Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The curse of Loughmourne

I've just been going through a pile of papers belonging to my late mother, and amongst them I found a poem about Loughmourne, an area comprised of many farms and a lough (loch) just a couple of miles north of my old home town Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. My parents separated in 1979 and then divorced in the early 1980s, and a few years later my mum had a short term relationship with a gentleman from a farm in the area, which is how I assume she came into ownership of the poem. During this period I remember going up to her partner's farmhouse with her one night as a young teenager, and spending a magical winter's evening seated beside a roaring turf fire, as a blizzard hit outside - it's the only time I've ever been to Loughmourne, but the experience still remains very vivid in my memory.

There's no village at Loughmourne, but there is a lough, about 57 hectares in size and filled with brown trout. There's also a church in the area that bears the name, said to have been founded by exiled Scottish descendants of Covenanters in 1784 (see As for any village that may once have existed there... well that's where the poem comes in!

Where the lough now stands there was certainly once a village many centuries ago - the remains of several crannogs have been found there (see - but it's said that a visiting peddlar, from whom nobody would buy matches, cursed the village the following morning, sending the place to a watery doom.

It's almost Hallowe'en - enjoy!


'Twas nightfall and the clock had struck
The solemn hour of rest;
There lay the infant still asleep
Upon its mother's breast;
The weary peasant free from toil
Upon his bed was laid;
The lover sought the silent hour
To talk love to his maid.

'Twas in a village that lay law
Within a valley green;
Encircled round by verdant hills,
This village looked serene.
'Twas on that night a wanderer passed
Through it with weary feet;
Within its walls he shelter sought,
No shelter could he meet.

The poor ones there no pity showed,
The wealthy scoffed with scorn,
But pride and vanity were doomed
To die before the morn.
'Ye know not what to do, proud men,'
The wanderer this did say;
'Omnipotence shall avenge the just
Before the break of day'.

'Ye heavens give power, O God give strength,
To the powers on earth below:
Let the village sink with a fearful shake
And o'er its waters flow.'
With one fearful road and one wild convulse
The hills and dales did shake;
One hour more and that village lay
A calm and peaceful lake.

Then view it now as its waters flow
To a thriving distant town,
And with reverence think on the scenes below,
For that spot is sacred ground.
And the legend says that the curse was this
'A toon the night and a Loch the morn'.
It has claimed that name to the present day,
It still is called Loughmourne.


If you are just starting out with your family history research, my book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, should help you to locate many of the key resources to help you get under way - not least of which some of the resources digitised and made available online by bodies such as PRONI, the National Archives of Ireland, the National Archives at Kew, and more. The book is available from publisher Pen and Sword in paperback, Kindle and ebook editions. For a free 13 page preview - and to order a copy - visit