,

The pitchcap and triangle the patient fold outwore.

The smith he thought of Ireland, he found he had some work to do,

I’ll forge some steel for freedom, said young Paud O’Donoghue.

And so in Curraghlass each night was heard the anvil ring,

While scouting on the roadway were Hugh and Phelim King

And Duffy’s Matt and Dickey’s Pat and Mickey Gleeson too’

While in the forge for Ireland worked young Paud O’Donoghue.

But a traitor crept amongst them and soon was sold the secret

To the Captain of the Yeomen for the ready Saxon’s Gold

A troop burst out one evening from the woods of lone Kilbrue

And soon a rebel prisoner bound was Paud O’Donoghue.

"Down on your knees you rebel dog" the Yeomen Captain roared,

while high above his helmet crest he held his gleaming sword’

"down on your knees to meet your doom, for such is a rebels due,

but straight as pikeshaft before him stood young Paud O’Donoghue.

So there upon the roadway, where in childhood he had played

Before this cruel yeoman he stood quiet undismayed.

" I’II kneel but to my God, l ne’er shall bow to you’.

You can shoot me where I stand " said Young Paud O’Donoghue.

The Captain gazed in wonder he lowered his keen edged sword,

"here is " he said " a rebel bold fitting to degrade.

"here, men, unbind him, the Captain’s charger needs a shoe

The king shall have a workman in young Paud O’Donoghue".

Now to the forge young Paud is gone, the yeomen guard the Door

And soon the thunderous bellows is heard to snort and roar

The Captain stands, with reins in hands while Padraig fits the shoe.

And when it’s full on short shift he will give Paud O’Donoghue.

The last strong nail is firmly clinched the Captain’s horse is shod,

Now rebel bold thine hour has come - prepare to meet thy God,

But why hold he the horses hoof - there is no wirk to be done.

Why clinch the hammer so, young Paud O’Donoghue’

A leap, a roar, a staggered groan, the Captain drops the reins,

And sunk to earth with hammer head sunk deeply in his brain

And lightly on the saddle fast racing towards Kilbrue

Upon the captain’s charger sits young Paud O’Donoghue.

A volley from the muskets a rush of horses feet

He is gone and none can capture the captain’s charger fleet

And in the night wind backwards comes a mocking loud "hello"

Go tell the yeomen they have lost young Paud O’Donoghue



Michael Dwyer and your trusty men are hunted down the mountains and tracked into the Glen.

Sleep ye not, but, watch and listen, get ready blade and ball

For the soldiers know your hiding place to-night in wild Imaal

The soldiers search the valley and before the break of day

They discover where those heroes, those undaunted rebels lay

And all around that little cottage they form into a ring

And call out "Michael Dwyer, surrender to the king."

Then answered the brave Dwyer " Into this house we came,

Unasked by those who own it, they are not to blame,

First let those peaceful; people unquestioned pass you through

And when they are placed in safety I‘II tell you what we’II do"

It was done.

"And now" said Dwyer, " your work you may begin

You are over a hundred without and we are four within

We have heard your haughty summons and this is our reply.

We are true united Irishmen and we will fight until we die"

Then burst the war’s red lightning then poured the leaden rain,

The hills around  re-echoed the thunder peal again

On seeing the soldiers fall around him Dwyer seized with pride,

But, ah one gallant comrade is wounded by his side.

Yet there are three remaining, good work they still can do,.

Their hands are strong and steady, their aim is quick and true.

But hark the fury shouting the savage soldiers raise.

The house is on fire around them, the roof is on a blaze

And brighter every moment the sparkling flames arose

And louder was their laughter and the cheering of their foes.

Then spoke the brave McAllister, that sick and wounded man,

You can escape, my comrades, and this shall be your plan.

Place in my hand a musket and lie upon the floor

I’II stand before the soldiers and open by the door

And they will pour into my bosom the fire of their array

And when their guns are empty dash through the man’s away.

He stood before the soldiers and revealed to all their flame

And from their levelled pieces that wishful volley came.

Out sprang the three survivors for whom that hero died

But only Michael Dwyer burst through the ranks outside.

He baffled his pursuers who followed like the wind.

He swam the river Slaney and left them far behind

And many is the English soldier he promised soon would fall.

For those, his gallant soldiers who fell at wild Immal.