down boreen tired cottage waited

I lived in a tumble down Famine-era cottage, just outside Mountmellick, Co. Laois in Ireland. A scared dog was found shivering in a shed after I moved in. Mice populated the false ceiling. The lights came on automatically, when it rained. There was no sink, just a tap on the toilet wall. The thatch had more weed than reed! Some of my happiest days were spent there over a year. When the ceiling collapsed, I moved out.


  • Down boreen a tired cottage waited,
    thatch tinted grey, braided with weeds;
    quaint, half-collapsed, famine-era dated,
    above ceiling, mice multiplied full-speed;
    vermin gristle kittens quickly crunched
    under kitchen table, I gagged as I lunched.

    Frequently tapping, black Remington clattered,
    long letters, uneven poems, sceptical screeds
    to unsuspecting editors: scripture mattered;
    to pertinent peer-critics, I now concede –
    “Hemmings, like hammer flying through
    plate glass window” – zeal of convert new.

    No female muse but Daisy, crazy dog
    and kind companion, often led the way,
    up overgrown lanes, through old bog;
    faithful, she would willingly obey
    instructions, unlike her muddled master:
    angels frequently rescued him from disaster.

    Hapless, with blunt saw, I vainly pruned
    litchen mottled, ancient apple trees;
    wind rocked ladder, transistor tuned
    to World Service, ever-increasing breeze,
    rain spattered spectacles almost obscuring
    my amateur effort, end result not assuring….

    Before departing that memorable dwelling
    miracles manifested: hidden hundredfold
    buried bulbs started secretly swelling,
    daffodils shot bullet buds, yellow-gold:
    troops of flower flags breezily unfurled
    – dumb-struck by God’s colourful world…


    ‘boreen’ – a small country road


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