CELT document T402579C

Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Timoleague

Seághan Ó Coileáin

Machtnadh an Duine Dhoilghiosaich

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    From the Irish

  1. Lone and weary as I wander'd
    by the bleak shore of the sea,
    Meditating and reflecting
    on the world's hard destiny,
  2. Forth the moon and stars 'gan glimmer,
    in the quiet tide beneath,
    For on slumbering spring and blossom
    breathed not out of heaven a breath.
  3. On I went in sad dejection,
    careless where my footsteps bore,
    Till a ruined church before me
    opened wide its ancient door, —
  4. Till I stood before the portals,
    where of old were wont to be,
    For the blind, the halt, and leper,
    alms and hospitality.
  5. Still the ancient seat was standing,
    built against the buttress grey,
    Where the clergy used to welcome
    weary trav'llers on their way;
  6.  p.105
  7. There I sat me down in sadness,
    neath my cheek I placed my hand,
    Till the tears fell hot and briny
    down upon the grassy land.
  8. There, I said in woful sorrow,
    weeping bitterly the while,
    Was a time when joy and gladness
    reigned within this ruined pile; —
  9. Was a time when bells were tinkling,
    clergy preaching peace abroad,
    Psalms a-singing, music ringing
    praises to the mighty God.
  10. Empty aisle, deserted chancel,
    tower tottering to your fall,
    Many a storm since then has beaten
    on the grey head of your wall!
  11. Many a bitter storm and tempest
    has your roof-tree turned away,
    Since you first were formed a temple
    to the Lord of night and day.
  12.  p.106
  13. Holy house of ivied gables,
    that were once the country's boast,
    Houseless now in weary wandering
    are you scattered, saintly host;
  14. Lone you are to-day, and dismal,
    — joyful psalms no more are heard,
    Where, within your choir, her vesper
    screeches the cat-headed bird.
  15. Ivy from your eaves is growing,
    nettles round your green hearth-stone,
    Foxes howl, where, in your corners,
    dropping waters make their moan.
  16. Where the lark to early matins
    used your clergy forth to call,
    There, alas! no tongue is stirring,
    save the daw's upon the wall.
  17. Refectory cold and empty,
    dormitory bleak and bare,
    Where are now your pious uses,
    simple bed and frugal fare?
  18. Gone your abbot, rule and order,
    broken down your altar stones;
    Nought see I beneath your shelter,
    save a heap of clayey bones.
  19.  p.107
  20. O! the hardship, O! the hatred,
    tyranny, and cruel war,
    Persecution and oppression,
    that have left you as you are!
  21. I myself once also prosper'd; —
    mine is, too, an alter'd plight;
    Trouble, care, and age have left me
    good for nought but grief to-night.
  22. Gone my motion and my vigour —
    gone the use of eye and ear,
    At my feet lie friends and children,
    powerless and corrupting here;
  23. Woe is written on my visage,
    in a nut my heart could lie —
    Death's deliverance were welcome —
    Father, let the old man die.
  24. Sir Samuel Ferguson

Document details

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Title statement

Title (): Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Timoleague

Title (firstline): Lone and weary as I wander'd

Title (original): Machtnadh an Duine Dhoilghiosaich

Author: Seághan Ó Coileáin

Responsibility statement

translated by: Sir Samuel Ferguson

Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: School of History, University College Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft.

Extent: 1540 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: T402579C

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 and verse translation, the latter by Sir Samuel Ferguson, 'Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy. No III 'IV (the last part of a review article, which has an appendix with literal prose and verse translations of some of the poems edited by Hardiman), pp. 514-542, Dublin University Magazine, November 1834.
  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. Mary Catherine Guinness Ferguson, Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day (Edinburgh/London 1896).
  2. Arthur Deering, Sir Samuel Ferguson, Poet and Antiquarian (Philadelphia 1931).
  3. Malcolm Brown, Sir Samuel Ferguson (Lewisburg) 1973 (esp. 43–60)
  4. Robert O'Driscoll, An ascendancy of the heart: Ferguson and the beginnings of modern Irish literature in English (Dublin 1976).
  5. Terence Brown and Barbara Hayley (eds), Samuel Ferguson: a centenary tribute (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy 1987).
  6. Maurice Harmon, The Enigma of Samuel Ferguson, in: O. Komesu, M. Sekine (eds), Irish writers and politics (Irish Literary Studies 36) (Gerrards Cross 1989) 62–79.
  7. Peter Denman, Samuel Ferguson: the literary achievement (Gerrards Cross, Bucks. 1990).
  8. Gréagóir Ó Dúill, Samuel Ferguson: Beatha agus Saothar (Baile Átha Cliath [=Dublin] 1993.
  9. Gréagóir Ó Dúill, Sir Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886), in: Eamon Phoenix (ed), A century of northern life: The Irish News and 100 years of Ulster history, 1890s–1990s (Belfast 1995) 182–186.
  10. Peter Denman, William Carleton and Samuel Ferguson: lives and contacts, in: Gordon Brand (ed), William Carleton, the authentic voice (Gerard's Cross 2006) 360–377.
  11. Eve Patten, Samuel Ferguson and the culture of nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin 2004).

The edition used in the digital edition

‘Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Timoleague’ (1900). In: A Book of Irish Verse: selected from modern writers with an Introduction and notes‍. Ed. by W.B. Yeats. London: Methuen and Co., pp. 104–107.

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

  editor 	 = {W.B. Yeats},
  title 	 = {Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Timoleague},
  booktitle 	 = {A Book of Irish Verse: selected from modern writers with an Introduction and notes},
  editor 	 = {W.B. Yeats},
  address 	 = { London},
  publisher 	 = {Methuen and Co.},
  date 	 = {1900},
  pages 	 = {104–107}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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Profile description

Creation: Translation by Sir Samuel Ferguson (1810–1886). Irish original by Seághan Ó Coileáin, (John Collins or John O'Cullane), of Myross (1754–1817)

Date: 1834

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)

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

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-02-28: Lines numbered, file proofed (2); file parsed and validated; SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-02-20: TEI header created with bibliographical detail. TEI-conformant XML markup applied to file; file proofed (1). (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2014-02-20: Text scanned in. (file captured Beatrix Färber)

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