The Road to Glan

By Brendan Murray

A privilege to have heard
your song,
as I passed along
the road from Carrick town
to Leitrim village on that quiet sunny day in May, 1951.

I slowed, lingering,
to hear your plaintive flute notes
of the Irish Air-
“An Drinan Donn”
wafting on the summer air
through your open door,
on the rise
a mile from town..

Ebbing and flowing;
they followed me
to the hill near Leitrim village
before straying away
into the hazel woods
and fields of tillage
and singing Leitrim streams

Your weaving web of song;
tempted me
to stop and listen long
and hear your haunting air
echoing in chorus beams
from the valleys, woods and streams.

But the long long road to Glan
beckoned me on; and on
I peddled my rusty bike
wheeling left, then right
in old Drumshanbo grand;
slowing below it’s high street,
turning left again,
spinning past the Den
and house of “Tom the Boat”;
singing down the Dowra road
by Loch Allen’s golden strand..

Freewheeling down the hill
at Ballinglara,
peddling on towards Dowra
past the farm of Frank Mac Morrow,
along towards County Cavan,
till Dowra village fair
in it’s quiet haven
nestles before me there
on the rising ground.

Turning right, and tarrying along
Dowra’s old stone bridge,
I leave behind Leitrim’s roads of song
and strike along
the sandy road
by the heathery mountain ridge,
up towards Cavan’s Shannon pot,
the mighty Cuilcaghs
and the Gap of Glan –
kingdom of the Dolans
and MacGovern clan.

Onwards and upwards
and onwards I go,
green fields below me
sunny and fair,
brakes of wild briars
in the gaps here and there,
meadows of hawthorns scenting the air,
rollicking lambs on the hillocks above
sprays of wild flowers
in the siocs by the road.

Freewheeling down an incline,
cycling on again,
slowing over the long bridge,
peddling round a bend;
then, before me on the headland
in the setting sun
with turf fires smoke ascending
are the happy homes of Glan-
a pleasant peaceful scene,
the Cuilcaghs looking down,
smiling at it’s Shannon
depart for Limerick town..

In the hamlet of Glan , I alight
from my trusty rusty bike
and walk the street
over the bridge and stop
at the cross near
Dolan’s post office and shop
and MacGovern’s pub, and meet
old Johnny Ruadh and siblings of his clan,
Cathy Ruadh, Lally’s Judy and Judy’s Pat Iny,
and near home
Mary Maggie Michael’s
and little Nessa Hume.

The haunting notes of
the “Drinan Donn”
with the echoing beams
from the woods and streams,
and the lovely places
and cheerful faces
of the Mac Govern clan
on that road to Glan,
in May,1951,
follow still
along life’s hill,
and forever
in my dreams.

Taken from Breffni Blue
April 2003