Raftery’s Last Words

Home » Library » The Athenry Journal » Record

I fear death is in my face
Soon l’ll be under the Sod,
Kneel and Pray this Christmas Day
For Raftery the poet, who meets his God.
(Translated from the Irish)

RafteryRaftery, the poet, was a frequent visitor to my great-grandfather’s home in Greethill. Paddy Keane killed the best beast on the farm every year for Christmas, and all wanderers, including Raftery, were welcome.

Raftery composed a poem about Úna Keane, Paddy‘s daughter, who was very kind to him, and called it “Cnocán Íobhair”. On the Christmas visit before he died, Raftery told Paddy Keane that he would die next Christmas. On the following Christmas when Raftery arrived in Greethill, Paddy Keane said to him ‘I thought you were going to die tonight’. Raftery replied, “If God didn’t tell me a lie I’m going to die tonight”.

When he left Greethill, Raftery went to Cloonans near Craughwell, and he died there that night. It was Christmas Eve and he was buried that night in Killeeneen Cemetery. It was a wild stormy night and the only light they had at the grave was candlelight. The two candles never quenched until the grave was covered.

– –

About this record

Written by Nora Keary

Published here 09 Feb 2021 and originally published August 1995

– –