The Peilistude

The village was small but served the hinterland well and it had a lovely bridge where you crossed the water and it was here that I grew up in a house that sat to the village side of the river, a beautiful source of fresh water for our farm.

This place was alive with wild flowers and little fish we called bods that fed on the symphony of insects that flickered in the summer sunlight to the sound of the ambling waters.

This picture and the orchestra of small birds instantly propel me into my happy childhood.

Smithstown was a magical place where water was a valued commodity and the river Arrigle was a place where we danced furiously through our innocent childhoods before the church opened dancehalls.

The little river itself served too as a townland boundary for picking teams because on the other side you’d have to play your hurling with Mulnaharigle.

My uncle Sean was the only man left in our house, my Dad was in England but we were never short and Granny and Mother were Trojan women and filled me with love for nature.

Any young lad can be distracted easily by a sliotar or a young girl but throughout it all Sean worked hard on our small farm and this handsome garsún was by now well past his wild teenage storm.

He was a noted player in a village where a good hurler was greatly prized and of course highly abused.

Girls loved him and in summertime they would sit on the bridge to watch his chiselled semi naked frame scythe hay and reek it up or tie stooks while they tossed pebbles or played games picking off petals to decide who’d get to kiss him, while he knew nothing of this distraction.

Sean carried the cup to the village after their big win, where to hurl was religion and a son winning a final was like having a priest in the family.

It was a Saturday and he was out tending cows and letting out the hens, he could hear a humming sound and then caught sight of a piebald horse drinking water at the bridge which caused him to stroll up to investigate, twas then he caught sight of her for the first time, singing away to herself as sweet as a thrush.

She had this rare kind of beauty she carried off with a smile.

She had freckles dotting her beautiful complexion like flies on freshly churned butter and because he hadn’t had much trucking with girls he was kind of spellbound by her.

It was said that you’d hardly see her face under a shock of smokey blonde hair but a sight to behold if you could catch it with the glint that dazzled her brown eyes.

Sean was brave if nothing else and drew closer to her and as he did he fell right down into the stream beneath her as though he was pushed by the full back.

Just then twas that the pale skinned girl placed a spell on him and took away his heart.

Granny came on hearing the splash and waving a straw brush she was heard shouting for miles, but it was no good cos this lass had made her mark on him and brought a pure tormentation to his mind from then out.

Our player was no more good to us, he and the little girleen with the bare feet eventually ran off together and the only trace left of the tinker family was a daisy chain of wild flowers and the smell of kipíns around the place.