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