Slow is the swan along these tracks well torn,
my feet tire in soft shoes that follow google
as scavengers’ swim in closer to my scraps-
braver the bird when hunger’s the only hold.
Swift runs the water as if it didn’t want to stay,
there are locks but not all lakes can be held,
not every belly can hold so much emptiness
and Naomi not the sweet swan to set you free.
Slow is the pace from midland to new world,
a shot rings out, rumbles from feather to wave-
but too late is the fall for the rest who fell,
bodies are buried at sea and only time forgets.
In 1847, the worst year of the Great Irish Famine, 1490 tenants were evicted from the estate of Denis Mahon in Strokestown and escorted 167km on foot along the Royal Canal to Dublin where they were shipped off to Liverpool and from there put onto ships, like The Naomi, setting off for the New World. Denis Mahon was later assassinated in November of the same year while almost 1/3 of those who set out on the route to Dublin, the coffin ships and Canada never made it.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly