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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Ireland: Vol. V. 1876–79.

Appendix: Assaroe, the Abbey

Abbey Assaroe

By William Allingham (1824–1889)

GRAY, gray is Abbey Assaroe, by Ballyshannon town;

It has neither door nor window, the walls are broken down;

The carven stones lie scattered in brier and nettle bed;

The only feet are those that come at burial of the dead.

A little rocky rivulet runs murmuring to the tide,

Singing a song of ancient days, in sorrow, not in pride;

The boor-tree and the lightsome ash across the portal grow,

And heaven itself is now the roof of Abbey Assaroe.

It looks beyond the harbor-stream to Gulban Mountain blue;

It hears the voice of Erna’s fall,—Atlantic breakers too;

High ships go sailing past it; the sturdy clank of oars

Brings in the salmon-boat to haul a net upon the shores;

And this way to his home-creek, when the summer day is done,

The weary fisher sculls his punt across the setting sun;

While green with corn is Sheegus Hill, his cottage white below;—

But gray at every season is Abbey Assaroe.

There stood one day a poor old man above its broken bridge;

He heard no running rivulet, he saw no mountain-ridge;

He turned his back on Sheegus Hill, and viewed with misty sight

The abbey walls, the burial-ground with crosses ghostly white;

Under a weary weight of years he bowed upon his staff,

Perusing in the present time the former’s epitaph;

For, gray and wasted like the walls, a figure full of woe,

This man was of the blood of them who founded Assaroe.

From Derry Gates to Drowas Tower, Tyrconnell broad was theirs;

Herdsmen and spearmen, bards and wine, and holy abbots’ prayers,

With chanting always in the house which they had builded high

To God and to Saint Bernard,—whereto they came to die.

At least, no workhouse grave for him! the ruins of his race

Shall rest among the ruined stones of this their saintly place.

The fond old man was weeping; and tremulous and slow

Along the rough and crooked lane he crept from Assaroe.