The Journey

Horse and cart

Two men sit either side

Behind above around them

A light and brooding sky

They say farewell to Mayo

Himself and Millington Synge

The Guardian paid them handsomely

But so much more they bring


Paintings done in Erris

Walks upon the strand

Geesala in their memory

Belmullet where they land

And fireworks in Carter Square

A little girl she holds the hand

And miles of bog and no one there

And poverty perfumed the air

And the Playboy came to stand and stare

And wasn’t it just grand


That fateful journey brought so much

To artists now who brought their touch

To write and paint the life out there

Beyond most people’s look or stare

The Erris of the long ago

The Erris too that I still know

The western edge Atlantic way

Where rain is king

Did you save your hay?

The bleakness and the blessed day

The sun at evening

God bless all here

My mother’s land

The smile the tear

American Wake

The going away

Those left behind

The livelong day


The brooding cloud that threatens rain

The yellow sun declining

And heads turned back

Will we come again?

Will we ever see their likes again?

They had seen some things they had never seen

The cold the damp the sullen clothes

A forgotten people God only knows


Thank God we now have better days

And people come to stand amazed

At Erris beauty sea and shore

It stole my heart when young astor

As writing painting recreate

For Millington and Jack B Yeats

That journey that they took of late

In Erris long ago


Brian Fahy

21 October 2021


+ In 1905 the Manchester Guardian employed the writer, John Millington Synge and the painter, Jack B Yeats to journey into the west of Ireland to report in words and sketches on conditions in that western world. As well as the articles for the newspaper, that journey produced the play, Playboy of the Western World, and many paintings by Yeats. One of those paintings is entitled A Farewell To Mayo (1929).

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