Padraic Colum was an Irish poet, novelist, dramatist, biographer and collector of folklore. He was one of the leading figures of the Celtic Revival.
Colum wrote and met a number of the leading Irish writers of the time, including W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and Æ. He also joined the Gaelic League and was a member of the first board of the Abbey Theatre. He became a regular user of the National Library of Ireland, where he met James Joyce and the two became lifelong friends. During the riots caused by the Abbey Theatre’s production of The Playboy of the Western World, Colum, with Arthur Griffith, was the leader of those inciting the protests, which, as he later remarked, cost him his friendship with Yeats.
He collected Irish folk songs, including the famous She Moved Through the Fair, for which Colum wrote most of the words, with the musicologist Herbert Hughes. He was awarded a five-year scholarship to University College Dublin by a wealthy American benefactor, Thomas Kelly.
‘An Old Woman of the Roads’
by Padraic Colum (1881-1972)
O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!
To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!
I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping the hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!
I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loath to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!
Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark
And roads where there’s never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house, a house of my own,
Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way
Photo: Old Thatched house near Crohy Head, Co Donegal, Gary McParland Landscape Photography