The County of Exiles

The County of Exiles.

The county of exiles and beauty,
of ocean, mountain and bog,
where the magic has seeped into the people,
who are as wild and as tough as the land,
the West restful and sleeping,
dreaming of days once so grand.

Home to heroes like Davitt, Gráinne Mhaol and dear John MacBride,
drapped in the green of the hillsides,
with the red of their passion and pride,
carried all over the world as they travel,
borne away on the currents and tides.

We are bound to the townland and parish,
to the farms, sean-teachs and boreens,
to the homes of our childhood long gone,
we carry them now in our memories forever golden and bright,
with our families, old friends and old lives.

For we walk no more on the slopes of bold Nephin,
never again to climb up the steep sides of the Reek,
or pause at the mass rock by Lough Aifreann,
where the old faith the hounded people did keep,
we have adventured the last time across Derryhick.

The arms of the West always welcomes,
the traveller needing shelter or rest,
she knows the pain of the emigrant heartbroken for the land of their birth,
we have sent our children out by the thousands,
we will gather yours in just the same.

When the scourge said to hell or to Connaught,
did he ever know how wrong he had been,
there’s freedom in the plain of the yew trees,
where our roots are sunk into the sea,
in the county of exiles and beauty forever held in my dreams.


The above image is the work of the talented Aisling Jennings from Co.Mayo, Ireland.

You may find her work here

or visit

Coaxing the Fire


Coaxing the Fire.

The poker methodically at its task,
guided by the sure and steady hand,
rosy glow of the embers coaxed back to flame,
nursed from deathbed to resurrection,
throwing warmth out over worn tiles and a grey mottled cat.

The door of the stove is open,
maw glaring molten and red,
cheap bread transfixed on the long fork,
Lyons tea keeping warm on the top,
don’t get that black soot on the edges,
be careful the toast not to drop.

Connaught Gold Creamery butter,
spread thickly with the green handled knife,
scrape off burnt bits into the coal scuttle,
cradled on the chipped porcelain plate,
quickly eat up your supper,
’tis bedtime at quarter past eight.

Smoke curling up from the Caroll,
baggy cardigan drawn over her shape,
that silhouette seen in the window,
the warmth of the welcome within,
half the day coaxing the fire,
missed for the rest of our life.

Autumn is Coming.

Autumn is Coming.

The swallows are gathering on the wires,
the days of the summer close in,
the school children have started back learning,
before life will become dormant again.

The apples will fall from their branches,
the gooseberry bush it’s stripped clean,
going are the days of great drying,
the harvest our cupboards will fill.

The mackerel will flee from the harbour,
the lamenting of gulls fills your ear,
as the herring boats pull into the quayside,
autumn jars they are grandfather’s pride.

The leaves they will change in the hedgerows,
the summer fleeting over the hills,
the corncrake falls silent in the meadow,
as the edge of the wind takes a chill.

The world has a wonderful abundance,
if we only took our bare share,
no need for hunger or desperation,
for you know thats simply not fair,
don’t horde money, land or natures bounty,
share all of it as freely as air.




In the shadow of the Holy Mountain,
Joyous days of my youth,
Chasing impossible wolves of the sea,

On beach rocks washed by the mighty Atlantic.
Happy days tasting of salt & sunshine,

A battered rod & reel,

Brimming confidence and empty shopping bags,
Tinfoil wrapped ham sandwiches & effervescent cola,

The incoming tide pushing the intrepid Anglers back up the beach,
Until the heels of second hand shoes are pushed into saw grass dunes.

Picking seashells while holding out hope for a buried Volkswagen.

Ice cream cones dripping on hot badly laid tarmac where the west runs out and the horizon is broken by the last island.


Rest in the soft & welcome folds of blanket.
In weariness slip beneath the sheet.
Fall deeply into eiderdown to slumber.
Sleep my dear Sleep

Let go the troubles & the stress of daylight.
Cast off the robes & cast them at your feet.
Lose the chatter & the tweet.
Sleep my dear Sleep

And in the dream chasing starlight.
Speed from Earth to Mars & back.
Swim in the rainbow coloured moon beams.
Sleep my dear Sleep



Seek the high and lonely places,
let the roar of wind push electronic chatter from your ears,
and drag a tear from an eye that was dry too long.

Breathe deep.

Feel the bite and sting of cold wind rush into the forgotten basements of your lung,
and revel in it.
anywhere flushed skin is exposed,
the wind will lick and nip.

Seek the high and lonely places,
let the wind push and buffet you and feel small,
look out, across and down,
and feel small.

Breathe deep.

Feel the bite and sting of cold wind rush into the forgotten basements of your mind,
and revel in it,
the wind will rise and bare aloft memories that have been lost.

I am delighted to say that it was also one of the first poems which was kindly selected for publication by Elizabeth McKenzie, Editor of Tintéan.
Tintéan is the online magazine of the Australian Irish Heritage Network based in Melbourne, Victoria.
You may find them here to read at:

The Girls

Little fingers curl gently around mine,
Long hair tumbles across mothers pillow,
Warmth pours off a tiny body wrapped soft,
Cheeks are red beneath a sweaty head.

If only you remained so small,
I love you so much my heart aches when I look at you,
Will I ever be good enough to deserve you in my life,
I am blessed by you and filled with light.

I love the words about tiny grubby hand prints,
I wish yours would last forever,
I know you’ll help us teach your sister how to make her own,
May you never change, monkey socks.

The other monster hasn’t budged this whole time,
She is deep asleep, happy and content,
Your hugs for her as she lay sleeping in my arms made my heart crack,
She will be so strong with the power of your love.

I raise you up later and put you in your own,
You cling tightly to me and stay asleep,
A tear fell when I tucked covers in around you,
I am so thankful to be your dad.