The Old Bog Road is a standard of any Irish set list of ballads and the author of that whimsical ditty celebrates her 150th birthday this year.
Teresa Brayton who wrote the popular ballad about homesickness was born on the 29th of June 1868 as Teresa Cora Boylan at Kilcock, County Kildare. Teresa attended Newtown National School where by all accounts she excelled in her studies.
In 1895 Teresa followed the emigrants trail across the broad Atlantic where she ended up becoming a vital cog in the workings of Irish nationalist organizations in New York and Boston.
In between organizing fundraisers and gatherings for Irish Americans, Teresa married French Canadian Richard Brayton and thus became known as Teresa Brayton. While contributing pieces of prose to newspapers and periodicals Teresa did not use her maiden name or married name, instead she used the pseudonym T.B Kilbrook as a nod to the place of her birth - Kilbrook in Kilcock, County Kildare.
Teresa was renowned in Irish American circles for her organizations of fund raisers to aid the war effort against British rule in her native land. Nationalism ran through Teresa's blood; her great grandfather had taken part in the Battle of Prosperous in 1798 and she wrote a number of pieces to celebrate the centenary of the United Irishmen rebellion in 1898.
Teresa's first book of poetry was published in 1913 . 'Songs of the Dawn and Irish Dittys" was published by Kennedy and Sons in New York and it included her most famous piece - The Old Bog Road.
Other published collections of Teresa's were 'The Flame of Ireland' in 1926 and 'Christmas Verses' in 1934.
Regular themes running through her work were nationalism and emigration. The Old Bog Road is a great example of homesickness and it was, and still is, a popular song with Irish immigrants.
In 1932 Teresa returned to Ireland after the death of her husband and first lived in Bray with her sister before finally settling back in her beloved Kildare where she would live out the rest of her days.
Teresa died, where she was born, at Kilcock on the 19th of August 1943. She was buried in Cloncurry cemetery and Enfield Muintir na Tire erected a fine stone Celtic cross over her resting place which was then officially unveiled by Eammon de Valera in 1959.
The Old Bog Road was set to music by Westmeath woman Madeline King O'Farrelly. The son has been recorded by a plethora of artists from all strands musical genres. Everyone from Josef Locke to Daniel O'Donnell and Hank Locklan to Foster and Allen have recorded Teresa's song. It is a song which is about a simple old bog road in Kildare but, it could relate to any old road in any county across Ireland thus making it popular among Irish people in places like Boston or Melbourne, Montreal or London, who find themselves far from their own bog road.
Teresa is not forgotten in her native Kildare. The Teresa Brayton Heritage Group make sure her memory remains fresh and with the help of Kildare County Council information signs now adorn that famous bog road. Unfortunately, the popularity of the song has seen a number of signposts for the Old Bog Road fall victim to souvenir hunters in recent years!
Teresa is rightly remembered for her role in the Irish literary scene at the turn of the century but, her role in the fight for Irish independence must also be acknowledged. She may not have taken up arms or languish behind bars, but Teresa did oversee a most important ingredient in the Irish revolution - fundraising.
Among those who held Teresa in high regard were Arthur Griffith, Eammon de Valera and Michael Collins. Among the many fundraisers Teresa organized in the United States was one to keep St Enda's school open after the executions of Padraig and Willie Pearse in 1916. Teresa organized a big ceilidh in New York to aid Mrs Pearse who was trying to maintain the school after her son’s deaths.
Countess Markiewicz was another famous name of the revolutionary era who held Teresa in high esteem. The rebel countess gifted the Kildare woman with a splinter from the flag pole that flew the flag of the Irish Republic over the GPO in 1916 , writing to Teresa that the gift was " a tribute to your beautiful verses that are an inspiration to lovers of freedom and justice."
This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.