Category Archives: Memories

For Sean, on His 26th Birthday

shoulders

The windows are open;
Air from the garden
Will freshen your room.

A hurricane brought you
And took you away:
You are part of its force.

The shoreline before me
Recedes and advances;
My boat is becalmed. Continue reading

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Filed under Biography, Blogging, Ireland, Memories, Philosophy of life, Poems, Religion, Stories

Make Time Good

A new song.

MAKE TIME GOOD

I know you’ve done the best you could
I know you have a hill to climb
We just need to make time good
We don’t need to make good time

I don’t have any place to go
There’s nothing heavy on my mind
I’m prepared to take it slow
You never know what we might find

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Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music, Philosophy of life, Uncategorized

The Mystery

A rough demo of a new song.

From over here I see you there
Sitting back in the big armchair
And what I’m feeling can’t be said
It stays inside my head

Words will not get me very far
They won’t take me to where you are
They fall like raindrops and flow away
Into yesterday

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Filed under Death, Memories, Music, Psychology, Religion, The music of what happened

To Sean, on his 25th birthday

[I wrote this in July but forgot to post it here then.]

You should be here in these times
To tell us what you’re thinking:
To show how your sweetness has developed
And your sharpness has increased.

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Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

To Sean: Six Years On

This unholy blur started with shivers:
Our lives’ coldest spell.
You were gone for no reason;
Time passed slowly while snow fell.
Ireland froze, except for rivers of tears.

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Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories, Philosophy of life

Holiday in Ireland: August 2016

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On Tuesday we found ourselves at Lissadell House, the ancestral home of the Gore-Booth family, six years after we first visited it and Co. Sligo. Back then we went to see and hear Leonard Cohen; this time the house itself – famous for its connection with Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) and W.B. Yeats – was the attraction. We looked out at the rain through the windows of which Yeats wrote (and Cohen recited):

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
(from ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz’)

There’s an extensive and excellent Easter 1916 exhibition in Lissadell at present, including a lot of Markievicz paraphernalia. There is also a wealth of material related to Yeats and his brother, the prolific painter Jack B. Yeats. Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Literature, Memories, Poems, Politics

Headstone …

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Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories, Music

Father and Son

Some years ago we bought Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman CD, mainly for the very brief title track, which was featured at the end of each episode of Extras and which we all (all four of us, that is) really liked. Another track on the album, which of course I already knew well, was ‘Father and Son’.

The CD has been playing in the car quite a lot recently, and I have been paying more attention than of old to the words in ‘Father and Son’, which alternate between the father’s and son’s points of view.

The father is counselling calmness and conservatism (‘It’s not time to make a change’). The son is complaining about deficiencies in his upbringing. Among the son’s lines are:

How can I try to explain?

When I do he turns away again
It’s always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk
I was ordered to listen

All the times that I’ve cried

Keeping all the things I knew inside … Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music, Philosophy of life

Ted Hawkins (1936–1995)

A piece I wrote some years ago …

In 1987 my girlfriend (not yet wife) and I moved out of Dublin city and into a rented bungalow in a small village 17 miles to the north. The main attraction was the large garage where we could do the screenprinting and signwriting that sustained us at the time. The economy of the area depended on fishing and market gardening … a big change from city life.

Soon we met a friendly young couple from Birmingham who lived round the corner, and started to drink and play chess with them. It wasn’t long before the male half of the couple said ‘Have you ever heard of Ted Hawkins?’ We hadn’t.

He loaned us a cassette of Watch Your Step, and we listened to it all the time while working in the garage … I associate it with the smell of paint and of the roll-up cigarettes that my wife smoked at the time (as did our new friends). The songs were varied, often quirky and strangely catchy; Hawkins’ guitar-playing was rudimentary but his voice was superb … harsh yet vulnerable, and full of raw emotion. Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music

Soccer-playing days (and nights)

I first started to follow soccer (called by that name in Ireland to distinguish it from (Gaelic) football) around the time Chelsea played Leeds in the 1970 FA Cup Final. I also started to play it, informally, having acquired my first pair of football boots.

The field behind my house on St Conlan’s Road in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, which has long since been covered in houses, was owned by an elderly farmer named Sonny Hogan. There were no markings, and jumpers served as goalposts in the time-honoured manner. Two arbitrary captains picked teams from whoever showed up – local kids named Toohey, Fahy, O’Regan, Whelan, Hogan, Bergin, Kennedy. There was never a referee.

Sonny used to chase us. Luckily he wasn’t very mobile, but sometimes he would get quite close before being noticed. Someone would shout ‘Sonny!’ and we would pick up the jumpers and the ball and scatter in all directions. Once he left a note on a cigarette packet that said ‘Keep of the grass’, which was ignored.

We played there an awful lot – sometimes morning, noon and night – and must have retarded the growth of a good-sized rectangle of grass, although the field was mown every summer and haystacks appeared (which lent themselves to other games). I often heard the corncrake’s rasp there, but never saw one. Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Memories, Sport, The music of what happened