David Lyons has successfully entered works for The Galway Review in the past His novel The Dream Voyagers published in 2015 is still sitting high on the Kindle rankings.

His latest novel Land Of Butterflies is currently with his publishers. He has written all ten tracks on Michelle Lally’s latest album A Moment In Time. Six of these tracks were individually playlisted by RTE Radio 1.

His song Count On My Love has just been released on Lisa Murphy’s new album. He has written Yasmin Hughes’ new song Be Good To Me and has entered songs for Norway and Switzerland for Eurovision 2023 and hopes to enter one for Ireland.

Forever Searching

By David Lyons

When my parents died I searched for the memory of them in St. Ann’s
Square, where each step I made disturbed the pigeons, lifting them high into
the crisp bitter morning air. Faces with a miscellany of expressions abounded.
Gaits and strides defied unison. Swede shoes and working boots intermingled
with red souled ladies shoes and airs of hauteur usurped the standing places of
humility with attitudes of indifferent entitlement. We once had a tradition of
walking through its peacefulness on Christmas morning, where no soul or
sound would disturb. Where serenity had for a short while reclaimed its almost
obliterated heart and gave it temporary tranquillity far removed from the
hustle and mayhem of just a few short hours previous. Unsuccessful I
searched through onto a busy Deansgate with its familiar architecture and
flagstones. Since my last visit a Banksy of a boy with a lollipop holding a
balloon on a string watched the determined footsteps of commerce dash by
dispassionately in blue pinstriped suits with eager determined faces.
I stopped by the little tweed shop on Market Street that still displayed things
my parents loved. From a distance I imagined them chatting together as they
walked peacefully into the smell of yarn. Left and right my eyes tried to prise
the shoppers apart on Cross Street to see if they would appear through the
crowds. But they didn’t. I searched until my eyes lost focus. Enquiring faces
stared at me but I kept scanning for that new break in their ranks to see if the
faces I love would appear and say a thousand words with just one smile.
In Prestwich I imagined I would find them walking up that steep leafy hill
together on Sandy Lane, looking out of place on city streets. They were far
removed in nature from the street wise city life that circumstances dictated
they submit to for a brief while. Later I stood at the arched window of Acorn
Antiques on Bury New Road, that was long overdue another coat of red paint,
to see if I could see them inside, browsing just like they used to. Their
treasured booty could vary from a pewter setter to an inkwell with so many
unusual combinations in between and the chosen item would be admired and
moved about the house for days after, looking for “just that right place”. In my
mind’s eye I could see Dad, in his cap and tweed jacket and Mam, in her big
brown hat and long green coat. I was sure they would appear together from
amongst the crowd and give me that smile that would melt my heart one more
time but that moment prized more than life itself never arrived to lighten my
weary soul.
I thought certainly I will find them in Kinsale where so many happy memories,
too beautiful to fade, must still live in some perfect dimension of time, a place
where nothing beautiful dies. So I searched the narrow streets and coffee
shops, eating cake and drinking americanos at familiar tables. On occasions I
imagined I could smell Mam’s “Poision” perfume and believed its cocooning
fragrance may have been only just around the next corner but each time it’s
presence, whether conjured up by longing or for real was only momentary and
vanished in the fresh sea air. The bench near The Blue Haven where we used
to have our 99’s, that always melted dripping down to the pavement in white
dots was wet from rain, empty and unwelcoming. Boland’s wool shop with its
dented brass doorknob that had greeted so many shoppers with its cool touch
surely, I imagined, they would be there. Mam looking for warm pullovers for
Daniel and Jennifer while Dad looked on, his hands filled with shopping bags,
his fingers red from the strain of their strings as he complained occasionally to
deaf ears. The shiny timber floor in Boland’s was still as noisy to footsteps as it
gave off its intimate feeling of bygone antiquity. The uneven timber surface
was worn by a century of those eager to peruse but of all its splendour it
couldn’t offer me my one desired pearl.
I rambled on deflated of spirit to a deserted grey Garretstown beach with its
lonely cold waves and icy breeze that tore its way to my skin through my light
