In them thar hills

In Northern Ireland, the Mountains of Mourne ‘sweep down to the sea’, but its streams can hide a glittery prize. Not very much, though.

If you like to seek out geological thrills,
Go panning the stream-beds in them thar hills:
That’s where you will find – or so I’ve been told,
If you’ve patience a-plenty – some fragments of gold.

The Mountains of Mourne are the hills where you’ll find
Drusy granite whose internal channels are lined
With mineral crystals exquisite and rare,
Which erosion or hammering can sometimes lay bare.

There, too, are the streams with eroded-out grains
Of the bright yellow metal. But financial gains
From their sale won’t bring riches at all,
For there aren’t very many, and they’re really quite small.

Just ask Percy French*. If you do, you’ll be told:
“I just took a hand at this diggin’ for gold,
But for all that I’ve found there, I might as well be
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea”.

*William Percy French (18541920) was one of Ireland’s foremost songwriters and entertainers in his day. It was he who wrote the lyrics for the popular song ‘The Mountains of Mourne’, from which the last three lines above are taken.

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