Monday, December 28, 2009


Walking on the Big Pool in the Bogmeadows
December 28th 09


The water in the big pool at the Bog Meadows was frozen. So was Your Man.

So was I. We watched seagulls kiting down over the MI. They dipped over
the big pool and wheeled around gliding down to the water. Or the ice. It
was Saint Stephen's Day.

‘Yeeehaa’ Your Man chortled. ‘Luk at that’.

Instead of gracefully alighting into the pool the gulls skidded along the
icy surface, slipping and sliding into each other.

‘Slip sliding away, slip sliding away’ Your Man hummed.

‘I wonder what they think of the ice?’

‘They thinks its cold’ I replied, ‘and slippy’.

‘I know that’ he said as we made our way away from the waters edge and up
towards Saint Galls.

‘But they wud nivver have any experience of ice. Wud they?’

‘Unless they came from the Arctic’ I offered.

‘That’s a quare distance’ he mused.

‘Swallows go to South Africa’. I continued.

‘So does big Mick and wee Seamie’.

‘On a plane’ I parried, ‘Swallows fly on their own steam’.

‘Did you ever hear of the Yellow Bittern? he asked.

We stopped at the playing field to watch the Saint Galls crowd playing
what seemed to be a friendly game. Portly elders, athletic young men and
buxom young women chased each other and the ball around the pitch.

‘Good craic’ I observed. ‘Must be a friendly game’.

‘No such thing’ Your Man replied.

‘The Yellow Bittern’ I continued.

‘Or An Bonnán Buí. The Yellow Bittern was translated from the Irish by
Thomas MacDonagh, the 1916 leader’ I told him. ‘Cathal Buí Mac Giolla
Ghunna wrote it.

‘You are a bit of a know all’ he said peevishly. ‘a know all who knows …
all. I bet you cudn’t recite it!’

We went into Saint Galls.

‘A happy centenary year’ Your Man told the doorman. ‘Hope youse get to
Croker on Saint Paddys Day. Give us all a day out’.

‘The Bittern is a bogland bird.’ He continued over his pint ‘the poet
found it frozen in ice. The seagulls reminded me of that.’

‘First today’.

He raised his pint.


‘Its actually a poem about the drink’ I advised him
‘The wee bird died trapped in the ice. It died of the thirst.’

‘Are you sure?’

I cleared my throat.

‘My darling told me to drink no more
Or my life would be o’er in a little short while;
I told her ‘tis drink gives me health and strength
And will lengthen my road by many a mile.
You see how the bird with the long smooth
Could get his death from the thirst at last
Come, son of my soul, and drain your cup,
You’ll get no sup when your life has past.’

‘Bully for you’ Your Man smiled at me. ‘You can take a man out of Saint
Finian's but you can’t take Saint Finian's out of a man.’

‘Only thing is the Christian Brothers never told us it was about the
drink. Or if they did we didn’t know what they meant.’

‘We know now’ he chuckled. ‘I hope the sea gulls are alright’

‘What do you think about the media?’ He continued.

‘Some of them’s alright’ I said. ‘And some of them are useless’.

‘I suppose it’s like builders, or plumbers or brickies. Or politicans. Some
of them is lazy or stupid or cudn’t care less. It only takes a few bad ones
to get all the good ones a bad name.’

‘Mind you’ he concluded ‘ I know loads of brickies and plumbers and
teachers and nurses. Good friends all. But I don’t know any media’.

‘I’ll tell you about the ones with their own wee agenda some other time,’
I smiled. They usually write for the Sunday World, the Sunday Times,
papers of that ilk. I stopped buying the Sunday papers about ten years
ago. A waste of a Sunday morning. Pages of half truths, opinions, bias,
lies. Better buying a decent novel’.

‘Sorry for your troubles’ Your Man said.

‘It goes with the territory’ I said.

‘Do you know any poems about buying your round’ he asked. ‘I feel like An
Bonnán Buí.’

‘Here’s a happy New Year to you.’ He told me.

‘And you too. And the seagulls.’

‘And the media’ he retorted.

‘Bliain úr faoi mhaise daoibh’.

Out for a stroll


Timothy Dougherty said...

Wondeful Gerry, The troubles’
‘It goes with the territory’ very will said.The trouble with prophets is if they're accurate,the news won't do you any good,and if they aren't ,they're no good.
If only intelligent adaptation of this interior spirit can become a intermediate link for understanding the interminable questions in life.
I have been on the inquisitional rack , a most insecure place for any observer.Life can be a indented outline or a indestructible hope. There is no hope greater than a Irish one.What is inaccessible dignity ? could be a inalienable right or some inadvertent remark or expression of inadequate appreciation of people. I hope your appreciated Gerry and I feel you are.Sláinte chugat

LizHaren said...

I'm sorry you're going through so much right now. Hang in there, "this too, shall pass".

Mr Reality said...

Funny that comment about the Sunday papers Gerry. The only difference with me is that I have not bought one in 20 years. Half-baked journalism at its best. Hard to believe how low some people will stoop just to turn a bob. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Sean.... Newry said...

keep it lit Gerry.


Paul Doran said...

Pearse Once wrote

There are times when journalists and public men experience a trial more cruel than others can easily imagine. It is when they are called upon in the course of their duty to write or to speak in public of things that touch the inmost fibres of their hearts, things that to them are intimate and sacred, entwined, it may be, with their dearest friendships and affections, awakening to vibration old chords of joy or of sorrow. The present is such an occasion for the writer of these paragraphs... It is not in human nature to write a glib newspaper article on a dead friend. One dare not utter all that is in one’s heart, and in the effort at self- restraint one is apt to pen only cold and formal things.”

Linda Coleman said...

Great pics. I like the sign that says, "Please keep dogs out of ponds." On cold days like that, I'll bet there's no problem keeping the dogs away from the water!

Conor said...

Hi Gerry,

I couldn't help but send this poem after reading your last post on the blog. I wrote it when I was angry at the 22-day atteck on Gaza last December/January. I am still angry but have realized there are other ways out than just getting drunk and talking to myself about it. I have never been the subject of the media's lack of respect for privacy but I want to just say that the media will only have as much influence as the people will allow it to have. I am angry too at the media's respose to your current situation. I hope you are keeping well. Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit.

Solitude is my neighbour
though I never invite her in.
To button up this absence-
a fifty inch plasma screen.

I project my inner fears
onto the sacred box.
All knocks on the door are ignored
as I circumvent existence.

A victorious drunk debauch
may bail me out awhile.
I'd clench my fist hereby
and launch it through the screen.