Ruins of Houses

Ruins of Houses

In the shattered ruins of abandoned houses,
Lie secret notes on scraps of paper,
Tucked beneath the mossy stones,
Silent questions to be buried under falling needles,
Hopes and fears unanswered in the rough pine forest,
The cairn of broken plates and white clay pipes,
The thick round pot rims, orange and smooth,
Marking the commitment to the woodlice,
Of the lonely pain.

By Ruairí de Barra.

Not all childhood memories are good.
A lot can be left unsaid in mid the forests and the wilds.

Published in ‘Live Encounters’ September 2018. You can read the four poems on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.

Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/

I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work in the company of some incredibly talented people.

The image above is by Val Robus, who is a Social Media manager, photographer, and features writer. She is passionate about Sligo and Ireland and she is also very interested in adventures, food, exploring and events for both tourists and locals to enjoy.
You can find her blog here.
You can find her on twitter @magnumlady

Peters Fish

Peters Fish

Red, golden, green, the scales of Peters fish,
stretched and nailed to the curve of the dome,
held up by pious prayers, feverish pleas and hope of the wounded,
the hospital arches of yellowed stone, barred with wrought iron,
twisted and anchored deep into faith,
by head and feet, anointed shells of men, bent battered forms.

Monuments of glory, extracted from pauper’s pockets,
alms for the destitute and knives for the enemy,
brick and stone seated into the hillside,
suffer in your humanity, weep and be washed clean,
soldier return to maintain a homeland, soaked in blood.

Cassocked crucible redeemer, kneel and unto this ring press thy lips,
kiss, worship, bow, prostrate lie before fine marble,
whisper all into the grill,
bind thy limb, and mouth, choke off forbidden words,
in the darkness fear the retribution,
for untold sins at seven.

Cry out for the forgotten children,
wrapped in rags living in the doorway,
on the entrance to exalted palaces,
gleaming goods within, shining out from lust and greed,
stretching out across the broken pavement,
to illuminate the steps,
were the holy warriors bled and the drunk sleeps.

 

By Ruairí de Barra.

San Michele is a Jesuit church located in the ancient Stampace district of Cagliari, Sardinia between via Azuni and via Ospedale. The church has an attached structure, the former Jesuit Novitiate House, that nowaday host the Military Hospital.
It has a wonderful dome which seems to change colour with the passing sun and it struck me that it was like the scales of a fish changing as it moves through a sunlit pool. The beauty visible inside through the security bars and gates contrasted starkly against the beggar and the drunk sitting outside. A rich historic interior separated from the graffiti and general run-down condition of the backstreets surrounding it.
I sat for a while to take it all in for a little distance as I drank coffee and sketched, while on shore leave from Operation Sophia in the summer of 2018.

Published in ‘Live Encounters’ September 2018. You can read the four poems on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.

Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/

I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work in the company of some incredibly talented people.

The Tower of Il-Gardjola

 

The Tower of Il-Gardjola

We hear it all,
the endless message,
carved high into the battlements,
conform and heed our call.

We see it all,
the lidless eye is never sleeping,
stays dry mid widows weeping,
for the husbands who lay bleeding.

We speak the truth,
if one can hear it,
stand on faith or simply fear it,
wearily silent, remain to bear it.

We are the day,
the endless power,
the bright sunlit gleaming tower,
careless now the hour,
brings no sunset.

We are the night,
deep everlasting,
pinned in stone,
the all enduring,
the world upon its mooring,
rotates on and on.

We are the Alpha and Omega,
the cross and holy sceptre,
the welcoming open harbour,
fruit laden timeless garden,
above trembling prison wall.

By Ruairí de Barra.

The Gardjola Gardens are located in Senglea, perched on the bastion with fantastic panoramic views over Marsa, Valletta, Grand Harbour and Fort St. Angelo.
The gardens were planned by Grandmaster De La Sengle in 1551 with a lovely guard tower built on the tip of the bastions. The guard tower, ‘Il-Gardjola’, has various symbols sculpted on in such as an eye, an ear and the crane bird, representing guardianship and observance protecting the Maltese shores.
The eye on the tower is a popular icon representing Malta, featured in many brochures about the Island.
The gardens have palm trees and provide a spot to relax under the shade while enjoying the view and I visited them many times during shore leave in Malta from Operation Pontus in the summer of 2015 and Operation Sophia in 2018.

I would also take the view that it gave a signal to even the illiterate peasantry, the rulers see and hear everything.

Published in ‘Live Encounters’ September 2018. You can read the four poems on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.

Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/

I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work in the company of some incredibly talented people.

 

 

Towering Giants

rushbrooke cranes

Towering Giants.

