Memories of Devlin’s Quarry

I prayed that the Lord would keep my children safe as I lay in the ambulance. Soon I would leave the
green fields of North County Dublin behind, to enter the suburbs of the spreading city. What would
await me there and why was I feeling so ill? I stared apprehensively through the window, as the last
of the green fields disappeared from view, to be replaced by terraced houses and grey blocks of flats
with depressing concrete forecourts. Green grass was at a premium here. Tears filled my eyes. ‘Yet,
still you are my Shepherd, Lord. For even in the midst of grey concrete, you make me lie down in
green pastures.’ Yes, I felt His reassurance, and, in faith, I leaned on the Lord, my Shepherd.
“Don’t worry,” said the kind ambulance man. “Everything will be o.k.” I looked anxiously out as the
ambulance pulled in beside the great doors of the Dublin hospital and I tried not to worry about my
children at home. Just as I have no memory of actually getting into the ambulance, I have no
memory of how I came to be in that hospital bed. Feeling very tired and ill, my thoughts dwelled on
far away green pastures and the still waters of youthful days. “Think about all the nice things,” my
mother would say when we would have difficulty sleeping. And so, I thought about my native green
fields around the cathedral city of Armagh and the still waters of Devlin’s quarry where as a child I
would sit and dream through many seasons. I saw a kingfisher there once, a flash of blue on a grey
summer’s day. For me it was a beautiful memory caught in time, which can never be erased.
Devlin’s Quarry represented escape for me – escape from the harsh reality of a rigid school system. I
would walk home through the fields past Devlin’s Quarry to our ancient farmhouse and often, en
route, I would rest quietly by Devlin’s quarry and watch the bird life and the pike jumping in the
waters. But my mother worried about Devlin’s Quarry; my little brother ran away from school once
but thankfully we found him – fishing at Devlin’s Quarry. The cold still waters of the quarry had a
silent, terrible beauty about them and I believe that someone may have drowned there once and yet
I loved Devlin’s Quarry. A multitude of sweet birdsong would soothe my young thoughts and the still
cool waters bathe my feet on a hot summer’s day.
The old white-washed farmhouse has been replaced long ago as many decades later I stroll in the
green pastures of my youth. I try to revisit the quarry but a harsh voice calls to me: “You are
trespassing!” Startled, I am swept back to childhood days and a teacher’s voice echoing in my ears.
In a quiet voice, which tails off I say: “sorry, I lived here once. Long ago. This place has special
memories for me…” I retrace my steps, my eyes brimming with tears. Then I remember that nothing
can steal beautiful memories from us. My mother has departed to a fair land where worries about
her children are no more, but I feel her smile and I hear her reassuring voice: “Think about all the
nice things.” One of these days I feel the promise that I will rest and dream by Devlin’s Quarry again.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”