From my childhood bed I hear
the regulars slip through the back door.
Every one of them knows his place.
My father stands behind the counter
purveyor of drink, commander-in-chief
of his own brigade.
Wheylan takes charge of the herrins
sizzling over the fire
on a homemade blackened fork.
Stories flow, of Peelers dodged,
paltry fish catches, upcoming repairs
to nets, thatch and white-wash
before the day of our National Saint,
punctuated by the kushshsh of Guinness bottles
decapped and expertly poured
by my father.
When Taylor and his lieutenant arrive
they head for the hearth, pick up
the fish with unwashed hands
and eat. My father serves, silent
until the jibes land too close.
‘Your father took the king’s shilling
and ended up a lunatic
for his trouble.’
Sniggers and laughs.
‘That’s enough out of you,’
my father shouts, ‘drink up and go!’
Taylor grins. Having successfully ruffled
the feathers of Jimmy Dineen,
he leans over the counter
to deliver his parting shot:
‘And where were your people in 1916?’
Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Wexford Archives on 20th and 27th of March 2023. The workshops were led by writer Mark Granier and archivist Gráinne Doran.