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In A Church In Kilmaine

Last Friday night I sat in my garden, with my husband, drinking wine in the late afternoon sun.

I had discovered earlier that that day would have been the 35th birthday of a friend I met travelling a decade ago. A friend who had passed away in front of me in entirely unexpected circumstances. An event which even now, causes me to think, “did that really happen?”

My Irish heritage dictates that when remembering those taken from us, an alcoholic beverage must be raised in their honour and imbibed. So it seemed fitting to be sitting in the garden, in sunlight, sharing wine we had saved for a special moment thinking of that time a decade ago and a good man gone too soon.

Ever since those events a decade ago this sentiment has stayed with me: “anything can happen”. It may be good. It may be bad. Whatever it is, it’s possible.

The next day, after a morning in the garden with my family, I took the train into London to meet my sister (and I wrote a poem on the train; on to that shortly) and after cocktails, as we were walking towards Hyde Park to see Take That, I noticed the window of a car we were walking alongside wind-down. As I did a double-take (quite a few of those) the occupant of the car gave me a nod and said hello.

As I said: this is life and anything can happen.

You can be walking down the road and your teenage crush, Robbie Williams, who was blu-tacked on to your walls when you were 11, can pull up, wind-down his window and say hello (you can then totally embarrass yourself and basically act like you’re still 11 even though you are a married, professional, mum of two in your (almost) mid-thirties). I think we can conclude that Saturday was a good day.

Anyway, back to the poem I wrote on the train.

The week before last we were in Ireland for one of my cousin’s weddings. It was a classic summer’s day in Ireland: thundering rain interspersed with bright sunshine and rainbows.

The church we were in in Kilmaine, a small village in the rural West of Ireland, has been connected to my family for many years. My grandfather (who died when my father was young) is buried in the graveyard opposite. My cousin’s parents married there, as did her sister and it is a church in which my family has celebrated and commiserated. Today we were celebrating.

It is a tradition in parts of Ireland for the neighbours to light bonfires before the wedding, lighting the way as the bride leaves her home. I thought of these fires as we sat in the candle-lit church listening to rain.

This church and this wedding of two sweet souls who met in a bar in County Mayo, is to me what life is about.

It’s about love and connection and knowing that anything can happen.

wedding poem

In A Church In Kilmaine

In a church in Kilmaine

We listened again,

To sweet words of love;

Rain thundered above.

Octaves swirled the spire

As rain smouldered fires;

Wood wild and wind-strewn

Since the bride left her home.

We witnessed vows taken

Hands (and window panes) shaken.

We clapped and we cheered

At that first kiss so dear.

We emerged into light,

Having witnessed the might

Of this love and its power.

The rain?

“Sure it was only a shower!”


In a hundred years’ time

May their grandchildren find,

By burnt land or book

When they come to look,

A record:

Of this day of this year,

The love that passed here

Won’t be written

But will be known,

In our blood, in our bones,

In the quiet tombs outside

Where our ancestors lie.

In this church in Kilmaine,

Love will remain.

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