Friday Poem

Good Night, Ya Bastard

In Ballyferriter on holidays
we stayed above Seáinín na mBánach’s shop
and some nights
a crowd of locals
and summer visitors
would return after closing time
in Daniel Keane’s pub.

We, the children, lying in suspense
feigning sleep in our beds
waiting for the soft murmur of the company
making its way up the stairs.

Things would start with a bit of a chat,
stories being told, fun being poked,
you acting as shy host
’til the Beamish gave you voice
and you called for a song.

Everyone joining in the chorus,
the hiss as another bottle is opened.

And when the revelling was over
we’d hear the people going,
down on the road in the early morning
someone shouts, “Good night, ya bastard.”
in the full of his voice on the village street.

My sorest wish
to have grown up in time,
before you died,
so I could come
to a night you organised
over Seáinín’s shop
in Ballyferriter.

And when the night was over
and the company were going
I would head for my own lodgings too
in Baile Eaglaise or the Gorta Dubha.
Before I left I would turn to you
and say “Good night, ya bastard,”
fondly, tipsily.

Colm Breathnach
from An Fear Marbh
publisher: Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Indreabhán, 1998
translation: 2007, Colm Breathnach