Brendan O’Shea was born in Kilmorna, a townland of Listowel in County Kerry. He was inspired to write by his primary school teacher Paddy Kennelly, in Islandanny National School. He was educated in St. Ita’s Secondary School in Abbeyfeale and went on to Rockwell Catering School in 1973. Brendan is a travelling sales representative, a qualified chef and a lover of genealogy. He is well travelled and likes nothing more than getting inspiration from the ordinary folk on the highways and by-ways of Ireland. He now resides in the North Kerry town of Ballyduff. His poem, Outside, has been published recently in Boyne Berries – The Covid Issue. These three poems are from his book Ghosts which was published in September 2 .
The drystone walls are on my mind as I traverse the highways and byways of Ireland’s Atlantic Coast.
The many billions of stones laid one on top of the other are a reminder of the hardship and determination of a people creating fields of green out of an ancient land.
The realization that each rock in sight was touched by a human hand, studied for the best laying position, maybe chipped or split before being laid in place for millennia
Every rock in every wall was handled by our ancestors, our forefathers.
It is history written by those who are now part of the land that the stones are laid on.
The drystone walls are a census-taker of people not afraid of hard work.
A wonder of the world.
A testament to survival.
A thing of strange, incredible beauty to the returning emigrant, that speaks to us through the annals of time.
Every stone seems to cry out, “You are part of us. We have moulded you!”
How many million people made these walls?
Are still making walls?
Who built the first one out of rock?
Did they realise the legacy they were about to create?
A tapestry on the surface of the West,
of manmade rock walls, each carefully laid to withstand wind and rain,
Storm and thunder,
No mockery here.
Here is a salute to the people of a time long gone by
who created a changeable yet unchangeable thing
that cannot be duplicated by media or recreated by computer.
Only when touched by hand and laid by hand can this be done.
An ancient art carried on,
to tell the generations of the future,
We were here.
Where are they now, the ones that fought and died,
the ones that chose the other side,
the ones that stayed and worked the land,
the ones that cried,
the ones that loved and left
for fear of heavy hands and backward minds,
for fear of God and Hell,
for fear of the loss of those they loved so well?
Where are they now?
Who are they now?
This child for sale!
It could be mine in London town in Sixty-nine.
They cared not for grief or consternation,
Just for a hefty dollar donation
into the coffers of Mother Church.
And all the saints on their gilded thrones
cared not a fig for mothers alone.
They put them to work, yet another labour
and at the end no reward to savour.
No joy, no smile, no sympathy,
no hug, no love, no empathy.
Where are they now? Will they ever be free?
In Nomine Patris et Filii…
It surges through the rocky core
With powerful force and purpose
To glean so many nutrients
Before it ever reaches us
It finds the cracks in the deep, deep earth
And rushes ever on
Beneath the hills & rocky ground
Until an opening can be found
Toward every root and every tree
This giver of life for you and me
It greets the air with awesome grace
And gives the land a brand-new face –