The Old School

The song was published by the late Seán O'Shea of the Kerry Studios and is used here by kind permission of his daughter Barbara Cassidy. Seán wrote, "This old building, erected on a site given free to the people by the O'Connell family, was first known as the Temperance Rooms. It was later used as Reading Rooms and as a rendezvous for Young Irelanders while in the famine years it became an Auxiliary Workhouse. It came later into the possession of Dr. Barry whose legendary generosity to his famine-stricken countrymen is still remembered. He it was who donated it to the Christian Brothers for use as a school when they came to Cahersiveen on the 2nd February 1860. Demolished in October 1969 it has been replaced by a new building". In recent years the building and site has been acquired by Kerry County Council and now houses the Cahersiveen Public Library.
Schooldays and the friends of youth are common themes in Sigerson's work.

The Old School - Song

We have roamed the wide world from Kells to Malay,
We have sailed the great ocean from Perth to Glenbeigh,
But wherever we wander our dreams they will be
With the old school of Caher 'neath sweet Beenatee.

We marched with the Fenians and with Caesar through Gaul,
O we watched the old clock ticking slow on the wall,
And the great men who taught us to walk tall and free,
May their names live forever 'neath sweet Beenatee.

And when the great story of Kerry is told,
Right proudly they wore it, the green and the gold,
Those men who leaped skywards, their names you could see
In the roll of the old school 'neath sweet Beenatee.

Now Death calls the roll and the lads I held dear,
Speak out from the shadows and whisper, "We're here",
Dwane, Neill and O'Connor, John Ring and Peachy
They were giants in the old school 'neath sweet Beenatee.

Night falls on the Fair Field; I stand here alone,
For the old school has vanished; my friends are all gone,
I will rise and go after and seek where they be,
So goodbye and God keep you my sweet Beenatee,
O goodbye and God keep you my sweet Beenatee.

The Old School - Poem

That was a gay place they planted your feet, Old School,
With your windows beckoning the mountains in
So we could watch the hawk's wings nailed to the sky
While the linnet sang on the whin;
Hard on the eye the old books in the summer weather
And then the Master and hawk swooping out of the blue sky together.

That was a grey day I said goodbye, Old School,
And you wiped the chalk from your hand and wished me joy.
Searching ever the mind moves down the dust of the years
To see in a lively playground the ghost of a laughing boy;
Lingers the longing always for Youth's green sunlit tracks,
Now the harsh old world has broken its cane on our backs.