I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…
Me warm and secure and proud as Punch,
beside him in the Standard,
chugging along at forty,
knowing he’d get us there and home again, safely…
Out by Ravensdale and Riverstown
to Carlingford of the Norman castles.
Lemonade and biscuits in O’Hare’s pub,
me on a high stool…
The Railway hotel in Greenore;
herrings and mash in O’Meath…
And Dad! Over there is the hostel where me and Michael Flanagan stayed with An Oige …
The sweep of the Lough across to the foot of the
Mourne Mountains… breath-taking.
How is it they’re so different up the North, Dad? ‘Looks all the same to me…
And can some of the old people around here still speak Irish, Dad?.. You’re not coddin’ me?..
No, I never heard them meself – but mebbe it’s just that they’re shy…
The return that evening across the Cooley range
along a twisting, winding road.
Sheep guarded by sentinels of rock
from an ancient Age…
The eventual drop to the main road…
This is the way we came, Dad, after the War.
A few of us on our bikes across the Border to Newry
for the white bread….
And the police in the car with the loud speaker
cutting across our chatter –
The Cemetery on our left as we headed into town.
Sign of the Cross and a quiet prayer for kith and kin:
Granny who had a long life and Tom,
athlete and scholarship winner,
downed in his prime by an unmentionable incurable…
Home soon, Dad! Ah, it was great!..
And won’t you bring me with you again before long?..
But there would be no next time…
Here we are, Dad! Journey’s End!..
If he knew he was at the end of the road he never let on –
not to me, anyhow…
– from Chapter Five in Notes on the Past Imperfect. Amazon. Paperback and Kindle.