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Picture 11969887, photograph, circa 1925, image copyright Mary Evans / Everett Collection

The House, Thoor Ballylee
by Catherine Phil MacCarthy


‘And what if my descendants lose the flower

Through natural declension of the soul … ?’

W. B. Yeats, Meditations in Time of Civil War, IV



What might you have foreseen?  The way that rain

teemed all autumn on the ragged elm

so fields were flooded and the river rose

on your precious acre of stony ground?


How water crept round the ancient tower,

and swept old trees in the eyes of the bridge,

immersed the road, welled up the winding stair

so that each intake of breath was a magnet


for a river in spate and the torrent flowing in

the chamber window met waters flowing out?

That table, of trestles and board where you wrote,

a fire of turf in the open grey hearth:


and know whatever flourish and decline

these stones remain their monument and mine.



© Catherine Phil MacCarthy, from The Invisible Threshold, published here by kind permission of Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2012

Picture 11969887, photograph, circa 1925, image copyright Mary Evans / Everett Collection



Catherine Phil MacCarthy has published five collections of poetry (and a novel), most recently Daughters of the House (2019) and The Invisible Threshold (2012), both with Dedalus Press, Dublin. Her poems arise often from wonder and the quest to understand, explore the primal power of attachment and desire, and deliver experiences of what it is to be human. They observe our connection to the world around us, and the threatened natural environment. She received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, and is a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review. She was born in Co. Limerick, and has lived in Dublin since 1987.


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