My Happy Childhood Days 1902 - 1912

Dolmen Press Ltd 1965

Bob Ashtown 1951

Woodlawn House
Frank Nevin
Julius, Bob and Violet at Woodlawn House
Courtesy of Roderick Trench
Meadow to rear of Woodlawn House
Frank Nevin
Primroses in Woodland
B. Doherty
The Lake at Woodlawn House, October 1865, with the White Bridge in the background.
Dillon Family, Courtesy of National Library of Ireland
Gamekeepers and their apprentices, Woodlawn Estate
By John Heuston, Courtesy of Alf Seale

(Courtesy of Roderick Trench, 8th Baron Ashtown)

Of all the great estates I’ve Known,

I loved the best, I proudly own,

My old ancestral Irish home-

So blest in bygone days!

At Woodlawn I such freedom won

As seldom comes to any son,

(except a very privilaged one)

No matter where he strays.

The stately mansion on the hill,

Has stood two hundred years and will

I hope stand up for for centuries still, The Trenches still hold sway!

My ancestors did, in their day, Turn marshlands into fertile clay;

And many a poor man worked away,

Survived the famine years.

And when my father came of age

After the reclamation stage,

His proved a golden heritage,

Since Time made up arrears.

He married and our mother bore

A son, a daughter, three sons more.

It was not a very long before

Five children joined in play!

And soon we daily used to roam

And hunt for treasure on our own.

Seldom was so much pleasure won

By youngsters day by day!

We often came home to surprise

Our parents with bright butterflies.

But birds eggs were our greatest prize

And carefully stored away!

How thrilling when first seen and heard

A swallow and a cuckoo bird!

From such homecomings we inferred

That Spring was on the way.

When daffodils did greatly please,

The first green leaves of woodland trees!

Then golden cowslips, primroses,

The smell of new-mown hay!

We loved with milk-fed worms to go

And fish by lakes we loved to know,

Thrilled when our corks bobbed to and fro

As shoals of perch swam by!

And how a face lit up with glee

The day my father promised me

His gamekeeper would soon teach me

To shoot and cast a fly!

In time we all proved to be true

Young sportsmen ~ I already knew

The flights of many a bird that flew,

Where many a trout did lie!

As cartridge-boys, at woodcock shoots,

We learnt how guns – in homespun suits

And heavy hobnailed shooting boots,

Killed much that flew their way!

And though we could not shoot game,

We had much practice all the same-

At rabbits and when pigeons came

To roost in woods nearby.

I loved the troutstream that did flow

Past woodlands to deep pools below,

Where many a weighty trout did show

Throughout the month of May.

Beside those pools, I learnt at last

How best each chosen fly to cast.

And many a sporting fish held fast,

And many I lost in play!

Though winter many joys did bring,

I loved, yes more than any thing

To be at Woodlawn in the spring,

Where nature was so gay!

For in her grounds, from April – June,

When did so many hearts commune,

How swelled the songsters’ choral tune!

How blithe the blackbirds lay!

I loved the curlews’ ringing cries!

The sound of ”drumming” in the skies!

The skylarks’ heavenly rhapsodies!

No matter where I’d stray.

I loved each morn, as I did wake,

To hear once more the landrails’ ”crake”!

The dabchicks ”trilling” on the lake!

And , so confidingly-

A wood-dove in a nearby tree

Proclaiming ”Spring hath set love free!”-

Such memories mean so much to me

Now I live far away.

But as, by Lough Derg’s beauteous shore,

I share a happy home once more,

Enjoy so much I loved before,

I feel that I can say

THe saddest heart may pleasure take,

And dream of all for old-time’s sake

Where Nature still is gay!





This page was added on 23/11/2016.

Comments about this page

  • Thanks for including this historic memory. I m sure in many ways it captures the innocent joy of the very young person in this area, of what ever social class, at that time.
    Sadly, however, any such young person would grow to be aware of the huge differences of wealth and opportunity – arising from the social structure of that time in Ireland – which would blight the lives of the majority, and cause the minority to wonder how they felt about their privileged status.
    For this reason, as a descendant of persons of that majority, it was very difficult to read.
    Recounting history, as you do, is not ‘easy listening’. Keep up the good work!

    By John Kenny (19/11/2021)

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