Ode to a robin

Chris Grayson photographed this robin as it breakfasted on a meal worm.

Dick Carmody wrote his robin a poem.

The Robin……           

            …….companion for a reluctant gardener.

Reluctantly I kneel to tend my garden, derived of some pride, devoid of great pleasure

Painstakingly I toil to keep apace of mother nature, as weeds compete with work rate

Then I am suddenly less aware on my ownliness, a companion ever present at my side

The Robin makes his predictable welcome appearance to distract from my discomfort.

Red-breasted, he sits proud upon the boundary wall to watch my laboured movement

Takes pride in that he fanned the fire in Bethlehem’s stable to keep the Baby warm

And how the flames had burned his then colourless breast to testify his zealousness

Or was it when he pulled the thorn from Jesus’ brow on his way to cross on Calvary

And now carries his blood-stained feathers as if to show his favoured ranking.

At arms length he follows my every move, often playing hide and seek with me     

Standing tall or sometimes with head erect, motionless he stares me eye to eye 

I could believe him God-sent, no other bird in sight in hedgerow or on leafless tree

Or is it just that he sees me as his meal-ticket, as I gather and discard the fallen leaves

Exposing tasty morsels in the unfrozen ground to help him cope with winter’s worst.

I move along, hunched on bended knee, he follows cautiously close behind, beside 

Sometimes out of sight, I seek him out again and know I will not be disappointed

For sure enough he’s back again here, there and everywhere, not taken for granted

Now gardening is less of a chore as I’m gifted a companion, my new forever friend.

© Dick Carmody                                                                                November, 2013.


Listowel’s Library used to be housed in this elegant building. This is how it looked on Saturday February 17 2018. My friend, Helen, is crossing the road in the foreground.

Recent posts about the old library prompted memories for some blog followers.

Michael O’Sullivan sent us this clarification;

Hello Mary,

Everybody blamed the Black and Tans for burning the library in the bridge road in March 1921. But with access to the military witness statements in recent years it was revealed that the Listowel volunteers burned it as they feared the British were going to use it as a base. The great house a mile away in Tanavalla suffered the same fate in 1920,


Michael O’ Sullivan

Mention of the library brought Cyril Kelly back to his boyhood and a memorable visit to the library with his inspirational teacher, Bryan MacMahon. Cyril shares with us this essay which was broadcast on `Sunday Miscellany;

LIBRARY   by Cyril Kelly

was the man who led us, both literally and metaphorically, from the classroom
every day. This was The Master, our Pied Piper, who was forever bugling a
beguiling tune, a tune sparkling with grace notes of the imagination. He’d have
us on the white steed behind Niamh, her golden fleece romping in our faces.
Transformed by his telling we had mutated into forty spellbound Oisíns.
Knockanore was disappearing in our wake. The briny tang of the ocean was in our
nostrils, bidding us to keep a westward course, forbidding us to glance back at
our broken hearted father, Fionn. We were heading for the land of eternal
youth, Tír na nÓg.

the very next antidotal day, we’d be traipsing after him, into the graveyard
beside the school. The narrow paths, with no beginning and no end criss-crossed
the place like some zoomorphic motif. We were on a mission to see who would be
the first to spot a headstone which was decorated with a Celtic design. The
diligent boys leading the line were in danger of overtaking the laggards at the
tail who were hissing that, in the dark recesses of the slightly open tomb,
they had seen, staring back at them, a yella skull.

on very special days, we crossed the road to the Carnegie Library. Master
McMahon told us that it was the most magical building in the whole town. Even
the whole world, if it came to that. He told us that we were so lucky because
Andrew Carnegie, the richest man on earth, had bought all of these books for
us. We were amazed because none of us knew Andrew and we felt sure that he
didn’t know any of us. As a matter of fact, not one of us knew anyone who
bought books, either for us or for anyone else. Master McMahon said that the
Librarian, Maisie Gleeson, was minding the books for Carnegie and, especially
for the boys in 3rd class.

our first day in the library, we all had to line up on tippy-toes at Maisie’s
desk to scratch our names with nervous N-nibs on green cards. Maisie eyed us
all over her spectacles, welcoming each one of us ominously by name, telling us
that she knew our mothers and woe-be-tide anyone who didn’t behave themselves,
particularly any boy who did not take good care of Andrew’s books.

If you have a book,boys, Master McMahon’s voice was echoing around us. If you have a book, boys, you have an exciting friend.

his fingers along a shelf, humming to himself, he flicked one of the books from
its place, tumbling it into his arms. Turning towards us, he held it like a
trophy in the air.

The Clue of The Twisted
Candle. Nancy Drew, boys. She’s a beauty. Blonde, like Niamh Cinn Óir. Solves
exciting mysteries for her father.

Master took his time to scan our expectant faces.

Here, Mickey,proffering the book to Mikey Looby whose father was a detective. Why don’t you sit down there at that table.
Read the first few chapters. See what Nancy Drew is up to this time.

to the shelves again, The Master threw back over his shoulder; Sure if I know anything, Mikey, you’ll
probably solve the mystery before she does.
Mikey, clasping the book in his
arms, stumbled to the nearest chair, thirty nine pairs of envious eyes fastened
to him. Sure it’s in the blood, Mikey
boy. It’s in the blood.

another book, The Master faced us once more. This time he called on Dan

I saw you driving your
father’s pony and cart to the fair last week. Three of the lovliest pink plump
bonavs you had. And what a fine looking pony Dan Driscoll has, boys.

Well, here in my hand I’m
holding Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. This man is a fantastic story
teller. He’ll take you to the frontier lands of America. I promise that you’ll
see and smell the rolling plains of Wyoming more clearly than if you were in
the Plaza cinema down the street. You’ll ride with cowboys, you’ll hear the
neighing not of ponies but of palominos. You’ll meet deadly gunmen, boys, noble
Red Indians. And on the headstones in Boothill, boys, you won’t find any Celtic
And there, in the vastness of the library,
The Master’s youthful tenor voice startled the silence; Take me back to the Black Hills/ The Black Hills of Dakota/ To the
beautiful Indian country that I love.
By the time he was finished he was
besieged by a posse of outstretched hands and beseeching cries of SirSirSir.
Every one of us was demented to get our paws on that book, any book.


Spring 2018…….at last!