To all the Shea Garveys, the Garvey Sheas,
the Clifford Sheas, the Shea Cliffords,
and to the Walshes as well.
There is no sorting you out now,
uncles, aunts, and cousins,
any more than the stones in the walls
that stretch up every pasture
from Killorglin to Glenbeigh
to Cahersiveen, round
and back again,
a wall that traversed a wide ocean,
and somehow held,
while a large family crossed to the
Now the wall is down.
The rocks tumbled off somewhere
in Amherst and Northampton.
They lie scattered. There will be no
army of the poor on famine
to right it.
Peter and Patrick Clifford, the "bachelor
brothers," are now dead in Glenbeigh, and
secrets with them. Michael and
Margaret lie quietly in their
in Dromavalla Cemetery,
in Killorglin town,
while the River Laune
flows on to the sea. It keeps secrets
too. Did Brigid and Patrick once
embrace on its banks?
The census records have all been
burned in Dublin, and
there are just too many Marys and
and "Uncle Jims"
to gather up.
The wall is down.
The rocks have tumbled.
The ocean has covered it,
but in Kerry, green Kerry,
the walls still hold, and run off
chasing every point
on the horizon.
On returning from Ireland
in search of Brigid Walsh
& Patrick Shea