by ehistoryadmin on March 7, 2020

Leinster Leader 9 September 1978

Teresa Brayton items to go on Exhibition

The Old Bog Road, as its legendary name implies, may not be in prime condition, but it is still at Cloncurry, near Enfield.  Other counties have claimed to be the authentic possessors of the storied road, but one man who authoritatively sticks to Cloncurry is the Kildare Co. Librarian, Seamus Ó Conchubhair of Naas.

The song, The Old Bog Road, by Teresa Brayton, formerly of Kilbrook in the Kilcock-Enfield region, is one to the most durable and popular ballads ever written, perhaps because it touches the heart-strings with exile and emigration the theme. But not everyone accepts that Teresa Brayton was in fact referring to the road at Cloncurry.

The Kildare Co. Librarian, who formerly held a similar post in Longford-Westmeath at Mullingar, feels that the weight of evidence is against the views of the sceptics. It seems to be purely an oversight that the signpost pointing out Cloncurry’s Old Bog Road has been missing for some time.

The indefatigable Mr. Ó Conchubhair, who has transformed the library facilities in Co. Kildare since his arrival, has been researching all available documents concerning the late Mrs. Brayton.

He has no doubt but that she was referring to the road with which was so familiar in her famous ballad, and he plans to put the items he collected into a permanent exhibition in Kilcock branch library.

These will include some items of furniture from the room where she is reputed to have written ballads and poems, as well as a number of letters, etc., which have come into his possession.

Mrs. Brayton, formerly Miss Teresa Boylan, was born at Kilbrook, Co. Kildare, in 1868, and she left for Boston in 1895, after a period assisting her sister on the teaching staff at Newtown N.S. She met her future husband, Richard, in New York, and it was there that she wrote several poems which were not published in booklet form until 1913. Among them was the immortal “The Old Bog Road”.

Mr. Ó Chonchubhair says the evidence that the ballad was about the Cloncurry road is totally compelling. The road is only a short distance from her birthplace.

He has been most assiduous in tracing the items which he will feature in the Kilcock exhibition, thanks to the assistance from a niece of Teresa Brayton, Mrs. Marjorie Lynch of Mullingar, who kindly agreed to donate the intended exhibits.

The late Teresa Brayton expressed her love of homeland in her work. It was an abiding trait and so it is not surprising to find that she treasured a letter from Countess Markievicz which contained a chip from the flagstaff to which was attached the Tricolour when independence was declared in 1916.

An abstract from the letter reads: “I cut this little chip from it (flagpole) and I am sending it to you as a tribute to your beautiful verses that are an inspiration to all lovers of freedom and justice”.

This letter is currently displayed in the Co. Kildare library H.Q. at Newbridge, and will be one of the main features of the Kilcock permanent exhibition.

During the Eucharistic Congress year, 1932, Teresa Brayton came back to Ireland and after spending a period in Dublin, happily re-settled in her native Kilbrook, where she died in 1943 (Aug. 19).

A memorial to her at Cloncurry Cemetery draws many visitors, and was unveiled by the late Eamon de Valera, who was numbered amongst her close friends.

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