CELT document T402579A

The Mourner's Soliloquy in the Ruined Abbey of Timoleague

Seághan Ó Coileáin

Machtnadh an Duine Dhoilghiosaich

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    The Mourner's Soliloquy in the Ruined Abbey of Timoleague

    By Thomas Furlong

  1. Abroad one night in loneliness I stroll'd,
    Along the wave-worn beach my footpath lay;
    Struggling the while with sorrows yet untold,
    Yielding to cares that wore my strength away:
    On as I mov'd, my wayward musings ran
    O'er the strange turns that mark the fleeting life of man.
  2. The little stars shone sweetly in the sky;
    Not one faint murmur rose from sea or shore;
    The wind with silent wing went slowly by,
    As tho' some secret on its path it bore:
    All, all was calm, — tree, flower, and shrub stood still,
    And the soft moonlight slept on valley and on hill.
  3.  p.237
  4. Sadly and slowly on my path of pain
    I wander'd, idly brooding o'er my woes;
    Till full before me on the far-stretched plain,
    The ruin'd abbey's mouldering walls arose;
    Where far from crowds, from courts and courtly crimes,
    The sons of virtue dwelt, the boast of better times.
  5. I paused — I stood beneath the lofty door,
    Where once the friendless and the poor were fed;
    That hallow'd entrance, that in days of yore
    Still open'd wide to shield the wanderer's head;
    The saint, the pilgrim, and the book-learn'd sage,
    The knight, the travelling one, and the worn man of age.
  6. I sat me down in melancholy mood,
    My furrow'd cheek was resting on my hand;
    I gazed upon that scene of solitude,
    The wreck of all that piety had plann'd:
    To my aged eyes the tears unbidden came,
    Tracing in that sad spot our glory and our shame.
  7.  p.239
  8. "And oh," cried I, as from my breast the while,
    The struggling sigh of soul-felt anguish broke;
    "A time there was, when through this storm-touch'd pile,
    In other tones the voice of echo spoke;
    Here other sounds and sights were heard and seen —
    How alter'd is the place from what it once hath been!"
  9. "Here in soft strains the solemn Mass was sung;
    Through these long aisles the brethren bent their way;
    Here the deep bell its wonted warning rung,
    To prompt the lukewarm loitering one to pray;
    Here the full choir sent forth its stream of sound,
    And the rais'd censer flung rich fragrance far around."
  10. How chang'd the scene! — how lonely now appears
    The wasted aisle, wide arch, and lofty wall;
    The sculptur'd shape — the pride of other years,
    Now darken'd, shaded, sunk and broken all:
    The hail, the rain, the sea-blown gales have done
    Their worst, to crown the wreck by impious man begun.
  11.  p.241
  12. Thro' the rent roof the aged ivy creeps;
    Stretch'd on the floor the skulking fox is found;
    The drowsy owl beneath the altar sleeps,
    And the pert daws keep chattering all around;
    The hissing weasel lurks apart unseen,
    And slimy reptiles crawl where holy heads have been.
  13. In the refectory now no food remains;
    The dormitory boasts not of a bed;
    Here rite or sacrifice no longer reigns;
    Prior — brethren — prayers — and fasts and forms are fled:
    Of each — of all, here rests not now a trace,
    Save in these time-bleach'd bones that whiten o'er the place.
  14. Oh! that such power to baseness was decreed;
    Oh! that mischance such triumphs should supply;
    That righteous heaven should let the vile succeed,
    And leave the lonely virtuous one to die! p.243
    Oh! justice, in the struggle where wert thou?
    Thy foes have left this scene chang'd as we see it now.
  15. I too have chang'd, — my days of joy are done,
    My limbs grow weak, and dimness shades mine eye;
    Friends — kindred — children, dropping one by one,
    Beneath these walls now mouldering round me lie.
    My look is sad, my heart has shrunk in grief,
    Oh! death, when wilt thou come and lend a wretch relief.

Document details

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Title statement

Title (): The Mourner's Soliloquy in the Ruined Abbey of Timoleague

Title (firstline): Abroad one night in loneliness I strolled

Title (original): Machtnadh an Duine Dhoilghiosaich

Author: Seághan Ó Coileáin

Responsibility statement

translated by: Thomas Furlong

Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: School of History, University College Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft.

Extent: 1545 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork.

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland.—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2014

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T402579A

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description

Manuscript sources for the Irish poem

  1. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 659 (formerly 24 A 22), "written by Mícheál Ó Horgáin, 1824" (O'Rahilly 213).
  2. Maynooth, Mur[phy] 48, p. 66; "this part possibly in the hand of Bishop Murphy; dated 1818 on title-page" (O'Rahilly 213).
  3. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, 24 C 13, p. 81, "written by Rev. Matthew Horgan" (O'Rahilly 213).

Editions and Translations

  1. Thomas Furlong, 'The Mourner's Soliloquy in the Ruined Abbey of Timoleague', in James Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy, 235-43. [An English translation in six-line verses.]
  2. J. C. Mangan, 'Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Teach Molaga', The Nation, 8 August 1846. [Reproduced online at https://manganpaper.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/lament-over-the-ruins-of-the-abbey-of-teach-molaga/] Reprinted in John O'Daly, 'The Irish Language Miscellany' [with translation by J. C. Mangan]. Dublin, 1876.
  3. John O'Daly, 'The Irish Language Miscellany' [with translation by J. C. Mangan]. (Dublin 1876).
  4. Prose [?] translation by Sir Samuel Ferguson, Dublin University Magazine III. 465-6, 1834). Ser., 1860 [p. 71-3].
  5. Verse translation by Sir Samuel Ferguson, Specimens of the early native poetry of Ireland in English metrical translations, ed. Henry Montgomery Riddell. New and enlarged edition (Dublin 1892), 283-286. Reprinted in: A Book of Irish Verse: selected from modern writers with an Introduction and notes by W.B. Yeats> Revised edition (London 1900).
  6. T. F. O'Rahilly, Measgra Dánta, poem 59, p. 158-61, which contains an Irish version with modernized spelling (online at CELT in file G402568) and notes p. 213–17.


  1. William H. Jeffery, 'The Furlongs of County Wexford', Journal of the Old Wexford Society 6 (1976–77) 73–79.
  2. Sean Mythen, Thomas Furlong: The Forgotten Wexford Poet: the Life and Work of Thomas Furlong, 1794–1827 (Ferns 1998).

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The Mourner’s Soliloquy in the ruined Abbey of Timoleague’ (1831). In: Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland; with English Poetical Translations‍. Ed. by James Hardiman. Vol. 2. 235, 237, 239, 241, 243. London: Joseph Robins.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  editor 	 = {James Hardiman},
  title 	 = {The Mourner's Soliloquy in the ruined Abbey of Timoleague },
  booktitle 	 = {Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland; with English Poetical Translations},
  editor 	 = {James Hardiman},
  address 	 = { London},
  publisher 	 = {Joseph Robins},
  date 	 = {1831},
  volume 	 = {2},
  note 	 = {235, 237, 239, 241, 243}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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Profile description

Creation: Translation by Thomas Furlong (1794–1827). Irish original by Seághan Ó Coileáin, (John Collins or John O'Cullane), of Myross (1754–1817) between 1814 and 1827

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: romantic; poetry; 19c; Timoleague Abbey; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-02-20: TEI header completed; file parsed, SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-02-19: Text typed in, proofed (1, 2); TEI-conformant XML markup applied; header created; file converted, file parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2014-01: Copy of Hardiman's and O'Rahilly's edition donated to CELT. (ed. An t-Ollamh Seán Ó Coileáin)

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