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.

Note:

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

You may find her work here https://aislingjenningsphotography.wordpress.com/

or visit https://www.facebook.com/aislingjenningsphotography

Coaxing the Fire

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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.

Lord of Connaught

Lord of Connaught.

The last Lord of Connaught is still,
silent are the hills,
which once quivered with the ancient sound,
echoing round Belleek Castle & the Moy.

Sold out like many other rebels for a handsome purse,
hunted & chased,
beset by hounds,
mere curs,
the lesser generations of a magnificent line.

The slopes of Nephin Mór rang with the cry of the West,
the secret paths & valleys were know only to the Lord & kin,
cool water pools quenched thirsts & caves offered refuge.

Decades past & those unseen places in the hills,
give respite to hunted ragged men,
flying by columns at night.
The ancient rocks bear witness to fleeting history of man,
as natures princes were erased for sport.

 

Note:

Belleck Castle is a beautiful place to visit.

The image above and the text below are from their website.

http://m.belleekcastle.com/

‘Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and 1831, on the site of a medieval abbey, one of four along the River Moy. Belleek was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore. The manor house was designed by the prolific architect John Benjamin Keanes, and the neo-gothic architecture met the taste of the time, when medieval styles became fashionable. The Knox-Gores lived in Belleek until the early 1940’s.’

Bertra

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Bertra

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.