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"They are going, going, going, and we cannot bid them stay"

imagesYesterday there were great celebrations in Wexford when over 30 of JFK's family revisited the family's original homestead in New Ross. The group was led by his daugther, Caroline. They were celebrating JFK's visit 50 years ago. The Kennedys emigrated to the States in the 19th century due to the great potato famine here in Ireland. On the right is the type of accommodation available on the famine ship "Dunbrody" on which the Kennedys sailed and which is moored at New Ross quay.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing the same type of emigration today as many of our young people have to go abroad to find work during the present dreadful recession. It is a sad and difficult time for them and for their families. We wish them well and hope that they, too, and their descendants will be able to return someday.

In her long poem "The Passing of the Gael" Ethna Carbery (1866-1902)  expresses our feelings well.

They are going, going, going, and we cannot bid them stay;
The fields are now the strangers' where the strangers' cattle stray.

They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills,
They are leaving far behind them heathery moor and mountain rills,
All the wealth of hawthorn hedges where the brown thrush sways and trills.

They are going, shy-eyed colleens and lads so straight and tall,
From the purple peaks of Kerry, from the crags of wild Imaal,
From the greening plains of Mayo and the glens of Donegal.

They are leaving pleasant places, shores with snowy sands outspread;
Blue and lonely lakes a-stirring when the wind stirs overhead;
Tender living hearts that love them, and the graves of kindred dead.

They shall carry to the distant land a tear-drop in the eye
And some shall go uncomforted–their days an endless sigh
For Kathaleen Ní Houlihan's sad face, until they die . . . . .