The Virgin Mary’s Bank

The Evening Star rose beauteous above the fading day,
As to the lone and silent beach the Virgin came to pray,
And hill and dale shone brightly in moonlight’s mellow fall;
But the bank of green where Mary knelt was brightest of them all.

Slow moving o’er the waters, a gallant barque appeared,
And her joyous crew looked from the deck as to the land she neared;
To the calm and sheltered haven she floated like a swan,
And her wings of snow o’er the waves below in, pride and beauty shone.

The Master saw Our Lady as he stood upon the prow,
And marked the whiteness of her robe – the radiance of her brow;
Her arms were folded gracefully upon her stainless breast,
And her eyes looked up among the stars, to Him her soul loved best.

He showed her to his sailors, and he hailed her with a cheer,
And on the kneeling Virgin they gazed with laugh and jeer;
And madly swore, a form so fair they never saw before;
And they cursed the faint and lagging breeze that kept them from the shore.

The ocean from its bosom shook off its moonlight sheen,
And up its wrathful billows rose to vindicate their Queen,
And a cloud came o’er the heavens, and a darkness o’er the land,
And the scoffing crew beheld no more the Lady on the strand

Out burst the pealing thunder, and the lightning leapt about,
And rushing with his watery war, the tempest gave a shout;
And that vessel from a mountain wave came down with thundering shock,
And her timbers flew like mattered spray on Inchadony’s rock.

Then loud from all the guilty crew one shriek rose wild and high;
But the angry surge swept over them, and hushed their gurgling cry;
And with a hoarse, exulting tone the tempest passed away,
And down, still chafing from their strife, the indignant waters lay.

When the calm and, purple morning shone out on high Dunmore,
Full many a mangled corpse was seen on Inchadony’s shore;
And to this day the fisherman shows where the scoffers sank,
And still they call that hillock green “The Virgin Mary’s Bank”

J. J. Callanan



2 Replies to “The Virgin Mary’s Bank”

  1. I love this poem, as a child on holidays in Clonakilty and Inchydoney, my Father, Mother and my Auntie B used to recite this poem. It’s such a poignant poem and in my opinion, is filled with beauty and truth. It fills me up emotionally, every time I read it. I’m so glad it’s up on the internet, thank you for bringing me back in time, to this beautiful beach and to happy memories of my beloved parents. Siobhán Ní Shúilleabháin.

  2. I visited Inchadonney beach many times as a child and can remember it as if it was an hour ago. I collected the sea urchins with the imprint of Our Lady on them. They were a creamy marble colour. There are actual footprints in the rocks, as i very well remember.
    A very beautiful place; the waves were just incredible and make you respect the power of the sea.

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