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by Jim O'Keeffe


The late Jim O’Keeffe, Kilmore Quay and formerly from Kiltinan, died on Monday 5th August, 2002, in Wexford.

Jim was born and bred in Kiltinan barracks in the 1930's and at the age of 16 he left home and set out for London. He joined the Merchant Navy and spent many glorious years travelling around the world.

He then married and settled in Birmingham until ill health forced early retirement and a return to his native sod. In the following years Jim started writing about emigration, his many travels and life in general.

This book, ‘Odes of a Killusty Emigrant’, is a selection from his collection of poems which will especially appeal to emigrants from the Valley of Slievenamon. Only a limited number of copies are still available.

Jim certainly packed a lot of living into his 66 years and this following two poems, signed and posted to us here just weeks before he died, may have been his last goodbye to the place of his birth.


by Jim O’Keeffe

There’s a ruin on the cross-roads, that means so much to me.
It was my home in Ireland, before I crossed the sea.
A lovely building it surly was, which was admired by all.
And all that’s left to remind me now, is the great stone wall.

As I look through the iron gate, where I spent many happy hours.
In our lovely garden, playing amongst the flowers.
I see my Mother sitting there, like the way it used to be.
Rocking in her little chair, with the cat upon her knee.

Slievenamon looks proudly down, at all that’s going on.
And my mind goes wondering back, to days that are long gone.
I think of all my school pals, and girls I used to love.
But many too have left us, to join the man above.

Then the stranger came and bought the place, where our house used to stand.
And for me from that day on, it was forbidden land.
The proud house was neglected, and allowed to fall,
Now all I see when I come home, is just the Barrack wall.

For as the Barrack it was known, where I knew now every nook
And the stone that’s on the top, said ‘twas built by Bobby Cooke.
This man was a magistrate, and in Clonmel made his stand.
His remedy for justice, was Van Demon’s Land.

The time has come for me to go, so I will move along.
I leave behind the Barracks, and dear old Slievenamon.
Farewell to the big yellow signpost, which said seven miles to Clonmel.
Farewell to my home on the crossroads, the place that I loved so well.


by Jim O’Keeffe

I look at old photos and what do I see?
Faces of my childhood, they stare back at me.
I remember ‘em clearly and then I recall.
The days of my childhood, were not bad at all.

A photo of my schoolmates, of days now long gone,
In that dear little school house, beneath old Slievenamon.
There were sixty or so and in the front row is me.
It seems it was yesterday, ‘though ‘twas nineteen forty three.

I study the faces, there‘s a tear in my eye.
As I remember the living and those that did die.
Then I would wonder, where they are today.
But from what I can gather they’re in lands far away.

In Australia and Canada, it’s good there they say.
But more they have settled in the great U.S.A.
More never travelled, as it says in the song.
They stayed by the ‘Anner’ and sweet ‘Slievenamon’.


(120 pages, illustrated with photographs)


This site is maintained by Joe Kenny, Rocklow Road, Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.


This site is maintained by Joe Kenny, Rocklow Road, Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.
Telephone: +353 (0)52 31663 Fax: +353 (0)52 31817