My Happy Childhood Days 1902 - 1912
Dolmen Press Ltd 1965
Bob Ashtown 1951
(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!