There's gloom within the lonely halls, there's silence on the square,
And rarely now the bugle calls arouse the echoes there;
No rush of striving straining men to miss the laggard's fate,
No Boland blows the loud "fall in" beside the ancient gate;
The grass has crept along the way where oft did Stephen sweep,
And rusty gates are barred to-day where guards did vigil keep.
Adown the past and peaceful years that will not come again,
Beneath my mental gaze appears a galaxy of of men,
Who, strong in honour and in truth, within those gates have stood;
The very flower of Ireland's youth, her best in bone and blood.
And well equipped were they to go in straight and stern ways,
To claim no friend, to fear no foe, to seek no paltry praise;
To hold no pride above the force, no fame beyond the law,
To keep the ever narrow course that code and custom draw;
To answer always on the spot when right and justice call,
To see the virtue in the cot as well as in the hall,
To live beyond the common crowd, above the stain of shame,
To hear the critics' voice unmoved to bear the certain blame,
To watch where crime and convicts dwell, to stem the evil flood,
To know the single sinner well and guard the "uncoguid"
What minds were trained with motives high to give the best in them !
What model frames were moulded by the "Sculptor of the Gym ! "
He chiselled out the gawky squad where awkward angles grew,
And some as well as thanking God may thank McGurgan too -
That mighty giant whose loud command gave nerve to hand and heart.
Ah ! many a ruffian in the land knows how he played his part;
Ask of the rustic rowdy you if Robert's lock he slips;
Ask of the Belfast Burglar too, his chance when Robert grips.
In gait and grace at Castlebar, and strength that knows no fear,
In full-blown breast at Mullingar McGurgan's fame is clear.
And as the vase still scents the rose, though gone the rose may be,
The " Gym " still echoes to his throes of vocal melody.
And Daly of the silken voice the best where all were good,
He made our rural hearts rejoice to do the "all we could "
He raised our spirits, roused our pride, we seemed to tread on air,
Our squad was best ( 'twas ne'er denied ) that ever graced the square;
And Case - who all the honours bore when champions came to swim-
What happy hours around our shore were due in part to him !
A pleasant splash in Swilly's wave, a dive in famed Kilkee,
A life snatched from a watery grave, and Case - our praise to thee.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Wherever in the far free lands is held the balance true,
Some stalwart son of Ireland stands whom " Alma Mater " knew.
Ah! scattered, sundered, wide and far-are some who triumphed there,
From Canada to Kandahar, from Kimberley to Clare.
And some have crossed the strip of foam to meet the dogs of war,
The men who kept the peace at home now hold the Huns afar;
And when the ghost - for ever laid - shall haunt no more our land,
Our conquering heroes on parade in honour bright shall stand.
And fame shall spring from battle scars and hopes re-kindle then,
When "Alma Mater's " stripes and stars shall blaze to light again.
Ref : R.I.C. Mag, July 1916, page 233.
Note : The Poem, which is a Lament, was written by one of the Force when recruiting ceased, and the Depot closed during the First World War.