Christy Moore : The Cliffs of Dooneen, Jack B Yeats – Mystic Horse


The Home Place.

Never more real and vivid than when recollected in the imagination.

We are our memories.

And, our memories, particularly those which carry the most emotional charge, are constantly being selected, edited and recast.

The stream of memory is never stilled.

The genesis of a song, a poem, a story or a painting begins in an insistent whisper from the memory.

A whisper which cannot be ignored.

Such a whisper was heard in the 1930s by Jack McAuliffe from Lixnaw in County Kerry as he sat sat in a cottage near Dooneen Point.

In response he wrote a poem that became the ballad, ‘The Cliffs of Dooneen’.


The key duty of an creative artist is to closely attend to those whispers and make them real in words on the page, notes in the air or brush marks on the canvas.

And, the truth of the song or the poem or the painting is the truth of the imagination and cannot be reduced to the mundane metric of exact measurement.

You may not be able to see Kilrush and Kilkee form the Cliffs of Dooneen with the naked eye but I defy anyone alive not to see them, clear as the light of dawn, in the mind’s eye when conjured up with lyrical tenderness by Christy Moore and Planxty (featuring the heart piercing piping of Liam O’Flynn)

So too the trembling hare and the lofty pheasants making homes for their young.

And, whoever you are, wherever you are, however far you have traveled from your own native home far away from the mountains and away over the foam you will have within you memories of all the kind people you have left behind.

In the quiet watches of your dreams you will bathe in the streams and the meadows of your youth.

And, when you hear, ‘The Cliffs of Dooneen’ you will find yourself singing along with a full heart and tears in your eyes.

‘You may travel far far from your own native home

Far away o’er the mountains far away o’er the foam

But of all the fine places that I’ve ever seen,

There’s none to compare with The Cliffs of Dooneen

Take a view o’er the water fine sights you’ll see there

You’ll see the high rocky slopes on the West coast of Clare

The towns of Kilrush and Kilkee can be seen

From the high rocky slopes at The Cliffs of Dooneen

Its a nice place to be on a fine Summer’s day

Watching all the wild flowers that ne’er do decay

The hare and lofty pheasant are plain to be seen

Making homes for their young round The Cliffs of Dooneen

Fare thee well to Dooneen fare thee well for a while

And to all the fine people I’m leaving behind

To the streams and the meadows where late I have been

And the high rocky slopes of The Cliffs of Dooneen’


The featured Painter today is Jack B Yeats (1871 to 1957)

We return to the theme of The Horse in Irish culture.

I have seen many thousands of horses in my life yet I have never seen a horse so thrillingly, mystically, alive as the horse in Jack B Yeats painting above.



56 thoughts on “Christy Moore : The Cliffs of Dooneen, Jack B Yeats – Mystic Horse

  1. Hey, Thom. By clicking “Like” above, I believe I have now read every single entry in your archives. It’s been a grand pleasure and a vastly entertaining ride. If you don’t mind, I would like to feature you and one of your posts on my own blog. (Examples of my Blogger Spotlight found here: ) If this sounds appealing, let’s find one of your personal favorites to share. If you’d rather not do this, I perfectly understand, as some folks choose not to participate. Just let me know!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks Brian. What stamina you’ve shown! Delighted for you to feature The Jukebox. Very hard for me to choose a favourite. Probably the one that means most to me is my Fathers Day post. For writing I like the Walk Away Renee .. you decide! Best regards Thom.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, Thom. Well, that’s a tough choice.The piece with your father is beautiful (that one is still in fresh in my mind even though I can see by the remarks that I read it three months ago). But the “Renee” piece is aces with the writing and research, and I think it might be a slightly better introduction to your site for new folks.
        Actually, I should feature “Renee” and link to “Fathers Day” in the introduction. And this little debate gives me a structure to use for the intro, which I’m already half-writing in my head. Right now I’m looking at running this on 03/28, but that’s not set in stone and we can easily adjust. Let me know if that works for you. (And thanks for letting me share!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Listening, I couldn’t quite pinpoint another song that was being evoked, but I finally got it: Judy Collins’s version of “Farewell to Tarwaithe.” I have the fife that my Irish gr-gr-grandfather carried in the civil war, and my grandfather used to play it, and sing songs whose names I never knew, but whose sound is captured here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jumped over from the Senior Salon
    “We are our memories” – recent neuro-research indicates that is truer than we realize. “In the quiet watches of your dreams you will bathe in the streams and the meadows of your youth.” Wonderful imagery – beautifully written post. Loved hearing the Irish lilt in the singing especially.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks for posting this reminder that it is tomorrow. I must locate something green to wear to the party at my puppy’s Cheers bar down the street. I am part Irish, after all. Though I didn’t inherit my red-headed mother’s tresses or blue-grey eyes, I got her fair skin to set off the dark eyes and hair I got from my father.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

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