‘Tis many a flood that’s come and gone since that well remembered day
When nine young families of our kin pulled roots and moved away
The wailing was as plaintive as when a baby leaves the womb
When our kind friends and neighbours left the Creggans for Kiltoom.
The times were bad in fifty-five and luxuries were rare
And many a family of the time was driven near despair
But those of whom I sing tonight took their courage in their hands
And left the homes they loved so dear for a challenging new land.
By Derrevarra’s waters these families made their homes
A strange and different landscape from the wild Atlantic shore
No Patrick’s Reek, no Mweeelrea’s Peak, no valleys great and grand
But verdant fields with fruitful yields where the Planter once made stand.
The strange and new surroundings didn’t hinder their progress
And of every challenge that they met they made a great success
At school and work, for brains and brawn, and on the hurling field
There were none their betters, and few their match, in the county of Westmeath
But times like tide keeps rolling on and nothing stays the same
The youth, back then, have now turned grey, the old have passed away.
May God be good to those who’ve gone, ‘twas they who worked the plough
To smooth the road, to ease the load, for those who harrow now.
A copy of the above poem was sent to me by Fr. Eugene Nee who also helped with much of the information quoted.
Fr. Eugene also included part of a letter from John O’Grady:
‘Enclosed brief details of our move in March 1955. Eight families in total left Cregganbawn and migrated to Kiltoom, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath. These families consisted of grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren. It was a courageous undertaking and emotional separation from their relatives and life-long friends.
The people in the Whitehall/ Castlepollard area made us welcome which was helpful in our resettlement. The Land Commission showed a lot of foresight in this venture as it was beneficial to those who left and the families who remained in Mayo.
It is a testimony to their hard work and courage that the move was a success and each family prospered and they and their descendants are still farming in the area….’