Dah Duit (Hi) and welcome

The Winding Banks of Erne - William Allingham



“Adieu to Belashanny!
where I was bred and born;
Go where I may, I’ll think of you,
as sure as night and morn.
The kindly spot, the friendly town,
where every one is known,
And not a face in all the place
but partly seems my own;
There’s not a house or window,
there’s not a field or hill,
But, east or west, in foreign lands,
I’ll recollect them still.
I leave my warm heart with you,
tho’ my back I’m forced to turn—
Adieu to Belashanny,
and the winding banks of Erne!
No more on pleasant evenings
we’ll saunter down the Mall,
When the trout is rising to the fly,
the salmon to the fall.
The boat comes straining on her net,
and heavily she creeps,
Cast off, cast off—she feels the oars,
and to her berth she sweeps;
Now fore and aft keep hauling,
and gathering up the clew,
Till a silver wave of salmon
rolls in among the crew.
Then they may sit, with pipes a-lit,
and many a joke and ‘yarn’;—
Adieu to Belashanny,
and the winding banks of Erne!
The music of the waterfall,
the mirror of the tide,
When all the green-hill’d harbour
is full from side to side,
From Portnasun to Bulliebawns,
and round the Abbey Bay,
From rocky Inis Saimer
to Coolnargit sandhills gray;
While far upon the southern line,
to guard it like a wall,
The Leitrim mountains clothed in blue
gaze calmly over all,
And watch the ship sail up or down,
the red flag at her stern;—
Adieu to these, adieu to all
the winding banks of Erne!
Farewell to you, Kildoney lads,
and them that pull an oar,
A lug-sail set, or haul a net,
from the Point to Mullaghmore;
From Killybegs to bold Slieve-League,
that ocean-mountain steep,
Six hundred yards in air aloft,
six hundred in the deep,
From Dooran to the Fairy Bridge,
and round by Tullen strand,
Level and long, and white with waves,
where gull and curlew stand;
Head out to sea when on your lee
the breakers you discern!—
Adieu to all the billowy coast,
and winding banks of Erne!
Farewell, Coolmore,—Bundoran! and
your summer crowds that run
From inland homes to see with joy
th’ Atlantic-setting sun;
To breathe the buoyant salted air,
and sport among the waves;
To gather shells on sandy beach,
and tempt the gloomy caves;
To watch the flowing, ebbing tide,
the boats, the crabs, the fish;
Young men and maids to meet and smile,
and form a tender wish;
The sick and old in search of health,
for all things have their turn—
And I must quit my native shore,
and the winding banks of Erne!
Farewell to every white cascade
from the Harbour to Belleek,
And every pool where fins may rest,
and ivy-shaded creek;
The sloping fields, the lofty rocks,
where ash and holly grow,
The one split yew-tree gazing
on the curving flood below;
The Lough, that winds through islands
under Turaw mountain green;
And Castle Caldwell’s stretching woods,
with tranquil bays between;
And Breesie Hill, and many a pond
among the heath and fern,—
For I must say adieu—adieu
to the winding banks of Erne!
The thrush will call through Camlin groves
the live-long summer day;
The waters run by mossy cliff,
and banks with wild flowers gay;
The girls will bring their work and sing
beneath a twisted thorn,
Or stray with sweethearts down the path
among the growing corn;
Along the river-side they go,
where I have often been,
Oh, never shall I see again
the happy days I’ve seen!
A thousand chances are to one
I never may return,—
Adieu to Belashanny,
and the winding banks of Erne!
Adieu to evening dances,
when merry neighbours meet,
And the fiddle says to boys and girls,
‘Get up and shake your feet!’
To ‘seanachas’ and wise old talk
of Erin’s days gone by—
Who trench’d the rath on such a hill,
and where the bones may lie
Of saint, or king, or warrior chief;
with tales of fairy power,
And tender ditties sweetly sung
to pass the twilight hour.
The mournful song of exile
is now for me to learn—
Adieu, my dear companions
on the winding banks of Erne!
Now measure from the Commons down
to each end of the Purt,
Round the Abbey, Moy, and Knather,—
I wish no one any hurt;
The Main Street, Back Street, College Lane,
the Mall, and Portnasun,
If any foes of mine are there,
I pardon every one.
I hope that man and womankind
will do the same by me;
For my heart is sore and heavy
at voyaging the sea.
My loving friends I’ll bear in mind,
and often fondly turn
To think of Belashanny,
and the winding banks of Erne.
If ever I’m a money’d man,
I mean, please God, to cast
My golden anchor in the place
where youthful years were pass’d;
Though heads that now are black and brown
must meanwhile gather gray,
New faces rise by every hearth,
and old ones drop away—
Yet dearer still that Irish hill
than all the world beside;
It’s home, sweet home, where’er I roam
through lands and waters wide.
And if the Lord allows me,
I surely will return
To my native Belashanny,
and the winding banks of Erne.”


