(The Past is) Another Country

A lovely surprise in the in-box this week. An email from Chris Murphy in Manchester, with a photograph of his grandfather, Michael Higgins, of Lisacul. Michael left home in the 20s for Manchester and married Lily. They had two children: Kevin and Eileen.  Eileen is Chris’ mother.

Chris also attached two poems inspired by his visits to Lisacul and speaking with locals who remembered Michael.


Leaving Lisacul

Did you turn a last time Michael
Before you walked away
From where you’d grown
From all you’d known
From where you’d meant to stay

Did you pause upon the crossroads
At the dawning of the day
As you left behind your country
In the hope of work and pay

Did the rising light behind you
Throw a shadow to your past
Did it linger there that moment
Was it gone then, not to last

Did you turn a last time Michael
With your wild black curly hair
Farewell dear Feigh, I’m leaving you
And all that I know there

The Return

I went to find your fields
I walked a while your way
I saw the shadows falling
On roofs that once were hay
I saw the stonework overgrown
Where a cottage once had been
Nature’s victory no defeat
For I too grew from green
I spoke to faces that I knew
Though I’d never met before
I shook the hands of those that stayed
The hardship to endure
I turned to look back Michael
As the light began to fade
The walls that once were Cassidy’s
And the lane on which you played
I thought about a time and place
That I would never go
I thought about a labourer’s face
I never got to know
But solace in the knowledge
That your journey is still true
You started something Michael
For I began with you