Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The old country

That pudding bowl haircut just never goes out of style... | by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Boy with pudding bowl haircut, St Stephen's Green, Dublin: photo by Elinor Wiltshire, 1964 (National Library of Ireland)
They never tired of talking of it
the way one might talk about not another country
but another world.
It was where they'd come from. There, things
had not been the way they are here
oh soft and easy like this
as they would explain
grinding their large strong fists
into your small weak arm. 

House in Templemore in aftermath of raid by Tans - boy boarding up window and child with a small ball | by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

House in Tippermore in aftermath of raid by tans -- boy boarding up window and small child with deflated ball: photo by W.B. Hogan, 1921 (Hogan-Wilson Collection, National Library of Ireland)

Boats moored by a harbour, in an unknown location (probably Schull, Co Cork) | by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Boats moored by the harbour, Schull, County Cork: photo by Fergus O'Connor, c. 1910 (Fergus O'Connor Collection, National Library of Ireland)

Young England's Floral Alphabet | by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Young England's Floral Alphabet. Edith (1878-1964) and Ethel Dillon (1880-1978) outside the Photograph House at Clonbrock Estate, Ahascragh, County Galway: photo by a member of the Dillon family, c. 1884 (National Library of Ireland)


tpw said...

Beautiful. Just back from playing the music of the old country all day & this is a lovely end to the evening. Thanks, Tom.

TC said...

And sure the music of the old country is the better for your playing of it all day and all of the night without premature or unnecessary ending, master tpw.

(The Photograph House, by the way, was just that -- a small brick cottage where pictures were taken; people wishing to be photographed came from miles around, for this purpose; it's curious to try to imagine a time when a photograph was meant to capture a special occasion, or anyway an occasion that somebody once thought special, in some way or other... though what it is or was or may have been, nobody really knows, now.)

Lally said...

another great post tom, especially the poem, distilled a few centuries worth of experience there

Jonathan Chant said...


billoo said...

Lovely evocation here, Tom.

Do I only think
I lost a river, culture, speech, sense of first space
and the right place? Now, Where do you come from?
strangers ask. Originally? And I hesitate.
--Carol Ann Duffy.

Wooden Boy said...

I had some uncles with fists and spiel like that.

The girl's face is .

TC said...

Thank you all.

This was the maternal grandfather, he of the great fist, made sturdy by the ages of manual work, the lighting of the lamps, the driving of the trolleys, severely demanding tasks all, all of course performed at exactly the age of the tender weak-armed instructee.

Now I think of it all those demanding tasks had been performed not in the old country (county Kerry) but in the New, which I suppose somewhat upsets the applecart of the idea, in a way, but hopefully not in a bad way, as it seems we've had a bit of fun with this, in any case.