Recently, while researching a different topic linked to the River Bann, I happened upon two old poems written in the late 1800s about this beautiful stretch of water.
This late 1875 poem called “To the River Bann” appeared in one of the north coast newspapers at the time. It apparently was originally published in a Belfast newspaper. Unfortunately, the author preferred not to disclose his or her name.
The photograph that I’ve included, is from an old postcard, cleaned up a tad, showing a group (looks like they are wearing their Sunday best) fishing at Glandore, on the River Bann, near Kilrea. It was probably taken around 1910.
TO THE RIVER BANN
Fair river, gliding to the sea
By many a forest tall!
By weedy fen and fragrant lea
And old baronial hall;
Thy stately waters, sweeping, strong—
Broad Ulster’s noble Rhine—
Demand, in sooth, a louder song
And loftier lyre than mine!
But other bards, in accents sweet,
Have sung thee in their lays,
And fain would I, beside thy feet,
Fling down my meed of praise.
Adown whose breast, where sunset’s gleam,
I’ve sailed in idle joy,
And in whose bright pellucid stream
I’ve angled when a boy.
And here, as ‘neath September skies
Thy silvery course I trace,
What hundred memories arise
When gazing on thy face:
Of many a valiant, steel-girt knight
And monk with all his lore,
And love-lorn swain and lady bright
Who trod thy verdant shore.
The Druid priest has rhymed his creed
Full oft beside thy brink;
The fair-haired Dane has rained his steed,
When wearied, here to drink.
And in our annals, big with fate,
Thy mirror did reveal
The camp-fire glares of Ninety-Eight—
The swords of Hugh O’Neill
But darker—sadder thoughts, I ween,
Arise in crowded rank,
Of friends whose memory is green
As this, thy blooming hank;
But on the hillside and the plain,
And, river bright, by thee,
Whose voice I shall not hear again—
Whose form I may not see.
Two little hands I often pressed
Have plucked the daisies here,
Two sad deep eyes I loved the hest
Have scanned your waters clear;
But where the churchyard mounds arise,
Where care and sorrow cease,
She lies — my own lost darling lies,
In calm and holy peace.
And still the wary angler brings
Thy noble fish to shore;
Still here the joyous maiden sings
The songs of days of yore;
Still many a tender tale is told,
All eager, by her side,
To village lass by lover bold,
Before thy rushing tide.
Fair river! may our life’s long course
Go as thy current goes:
Calm, clear, and steady from its source
Unto its distant close;
And ever o’er its surface play
Love’s soft and tender glow.
Even as the noontide sun to-day
Lights your dark depths below.