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Established 16/3/2000

Slane and Christianity

The Ballad of the Church of Slane

The ruins of Slane church and college

Attend each true Milesian unto this week narration
Whilse in disconsolation I ponder for a while,
In silent meditation, to peruse the elevation,
Likewise the ruination of this religious pile;
The abbey once respected, alas! now stands neglected
I really did inspect it, which does increase my pain,
That man's degeneration, and Erin's degradation,
Which leaves depopulated the ancient Church of Slane.

2

'Twas in the fourth century in this delightful country,
After St. Patrick's entry upon our fertile shore,
He raised this grand foundation, the wonder of our nation
That's held in veneration, and will till time's no more.
In fact it's only stated that he had consecrated,
St. Erin, then related to Tara's noble train.
And history does mention, he got St. Patrick's sanction,
To rule this holy mansion, that's on the hill of Slane.

Statue of St. Patrick at Slane

3

One thousand years and better, this spot advanced letters
'Till Erin she in fetters, alas! then she was bound;
Then British spoilators, and vile assassinators,
Did basely ruinate her, and nearly dragged her down.
And left us but a sample to show that they did trample
To follow their example, perhaps they would us blame,
But we are not lost in slumber, and our men cannot be numbered
That won't cry out like thunder, revenge the church of Slane.

4

Learning here had flourished, religion is was nourished,
The stranger here was cherished and always found relief;
Men of the highest station came here for education,
From France that brilliant nation, Dagobert the Chief,
Literature so blased, that mankind stood amazed
And nations in awe gazed, at such number that came,
To this spot so delighting, their manner for to brighten,
And talents to enlighten upon the Hill of Slane.

This ballad appeared in the Drogheda Independent newspaper of December 15th, 1972. It was accompanied by the following notes:

"These verses are from an old ballad, about the Hill of Slane, of which there are a few versions. There is also a ballad written about St. Patrick's Chapel, which was built in 1802, as Mr. P.L. Cooney mentions in his recent article. The gentlemen who donated the land, the Marquis of Conyngham is also mentioned in a few ballads.

Slane appears to have been a haven for poets and bards in olden times and it is in Slane that Peadar Galligan wrote "Para Joe", reputed to be the most caustic verse written between the Boyne and the Blackwater during the last century. Also composed in Slane was Seamus Dall MacCurta, elegy to Fr. Phil reilly, whose cross in Monknewtown can be clearly read after two centuries. Close to Fr. Reilly's cross the poet is reputed to be buried as well as the famous Colonel Leonard, as Mr. Liam O'Reilly records in his article.

Galligan and MacCurta are hardly remembered today in Slane and most people appear to prefer the tranquility of Francis Ledwidge's verse. Dean Cogan "Diocese of Meath", is imcomplete, but is a stepping stone for historians.

The volumes of this work are not easily obtained and quite a few people in the Slane area have little knowledge of them. Now that the centenary of his death is about to take place, one hopes the people of Slane and Co. Meath will have it suitably commemorated."

Slane introduction | Slane in ancient times
All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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