Ode to a robin
Chris Grayson photographed this robin as it breakfasted on a meal worm.
Dick Carmody wrote his robin a poem.
…….companion for a reluctant gardener.
Reluctantly I kneel to tend my garden, derived of some pride, devoid of great pleasure
Painstakingly I toil to keep apace of mother nature, as weeds compete with work rate
Then I am suddenly less aware on my ownliness, a companion ever present at my side
The Robin makes his predictable welcome appearance to distract from my discomfort.
Red-breasted, he sits proud upon the boundary wall to watch my laboured movement
Takes pride in that he fanned the fire in Bethlehem’s stable to keep the Baby warm
And how the flames had burned his then colourless breast to testify his zealousness
Or was it when he pulled the thorn from Jesus’ brow on his way to cross on Calvary
And now carries his blood-stained feathers as if to show his favoured ranking.
At arms length he follows my every move, often playing hide and seek with me
Standing tall or sometimes with head erect, motionless he stares me eye to eye
I could believe him God-sent, no other bird in sight in hedgerow or on leafless tree
Or is it just that he sees me as his meal-ticket, as I gather and discard the fallen leaves
Exposing tasty morsels in the unfrozen ground to help him cope with winter’s worst.
I move along, hunched on bended knee, he follows cautiously close behind, beside
Sometimes out of sight, I seek him out again and know I will not be disappointed
For sure enough he’s back again here, there and everywhere, not taken for granted
Now gardening is less of a chore as I’m gifted a companion, my new forever friend.
© Dick Carmody November, 2013.
Recent posts about the old library prompted memories for some blog followers.
Michael O'Sullivan sent us this clarification;
Everybody blamed the Black and Tans for burning the library in the bridge road in March 1921. But with access to the military witness statements in recent years it was revealed that the Listowel volunteers burned it as they feared the British were going to use it as a base. The great house a mile away in Tanavalla suffered the same fate in 1920,
Michael O’ Sullivan
Mention of the library brought Cyril Kelly back to his boyhood and a memorable visit to the library with his inspirational teacher, Bryan MacMahon. Cyril shares with us this essay which was broadcast on `Sunday Miscellany;
CARNEGIE LIBRARY by Cyril Kelly
This was the man who led us, both literally and metaphorically, from the classroom every day. This was The Master, our Pied Piper, who was forever bugling a beguiling tune, a tune sparkling with grace notes of the imagination. He’d have us on the white steed behind Niamh, her golden fleece romping in our faces. Transformed by his telling we had mutated into forty spellbound Oisíns. Knockanore was disappearing in our wake. The briny tang of the ocean was in our nostrils, bidding us to keep a westward course, forbidding us to glance back at our broken hearted father, Fionn. We were heading for the land of eternal youth, Tír na nÓg.
On the very next antidotal day, we’d be traipsing after him, into the graveyard beside the school. The narrow paths, with no beginning and no end criss-crossed the place like some zoomorphic motif. We were on a mission to see who would be the first to spot a headstone which was decorated with a Celtic design. The diligent boys leading the line were in danger of overtaking the laggards at the tail who were hissing that, in the dark recesses of the slightly open tomb, they had seen, staring back at them, a yella skull.
But, on very special days, we crossed the road to the Carnegie Library. Master McMahon told us that it was the most magical building in the whole town. Even the whole world, if it came to that. He told us that we were so lucky because Andrew Carnegie, the richest man on earth, had bought all of these books for us. We were amazed because none of us knew Andrew and we felt sure that he didn’t know any of us. As a matter of fact, not one of us knew anyone who bought books, either for us or for anyone else. Master McMahon said that the Librarian, Maisie Gleeson, was minding the books for Carnegie and, especially for the boys in 3rd class.
On our first day in the library, we all had to line up on tippy-toes at Maisie’s desk to scratch our names with nervous N-nibs on green cards. Maisie eyed us all over her spectacles, welcoming each one of us ominously by name, telling us that she knew our mothers and woe-be-tide anyone who didn’t behave themselves, particularly any boy who did not take good care of Andrew’s books.
If you have a book, boys, Master McMahon’s voice was echoing around us. If you have a book, boys, you have an exciting friend.
Drumming his fingers along a shelf, humming to himself, he flicked one of the books from its place, tumbling it into his arms. Turning towards us, he held it like a trophy in the air.
The Clue of The Twisted Candle. Nancy Drew, boys. She’s a beauty. Blonde, like Niamh Cinn Óir. Solves exciting mysteries for her father.
The Master took his time to scan our expectant faces.
Here, Mickey, proffering the book to Mikey Looby whose father was a detective. Why don’t you sit down there at that table. Read the first few chapters. See what Nancy Drew is up to this time.
Turning to the shelves again, The Master threw back over his shoulder; Sure if I know anything, Mikey, you’ll probably solve the mystery before she does. Mikey, clasping the book in his arms, stumbled to the nearest chair, thirty nine pairs of envious eyes fastened to him. Sure it’s in the blood, Mikey boy. It’s in the blood.
Selecting another book, The Master faced us once more. This time he called on Dan Driscoll.
I saw you driving your father’s pony and cart to the fair last week. Three of the lovliest pink plump bonavs you had. And what a fine looking pony Dan Driscoll has, boys.
Well, here in my hand I’m holding Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. This man is a fantastic story teller. He’ll take you to the frontier lands of America. I promise that you’ll see and smell the rolling plains of Wyoming more clearly than if you were in the Plaza cinema down the street. You’ll ride with cowboys, you’ll hear the neighing not of ponies but of palominos. You’ll meet deadly gunmen, boys, noble Red Indians. And on the headstones in Boothill, boys, you won’t find any Celtic designs. And there, in the vastness of the library, The Master’s youthful tenor voice startled the silence; Take me back to the Black Hills/ The Black Hills of Dakota/ To the beautiful Indian country that I love. By the time he was finished he was besieged by a posse of outstretched hands and beseeching cries of SirSirSir. Every one of us was demented to get our paws on that book, any book.
Spring 2018.......at last!