William Allingham (March 19, 1824 –  November 18, 1889) was an Irish poet, diarist and editor. He wrote several volumes of lyric verse, and his poem 'The Faeries' was much anthologised; but he is better known for his posthumously published Diary, in which he records his lively encounters with Tennyson, Carlyle and other writers and artists. His wife, Helen Allingham, was a well-known water-colorist.
William Allingham was born on 19 March 1824 in the little port of Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, and was the son of the manager of a local bank who was of English descent. His younger brothers and sisters were Catherine (b. 1826), John (b. 1827), Jane (b. 1829), Edward (b. 1831; who lived only a few months) and a still-born brother (b. 1833).
During his childhood his parents moved twice within the town, where the boy enjoyed the country sights and gardens, learned to paint and listened to his mother's piano-playing. When he was nine, his mother died.
He obtained a post in the custom-house of his native town, and held several similar posts in Ireland and England until 1870. During this period were published his Poems (1850; which included his well-known poem, 'The Fairies') and Day and Night Songs (1855; illustrated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and others). (Rossetti's Letters to Allingham (1854–1870), edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill, would be published in 1897.)
Lawrence Bloomfield in Ireland, his most ambitious, though not his most successful work, a narrative poem illustrative of Irish social questions, appeared in 1864. He also edited The Ballad Book for the Golden Treasury series in 1864, and Fifty Modern Poems in 1865.
In April 1870 Allingham retired from the customs service, moved to London and became sub-editor of Fraser's Magazine.
In June 1874 he became editor of Fraser's Magazine, in succession to James Froude; and on 22 August that year he married the illustrator, Helen Paterson, who was twenty-four years younger than he.
His wife gave up her work as an illustrator and would became well known under her married name as a water-colour painter. At first the couple lived in London, at 12 Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, near Allingham's friend, Thomas Carlyle, and it was there that they had their first two children – Gerald Carlyle (b. 1875 November) and Eva Margaret (b. 1877 February).
In 1877 appeared Allingham's Songs, Poems and Ballads. In 1881, after the death of Carlyle, the Allinghams moved to Sandhills near Witley in Surrey, where their third child, Henry William, was born in 1882. At this period Allingham published Evil May Day (1883), Blackberries (1884) and Irish Songs and Poems (1887).
In 1888, because of William's declining health, they moved back to the capital, to the heights of Hampstead village. But in 1889, on 18 November, William died at Hampstead. According to his wishes he was cremated. His ashes are interred at St. Anne's church in his native Ballyshannon.
Posthumously Allingham's Varieties in Prose was published in 1893. William Allingham A Diary, edited by Mrs Helen Allingham and D. Radford, was published in 1907. It contains Allingham's reminiscences of Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Carlyle and other writers and artists.
Working on an unostentatious scale, Allingham produced much lyrical and descriptive poetry, and the best of his pieces are thoroughly national in spirit and local colouring. His verse is clear, fresh, and graceful. His best-known poem remains his early work, "The Faeries".
The Ulster poet John Hewitt felt Allingham's influence keenly, and his attempts to revive his reputation included editing and writing an introduction to The Poems of William Allingham (Oxford University Press/ Dolmen Press, 1967).
We daren't go a-hunting/For fear of little men... was quoted by the character of The Tinker near the beginning of the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as well as in Mike Mignola's comic book short story Hellboy: The Corpse, plus the 1973 horror film Don't Look in the Basement. Several lines of the poem are quoted by Henry Flyte, a character in issue No. 65 of the Supergirl comic book, August 2011.
This same poem was quoted in Andre Norton's 1990 science fiction novel Dare To Go A-Hunting (ISBN 0-812-54712-8).
Up the Airy Mountain is the title of a short story by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald.
The working title of Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men was "For Fear of Little Men".

The Allingham Arms Hotel in Bundoran, Co. Donegal is named after him.