John O’Shea was a native of Bantry, and the father of Liz Campbell, Editor of The Grapevine. In the early days of The Grapevine, he used to write short articles for the magazine detailing his memories of growing up in Bantry. One of these was a poem he wrote as a young man, while living in the UK. John passed away in May 2012, so to mark his anniversary, we re-produce here the article, and the poem, which is dedicated to all the Irish living abroad….
‘In a moment of inspiration many moons ago, before we moved home to Bantry, I wrote a poem that I thought would strike a chord with Irish exiles spread throughout the world. I had completely forgotten it, but it remained in my memory and for what it’s worth, I give it to you – at least to you who may find that it brings back memories of days gone by home in Ireland.
Ireland, our homeland, away o’er the sea,
Listen, thy children are calling to thee,
Sadly, we stand on a far distant shore,
But our hearts on the wings of remembrance still soar.
In our youth on thy hills and thy valleys so green,
We played with abandon, the future unseen.
Oh, those days from God’s Bounty so carefree and gay,
On the river of time have flown sadly away,
Still we dream, and in dreams see thy arms open wide
Calling us homeward on each flowing tide.
And our hearts , from the bonds of our exile are riven,
And we rest in thy bosom, our wand’rings forgiven.
This is the only poem I have ever written, and some will no doubt say, “a good job too”, but a bloke has got to get these things out of his system!’
By John O’Shea, 1917 – 2012
Copies of John’s book, “I Remember” are still available. Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy.