My grandmother was baptised ‘Biddy Carey’

Not Bridget now but Biddy written down

The ancient book of entries 1876

Gives Peter Carey Mary Gaughan

And Biddy newly born


And in that year a local priest was banned

Suspended from his duties in that land

His name was Joseph Foy aged 35

And given to drink hence the reprimand


But the power of the priest is here to stay

The blessing and the curse to cause dismay

And many people took his part

Sympathetic to his case

A good excuse to oppose the Church

Their freedom to embrace


I remember evenings listening to the craic

Back there in Erris when my time was slack

The stories that you’d hear

The wonder and the fear

The truth or falsehood very hard to crack


The grave of Father Foy in Ballina

Is now a place of pilgrimage aha

And people with their troubles

Recognize a kindred soul

And go to him to help them

His power to heal they call


Biddy Carey then a widow gave my mum advice

Give the priest respect and stay well clear

She had a house of girls to watch

And priests they do not marry

And human nature what it is

Better not to tarry


Today we get our stories from the telly

The news about the world from end to end

And the real news the local stuff

Is cruelly relayed in heartless texts

And messages the human cost displayed


We have lost a lot of kindness in the telling

Compassion we could say

Is going out of fashion in our day

Whereas the stories I heard in Erris

Round the fire or at the bar

Were full of humour liveliness

Great craic was in the air


Biddy died in ‘62

I have visited her grave

It looks across the bog and out to sea

And the name upon her gravestone

Is ‘Bridget’ formally

But every one called her Biddy

And she’s Biddy now to me


Brian Fahy

12 December 2021

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