Clonfin Ambush

by Maeve Brady

History has saluted
that bleak day of February 1921
when raw eager youths
sallied forth to meet the foe.

Trailing the tricolour
along a local road
Auxies burst forth around the bend
their whining Crossley Tenders a backdrop
to the raucous singing of Swanee.

The ambush was short and bloody.
The story is told over and over.
Wounded, four dead, white flag,
Lewis gun, reinforcements
Escape, booty,
locations, relations, orations
Embroidered with an ember of decency
offered by the O/C to the Crown Forces —
which later saved him from the hangman’s knot.

The decade of centenaries is upon us.
Our time to acknowledge all, remember all.
My outreached hand, bearing a
flower, prayer, a sprinkling of earth
visits four English graves
purling the Auxies names
into a knitted geansaí
of the Clonfin story.

Journeys ended
Soldiering over
All have met in peace.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Galway City Museum  on 5th and 12th of November, 2022. The workshops were led by writer Gerry Hanberry.

Inspired by first hand recollections of the author’s father who was a member of the North Longford Flying Column.