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The Slopes of Sweet Cloonee

By Mattie Lennon

What follows is my own version of the story of William Geary ( who is living in New York aged 103). He was sacked from the Irish police force in 1928, but cleared of all wrong-doing, by the Irish Government in 1999. I hope my ballad tells at least some of his story.

I was born near Ballyagran
In eighteen ninety-nine.
My childhood lacked in nothing,
And happiness was mine
I'd Master Quill as teacher,
Idyllic times for me
Preparing for a lifetime
On the slopes of sweet Cloonee.

I went to sea, aged twenty,
Saw Capetown far away
Sailed up the Gulf of Aden,
Knew nightlife in Bombay.
To Madras, Durban, Beira
I cruised the distant sea
But my heart was back in Limerick
On the slopes of sweet Cloonee.

Returning to my country
Now free from exile's tears
I did my bit for Ireland,
With the local Volunteers.
We drilled on nearby hillsides
Those brave young men and me
And struck a blow for freedom,
On the slopes of sweet Cloonee.

and then in nineteen-twenty-two,
When taking sides was hard
I made a bold decision
And became a Civic Guard.
To my fledgling State, an asset
I thought I now could be,
And applied the moral values,
Which I'd learned in sweet Cloonee.

I quickly gained promotion
As at every task I'd strive
And attained the grade of " Super"
At the age of twenty-five.
Subordinates and leaders,
It seemed, had faith in me
I swore I wouldn't fail them,
As a son of sweet Cloonee.

In Kilrush I got the message;
"Go into Ennis town,
The Commissioner is waiting
He's going to dress you down"
The tidings seemed incongruous
And truly baffled me,
But I went to face the music
Like a brave son of Cloonee

When faced by Eoin O 'Duffy
My hurt I can't describe.
He told me; "You're a traitor
We know you took the bribe"
He claimed subversives tendered
One hundred pounds to me.
As I thought of honest rearing,
On the slopes of sweet Cloonee.

My pockets searched by Neligan
And my lodgings rifled through,
I was pointed out a scoundrel,
To comrades old and new.
'Though innocent I went in shame
My loyal kin to see;
A guiltless man, to hang his head
On the slopes of sweet Cloonee

O'Duffy being a Fascist
Long before his Blueshirt game
Would grant to me no hearing,
Or chance to clear my name.
No enquiry or tribunal
Or trial fair for me.
Dismissed, guilt-free and humbled
Was young Geary from Cloonee.

I packed my bags for the USA
In November twenty-eight,
And told my loved-ones tearfully
As we parted at the gate:
"Unless I'm cleared I won't be back,
You've seen the last of me.
'Though it breaks my heart to say goodbye
To my childhood home, Cloonee."

I've fought my case, a lifetime
With conviction, hope and rage.
I'm here in New York city now,
At a hundred years of age.
I've just got news from Ireland,
It's music sweet to me.
My name is cleared, I've won the day
And I'm proud for sweet Cloonee

The decades seem to have melted,
As I bask in mirth profound
My pension has been granted
With fifty thousand pounds.
The Government in Dublin
At last has come to see
That I was clean and blameless
When hunted from Cloonee

I hope to see Saint Michaels Church
Once more before I die.
And those two graves in Newtown
Where my loving parents lie,
The sunrise over Feenagh
Which oft inspired me,
When the river Mague and life ran smooth
By the slopes of sweet Cloonee.

My wish may not be granted
If the Lord has other plans.
Then I'll die with full acceptance
And leave it in His hands.
But I'll ask you to remember
And say a Prayer for me.
Kind friends please God, will lay my bones
Near the slopes of sweet Cloonee

Copyright owned by: Mattie Lennon 1999  

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