LIMERICK BW238-Edit

Barrington’s Pier

Along the Shannon runs a path paved with my life’s memories.
If trees could talk they would speak to me as friends,
Of childhood recollections and sunny Sunday walks
Where I ran and played Hide and Seek with my sister,
Where I strolled with my parents burdened by the grief of her loss,
Where I rowed as a schoolboy and watched sunsets on the river.
Where I sprinted, as an athlete, with Olympic dreams-
Where I sat with my father and talked about his grave illness.
Where I walked hand in hand with the girl who would become my wife.
Where I held my baby son as he took his first steps.
Where we spoke of dreams and plans; our future looked so bright.

The years passed and a new life beckoned in a distant town:
Happiness, success, our plans fulfilled with little reason to frown,
I returned and trudged that path again with news that rocked my world.
Time stood still, disease had struck, my wife gone to the Lord.
For a moment the mighty Shannon beckoned that November day-
The impact on my son helped keep those thoughts at bay.
Time moved on, that darkness gone, my mind is yet again clear.
Two little girls brightened up my life with laughter and good cheer.
I want to hold them by the hand and walk that path once more
And speak of fairytales and dreams and stories of before.

042

The Blind Musician

He squatted on the cold ground that freezing winters day.  He was indifferent to the weather and oblivious to the traffic that passed close by. He was lost in his music, and captivated by the rhythm and melody of the tunes that were his living and his life. The sweet sounds came from his very soul and his two brothers played along in perfect harmony.  He was an uninhibited banjo player and he played as if it was an extension of his body. But those who were knowledgeable claimed that his best instrument was the Fiddle and described him as one of Irelands finest musicians. Occasionally he would introduce some diversity into his performance with a few tunes on the Tin Whistle. He could play classical music if he thought he had a knowledgeable audience but mostly his raw talents were lost on the unresponsive passers by.

His name was Joseph ‘Hanta’ Dunne and his large family depended on the daily contents of his shoebox and the kindness of strangers. He and his brothers were settled travellers and they had inherited both the gift of music and the curse of blindness from their forefathers. They were known as the Blind Dunne brothers and no festival was complete without their presence. They had a deep routed love of the traveller style of Irish music and the melodies just flowed from them. Such talent deserved a national platform and the rewards of countrywide success.

No such luck for these inoffensive performers! Through accidents of birth their stage was limited to the streets of Limerick. No records, no concerts, no recognition, no fans. They were unwelcome in some quarters, persecuted by Gardai for busking and scorned by a spiteful few. But their music and culture prevailed. They were torchbearers and the flame that passed from generation to generation remained unquenched. They have long departed this world but their legacy remains. A new generation of musicians have inherited their talents and a more enlightened and educated society has given silent recognition to Hanta and his brothers for helping to influence the spread of Irish music and keeping their traditions alive.