It was a ruffled evening
As we crossed the Lecarrow Canal
To dock for the night,
When out of an Alder,
A Kingfisher zipped
Crossed the bow of our boat
Alighted a moment on a berried Hawthorn,
Zig zagged down the Willow bank.
I followed the sparkle of blue as far my eyes could see.
Over a buttercup field and away.
Through the lock gate at Athlone,
We cruise downstream
Pass brown cattle grazing the water's edge.
The sun slips in and out of scudded clouds
And up above the reeds
An Osprey hovers,
plunges inky waters
And rises to fly over flooded fields.
My coat billows in the stirring breeze
As we come in to moor at Clonmacnoise.
Past the soft fields and rounded trees of Clonmacnoise
On a September noon,
The sun on the bow of our boat,
The river sparkling all the way down river.
In the grey rain of County Clare
Reeds are a rich burgundy red
As we enter the harbour at Killaloe.
I take up my post at the stern
Ropes heavy, sodden
Content that there is no wind.
We moor between a sailing boat and cruiser,
Not a centimeter to spare.
Out of wet clothes, I shower in the cabin,
The simple joy of being clean.
We head into the rain with umberellas
To check out another small town on the river
This time on Lough Derg
Soon to head South to Banagher.
Inis cealtra and Mountshannon
On the road that runs behind the harbour at Mountshannon,
Apples hang bountiful from high garden walls.
There were figs and vines too
As we walked through the maze.
All these towns along the Shannon remind me of my child years in Tramore,
Gardens lush with Fuchsia, hydrangea, climbing roses,
The old Refectory, church steeple, grey stone, mossy walls,
Walks across fields of soft sodden years
The earthy scent of September.
I almost expect my grandmother to be sitting outside a house
Knitting in hand
Passing the time of day.
A cormorant poised on a river marker,
As we say goodbye to Mountshannon harbour
And I think of the saints who came to these shores
To Holy Island so long ago.
The round tower high above the Ash and Sycamore,
The ruins of a monastic site,
A place of peace on these lakeside shores
Then and still today.