The rusty frames have faded into the background,
beyond the comprehension of the busy lives bustling underneath,
the silent gaze of the towering giants,
steadfast vigil beside the dark river,
strangers eyes see the flaking struts,
derelict complaints can’t reach the pigeons nesting over Verolme,

These old familiar shapes once had motion,
the long lifeless chains once toiled,
hoisting plate steel upon the boom & jib,
dirt & sweat lowering bread upon the tables,
of those that climbed the ladders,
worn hands with black dirt engrained.

Tired forms slaked thirst inside the Smugglers,
read papers smudged by caulkers,
red eyed welders sat like monks,
in contemplation of the seam,
wreath in poison smoke,
attendant to the birthing bed,
of Irish Oak and Ash, of Aisling and of Emer.

Sickbed of a thousand weary hulls,
footings in the dock of industry,
outstretched arms into the air,
dismembered for the breakers yard,
to fade from memory of the passers-by,
rent asunder in the final days.

Lest the crumbling lattice remove a life,
crashing into the cool shadow below,
or casting a hoist or sheave into the channel,
hooking the weary rumbling merchants,
like the swift runs of summer mackerel,
frozen now in the rarest of snows,
as the towering giants get pulled down

By Ruairí de Barra.

The two historic cranes which loomed large over Cork Harbour for six decades were dismantled in early 2018.
The cranes were used for building ships at the Verolme Dockyard at Rushbrooke, which closed in 1984.
They have been central to the skyline of Rushbrooke, west of Cobh and across the harbour from Monkstown for over 60 years.
I passed them nearly every day and I feel the landscape will be a little less without the towering giants above us.

Published in ‘Live Encounters’ September 2018. You can read the four poems on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.

Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/

I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work in the company of some incredibly talented people.

 

Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, January 30th 1990.

The Aer Corps have a motto ‘Go Mairidis Beo’ its accepted translation is ‘So others may live’ which echos the US Air Force Pararescue motto. It stands as a statement of commitment from the people who will place the lives of others above their own.

It also is very apt to apply it to Irish sailors, who in all weathers will put to sea in small RHIBs, against the fury of the ocean and into the face of the storm to save their fellow mariners who are in peril on the sea.

On the night of the 30th of January 1990 the LÉ DEIRDRE was at anchor in Lawrence’s Cove in the shelter of Bere Island from severe gale force winds. A terrible drama was unfolding close by, the Spanish fishing vessel, Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, (Our Lady of Gardtoza) had run aground on rocks near Roancarrigmore Light, North East of Bere Island in Bantry Bay. She was taking water and she had 16 souls onboard.

LÉ DEIRDRE recieved the ‘MAYDAY’ at 2100hrs and as quickly as she could, the crew weighed anchor and headed out of shelter into the severe gale towards the distressed vessel.

The decison was taken to launch the ships Gemini to attempt a rescue, this was due to no helicopter support being available and there was no way to maneuver LÉ DEIRDRE in close to the vessel due to the weather.

Leading Seaman Michael Quinn, a native of Drogheda along with Able Seaman Paul Kellett from Dublin volunteered to crew the Gemini as boat Coxswain & Bowman respectively. The highly experienced seamen committed to their perilous task, while knowing the risks, in the face of the horrendous conditions.

L/Sea Micheal Quinn DSM

Once the Gemini manoeuvred close enough to the ‘Gardtoza’ it quickly became apparent that boarding the stricken vessel or a rescue would not be possible. Unable to board L/Sea Quinn took the decision to attempt to return to his vessel, then disaster struck. The wind & waves capsized the small boat and cast both sailors into the churning waters.

The brave comrades were separated in the darkness and an exhausted A/Sea Kellett was washed ashore on rocks near Dereen cove. Only concerned with raising the alarm and finding his crew-mate, he pushed himself through the barrier of utter exhaustion; he clambered up over the jagged rocks, as they tore flesh from his naked feet until he managed to reach a main road. A passing Garda patrol picked him up and he passed the message that L/Sea Quinn was lost out there in the blackness.

There were soon two operations underway, an RAF Sea King Helicopter arrived to successfully rescue the crew of the Gardtoza and a number of merchant vessels joined LÉ DEIRDRE in searching for L/Sea Quinn.

Sadly the next morning an Air Corps Dauphin helicopter, at 0800hrs on the 31st sighted and recovered the body of Leading Seaman Quinn, 3 miles east of the tragic scene.

Borne by comrades, L/Sea Quinn DSM is laid to rest with full military honours.

L/Sea Quinn was only 27 at the time of his death and the survivor A/Sea Kellet was only 21. Their courage and their commitment to the each other, the Naval Service and the nation is an example of the spirit of Óglaigh na hÉireann, which shone as brightly in these two young men as it has ever shone in any patriot.

In recognition of his unselfish bravery and devotion to duty the Distinguished Service Medal was posthumously awarded to L/Sea Quinn. The King of Spain also made a posthumous award of the Spanish Cross of Naval Merit in recognition of his brave attempts to rescue the Spanish crew. A/Sea Kellett was also awarded both medals in equal recognition of his bravery and dedication to duty.