Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Saint Fiachra and Kilfera by the Nore


August 30 is the feast of Saint Fiachre of Brieul. In the 1904 poem below, Alice Esmonde suggests that even in his French exile Saint Fiachra never quite forgets another quiet hermitage - that of Kilfera by the Nore in Ireland. The poem is typical of the many which were published on native saints in popular Catholic magazines in Ireland at this time, it is not great literature just a sentimentally naive tribute to the holy man:

Saint Fiacre

On a slope beside the Norey
St. Fiacre built his cell,
Raised his Church and by the door
Found and blessed his holy well.
In the summer near the gloaming,
Should your footsteps there go roaming,
You would think that down he passes,
While a hush comes, in the air,
Yon could hear the tender grasses
Rustling as he knelt in prayer,
For he lived in days of yore
At Kilfera by the Nore.

Still the spot is calm and fair,
Tho' decayed is his sweet cell,
And he's half forgotten there,
By the banks he loved so well.
But the faithful river stealing,
When the years brought men less feeling,
By the Hermitage once holy,
'Mid a silence most profound,
Seems to sigh and whisper slowly.
All around is sacred ground —
For Fiacre years before
Blessed Kilfera by the Nore.

Did he hold the place so dear
That the Lord who watched above
Filled his heart with tender fear,
Exiled him with jealous love?
Solitude he sought more lasting,
Calmer days for prayer and fasting,
And across the parting ocean,
At Breuil in alien land,
He, with tears and deep emotion,
Built a cell with his own hand:
Still he loved as years before
Lone Kilfera by the Nore.

Sorrows came and centuries,
But his Irish heart has rest
At Breuil beside the trees,
And the flowers he once loved best—
Till the Angel's trumpet calls him,
While the joy of Heaven enthralls him,
Where a thousand years go faster
Than the moments of a day,
In the Presence of the Master
Who has wiped all tears away.
Still we hope he watches o'er
Calm Kilfera by the Nore.

Alice Esmonde

The Irish Monthly, Volume 32 (1904),662-3

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