Posted by Edward Coppinger in Features.

Farewell my old friend in your last sleep
In a grave where the Clare flows past your feet,
It isn’t your parish but I know you won’t mind,
Your plot shared amongst your own kind.

Friend of my youth from boyhood to man
The last of your line—the last of your clan.
We followed your hearse on the Galway road
To join your family in their holy abode.

In sight of the Castle you knew well its lore,
And all who lived there and gone long before.
By the old Abbey you’ll always be near
And the rippling river so sweet to the ear.

You spoke of that Abbey as if still in use
Before its desecration and wilful abuse,
Urging us to seek whatever the trouble—
The stonemasons mark, an cat agus dá rubail.

The world you talked of was music to me
Of deserts and wars and wild ocean seas,
The man I became was made in them days,
Oh God how I longed to break out of my cage.

Did you as a Guru plant seeds in my brain,
To escape from a land of sorrow and pain,
Of ancestors who lived in Famine years,
That word never used because of the tears.

You told me parish history and local folklore
That nobody thought worth telling before,
Of Redcoats mapping the new route of the Clare
Or guarding gunpowder stored near to there.

The land you spoke of was mine as well
About people and times you so liked to tell,
You were a rarity in my world then grey,
How you loved the past of our old Galway.

I remember the grave when we laid you to sleep,
Where blackwater Clare almost laps your feet,
During the prayers and rituals at your last rest
I mentally recited the poem you loved best.

It was your books that opened my door
To a world closed to me for so long before,
You always knew well education was the key,
Thank you old friend for setting me free.

Edward Coppinger

Willie: A native of the same village as the author. Had a connection with Claregalway and chose to be buried there, at a good age.

Redcoats: British Army Royal Engineers had some role or roles during the Clare river bypass work, in Famine years. (Hearsay)