“Strangers in the bosom of the brown Irish earth”
Whilst listening to a recent discussion on neglected graveyards my mind swung back to what we used to call the Old Soldiers’ Cemetery on the fringe of the Curragh Plains just behind Walshestown. Perhaps its condition today is even more sad than the many poignant scenes it must have witnessed down the years. I doubt if the following little bit will change matters!
There is a sad relic of long bygone days in the heartland of County Kildare,
Unknown to descendants of those in its keep and with no one to bother or care.
The few trees are the haunt of magpie and rook, the walls now a shelter for the sheep.
Forgotten and silent yet close by a road that winds o’er the Curragh’s broad sweep
That place heard the “Last Post” being sounded, the “Flowers of the Forest” being played,
Saw the draped carriage, the cap and the sword, the mourners in solemn parade
It remembers those children who sleeps in its shade, so many so tender of years
And the flowers that were planted with heartaches, and moistened with anguish and tears
The memories it held for someone, somewhere must be faded and long passed away.
Or maybe there are pictures in some distant home of ancestors who rest in its clay.
Soldiers, their families, young sweethearts and friends beneath now weathered tombstones repose.
In that old army graveyard so peaceful, far away from life’s troubles and woes.
They lived as a part of colonial rule based far from the land of their birth
And in death were laid there as strangers in the bosom of brown Irish earth.
All their loved ones and comrades departed when this land of ours became free
In the sadness of parting, the farewells wept at graves they would never more see.
Those who rest there today in the dirge of the rain or Winter’s wind lonely refrain
Have a promise once made of a last trumpet call and of all being together again
And of heavenly glory where it will be told how they all shared in somebody’s prayer
In that quiet spot by the side of a hill on the green grassy plains of Kildare
A poem about the Military Cemetery on the Curragh by the late Joe Dunne, Newbridge