‘Tis nice to be ploughing in the open fields,
When the crows go flapping by,
And thrushes sing their matins to the morn
In the budding hawthorns nigh;
When winds are tugging at the dead beech leaves
As they swing their shining shields –
‘Tis pleasant to be out with the horses here,
Ploughing in the Foremass fields.
When the land is full of the promise of Spring,
And the gold is showing on the gorse
When daisies are peeping, and the sun shining
Down on man and horse;
Though strength and health are the total of our wealth,
Though our feet are heavy with clay,
Our gaiety of heart finds vent in song –
Ploughing on a Foremass brae.
But it’s not all sunshine on the Foremass hills;
When the hailstones hop, and the sleet
Sweeps down from the big white back of Mullagharn,
Ploughing isn’t then a treat;
There’s a tightening of reins, a slackening of chains,
And a shout to the horses – “Whoa!”
We’re thankful for what shelter we can get
By this hedge where the high whins grow.
But the sun is sloping to the West away,
And the blackbirds getting into tune;
We would linger longer but the day’s too short –
Yonder is the ghost of a moon;
We must keep moving while there’s light to see;
If we don’t plough now, you know
(Let the sun be shining or the rain be falling)
In Autumn we shall not mow.
MICHAEL MULLIN ‘The Bard of Foremass’
Foremass Lower, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.