Tim Koch: “If” (with apologies)

Tim Koch writes,

I much enjoyed the recent HTBS posting linking to a video of Kipling’s “If” poem illustrated by rowing pictures on Bryan Kitch’s entertaining and well informed blog, Rowing Related. The posting noted that:

‘“If” was written in 1895 and is still very popular, not the least as a parody, which confirms its status amongst the British people.’

There is a rowing version of “If” which I prefer to call a ‘homage’ rather than a ‘parody’ as the former implies respect while the latter could imply mockery. It was written in 1931 by Dermond* St John Gogarty ‘with apologies to Rudyard Kipling’. It is quoted in Chris Dodd’s anthology of rowing writing and poetry, Boating (Oxford University Press, 1983):

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To drive your legs long after they are done
And so row on when there is nothing in you
Except the will that says ‘Now on’;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With forty strokes, and let the boat full run,
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it.
And what’s more you’ll be an oar my son.

Does anyone know who Dermond* St John Gogarty was and if he wrote any other rowing poetry?

* See comment 1.


  1. I think that is a misprint in 'Boating'. It was probably penned by Dermot St. John Gogarty [pronounced 'Cingin']. Born in 1908, he was the second son of Oliver St. John Gogarty, the Irish poet, author & Senator [Wikipedia has a good entry on him].

    Dermot was a well known architect who went to Pembroke College, Cambridge and was a rowing coach at University College, Dublin. He coached their maiden eight in 1933 to wins at Bann and Derry.

    It would be nice to have more information on his rowing connections at Pembroke and UCD.

  2. Dear Greg, of course, this makes perfectly sense. I looked up Oliver, Dermot's father, but did not go further (there seems to have been a lot of Gogarty). Thank you also for the pronunciation of Gogarty – I would never have guessed that it was going to be pronounced that way!

  3. I was a memebr of Dublin University Boat Club in the 1980s and recall letters being received from Dermot who was in his mid to late 70s at the time. He always was enquiring about the state of rowing in Trinity at the time and was eager for news. His letters were witty and replied to by the Captain. He signed his letters Tom G Derrygoat, anagram of Dermot Gogarty.

    Philip Browne

  4. I was checking on Dermot Gogarty as I was including a poem by his father Oliver St. John Gogarty who was a renowned Irish wit and was the basis of the character Buck Mulligan in James Joyce's Ulysses.

    Dermot was an architect who also wrote poetry and I have just blogged that he wrote a poem to my sister in the 60s to A convent Girl in Canada where he went to live before returning to England and settled in Derbyshire near to where his good friend Eamonn Goggin then lived.

    Incidentally, it is 'St. John' that is pronounced 'Cingin' not his surname Gogarty! I was blogging about Gogarty today becaue it is the eve of Bloomsday June 16th which is celebrated by Joyceans all over the world!

    Jeanne Rathbone aka Sheela-na-Gig

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