Poem – Farewell Song, Robert Kidd, Portglenone, 1874


In perusing old newspapers, one occasionally encounters some locally written poetry (which will often bring to life an era, and and the people of that time).   Here’s a delightful example of such a poem by a Portglenone man, Robert Kidd, from 1874.

Robert, from Connaughtliggar in Portglenone, was an elder in First Portglenone Presbyterian Church (and also a member of it’s building committee) in the 1860s and early 1870s.

THE KIDD FAMILY

Robert Kidd was born around 1841. He was the son of Allan Kidd. Charlotte Mulholland was the daughter of Henry Mulholland.  She was born in 1846.  The pair of them married on the 30th March 1865, in Portglenone.  Charlotte was 19 years old, Robert was in his 24th year.

They had four kids in Ireland – three boys and a girl: Maria Kidd (born 28th May 1866), Benjamin Franklin Kidd (born 26th April 1868), Robert William Kidd (born 28th October 1870), and Thomas Allan Kidd (born 10th June 1873). There appears to have been no more children after they emigrated.

A brother of Robert Kidd’s continued to worship in First Portglenone, until the late 1800s/early 1900s.

 

ROBERT KIDD EMIGRATES TO NEW ZEALAND

It was apparently during his first day on the ship, called Sussex, that Robert wrote the following poem, Farewell Song.

Moving forward a few years.  Allan Kidd, Robert’s nephew, was Justice of the Peace in Portglenone and also a member of the Rural Council.  Allan kept a copy of his uncle’s poem.  It was printed, framed, and had pride of place in his home.

KIDD’S EARLY DEATH

Robert Kidd sadly did not live to be an old man in New Zealand.  He caught a chill, after attending a funeral, and never recovered.    Robert’s sons were in the mercantile business in New Zealand.   His daughter, Maria, still continued to write to their old home at Connaughtliggar, Portglenone, where Robert’s nephew Allan subsequently lived.

In an October 1923 article, the Ballymena Observer refers to this poem.  It quotes a church elder, referred to as “D. G. M.”

“There are those still amongst us who remember him Robert Kidd well, and I think I saw him once.  As a bit of a “brother poet,” and as member of the same kirk session with which he was connected.  Some of his old colleagues being our senior elders, Mr. William Glass and Mr. James Fleming (now passed on) when I became elder.”

“I write this foreword with sympathy and interest.  There is something in the swing and ideas that recalls Lady Dufferin’s sweet poem, ‘I’m Sitting on the Style, Mary.”

“The Reverend Dr. James Kidd, of Aberdeen, in days gone by, who was brought at Broughshane, is said to have been connection, though born at Loughbrickland in 1761.”

D. G. M.

Without further ado, on with the poem.  The local personalities referred to in the verses, were all apparently well known.

FAREWELL SONG

Farewell Erin; my friends farewell,
Since I have left the shore,
There’s little chance we’ll ever glance
On one another more.
I have sought a fair but far-off land.
Intend to boldly strive,
Where labour does not pine in dearth
And the working poor may thrive.

God keep you all my dear old friends

With your hearts still light and true,
I’ll ne’er forget my own old land,
Though wealth may gladden the new.
I’ll sometimes think on the hawthorn leaves,
With the snowdrops peeping through.
I’ll sometimes think on the orchard white,
With a double crop for you.

I’ll sometimes think of the berries ripe,

W’ith the currants black and red,
I’ll sometimes think of the rowantree
With its bright fruit overhead.
I’ll sometimes think of the busy plough
And the merry beating flail;
I’ll sometimes think of the favourite cow,
And the clink of the milking pail.

I’ll sometimes think of the harvest field,

With the flax and waving grain,
For a time I seem (it passes like a dream)
To be home with you again.
I sometimes think of the pleasant walk,
With the graveyard too hard by,
I sometimes sigh with a drooping eye
Again to be a boy.

I often think of the village church,

With its tower so high and fair,
I think of our sweet Communion times
With the pleasure I had there.
I sometimes think of the rector’s house.
With your much-loved rector too,
I’m glad he’s come so near you mother,
I trust he visits you.

But there’s a great High Priest, dear mother,

That’s nearer to you still,
I trust you’ll often visit Him,
I have faith to think you will.
I bring to my mind good neighbours,
I’m anxious to have word,
I wonder if old Andy’s dead,
Is Jamie’s voice still beard?

If Miss Dunlop has her mother yet,

Or if she’s taken home;
Does Peggy live in her humble cot,
Or if her time is come?
Perhaps some young and vigorous one
Some family circle mourn,
Who has gone the way of all the earth,
Shall ne’er again return.

I sometimes think of the struggling poor,

Still plodding on their way,
I trust kind
Heaven has given them more:
Yet, even to luxury.
I ever think of a sister dear,
With each kind, loving brother,
Fast beats my heart that I ever dared to part
For ever from a mother.

At morn and noon and night
Full fit my better thoughts will roam;

Oh! Memory’s pinions, strong and soft,
And fly to my own home.
But Heaven is just as near, dear mother,
From sweet Dunedin Bay.
As it is from sweet old Erin, mother,

And just the same old way.

Our life is but a shadow, mother,
A short, uncertain span,
And Heaven is waiting for us, mother,
Where we’ll never part again.
God keep you all, my dear old friends,
With your hearts still light and true,
I’ll ne’er forget my own old land,
Though wealth may gladden the new.

Written by Robert Kidd, 2nd July 1874

 

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