Poem: The Stones of Culdalee

Poem: The Stones of Culdalee
Poem: The Stones of Culdalee

By Timothy Walsh

Culdalee

We took the winding road west from Aclair,
arrived at where we thought the turnoff should be,
the boreen so overgrown you’d hardly know it had ever
been the way.
We waded down through the uncut field, down the steep
hillside to the wild valley below.
Thankfully, the cottage still stood,
looking much as it did when I saw it last, forty years ago.

“Culdalee,” my cousin said. “Culdalee,”
saying the syllables that had dropped so sweetly
from my grandmother’s tongue.
Culdalee, where I had gone with her once as a boy,
the place already a ruin.
But still the old stone cottage stood,
the roof gables and chimney proud against the sky,
the thatch having fallen in fifty years ago,
the massive hearthstone an earthquake could not unseat.
We could light a fire here and cook a meal
as my ancestors did these three centuries past.
Irish was spoken here, only Irish,
though they had English enough for the wider world as well.
Winnie, Anne, and Austin were the last—
an old picture of them I treasure—
and old Kate Kilmartin—Kate who lived to a hundred and eight,
from before the Great Famine to the Second World War.

We walked across to the ancient ring fort where I’d played
as a child, as my father did before me,
knelt beside the stream where two forks converged,
a brogue of birds in the blackthorn
the hawthorn and hazel obscuring the Giant’s Grave
across the grassy meadow.

Later, back at Tom’s place in Tourlestrane,
we lamented the death of Jack,
wondered who’d tend the sheep farm
high in the Ox Mountains—
a “sky farm” they call it, a sky farm
because up there it seems you must be
harvesting the sky.

The next day, we rode the winding rode west from Aclair,
arrived at where we knew the turnoff would be.
We walked the uncut field, down to the shambling,
moss-grown cottage.
We stood beside the massive walls, rested our hands
on the rounded stones
as if listening to the old place speak.
At last, my son selected one of the fallen stones
at the wall’s base
to trundle back through the airport
and place on our mantel back home.

Leave a Reply




Share



More Articles

Photo: Conor McCourt McCourt Video Analysis and Investigations Inc.
Frank McCourt Prize Awarded

Above, left to right: Writers Brendan Costello, Mary Pat Kelly, John Kearns, Emily Ren, and Malachy McCourt. Ren was...

More

Kevin Jack McEnroe, author of Our Town. Partly visible is the first tattoo McEnroe got – an eight-circle celtic cross found in the Book of Kells.
“I Believe in Her:” An
Interview with Author
Kevin Jack McEnroe

At 29, Kevin Jack McEnroe calls his grandmother, the actress Joanna Moore, his “guardian angel.” He credits her,...

More

Ireland's first Fiction Laureate Anne Enright takes out questionnaire.
What Are You Like?
Anne Enright

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of...

More

Left to Right: Miss Emily, by Nuala O'Connor; The Accident Season, by Moïra Fowley-Doyle; and The Negotiator, by Senator George Mitchell.
Review of Books

Miss Emily By Nuala O’Connor The Irish put great store in spinning a narrative around every small thing,” quips...

More