Refugees and Rescuers

My Blog today is a poem inspired by the work and bravery of the men and women of the Irish Navy on board the L.É. Niamh and L.É. Eithne. When I watched them on the Late Late Show I felt I wanted to write something from both sides of the boat.

LE Eithne



I’m sure you tasted the joy of expectation
I’m sure you tasted salt on your lips

I’m sure your heart swelled with anticipation
as the boat lifted on the crest of a blue Mediterranean wave.

I’m sure your arms were as full as your heart
as you strapped your infant tight to your breast

And gripped tiny hands to keep them close, because
there’s overcrowding on the boat and chaos all about.

I know your emotions must have been as turbulent as the sea,
leaving your home for a land unknown.

I know this, for I am a mother like you and
I would want my children to live free too.

I am sure your soul was swamped with terror
Just as the boat was swamped with waves, and

I’m sure you looked at your children
Determined not to make a choice

Which ones to take
Which one to leave

Three children
Two hands

One sinking dinghy
No life jacket.

I know you must have cried out to your God
Though perhaps your cry was drowned by the roar of the sea

But you must have known He’d heard your silent plea
As strong arms lifted you from the stormy sea

To the shelter of an Irish Naval Vessel
To hear an Irish welcome. Then

To see the light of an Irish smile
And the courage of the women

And men of the Irish Navy
Aboard the L.É. Eithne and Niamh


Eithne Reynolds

The L.É. Samuel Beckett is now in the Mediterranean continuing this great work.


Romeo and Juliet Take 2


 A recent trip to Italy was inspiration for my blog today.

Romeo and Juliet Take 2

“See yonder, that balcony, Sir
Is it not as the one in Romeo and Juliet

And why not!
Are we not in Italy

Though never in Verona … sadly …
And you unfortunately are no Romeo.”

“. . . Nor you, my sweet love,

This Morning . . .



This morning I read a beautiful piece that my friend, the poet Niall O’Connor posted on Facebook titled The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser. It struck a chord with me as I had just written a poem having found a photograph of my mother the previous evening. Rukeyser in the piece talks of poetry as “A way to allow people  . . . to feel the full value of the meaning of emotions  and ideas in their relations with each other.” Thank you for the sharing Niall. So I share this poem in its raw, un-worked state.  I don’t know if it’s the start of something bigger, or the end . . . of something I’ve been trying to say for years.


After all these years

I found her again in a photograph last night

And it’s not as if I don’t have hundreds

But this one was her . . .

Her in the middle of a party

Her in the middle of a song of laughter

With her head thrown back

Her blue rinsed hair curled too tight with

A look in her eyes that had a way of telling me

The world would come ‘round right.

Eithne Reynolds

Maybe tomorrow . . .

Erma Bombeck once said that if a woman ever needed a few hours to herself after the hectic festive season, all she had to do was say aloud:

“I think I will take the Christmas Tree down.”

According to Erma you only have to say it once and the house will magically empty within minutes. I thought about it yesterday and just as we were all going to bed I announced that I would take the Christmas tree down in the morning and Hey Presto this morning I am sitting alone writing my Blog. The Christmas lights are on and winking at me. Santa is smiling, and my beautiful furry snowman is still sitting at the piano.

Truth is I find it hard to take down my decorations. I love them. My favourite day of the year is the day I dress the house for Christmas. I venture up to the dark attic and pull out the boxes filled with my Christmas decorations. I love to open them  and re-discover each year the little ones I’ve totally forgotten about and the ones I inherited from my mother that bring to mind such memories. She too loved her Christmas decorations.

So everyone will return this evening expecting the house to be back to normal, whatever that is. But I silently wish that this was normal; being surrounded by little toys and lights that bring such delight to everyone who comes into the house.

So maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take them down. But at this moment there is a tiny Santa train running around the base of the tree and I haven’t the heart to stop it. Besides the Three Wise Men have just arrived at the manger and I think it would be very rude of me to pack them off so soon after their long journey.

My Favourite Antique

Antique Gramaphone - illustration of antique gramaphone on...

It takes 100 years for something to be termed antique and gain value. So my mother-in-law informed me over dinner last Sunday.

We were sitting at the table and out of the blue she says, “I’m almost an antique.” She is 98 years old.

She said if she was an old chair or a cabinet we’d be fighting over her. “Keep me for another two years and I will be an antique.”

I don’t think she noticed the shock on my face. Two years … I was finding this two hours hard going.

I looked at my husband. He was trying desperately to ignore the conversation.

“We’ve enough antiques,” I say. “I’m more a fan of Ikea stuff myself.

He looked at me puzzled. “I really don’t think we were  talking about furniture there. I thought we were talking about …”

That’s when I interrupt him. “I’m talking about anything that’s nearly 100,” I smile. “I can’t mind anything that old … requires too much minding and looking after… too precious.

“Are you sure we’re talking about furniture here?” he repeats.

“Of course, darling,” I say, “you know you really should pay more attention.”

The Toy Shop


The shop is no longer there

The tiny toy shop, a converted sitting room in her house

Long demolished with the street

In a wave of progress.

It was where I learned my manners, my moralitiés

In all the traditions of a 15th century Perrault tale,

A Red-riding-hood fantasy

That warns not to stray from the known path

I, being the child I was, found it hard to do that.


Christmas in my grand-aunt’s shop was magic

An Aladdin’s cave of Santas and sleighs and candy canes

All rolled up into one,

Victorian mid-terrace residence

Tinsel and lights, the scent of cinnamon and pine

colourful garlands, and baubles,

The taste of pudding,

Jangling, jingle bells . . .


Two ornamental snow bears guarded the threshold

To the rooms beyond where I strayed,

A little Tinkerbell

In my own warm, fuzzy, fairyland that day

Until I heard her shrill voice call,

Chasing down the narrow hall

To tell me not to touch a thing,

Break it and,

She’d make my father pay.


Yet on I roamed from room to room

And wandered here and there

But as I went the air grew chill

I can recall that feeling still

My feet and hands icy . . . numb,

But I could hear unseen angels sing

And a little drummer drum.


On, on I went and turned a key

into a room,

So pristine,

As if not one living thing

Had ventured there before.

I stopped wide-eyed and stared in awe

At a cabinet almost bare, except

Upon it stood a crystal ball,

gold studded,

From where the music filled the air,

That held me enchanted in its spell.

carolling the joy

Noel Nouvelet Noel


As if bewitched I reached to grasp the glittering sphere

To shake the snow, to watch it


And twirl

And fall,

To hold it to my ear

To listen

If I could hear the music play more clear

But my hands were trembling, freezing cold, and

I could not grasp the glistering globe


Shattering glass makes music all its own.

It chimes like a steeple bell . . .

And I swear I can hear it still.

Still see the snow fall, spill everywhere,

Still see the baby Jesus on an icy floor

Even as my father reached for his wallet,

Vain searching for the money that was not there to pay

Even as the music played on

Noel Nouvelet Noel chantons ici