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Wicklow Meeting of the waters - Thomas Moore

By damian, Sunday, 28th July 2013 | 0 comments
Filed under: See & do Wicklow.

Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852) – The Bard of Erin Thomas Moore was born over a grocery shop in Aungier Street, Dublin. 

His father was from Kerry and his mother was from Wexford.   He was educated at Whites College in Grafton Street and at Trinity College Dublin. He was one of the first Roman Catholics to attend Trinity College. When there he met and became friendly with Robert Emmett. After his death Thomas Moore wrote poetic tributes to both Emmett and his sweetheart Sarah Curran. It is said that his mother sensed that he was getting into bad company with Emmett and sent him to Middle Temple in London to complete a law degree. However he never completed it and took to writing poetry instead. 

His works were put to music by John Stephenson and published as Moore’s Irish Melodies. The success of the first volume, led to numerous volumes of songs being published by Moore. He became famous and was feted wherever he went. 

His songs were being sung across the drawing rooms and concert halls throughout Ireland. He even performed some of his songs for Queen Victoria. His success enabled him to travel extensively and he toured the UK, the US and Canada. 

On his return to England he wrote an article on the US and was criticised for this piece by Frances Jeffrey. He took offense to the criticism and challenged Jaffrey to a duel. However the police arrived in time to prevent the duel taking place. It was said that Jeffrey’s piston has been loaded with a paper pellet rather than lead. 

This was clearly embarrassing for Moore and Lord Byron the poet even published some lines on the subject. However Moore and Byron became close friends after they met while on tour in Italy. Byron subsequently left his personal papers to Moore for publication after his death, but he destroyed them as he felt that they could cause embarrassment to the family.

Moore’s later life was a tough one filled with personal tragedy. All five of his children pre-deceased him. He suffered a stroke which prevented him from performing. He had expensive tastes and ran up big debts.   His writings could not sustain his lifestyle. He was granted an annual ‘pension’ by the government for his services which helped a little. 

In his lifetime he was a superstar and he wrote many songs that we still hear sung today such as; The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Walls, Oft in the Stilly Night, The Minstrel Boy, The Last Rose of Summer, and of course The Meeting of the Waters.

Thomas Moore died in 1852 and is buried in St Nicholas Church Bromham, Wiltshire. He is remembered with two memorials; his statue in College Green and his bust in The Vale of Avoca.

Wicklow The Meeting of the Waters

The song was written by Moore in the Summer of 1807. The song is about the valley where the River Avon Mor and Avon Beag meet in the Vale of Avoca. Despite its undistinguished lyrics the song brought fame to the location and ‘the meetings’ became, and is still, a popular tourist destination today. 

The Avon Mor flows through Avondale the Parnell family demesne. Parnell’s Grandfather asked Moore if he would say that he wrote the words of the song in the grounds of the demesne. Moore however recognising that the mystery of where the song was written would add to its value remained tight lipped.

Moore visited the location on a return visit in 1835. When he was asked to sing a verse of the song he was unable to do so. He had forgotten the words! In case you might want to sing a verse of the song for your clients on their visit there I have included the lyrics below. For the melody why not have a look on youtube to see John Count McCormack singing it.

The Meeting of the Waters

There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet
Oh the last rays of feeling and life must depart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart

Yet it was not that nature had shed o'er the scene
Her purest of crystal and brightest of green
'Twas not her soft magic of streamlet or hill
Oh No 'twas something more exquisite still
Oh No 'twas something more exquisite still

'Twas that friends, the belov'd of my bosom were near
Who made every scene of enchantment more dear
And who felt how the best charms of nature improve
When we see them reflected from looks that we love
When we see them reflected from looks that we love

Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace

 

 

 

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