Ode/Ballad to Granduncle Ted

by Attracta Fahy

i.m. Ted (Timothy) Fahy 1899-1984

I try to dig up history from dates on our family grave, to fill the gaps and narratives my
grandparents didn’t leave.
Stories buried with your bodies are sleeping in the clay, I’m sorry now I didn’t heed the
details in things you’d say.

Back then in the eighties, you in your eighties too, my weekly visits to the nursing home to
give some comfort to you.
I’d bring the lump of tobacco, a half a naggin a rum, sit and listen for an hour or two, to chat
and have some fun.

Hup! you’d say then stop mid-breath when rambling ‘bout a scheme, your cap pulled down to hide your face, the skirmish just a dream.
I knew to ask a question was regarded as a sin, so I’d wait there nodding patiently, taking
nothing in.

I do recall the odd few lines, you murmured under breath, how times were hard in those
tough years and many met their death.
The rolling hills of Killererin have secrets that they hold, with little chance of knowing now, if the truth can ever be told.

You’d plenty to say about hiding, fighting the Black and Tans, a Bayard in your pocket, and a
rifle in your hands.
The night in Lissavalley, planning an attack, the RIC were captured and naught would hold
you back.

Easter Sunday 1920 Glenrock House a pyre, with the RIC evicted, the barracks
set on fire.
Your meeting place at Addergoole wall, where every move was planned, remote and buried
under bushel, the local Sinn Féin hall.

Betrayers moved among you, but you could weed them out, the women weaving warnings
was better than a shout.
All the tales of killings, how brave your martyrs were, I never heard you speak one word of
the terrible civil war.

Three children dead, and four more sons with their father fought together, tilled their fields,
until the treaty pit brother against brother.
Blood for blood, farm divided, four against just one, and I grew up in a Collins house, a
daughter of your brother’s son.

You were an honest patriot, a follower of Dev, a worker in your father’s house, who followed
what he said.
Oh, how you loved your country Ted, how much you loved God too, all buried now in the
family grave, a place of peace for you.

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 the author’s granduncle Ted, and the Bayard gun, which was one of the artifacts at the museum.