Gleanings [Article is about Raftery, the poet]

The Connacht Tribune, 25 August, 1973


On Sunday the refurbished "cemetery of poets" will be reinaugurated. It was on Sunday August 26, 1900 that a group of distinguished locals and Literati unveiled the monument to Raftery, the poet. Now two locals poets, Marcus and Peatsai Callahan of nearby Caheradiveane will have their place of rest suitably marked.

Lady Gregory is justly praised for her part in honouring Raftery. Edward Martyn helped as did the local people. Dr, Douglas Hyde was the great publicist then he published Ratftery's Poems in 1903. Hyde first heard of Raftery while shooting at Rahasane, Turlough when he heard an old man at his door singing "Anois teacht an Earraigh beidh an la ag dul chun sineadh, is tar eis la feile Bridhe ard eochaidh me mo sheol". Fifteen years later among the old Irish MSS in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, he again discovered the full poem in an old manuscript.

Raftery, of course, has the closest connections with Craughwell. He died in the home of Diarmuid O'Clunnain on Christmas Eve 1835. His poems were for years missing, until Lady Gregory found a copy in the possession of an old stone-cutter in Killeeneen which contained many of Raftery's poems. Various other people gathered the versions of the other poems until a book of his poetry was ready for publication.

For 65 years Raftery rested quietly until a group of people under Lady Gregory 'the prime cause' had erected a headstone bearing simply the poet's surname. At the unveiling on August 26th were present a great crowd of people which included Dr. Douglas Hyde, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and Father Anthony J. Considine, subsequently Dean of Galway and Vicar General. Lady Gregory recalls a visit to identify Raftery's grave with the help of an old man who was present at the burial. As I went back along the silent road silent road there was suddenly a sound of horses and a rushing and waving about me and I found myself in the midst of the County Galway Foxhounds, come back from cub-hunting. The English M.F.H. and his wife rode by and I wondered if they had ever heard of the poet whose last road this had been. Most likely not.

Present at the 1900 ceremony was Terry Furey who as a young man had been present at the burial of Raftery. He recited at the very great length poetry by Raftery despite the fact that it was pouring rain out of the heavens. Lady Gregory, Hyde and the attendance were drenched. The Fureys had once taken Raftery into their home after a funeral and he recited 'Fiach Mharcius Uí Challanain'. And the Fureys reside there to this day.