Fri, Sat & Sun. @ 1pm - The Writings of WPM Lunchtime Theatre

The Writings of William Pembroke Mulchinock - Lunchtime Show

If you are joining us Friday 23rd for our events then after our launch of our Pop-Up Museum in Balloonagh Church make your way to the Greyhound Bar on Pembroke Street for a 40 minute Pub-Theatre performance. Produced and directed by James Finnegan, this two-hander is performed in the round and presents a fun and engaging production of the wonderful writings of Tralee's own Poet William Pembroke Mulchinock.

Both Harvard and Yale Unoversity Libraries have housed the letters of WMP that he wrote or Longfellow and other American authors of the day while he live in New York and Boston. The letters along with his poetry tell the story of the Tralee Poet's life while in America and his struggles to get his Poetry published and his daily struggles to survive.

When: Friday 23rd August 2019

Time: 1pm - 2pm    

Where: The Greyhound Bar, Pembroke Street, Tralee

Tickets: FREE - Great selection from lunch menu available 


The Song and Story

The Story of The Rose of Tralee Mary O’ Connor, born in 1820 (approx.), was the original “Rose of Tralee” Her parents’ house was in Brogue Lane in the Rock. Her father was a brogue (shoe) maker Her mother worked as a dairymaid at Cloghers House owned by the Mulchinocks, a wealthy merchant family. One of their sons was William Pembroke, a dreamer and a poet.
Mary was a dark haired beauty with very alluring eyes, but beautiful or not, she would only obtain a position as a maid or helper. At seventeen, she was employed as a kitchen maid to the Mulchinocks. However, Maria Mulchinock chose her as her kitchen maid.

William occupied himself with pastimes that wealthy young gentlemen pursued, one being a trip to the horse fair at Ballinasloe. At a ball there, he met Alice Keogh. In spite of his protestations of love, he soon returned home. When he arrived home, his sister Maria took him to see her children in the nursery where he got his first glimpse of Mary O’ Connor and was completely smitten by her look. He used every opportunity to meet her and eventually, they became a couple. He spent many evenings in her parents’ house where he was well liked. But his family disapproved, after all she was a Catholic peasant and he a wealthy Protestant.

One night by the pure crystal fountain, he took her in his arms and asked her to marry him. She declined because she was afraid that such a marriage would end in disaster even though she loved him. One evening, he took her to the same place and sang to her the first two verses of “The Rose of Tralee”.

The following evening, Daniel O’ Connell held a meeting in Denny Street and William was the leader of one of the repealer groups. A fracas broke out between one of these men and a man called Leggett, who was badly hurt in the fight. One of the policemen informed Mulchinock that he would be held responsible if Leggett died.

After the meeting, he went home where he met Mary and produced a ring, which she accepted. They were now betrothed. Suddenly his best friend, Bob Blenerhasset rushed in and told him Legett was dead and the police were coming to arrest him. Bob gave William a hundred gold sovereigns and his horse and told him ride to Barrow Harbour and take a ship anchored there.

William ended up in India in 1843 as the war correspondent. He became friendly with the British commander in chief known as “Old Gough”. When Mulchinock told him the story of what happened, the general saw the injustice of it all and used his influence to enable William to return to Tralee.

In 1849, he checked into the King’s Arms in the Rock. The proprietor, George Cameron served him a Cognac and then drew the curtains as a funeral was passing by. When Mulchinock inquired who was dead, the landlord said it was Mary O’ Connor, The Rose of Tralee. She was approximately 29 years of age.

The only thing left to him now was to visit the grave constantly at Clogherbrien. In time he became reacquainted with Alice Keogh and married her and they eventually went to America in 1849 where they had two girls, Alice and Bernadette. But eventually, they separated and he returned to Ireland in 1855 where he found solace in drink. He never forgot his one true love and he wrote the final verse for her.

William Mulchinock lived in a lodging house in Ashe Street run by a woman named Old Biddy. He died on 13th October 1864 and was buried in Clogherbrien beside his “Rose of Tralee”.

The lyrics to the song The Rose of Tralee

The pale moon was rising above the green mountains,
The sun was declining beneath the blue sea;
When I strayed with my love by the pure crystal fountain,
That stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee.
She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
that made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

The cool shades of evening their mantle were spreading,
And Mary all smiling was listening to me;
The moon through the valley her pale rays was shedding,
When I won the heart of the Rose of Tralee.
Though lovely and fair as the Rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
that made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

In the far fields of India, ‘mid wars dreadful thunders,
Her voice was a solace and comfort to me,
But the chill hand of death has now rent us asunder,
I’m lonely tonight for the Rose of Tralee.
She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
that made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.