In 1936, Cyril Knox of Palmerstown wrote this poem which enshrines the legend of the ship, laden with bones pillaged from the Moyne ossuary intended for grinding into manure, which perished in a sudden storm.
Before the River Moy was changed to flow by Enniscrone
Franciscan monks from other lands, their abbey had o’er flown
And seeking ground on which to build for their increasing band
An Abbey new, they travelled thro the whole of Awley’s land.
This site of Moyne they choose at last not far from old Rosserk
Where they received free gifts of land from one McWilliam Bourke
He undertook the building too, and labour freely gave
Of horses, carts and skilful men to build and to engrave.
No labour did they spare nor cost, upon this church of Moyne
Completely built of oolite stone from quarries which adjoin.
The workmanship and beauty was the theme of every tongue
While in a tower ninety feet a sweet-toned bell was hung.
The Bishop of Killala then, O’Connor journeyed there
In 1462 to consecrate the place to prayer.
From that for o’er a hundred years Moyne was a famous school
Where priests and scholars came to learn and abbots rose to rule.
A home where weary strangers found rest, food and comfort warm
And ships within the pool of Moyne might shelter from the storm.
Alas, in 1581 the dissolution came
When monasteries far and wide went up in smoke and flame
And Moyne the fate of others shared, its greatness could not save
What eared the English how much good it to the country gave.
A company of Fitton’s troops the Abbey sacked one night
Though warned by kindly friends the monks had safety sought in flight.
All fled to sea, save one old man, O’Hara, brave who swore
To stay and guard the sacred place or leave it nevermore.
Alas, when later those who fled dared venture back again
They found upon the altar steps O’Hara’s body slain.
They saw upon the floor his blood, shed by those ruthless bands
And elsewhere beheld the wreck of sacrilegious hands.
Ere two years passed they came again and fearsome tales were told
Of how the monks were treated by those warriors of old.
One friar they believed to be concerned in some dark plot
And put him to the torture to confess he knew not what
Then to the gallows he was dragged where one last wish he craved
That he might a confessor have so that his soul be saved.
The boon was granted with the hope the priest would then reveal
The secret which the soldiers thought the other did conceal
But he would break no sacred trust nor any secrets tell
And when the torture faded to force they hanged him up as well
Such deeds, as this, were common in those days of long ago
And every house in Erin told the same sad tale of woe.
In later years a Spanish ship cast anchor in the bay
And seeking bones to make manure took all they could away.
The famous bell and other things they stole forth did flee
But lo, the hand of justice smote that ship upon the sea.
A storm arose and drove her on the rocks along the shore
And down she went with all her crew and all her grisly store.
No wreckage of that evil ship was ever seen again
Nor bodies of the crew who robbed the holy place in vain.
The sweet-toned bell went down as well and never more was found
It lies beneath the 'pool' they say and in a storm will sound.
The Abbey fell to ruin then for as the years rolled on
Its persecuted friars fled to safety one by one.
Behold the grand old ruin now, all open to the sky
Yet showing in its crumbling walls the shell of days gone by.
The lofty tower safe remains and still is worth a climb
To view the prospect from the top as monks in olden times
O’er Bartra Island, Enniscrone, Kilcummin and the sea
To Poullaheeney, Knocknarea, Killala and Raathlee.
Save that by Moyne the silver Moy has long since ceased to flow
The view is much the same to-day as centuries ago.
Though monks and river both have gone and taken trade away
The Abbey yet still stands sentinel o’er all Killala Bay.
And so may stand for endless years in lonely silence dumb
To tell the story of the past in ages yet to come.