He drives his beasts above Cabra


The Poem Tilly written in Dublin in 1904 and the first of the Poems Pennyeach collection, has the opening verse

He travels after a winter sun,
Urging the cattle along a cold red road,
Calling to them, a voice they know,
He drives his beasts above Cabra.

The voice tells them home is warm.
They moo and make brute music with their hoofs.
He drives them with a flowering branch before him,
Smoke pluming their foreheads.

Boor, bond of the herd,
Tonight stretch full by the fire!
I bleed by the black stream
For my torn bough!

Dublin, 1904

James Joyce. Poems and Shorter Writings (Page 51)

This run was all about finding ways of ending the half marathon on the platauplain of Grangegorman, but part of it took me through Cabra and I was reminded of this poem. Joyce spent time in the house at 8 St. Peter’s Terrace which is just off the Cabra Road and would be very familiar with walks in and around the area.

If you look at the Ordnance Survey Map online here, you can see how rural the lands above the Cabra Road and again by using the slier overlay you can compare them with the built up nature of today.


Joyce, J. (2001) Poems and Shorter Writings. Edited by Richard Ellmann, A. Walton Litz, and John Whittier Ferguson. London, United Kingdom: Faber & Faber.

Click here to see the route details on Runkeeper

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