Four Green Fields

For St. Patrick’s Day, a painting, and the folk song by Irish musician Tommy Makem that inspired the painting.

What did I have, said the fine old woman
What did I have, this proud old woman did say 
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel 
But strangers came and tried to take them from me 
I had fine strong sons, who fought to save my jewels 
They fought and they died, and that was my grief, said she 

Long time ago, said the fine old woman 
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say 
There was war and death, plundering and pillage 
My children starved, by mountain, valley, and sea 
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens 
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she 

What have I now, said the fine old woman 
What have I now, this proud old woman did say 
I have four green fields, one of them’s in bondage 
In strangers’ hands, that tried to take it from me 
But my sons had sons, as brave as were their fathers 
My fourth green field will bloom once again, said she

For every storm, a rainbow

An Irish blessing, and a page from my Ireland sketchbook. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.


May God give you
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

—Irish blessing


Until we meet again

A traditional blessing, along with a page from my Ireland sketchbook. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.


May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

—Irish blessing


Call the Ewes to the Hills


Today is the birthday of poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), and if you are a lover of his poetry perhaps you may be inspired to host a Burns Supper tonight. You will have to make your own haggis from scratch, however (good luck with that), because apparently the importation of haggis to the United States remains forbidden, as are all food products made with lungs. (Mystifyingly, Spam, although of questionable provenance, can be purchased without a special license and is consumed in this country at the rate of 3.8 cans per second.) Along with sampling haggis, you may toast the poet and each other with whiskey, and when sufficiently inspired recite some of your favorite Burns poems.

In honor of Burns’ birthday I post a song (with a helpful glossary at the end) which I have sung many a time to my children as they drifted off to sleep. (You can listen to a far lovelier rendition by singer Anne Lewis here.) The sketch is from my Ireland sketchbook. For another Burns sketch, please see Move Yer Hurdies.

Ca’ the yowes to the knowes,
Ca’ them where the heather grows,
Ca’ them where the burnie rows,
My bonnie dearie.
Hark! the mavis’ evening sang
Sounding Clouden’s woods amang,
Then a-faulding let us gang,
My bonnie dearie.
We’ll gae down by Clouden side,
Through the hazels spreading wide,
O’er the waves that sweetly glide
To the moon sae clearly.
Yonder Clouden’s silent towers,
Where at moonshine midnight hours
O’er the dewy bending flowers
Fairies dance sae cheery.
Ghaist nor bogle shalt thou fear;
Thou’rt to Love and Heaven sae dear,
Nocht of ill may come thee near,
My bonnie dearie.
Fair and lovely as thou art,
Thou hast stown my very heart;
I can die–but canna part,
My bonnie dearie.
While waters wimple to the sea;
While day blinks in the lift sae hie;
Till clay-cauld death shall blin’ my e’e,
Ye shall be my dearie.

—Robert Burns

A-faulding: Sheep-gathering
Burnie: Small brook
Gang: Go
Knowes: Hills
Mavis: Thrush
Rows: Rolls
Yowes: Ewes

St. Ronan


There are probably a dozen St. Ronans, some Irish, some Scottish, all with different feast days. And the one I’m choosing actually had his feast day YESTERDAY, June 1, but that day was taken by John Masefield. So I’m noodging Ronan onto June 2nd. Being saintly, he surely won’t mind.

This St. Ronan was an Irish missionary who had left Ireland and lived in a forest overlooking the Bay of Douarnenez in Brittany, a location I would select myself if I were an Irish missionary. The story goes that his wife disliked his proselytizing among their Breton neighbors, so she accused him of being a werewolf. When you want to reform your husband, drastic action is required. But when Ronan was brought before the authorities, the nearby hunting dogs failed to attack him, thus proving his innocence. He went on to become a wandering healer of the sick and was buried in what is now Locronan.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with the picture above? Well…it’s a stretch, but the CD Lord Ronan’s Return (for which I painted this cover) was named for another wandering Ronan. And you can learn more about that one, as well as how to obtain this CD of lovely music by by Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton, by going to their website. Happy St. Ronan’s Day! (yesterday)

Last Glimpse of Erin

In honor of his birthday today, a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852), and a painting.


Though the last glimpse of Erin with sorrow I see,
Yet wherever thou art shall seem Erin to me;
In exile thy bosom shall still be my home,
And thine eyes make my climate wherever we roam.

To the gloom of some desert or cold rocky shore,
Where the eye of the stranger can haunt us no more,
I will fly with my Coulin, and think the rough wind
Less rude than the foes we leave frowning behind.

And I’ll gaze on thy gold hair as graceful it wreathes,
And hang o’er thy soft harp, as wildly it breathes;
Nor dread that the cold-hearted Saxon will tear
One chord from that harp, or one lock from that hair.

—Thomas Moore

Irish Skies are Smiling


My husband has a widget on his desktop with which he tracks the weather in his favorite places. Orcas Island, in Washington state. Montpelier, Vermont. Paris, France. And Dublin, Ireland, where for the last couple of weeks it’s been sunny, with a high in the low 70s.

The weather we experienced in Ireland was more like this (above). Beautiful, but “soft.” As they say, there is no bad weather; only the wrong clothes.