Sigerson Clifford (1913-85)

sigersoncliffordSigerson Clifford was born in Cork to Kerry parents and came to live in Cahersiveen with his family in 1914.

He wrote many stories and poems but without doubt his most loved and famous poem is ‘The Boys of Barr na Sraide’, an ode to the happy childhood and youth he spent in Cahersiveen.

 

The Boys of Barr na Sraide

Oh, the town, it climbs the mountains and looks upon the sea
At sleeping time or waking time, it’s there I’d like to be.
To walk again those kindly streets, the place where life began,
With the Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

With cudgels stout they roamed about to hunt for the dreólín*
We searched for birds in every furze from Litir to Dooneen.
We danced for joy beneath the sky, life held no print nor plan
When the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren.

And when the hills were bleedin’ and the rifles were aflame
To the rebel homes of Kerry the Saxon strangers came,
But the men who dared the Auxies and fought the Black-and-Tan
Were the Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

But now they toil in foreign soil where they have made their way
Deep in the heart of London or over on Broadway,
And I am left to sing their deeds and praise them while I can
Those Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

And here’s a health to them tonight wherever they may be.
By the groves of Carham river or the slope of Bean ‘a Tí
John Daly and Batt Andy and the Sheehans, Con and Dan,
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

When the wheel of life runs out and peace come over me
Just take me back to that old town between the hills and sea.
I’ll take my rest in those green fields, the place where life began,,
With those Boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wren.

*Dreólín is the Irish Gaelic word for wren. * Barr na Sraide is Irish for Top Street.

Search for more writing by Sigerson Clifford here…

Listen to Tim Dennehy (native of Ballinskelligs and Cahersiveen) singing ‘The Boys of Barr na Sraide’