The Coracle

A tribute to Seamus HeaneyFisherman carrying a coracle

Such was their faith
that they sat into their coracle
a light wicker worked boat
clad in animal hide.
Pushing off from the shore
into the tumultuous unknown
firm in the belief
that God’s guiding hand
would shape their destiny.

I now push
out into the unknown
Sea of whatever will be
from the same tradition
in the same firm faith of
noli timere.

Mervyn Ennis

Mervyn Ennis has an M. A. from University College Dublin in Social Work. He recently retired as head social worker from the Irish Defence Forces after 21years service in the Personnel Support Services which he helped found in 1992.


Staring at my mother’s coffin I weep, not as I should
But as I would have if I were still a boy in school shorts,
Football jumper torn at the elbows and awaiting her touch,
Gentle words healing as I am set to peeling potatoes
While she tells me a tale of Ned Kelly, and the troopers
Always a day behind, because they were kith and kin,
Their mounts sniffing the wind and pulling up lame
Whenever it suited them, it was all a jolly game,
And there was always the lad who had danced with Kate,
Though later she ran away and joined Skulthorpe’s crowd
And came to a sad end, who never married, but buried her.
Our father had a different slant on the matter but demurred,
There being no point in reviving that particular civil war.
So I wept for want of a lost love, as all sons their mothers.
The Dutch priest had done with his softly spoken Latin
That sits behind anything he’s ever said from the pulpit,
Memories of a mother and the horrors of that last war,
Two more winters of privation and officials at their best,
School, land, emigration to a savage place, now this.
My father could not weep any more, all had been drained,
Purged and stripped to the point of utter transparency.
So the parish ladies muttered, claiming a man ought weep
Just as they had, but harder, as if their lamentations
Weren’t enough to overflow our front parlour and chapel.
They didn’t see what later I witnessed as he wept,
Fingers stumbling across a wooden ruler as he played
‘Tabhair dom do lamh’ whilst The Chieftains gave it their all,
And this house grieved for want of her gentle warbling.
Some of us will become ghosts before our due time,
As though the angels are tidying up our loose rhymes.


Edward Reilly  MA (Deakin / Irish Literature) & PhD (Victoria Uni. / Poetics), founding editor of Azuria (Geelong Writers). His poems & criticism have been published in Australian & overseas journals, and he been known to participate in Bloomsday.