Ballad of a cattle dealer, Joe Cunnane Snr.

A few times, on behalf of others, I have tried to capture other people’s grief and sadness in my poems. A new Twitter friend of mine was missing their recently-deceased grandfather, who had taken her to the cattle marts since she was five years old.

Having recently spent 70 days immersed in a rural location, I promised to try and capture her farming / dealer granddad. She gave me a bit of description about him and so I set about trying to capture the essence of who he was. She was very happy with the end result.

cunnane portrait

I’m longtime livestock trader, Joe Cunnane,
I travelled all over, on hedge-blinkered lanes
often in old days, after far flung parish dances,
next day a bit of dealing, if given half a chance.
 
Many a day I travelled, alone to faraway fairs,
absent as a father, sometimes whispered prayers,
my wife very capable, minded family and farm;
God’s angels always hampered possible harm.
 
Some say I’m keen to make a pound or two,
I’ll find good milking cows to richly bless you;
atmospheric marts much loved, they energised,
much-admired animal muscles and equine eyes.
 
Long my grand-daughter now dealer-trained,
unafraid of farm muck, or calf birth-blood stain;
she’ll farm with her father, my first born son,
together developing what I long ago begun.
 
on Saturdays I sup tea, sitting by hearth fire,
tell me the all latest news, of such I’ll never tire:
I keep up to date with many family and friends,
I’ll tell some dealing stories with punchline end.
 
on Sundays I attend Mass, leading hymn-singing,
ninety years now I’ve heard Angelus bell ringing;
I’ve lived a happy life, long-loved in marriage
– my time nearly up, order horse-drawn carriage.
 
horses long loved, when few farmers had tractors,
horses once rural royalty, beautiful benefactors;
let horses lead me on, as I breathe my last breath:
no more ploughs to pull but bless me in my death…
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