The Mail Car Driver

by Mary Attenborough

On the way to the station, the air was still,
The clouds darkening above the distant hill.
At Bantry Railway Bridge, I stopped the van,
In response to a gesture from an armed man.

Warbles of a skylark, way above the land,
Were musical backing to the shake of my hand,
As I opened the back doors, containing a host
Of military dispatches, along with the post.

Of three full sacks, the gunman took one,
“On your way”, he said, “That’s me done.”
As his form receded, I realised the snag,
“Blast you, you have taken the wrong bag!”

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Bantry Literary Festival in July 2023. The workshops were led by writer Thomas McCarthy.

Inspired by an incident recounted in the witness statement of James O’Sullivan, Rock Villas, Bantry, Co. Cork. O/C, Bantry Company, Bantry Battalion, Cork:

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement