The sounds of Ireland,
that restless whispering you never get away from,
seeping out of low bushes and grass,
heather-bells and fern,
wrinkling bog pools,
scraping tree branches,
light hunting cloud,
sound hounding sight,
a hand ceaselessly combing and stroking the landscape,
till the valley gleams like the pile upon a mountain pony's coat.
The Farmer's Son
[T. D. Sullivan]
Where'er are scattered the Irish nation,
In foreign lands or on Irish ground,
In every calling and rank and station
Good men and true will always be found;
But 'midst their masses
And ranks and classes,
When noble work must be dared and done,
No heart's more ready,
No hand's more steady
Than the heart and hand of a Farmer's son.
His homely garb has not fashion's graces,
But it wraps a frame that is lithe and strong;
His brawny hand may show labour's traces,
But 'tis honest toil that does no man wrong.
For generous greeting,
For social meeting,
For genial mirth or for harmless fun,
'Midst high or low men,
'Midst friend or foemen,
Oh where's the match for a farmer's son?
Over you falls the sea light, festive yet pale
as though from the trees hung candles alight in a gale
To fill with shadows your days, as the distant beat
of waves fill the lonely width of many a western street.
Bare and grey and hung with berries of mountain ash,
Drifting through ages with tilted fields awash,
Steeped with your few lost lights in the long Atlantic dark,
Sea-birds' shelter, our shelter and ark.
OH has retired, and we now venture off on "day-trips" to various places. He is now entitled to free travel on bus and train, and this has opened a whole new vista. Some of his great travel plans come to naught; being more experienced than he with Ironród Eireann, I am somewhat underwhelmed with the Dublin to Waterford train. Over the years while he was working and the girls were at school, I usually paid an annual summer visit to a relative; my journey taking me to Athy in Co. Kildare, on the Dublin Waterford line. I have an abhorrence of the area known as Hazelhatch. I am sure that the people who live in Hazelhatch are perfectly wonderful; but they have my sympathy. Two and a half hours sitting a mile out from Hazelhatch on a train that has chosen to sit down, when I pick my annual day out, has not enhanced the Dub/Wat line for me. This is not an odd hiccup. No, it is more of a regular feature.
The last trip was 40 minutes delay [I was flabbergasted when the train started to move], the one before that we sat for 1hr:58 minutes, two and a half hours the previous one...why didn't I just drive down? Well, the rewards for taking the train [when it travels as per schedule] are hares dancing in a field, cattle running across another field to look at the train, a lone white horse with windblown tail and mane standing in a boggy field. On the return journey the rewards are manifold, the setting sun lying golden across the green fields, colouring the May [Hawthorn] and elder bushes, rabbits grazing 'neath the shelter of a ditch or low wall; calling to mind Watership Down, and tractors, days work done, heading back to the farmyard. This is MY Ireland. The 9p.m., train never sat down yet, Hazelhatch or otherwise.
We have agreed, pro tem, that he and some of his recently retired friends can take the Waterford trip, lunch and a few pints, a boy's day out while I get on with whatever it is I want to do. In two weeks time we are heading down to Galway for the day. Train to the city, bus to Salthill, lunch in the Galleon restaurant, stroll along the prom, bus back to train and home by ten. T'will be a grand day no doubt. Weather permitting.
Some years ago E.D and I took this trip in March. She was treating me for my birthday and it was a Grand Day. The weather proved mild, and we got to do everything we wanted. I brought a notebook along with me to jot down anything that tickled my fancy and the conversations on the train down to Galway had me in stitches:
"...Carty said he hadn't a knee nor a knickers on him when he joined the club..."
"...pinta green stuff spread all over his face to take the redness outa that puss of his and he that high on blood pressure tablets..."
"...mind you, Mickeleen The Ferret said yer man's very nice, not like most as come down from Dublin with their uppity *D4 idea's..."
"...herself at home couldn't go to the Barnabullia dinner dance 'cos she had to stay home and watch them Kardizzynan's on dat show, now they've got the sattylite..."
There's nothing like a country train to hear all sorts. Reputations are made and broken, news is passed along and all of life is there. Irish life that is, and long may it, in it's uniqueness, last.
"...told him them cattle of his had the scour, OOOH! yes, powerful bad it was too, but looka, would ye tink he'd listen...vet is drivin' 'round town in his big jeep on de profit he's making on them cows and their effen scour so he is...l
I am look forward to our day trips; some by car and some by train. We dine out in local hotels and restaurants, and my face is nearly like stone nowadays trying not to laugh out loud and "make a holy show" of myself.
"Ah! Ireland, Mother Ireland, on your own facing the Atlantic spray, 'tis God's own gift I was born here!". A quote from my Father, who loved his native Kerry and wore his county pride like a blanket.
* D4 a very wealthy area of Dublin full "glamorous people; one of the most desirable area's to live in in Dublin.