FAREWELL TO TARA
Is it happy I am to find out Australia surely I feel the miss of a turf fire glowin like holly berries on long and lonesome wildwinter nights where the cock of the ashes sings in our wee family cottage tippin the blarney we be and hearin the tellin of fireside tales Saint Brigid bein fostered by Druids and the leanhaun shee and best of all Tirnanog about the Green Isle beyond the waters land of the forever young over a cup of tea yez could trot a mouse on remember the blue willows on the cups and the hum of the spinnin wheel and some melancholy Irish airs sung to the fiddle indeed I do and it brings tears to my eyes it is a shamrock I am colleen come of decent family of course Im after dreamin of Erin old Ireland its grey so grey light softened by shades of green glass on craggy fells of ferns and wildgoose peaks and curraghs bobbin like black beetles on loughs that soughed with the tears of the little people and distant hills fadin into mountains of mizzle and mist then suddenly the ghostly ruins of abbeys in moments of sunlight the stone circles I miss and gallauns the standin stones the monks they haulin up the round towers their precious goldscrolled manuscripts and high Celtic crosses of rubbly rough stone that tell of the ancient people but see that terrible terrible famine was a Protestant herrin our potato patch nobbled and gone to smithers we mustnt have lived without our taters bog oranges to the English nobs bog apples it is and milk sometimes sour not even a pinch of salt in all that damp we were after skinnin a flea for the sake of its skin hoed and hewed we did so with as much intention as the geese slur upon the ice agabblin I seen dead bodies stiff as blackthorn with hoar frost chewed over by rats as wicked as goblins for a keenyin came to our village a dreadful keenyin I sniffed the stinks of death poor people dyin in the ditches dyin in graves they scooped out themselves in peat bogs dyin of a decline exceptin the absentin landlords rackin the rents old Ireland does sure be ailin and grievin dead as a dry potato even the trees sighin in the winds be lamentin the dead those huts on the hillsides and mud cabins fallin in or battered down by landlords and constables Saxon swill aye I feared bein carried off by the scurvy or blackleg wearyworn I was to walk about the houses of the dead silent but for the bitter wind and the howlin of the wickerribbed wildeyed dogs starved except for the measly flesh on their own dead masters the wailins and ravins were properly upon us we must have pegged out with the bellyache but my poor husband a poor honest labourer come of decent people that stood me friend a martyr he was to his family was tried for stealin some geese and hens what was the point of toilin against the stream he says and was redlegged for seven pennorth o bitter the wind through the cannogs in the loughs well what would yez do if your son was scrabblin for nettles a cabbage leaf somethin to eat among the rotted murphies bones tremblin with coul in a peltin rainstorm I heard soup kitchens doled out stirabout in some towns Quakers was it but not in the west whole families were rottin there trampin the boreens to avoid the fever dens and sickly workhouse so much wounded in the heart cruelly wronged and upheaved by strangers those English lords greedy as gannets be gorra have they no heart always I kept in memory the picture on the wall of the Holy Family the Virgin dressed in a kirtle blue as a wide Sydney sky and Jesus wore no pattens
it was lovesick I was for my dearhub how did he get his health very well for a prisoner Government man but I could not sleep at nights for weepin of his poor distress and achin to barrack for his soul it was nought I could feel but anger for his iron gyves his humblin and humiliation Im thinkin it is a cryin pity my husband not to be here so I allowed myself to be hulked in spite of the sin the stain of felony stole I did a metal watch from my mistress up at the House and told that rakehell judge that was in a funk it was my intention me and my husband were to be joined across the Herrin Pond at Botany Bay to be of comfort and cheer each to the other o spare me your honours it is a pity it is that we are so poor and poorly but I have a heart and spirit to follow him as yez may seem meet it cant save a hair of your head says the cats whiskers ole cockalorum who does not care a brass farthin and lives in a house of glass be Japers canny as a fox I was and wheedled my way cryin mercy though it is little the like of me knows of the sea no sailor I now Im not a plotter of mischief but no sooner over the bar of Dublin Harbour on the Botany transport like herrins in a barrel than I was bein cursed for a low Irish bogtrotter or paddywack given a ballyhooley for stirrin up affrays and must be banished like a banshee to the four winds threatened handcuffs when other ragsaucy colleens went clawin and spittin devil may care like Kilkenny cats even gabbed about grindin up glass to mix in the sailors grub and yet blushed like black cats a rabble too uproarious but yez can understand they leavin behind little weeshy weans helpless and forlorn gone to ruin yet maybe and orphaned without a father livin or gone for a farmer of corn or listed soldier shillin mercenaries fightin for England over the water o tar me not with the same feather for this lassll not fall into bad company it is yearnin I am to do penance for my sins an I wish I shall never do worse nor drink a harmless glass of whisky to keep out memories of the Old Country whist devilblack cloudcaps rollin over broodin mountains harried by sleet aslashin slantways aye it was ever rainin bullocks and tossin trees howlin in desolation and our cottiers and smallholders bogland peasants to be spat at by the Englishry pinin their lives away in bellyachin misery and shame abeggin at the door for a crust and crossin ourselves like billyo all thrown upon the mercy of the world aye indeed there was tellin there was no want of food in Ireland but at such a cost or packed away to John Bulls ports corn and cattle eggs mind you now those blackhearts did not gibbet us blessed fortunate to us Jesus Mary and Joseph me and my husband might have come straight from the bog but we have been dipped in the Shannon and shall make a new harvest for our mill on the landgrant work like horses and with ringin blows of the spade dig out brute stubborn stumps and sow beans and cabbages and own a cow or two even have a pooty little bit of the blunt Odsheart I shall be a butter and egg biddy by all thats blessed and holy surely shall I trust to God I bless myself and say Hail Mary aye I be doing myself proud we stirred our stumps to save our bones under southern constellations as well might yez leave the fairies to cure the blight on your land as to betake yez to New South Wales or Van Diemens Land yez wouldnt rue it maybe for turned turtle the old world has the melodies of birdsong are as foreign as the crinkly mintscented leaves of the moultin gums to Erins evergreen vales my darlin whiteheaded boy that was puny skin and bones and pockpitted is at full romp and scamperin about in danger of dyin no more he grows stronger by the day hale as his daddo plump currant be he now hoddie doddie a maneen indeed may he grow up tall and straight as a candle in
this sunny clime a free object Saint Brendan be blessed though his ma may never never more o Ireland my mother see or the sweet smell of the peat fire become the stench of hell to shanties of mournin and bitter the winds of the riotous risin to be hold yer whist wait I came free too yes free and we be doin rightly indeed rosy dandrums it is dear Sydney Town well to be sure the end is not yet yes
January 311, 2007
Published on Jan 14, 2010
FAREWELL TO TARA Michael Small January 311, 2007 this sunny clime a free object Saint Brendan be blessed though his ma may never never more...