Surprise discovery of grandparents' poems
With new ceiling lamps being fitted in MacCarthy’s Bar in February 2020, space had to be cleared in a storeroom above so that the electrician could access wiring from that floor.
And a big surprise was waiting for Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy. What should Adrienne find while moving belongings around in the storeroom but two poems which the sisters had never seen before – one written by their grandfather Denis MacCarthy and the other by his wife Julia.
On loose sheets of A4 paper and neatly typewritten, the touching poems were annotated briefly in handwriting by Adrienne’s and Niki’s father, Dr Aidan MacCarthy (1913-95), with reference to his ‘darling mother’ and ‘dear dad’.
The poem by Julia, ‘On a dying child – by Mother’, was written on the death of Aidan’s sister Aine, only a toddler, in the flu pandemic of 1918/19, while ‘Remembrance’ was written by Denis for Julia during his illness shortly before his death in 1954.
‘The poems weren’t with any other papers or documents belonging to dad, nor in any box or folder,’ said Adrienne. ‘I was just clearing things out and there they were. If I hadn't been having the lamps replaced I wouldn't have found the poems. It was as if they were being delivered to me. It's amazing what you find.'
While lying in hospital – how void the dead years seem
The past is gone beyond recall and vanished like a dream
As boy I felt so full of life, I never could grow old
But years of work and worry have now their story told.
When I left school so long ago, a happy heedless boy
I thought the world a paradise and entered it with joy
I danced, I sang, I fought, I loved and rollicked as a youth
Until I grew to man’s estate, yet still a boy forsooth.
I filled my place, I played the game in every manly sport
And seeked not of the world, or its good or ill report
I worked, I played, I shot, I sailed and loved my dearest ‘Ju’
And the God’s crowning gift of all, I wed at thirty-two.
For all the gifts of life and light I graciously thank Thee
But more than all my Lord and God, the mate you gave to me
In sunshine and in shadow, she’s nobly stood by me
And by her life has shown me now to humbly follow Thee
The passing pain and travail is but a burden sweet
That with Thy grace, I humbly bear and follow in Thy feet
We hope and pray that you dear Lord will keep us both from sin
Until we meet you face to face, we beg this grace. Amen.
* Denis and Julia MacCarthy.
On a dying child - by Mother
My eyes are getting dark, Mother
I cannot see your face.
Come nearer to me now, Mother
And take my last embrace.
Is it not hard to die, Mother
And leave this world so fair
To part from all we love, Mother
Will God not heed my prayer?
Beloved child don’t murmur
This world that seems so fair
To your unsullied loving heart
Is filled with bitter care
God takes you in His Mercy
To fill your place above
My child, don’t fear the sentence
It’s His and of His love.
Go then! My angel daughter
Although my heart be riven
In parting thee beloved child
Go! Fill they place in Heaven.
And join the Angels in their choir
And pray to Him for me
That I may join you through His love
For all Eternity.