jacket. So different now from those long heady summer days with our green
deck chairs and cool box filled with ice cream and sandwiches. The sand that
intimately knew those footsteps I loved was smooth and cold now, its past
memories erased by the unsympathetic tide. All was forlorn and empty here
except for the sound of crashing waves and ireful gulls. I cast my treasured
memories out onto the turbulent waters, hoping for a consoling reply, but they
returned as bitter cold sea spray onto my face and mixed with tears to end my
search in this place.
The evening fragrance of the Blush roses beneath the statue of Our Lady at the
grotto in Ballinspittle was as ever beautiful. Even the old man with the
seafarer’s complexion who lovingly carried out the maintenance was there
with his little worn-out motorbike but his kind eyes didn’t recognise me. My
smiling hello was met with a friendly but distant reply. He would have
remembered Dad and Mam though and as always would have chatted with
them for longer than had I preferred on most occasions. Sometimes he would
cut a rose with the utmost reverence from beneath the statue for one of
Mam’s intentions. He would delicately hold the rose out to Mam’s waiting
hand as though he were offering Our Lady’s grace and succour inside that one
tiny bloom. She would then wrap the rose with equal devotion and carefully
place it delicately in a box to post to her deserving cause.
The once favoured empty table and chairs by the window in The Speckled Door
were unchanged and waited patiently. Its oak stained surface had endured
many a hot plate attack since my last visit and displayed the scars like a mark
of culinary accomplishment. The cracked jardiniere with Renoir’s Dance At
Bougival badly embossed on two sides still lived on the window ledge and was
as ever contemplating the best view in Cork. Fresh flowers for its adornment
must have been that one task too many for the owner of The Speckled Door as
the dusty plastic red roses knew me all too well. That familiar smell of fresh
fish cooking in the kitchen tantalised the four diners at the table by the
crackling fireside. They were humourless short haired Americans and ticked off
an item from their bucket list as they passed around a single pint of Guinness
between them. Their insipid facial expressions displayed no delight in the taste
of Irishness as the glass churned its way round and round the table until its
head went brown. The sound of remembered laughter flooded the little room
that evening but only I could hear its reminiscent melody.
Surely on Grafton Street I would find them – on an October day where the
golden leaves finally let loose their grip and nervously whirled around in
circles, lost in the autumn breeze in a new an unfamiliar world. Maybe in
Marks and Spencer, Dad yet again carrying lots of bags and wearing his brown
Peacock’s jodhpur boots with the long scratch on the toe they acquired the
first day of wearing. “Let’s have a little coffee” Mam would always suggest so it
would be americanos with mushroom toasties and lemon cake. Maybe it was
our luck but the brown leather sofas at the furthest end of the seating area
were always empty as though waiting for us as welcoming friends. The brown
leather sofas were still there, shabbier than I remembered, cracked and torn in
places after a lifetime of giving comfort to weary legs but it seems time had
taken its toll on all of us. I stared at the lemon cake and coffee until it went
white and cold and leaving them behind I said goodbye.
Dad and I would wait to one side by the tall glass front door while
Mam went back in for “just one last thing”? We would chat and laugh as we
stood by waiting and watching the world race by. Nothing could hinder or
change our perfect world then, except time and time’s dilatory wheels did
indeed grind fine and carried out its bidding without care or concern to past
sensibilities or dignities; with no recourse, fiercely ignoring the feelings of
gentile lives lived. Plotting and manifesting endings so alien to times spent.
The door and that spot where we used to stand still looked the same but the
memories there are now hidden from the passing world and known only to
We only meet in dreams now and we meet very often. But welcome as these
nocturnal encounters are, they pale in comparison to my forever present real-
life memories. I will keep searching though and one day I will find them
walking together towards me through the crowd. Dad with his cap and tweed
jacket and Mam in her big brown hat and long green coat and they will give me
that smile that only God knows I long for more than anything in this world and
this time I will go with them and we will no longer just meet in dreams.