Touching the Past

We love to be in places

Where our loved ones have been before

It feels a lot like touching them

In touch with days of yore

It’s like a relic or a souvenir

A secret lock of hair

An item blessed by closeness

To the one who is not there


I often think of Slinaun

That little cottage there

And the children of that family

Who left for life elsewhere

My grandfather to England

To work hard down the mine

Three sisters to Chicago

Beside Lake Michigan


My mother’s home in Erris

A place that we know best

All our family holidays

Happy in the west

To be inside the schoolhouse

Where mammy first learned rhyme

Excelled in Irish language

And Alice Milligan


And suddenly it occurs to me

Another crossing place

My father near Jerusalem

North Africa to face

Passed by the very area

Where his uncle Owen died

In the war that went before

Where a sniper’s bullet fired


How strange then that their paths should cross

All dutiful in war

Here Owen died now you go on

I’ll watch you from afar

And you get home to Tyldesley

And tell them when you do

We tried our best our John and I

And we did it all for you


Brian Fahy

3 January 2022


+ Two of my father’s uncles, John Trumble and Owen Trumble, died in the First World War. John was killed in May 1916 in France.

Owen was killed south of Jerusalem on 26th December 1917. He had crept out into ‘no man’s land’ to try and rescue a wounded soldier when he was killed by a sniper’s bullet.


My father must have passed by very near to that place on his way to North Africa to join the Desert Rats as they fought against Rommel.

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