“Farewell to Aran isle, farewell!

A pan-Celtic saint, Columba (not to be confused with Columban) is revered in Ireland and Scotland. Starting his career in his native Donegal, he founded monasteries in Derry, Durrow and finally Iona. Bringing Irish spirituality into the east, so to say.

St. Columba spent years in Aran, and deeply was he grieved at leaving it for Iona. His bitter lament in Irish verse has been translated into English metre by the late Sir Aubrey De Vere, Bart., in part as follows.

“Farewell to Aran isle, farewell!
I steer for Hy; my heart is sore,
The breakers burst, the billows swell, ‘Twixt Aran’s isle and Alba’s shore.

“Thus spake the son of God, ‘Depart!’ Oh Aran isle, God’s will be done! By angels thronged this hour thou art: I sit within my barque alone.

“Oh Modan, well for thee the while! Fair falls thy lot and well art thou, Thy seat is set in Aran isle, Eastward to Alba turns my prow.

“Oh Aran, sun of all the west! My heart is thine! as sweet to close Our dying eyes in thee as rest Where Peter and where Paul repose.

“Oh Aran, sun of all the west’. My heart its grave hath found; He walks in regions of the blest, The man that hears thy church bells sound.

“Oh Aran blest—oh Aran blest! Accursed the man that loves not thee; The dead man cradled in thy breast No demon scares him—well is he.



I’ve pointed out in the about page about not receiving proper education in Goldenbridge. However, anything that I did learn was soaked up like a sponge. For instance, the Sisters of Mercy novices from Carysfort College, Blackrock – which was the mother- house – came every year for a few weeks to practice their new-found teaching skills on us. I remember enjoying every lesson they taught us. This poem of farewell, at the time was certainly no exception.

The tartan here is a registered Scottish green Columba one. It’s a rare poem that saw many of the verses repeat themselves over and over in my brain over the years. I found it so movingly haunting at the time when the novice was teaching us. I looked online a long time ago and could not find the poem. I was very lucky to find it today. The history behind the poem is indeed very intriguing.

There is apparently confusion all the time with Sir Aubrey De Vere and his son who was not a Sir. See:

The Sonnets of Sir Aubrey de Vere

I’ve linked Wikpaedia information to the countries named. It can’t be taken for granted that just because I’ve been to most of the aforementioned that others on the opposite side of the globe have been likewise. I know that when I read about various places in America and Canada that I have to look up google or wiki, as I’ve never been to those countries as of yet, despite knowing about them and having relatives there.

I came upon an extra verse.

Each Sunday Gabriel from on high For so did Christ our Lord ordain Thy Masses come to sanctify With fifty angels in his train.


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