Hamlet of Lissoy or Auburn

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter V-4 | Start of chapter

On leaving Athlone, I deviated from the direct road, for the purpose of making a little pilgrimage to the hamlet of Lissoy (now called Auburn), immortalised in Goldsmith's charming poem of The Deserted Village. It is distant about seven miles from Athlone, near the shores of Lough Ree, which are here more remarkable for quiet pastoral beauty than romantic grandeur—a characteristic that pervades all the writings of this delightful poet of nature. Goldsmith first saw the light at Pallice, near Ballymahon, a few miles from Lissoy; but he spent many of his youthful days at the latter place, where his brother Charles, the curate of a neighbouring parish, resided. His house is still pointed out, but alas! time and neglect have reduced it to ruins; and a roofless shell is all that now remains to point out the place where

"The village preacher's modest mansion rose."

But though the mouldering walls be crumbled into dust, and the hearth be cold around which "the long-remembered beggar," "the ruined spendthrift," and "the broken soldier" forgot their sorrows, the memory of that good man, whose picture has been drawn with the feeling of a poet and the affection of a brother, will live for ever in the purest page of English literature. It was to this brother, to whom he was tenderly attached, that Goldsmith dedicated his exquisite poem of The Traveller.

The scenery in the neighbourhood of Goldsmith's birthplace is delightfully rural. It was on the picturesque banks of the river Inny, with its green islets, and clear waters sparkling and foaming over their rocky bed, that the young poet received the first impressions which called forth the latent spirit of song in his breast. It was to these scenes of his boyish days that he turned in after years with a deeply cherished affection, which the attractions of the world could never eradicate. The fervent wish he entertained of ending his days amongst them, is thus beautifully expressed by himself:—

"In all my wand'rings through this world of care,

In all my griefs—and God has giv'n my share—

I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,

Amidst these humble bow'rs to lay me down

To husband out life's taper at the close,

And keep the flame from wasting by repose."