Saintjohnstown – So Beautiful A Name

Saint Johns Church of Ireland Ballinalee
Saint Johns Church of Ireland Ballinalee. Image from their Facebook page.

My mother grew up outside the Longford village of Ballinalee. She always said she preferred the English name on it, St. Johnstown… called after the Church of Ireland church, built on the reputed site of a Greyfriars monstry dedicated to St, John the Baptist…

Little village, from here her family came
St. Johns Town… so beautiful a name
My mother thought, though with her I did not agree
I saw the pastoral beauty she did not in the Irish name Ballinalee
Town of the Ford of the Calves – its as if they before me stand
The calves drinking without a care I understand
Beauty is in the ear of the beholder, but a sound is a name
Everyone has their favourites for the place from which they came.
It was here St. Samhthann took Clonbroney after fiery vision seen
By Fuinnech who stepped aside, who heretofor abbess had been
Neath the shadow of Cairn Hill, from which morning sun towards the island shadows cast
Where Maeve was slain by slingshot slung cheese in the legendary past…

I grew up where we moved to a few months after I was born
On Shannon banks, a mile above, where the devil himself was beat its said one morn,
Banagher on the Shannon – Fort Falkland – or just plain Banagher Town
Pocket Borough bore all three names since the days before the Crown
Perhaps all should be known by all names so history is not lost
By fads, crazes and laziness to the ether of ignorance knowledge is tossed!


St. Samthann
St. Johnstown Pocket Borough

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