RAGLAN ROAD - Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) (Air: The Dawning of The Day)
Tommy Makem reciting the poem. Raglan Road - Luke Kelly and Paddy Kavanagh

On Raglan Road of an Autumn day
I saw her first and knew,
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might someday rue.
I saw the danger, yet I walked
Along the enchanted way.
And I said,"Let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day."

On Grafton Street in November, we
Tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worth of passion’s pledge.
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts
And I not making hay;
Oh, I loved too much and by such and such
Is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind,
I gave her the secret signs,
That's known to the artists who have known
The true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint,
For I gave her poems to say
With her own name there and her own dark hair
Like clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet
I see her walking now,
And away from me so hurriedly
My reason must allow.
That I had loved, not as I should
A creature made of clay,
When the angel woos the clay, he'll lose
His wings at the dawn of day.

Patrick Kavanagh was born in Inniskeen, County Monaghan, on October 21, 1904.  He was the son of a cobbler and farmer and grew up in the shadow of the "hungry hills" of Ulster.  Kavanagh left school thinking to follow in his father's footsteps but turned away from farming.  "I dabbled in verse, and it became my life." Much of his poetry is autobiographical; the earlier poems filled with the life of rural Ireland which he left at thirty, walking the fifty miles from Monaghan to Dublin.  In 1936 his first volume of poems, Ploughman and Other Poems, was published.  His later verse drew inspiration from the city life of Dublin, where he befriended John Betjeman, another famous poet.  His poetry never made him much money, but Kavanagh did not care.  "I am a very lazy man." He died in 1967 and was buried in his native Inniskeen.  In Dublin, his beloved second home, he was immortalized according to his wishes:  "O commemorate me with no hero-courageous/Tomb -- just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by."
From Folk Songs and Ballads Popular in Ireland, Ossian Publications: Patrick Kavanagh is the original author of "On Raglan Road", contained in his The Complete Poems. His brother Peter footnotes the ballad thus: Raglan Road: A street off Pembroke Road, Dublin. This ballad originally published in The Irish Press under the title "Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away". It was written about Patrick's girlfriend Hilda but to avoid embarrassment he used the name of my girl-friend in the title.
Notes: This song was recorded and popularized by the great Luke Kelly of the Dubliners in the 1960s.  The words, written by Paddy Kavanagh, were set to the traditional air 'Fainne Gael an Lae' (The Dawning of the Day).  This poem was first published in 1946 under the name "Dark haired Myriam ran away".
Notes from a post on Digital Tradition: Both Ewan McVicar and Arthur Johnstone claim it was Luke Kelly who married the tune to the words. Luke's own account seems to contradict this: [1994:] Luke told the following story in an interview in 1980: 'I was sitting in a pub in Dublin, The Bailey, and as you know in the old days - it's changed a bit now - it was known as a literary pub, an artistic pub. I happened to be sitting there in the same company with Patrick Kavanagh and one or two other poets, and someone asked him to recite a poem, which he did, and then someone asked me to sing a song which I did. Being in the presence of the great man I was very nervous. Then he leaned over to me and said in that sepulchral voice of his - he could hardly get his voice out, he was very old ... it was just the year before he died - and he said 'You should sing my song,' and I said 'What's that, Mr Kavanagh?' and he said 'Raglan Road''. So he gave me permission. I got permission from the man himself.' (Geraghty, Luke Kelly 38f)
There is a recording of Kavanagh himself singing 'Raglan Road' in the RTE Radio archive. Proof enough that he conceived his verses as a song. The line endings 'at the dawning of the day' are also proof of the air he had in mind.