‘The sweet shady groves of Clontead’

The Schools’ Collection of the 1930s, which now forms part of the National Folklore Collection, is a treasure trove. Folklore was collected by children across the land, including schoolgoers within our own parish. Around 1938 ‘The sweet shady groves of Clontead’ was collected by young Tony Mahony of Clonteadbeg, Coachford from his mother. This 19th century work was earlier composed by Cornelius ‘The Poet’ Ahern.

The sweet shady groves of Clontead

It being in the month of October
To Cork I was going on my way
All nature seemed dreary and lonely
No creature I noticed that day
I spied a fair maiden most lonely
As she sat down sewing in the shade
By the lovely sweet village of Coachford
And the sweet shady groves of Clontead

To approach her at once I stepped forward
In a customary notice of grace
I bowed to her Ladyship lovely
Most frankly I told her my case
I said if she’d make me her own love
She need not henceforth be afraid
My bride I will make you in Coachford
By the sweet shady groves of Clontead

This maiden replied in a moment
In as gentle a tone as can be
Too forward young man hast thou spoken
Much trust to impose it on me
My parents would blame me you know well
If with you alone I had strayed
From the lovely sweet village of Coachford
And the sweet shady groves of Clontead


My case I appealed and once more said
My pretty and courtly young dame
Believe me to be no imposter
I never was known by that name
But if you will make me your own love
You need not henceforth be afraid
My bride I will make you in Coachford
By the sweet shady groves of Clontead

One wonders if this young suitor’s advances ever did succeed. Did he find love with this girl, by his ‘none too shy’ approach, amongst the sweet shady groves of Clontead? Perhaps we will never know!

Clontead is an area around Coachford consisting of two townlands … Clontead More and Clontead Beg. These townlands cover a substantial part of the northern side of Coachford village. It’s ironic that a poem about Clontead, collected by a young resident from Clontead Beg, was then entered into the school manuscript of Clontead National School. Today that manuscript forms part of the Schools’ Collection located in Dublin.

Cornelius or Con ‘The Poet’ Ahern was from Carrigthomas townland, near Ballinagree, in the modern parish of Aghinagh (once the Civil Parish of Aghabullogue). Con was said to be born c.1824. He lived through the Great Famine and died c.1864 at the tender young age of 40 years. One story has it he was imprisoned for poaching on the River Laney and ill-health from being jailed helped his early demise. Con was buried locally in Aghabullogue Graveyard. His other works include ‘Musheramore’, ‘The Plains of Drishane’, ‘Carrigagulla’ and ‘Rusheen’s Sunny Borders’.

One of Clontead’s sweet shady groves today

SOURCES (accessed 30/3/2018):

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