A poem by Oliver St John Gogarty (1878 – 1957) to Kit Orpen age 6.

Kit – age 6 painted by her father William Orpen (1912).

Kit Orpen-Casey (1906 –  2003) was the daughter of William and Grace Orpen.

To Kit by Oliver St John Gogarty 26th Nov 1912

Tell me are you feeling fit Kit?

Capering ‘twixt six and seven’

like an imp let loose in Heaven, Sit,

And Keep still a minute, Kit!

And I’ll show to make you laugh

Summer’s cinematograph

first, a lawn beside the sea;

Then a journey out for tea

In a coloured motor-car

On the road that went too far

Past an old, deserted mill –

Don’t remember? Mummy will.

(My ignoring her direction

Then, may aid her recollection).

Here’s Portmarnock! Here we are!

Take your clothes off for the sea.

Quick! make haste! You mustn’t dally.

Are you coming humming Ally?

See the sunlight on the spray!

Go in Kitty, that’s the way:

Artist Orpen’s younger daughter

Jumping in the jumping water!

Drowning, dipping up, surviving –

Who has ever seen such living!

Dipping, tripping up and skipping!

Wonderful the way you spit

out the pouring water Kit!

Blest if I could manage it!

Next, a lull without cessation –

We must find the Coastguard Station,

If your Mummy won’t despise it!

Tea, and talk to appetise it.

Noll, you must not tell such whackers;

Give back Kitty Orpen’s crackers.

Home…. when all is done and said

Kit, there comes a time for bed

But we’ll send up to the moon

An enormous fire balloon,

And will warm it and steer it

With some methylated spirit.

Is there none? No matter. Quick!

Bring coffee-cooker’s wick

Off it goes! and more’s the pity

Off you go to bed now Kitty.

Never had such a mirth day

As on Kitty Orpen’s birthday.

I could mortalise, kitty,

With all insincerity

But that saving commonsense

Sets a time for innocence

And knows the worth of difference.

Tell me now where would the glee be

If I could you or you could me be?

Yet there’s this remark to add

When I think of you and Dad,

And I envy him to own

Such a daughter – you atone

For Old Age that comes to dim

Equally both me and him,

Since it brings us sight to see

Goodness in all Gaiety

Atoning for whatever else he

may have done amiss in Chelsea.


Poem by Oliver St John Gogarty.



Oliver Duane Odysseus Gogarty (known as Noll, as mentioned in the poem), also age 6, son of Oliver St John Gogarty painted by William Orpen (1913).


Oliver St John Gogarty by William Orpen (1912).

N.B. ‘Ally’ in the poem refers to a Mr Alabaster who hummed a lot.

Post by Dominic Lee. Orpen Research Archives.