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
                                  and hill
                         in Kerry,

from Killorglin to Glenbeigh
             to Cahersiveen, round
   the Ring,
       and back again,

a wall that traversed a wide ocean,
                  and somehow held,
        while a large family crossed to the
 other side.

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
                     they took
                secrets with them. Michael and
     Margaret lie quietly in their
           unmarked graves
              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
August 2001

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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