(A Jubilee Appreciation From His Native Parish)
To us who bide among the hills you cherished as a boy
Your Jubilee’s our jubilee – our time of special joy
Our hearts inspire our greetings warm, dictate the words we send;
While hailing you our Cardinal we claim you for our Friend.
Beside our parents we had watched with deep parochial pride
The promise of the boy, beloved of all the countryside;
When halls of learning called you first from your dear native sod
To go and fit yourself to be a worthy priest of God.
Your ordination cheered us much, your consecration more;
We gloried in your glory when the Prince’s hat you wore,
Your triumphs were our triumphs, as we watched you soaring high;
Shedding honour on old Ireland and glory on the Church.
And it has been our privilege to see that country boy
Returning as a Cardinal to Ballymacilroy –
Returning with the Crosier, the Staff of Jesus, armed,
To the church wherein you were baptised, wherein you were confirmed.
You saw the memory haloed hill, the unforgotten glen,
The home of happy childhood – all the dear old scenes again,
You looked at ageing farmers – the playmates of days gone by,
You gazed on graves where kith and kin and school companions lie.
And while we listened to your words of wisdom and of truth,
We marked how much your heart was touched by memories of youth –
We loved you more for bringing back the warm heart of the boy
When you returned as Cardinal to Ballymacilroy.
God grant you many happy years to lead and guide us still,
While the Holy Ghost inspires you to do our Father’s Will
God give you Patrick’s power to propagate the Faith abroad,
For the honour of our Ireland, and the glory of our God.
We wish you many years to lead, as you have lead so well,
Despite the wiles of heresy, despite the hordes of hell –
To lead the faithful on to God, and call the erring home,
Back to the peace and shelter of the Holy Church of Rome.
MICHAEL MULLIN, ‘THE BARD OF FOREMASS’
Foremass Lower, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.