LONGWOOD POET – LIAM MC DONNELL, penned this poem while watching the 2017 Famine Walkers pass on the Longwood stretch of the Canal, pondering on what his ancestors might have thought of our Missing 1,490 as they trudged the very same path  some 170 years before.

Strokestown Exodus     by Liam Mc Donnell        1/5/2017

  It was the children first that saw it

Moving along  the bank of the canal 

A stark cloud murmuring 

A dark crowd ,

 a funeral maybe !

But who was dead ?

Not enough colour to be 

A circus or carnival 

They remembered the fun of the last one . 

Their mothers called them in , ”twas best 

They told them what the old men had said about the dread of people coming from the West 

”Twas never good .

They reminded them of the last shower that came with pikes

That drive the cattle mad

Through ditches and dykes

And spiked the horses of the soldiers who did come with cross and drum and tartan skirts on them. 

“More bloody Seamusachas I’d bet” But no this crowd showed no scars of war yet,

Nor fire in their belly .

Gaunt though they spoke in spittle tongue.

As though they’d seen the devil. 

Like scavenger crows they walked

Darting into hedges where they

Might rob an egg from a birds nest or grasp

A supple nettle  in the hope that 

They might get kindling to

Boil in a skillet of potatoes,

 brought five days ago 

From their deserted homes in Strokestown ;

The Mahon estate 

The landlord they’d come to hate

Had become associated with the blight 

Someone had turned out his light .

He would have known Travellion

Of the tight fist 

Who hung on to his “ingein male”**

Like his life depended on it 

Laisse faire was the air of his mantra 

he’d learned from his master ,

Russell the spiteful thief

“They d got their idolitariius God back in 29 now let him save them “

But this time there’d be no rebellion 

No need, more would die from the typhoid instead than any orchestrated pitch fight .

Had they a notion 

their fate to be 

Russian Roulette  with the Atlantic Ocean would they have gone like herded cattle 

These quiet people of Roscommon