Ellen O’Leary: Irish Woman Poet

Ellen O’Leary (1831 – 1889) was born in Tipperary. She was a committed Fenian and sister of John O’Leary the Fenian leader. She contribute to The Nation, The Irish Monthly and other journals of the day. Her poems were collected as Lays of Country, Home and Friends in 1891.

To God and Ireland True
I SIT beside my darling’s grave,
Who in the prison died,
And though my tears fall thick and fast
I think of him with pride:
Ay, softly fall my tears like dew,
For one to God and Ireland true.
“I love my God o’er all,” he said,
“And then I love my land,
And next I love my Lily sweet,
Who pledged me her white hand:
To each—to all—I ’m ever true,
To God, to Ireland, and to you.”
No tender nurse his hard bed smooth’d
Or softly rais’d his head;
He fell asleep and woke in heaven
Ere I knew he was dead;
Yet why should I my darling rue?
He was to God and Ireland true.
Oh, ’t is a glorious memory!
I ’m prouder than a queen,
To sit beside my hero’s grave
And think on what has been;
And, O my darling, I am true
To God—to Ireland—and to you!


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