A Burning Fire

Matthew 5:20-26


A hundred years ago those houses burned

A civil war aflame

Downhill House by Ballina

Moore Hall the same

Torched destroyed and ruined

Retaliation’s name

For lives destroyed in Dublin

The execution game


Downhill now a fine hotel

You would not know what’s been

But Moore Hall holds the evidence

A gutted beauty seen

It saddened me to see it so

Stately Georgian pile

A testament to anger

And the worst of human bile


But civil war is frightening

Ferocity at play

We hold these things so dearly

How dare you throw away

Come to terms the good Lord says

While you are on the way

Don’t let anger conquer you

Don’t let it win the day


Brian Fahy

3 March 2023


+ Once blood has been shed in a cause, it is very hard to stop it. Ireland knows this so well. Jesus counsels us that not only should we not kill, but we must not let the vice of anger get the better of us. Our virtue must be deep.


Today I read about John Garvey, crown solicitor for Mayo, whose home at Downhill, Ballina was torched in retaliation for executions being carried out against IRA anti-treaty forces. I remember, too, a visit to Moore Hall, a shell of what was once a beautiful Georgian country house. The destruction of beauty always saddens us, but it is as nothing compared to the taking of human life.

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