The Cat’s Ramble To The Slack


The Cat’s Ramble to the Slack


It’s that Birdy O’Brien wan

Her an’ her cats an’ they wanderin’

everywhere on their rambles

An’ leavin’ their doin’s for others to deal with

I’ll run them. I’ll give them slack an’ I can tell yeh.


That we should now remember.

Mae, least educated, least likely to say anything worth remembering.

Pride was it, thinking we had all the words, all the wise sayings.

It took us a lifetime of learning to know that everyone

has something worth saying, worth hearing, worth remembering.

Now, what did you say?



Martin Swords

August 2016



Remembering Mae Swords giving out yards about Birdy O’Brien,

a next door neighbour, and her cats rambles to the slack, Mae’s slack,

which Mae had to clean up before using the slack on the fire, still grumbling.  




The Cat’s Ramble to the Slack          *Number 2

For Mary (Mae) Swords

It’s an Echo

of a different voice, of other words coming back

Something that was said once, then often


It’s a Wave

Fetching over space and time

To crash, gently, littoraly, as on a beach


It’s a Ripple

In the energy of life, a blip that bleeps

Down the years, repeating, repeating


It’s a Memory

In the lore of family, a legendary phrase,

Said unwittingly, unintentionally, by a kind unlettered lady

A throwaway remark, thrown away.

A phrase, travelling through time

Crashing on this shore, falling on this page, living again

As if from her lips, hearing her voice again.


A Memory, a Thought, an Echo

A life remembered in an unexpected way.

A cat taking a shit in a coal bunker?


Martin Swords

Sept 2016



What Will Remain


What will remain?



A confusion of photographs,

a film in silent staccato.

Perhaps a recording,

that familiar voice repeating

the same words over and over.

Letters, that fast familiar signature.

You will cling to these, revisit them,

one touch away from touching .

In the closest hearts the warm feelings

of love, and loss, continue,

until they also cool or pass.

You will have and hold dear, old tales

and stories, retold, and funnier

in the telling than ever was,

wanting them to be really real.

Until they also fade.

Only this may remain.

Only this to show what was anticipated,

may remain.



Martin Swords

July 2009   


Easter Monday 2016

It’s 1916 wall to wall

Revolution is in the air on the radio

Joe is doing his meet and greet,

Meeting the plain people of 1916

It’s not working but it’s Joe being Joe.

I’m in the kitchen listening to the Revolution Cabaret.

Most of it is successfully filling the airtime, but little

Is historically interesting or real. I’m looking over

Three fields towards Moneystown,

Fields of sheep and leaping lambs, scudding clouds

And rain coming soon.

What takes me back to the Rising is the thought

That I am free to sit here, to spend a day like this,

In comfort undreamed of by people like me then.

It’s a long long way from Sackville Street in 1916

To Tiglin 2016.

I think of those who started this journey

And of the family doBaby Martin 2 sep 1952 2wn through the years

Who helped me get to here, with thanks.


Martin Swords

Easter Monday 28th March 2016

Walk A Different Road

 St Kevin's Cross

Walk a Different Road

December 21st Winter Solstice 2015

Carol Service in The Cathedral Ruins, The Monastic City, Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland


We are at the turning of the year

Here in Gleann Da Loch

This Spiritual site, this font of nature

As we celebrate Juul, Solstice Fire, Christmas,

Darkness into Light, the Turning of the Year

Here let us remember the Ancients,

 Ancient Ways, early Celtic Christian Monks

And Caoimhinn* who spoke to the fishes, birds and trees

Let us return to live with nature and value it

Repair the damage we have done on the road we travelled

‘I cannot save the world by myself, but I can play my part

Be aware, consume, waste and destroy less,

feed the birds and bees, grow more, plant a tree, plant a forest’

Maybe we cannot speak to nature as Caoimhinn* did

But we can listen; we must listen as it says –

‘Enough, change your ways,

See the light and turn to

Walk a different road’

*Saint Kevin

                                                                               Martin Swords

Thoughts on the Morning of Halloween 2015


On this day do not be afraid

The Dead mean us no harm.

The Dead are not gone, although they are dead

We carry them close with us

They are friends, family,

They are on the steps of stairs

In silver smiling frames

They are in our pockets

We keep them in the naming of hearts

We know them and we know they know us

As long as we know them, they are near

When we are gone they go with us

When it can be said ‘Who’s that’

And no one knows

Then they are gone with us

Then it is our turn to be close, for a while.


Martin Swords

Halloween October 31st 2015


article-0-03366E500000044D-308_468x286Here’s something I’d like to share with you, and beyond.
It opens as if it were a children’s poem, but it’s not
All the best




Look. Look at Sammy

See Sammy swim

See Sammy eat the fish scraps children throw

Look for Sammy at the Fishman’s shop in Wicklow

Look at Sammy’s big sad eyes

Why is he sad

Why is he here

What does he know that we don’t


For over half my life I never saw seals

I’d heard they were in other places, Orkney, Hebrides,

The outer reaches of Rathlin gulf

Now they swim everywhere, Wicklow, Bulloch,

Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Howth

From their Big House on Lambey

Why now.


 The seals are a sign

A seal of authenticity, a guarantee of change

Seals in new seas, strange fish in trawler nets

Common fish gone scarce, birds moving North

To habitats they once avoided


Signs and seals and guarantees of change

We feed the seals childlike without reading

the signs, the sadness in their eyes

Maybe through seal eyes we might see

the bigger picture of change

Maybe in time we too will have sad seal eyes,

Full of regret too late, too late for going back

Martin Swords

Mutual Friends

Mutual Friends


Little feet, little hands

Too small to skim a stone, throw a pebble

Little feet have come a long way

With many miles to go, not now

The seaside should have been a treat

A novelty in a short life of little joy

A place where brothers splashed and laughed

You should have been playing, not drowning


Martin Swords

Written in shame for Aylan and Ghalib Kurdi from Syria

Sat September 5th 2015  



doggerland-art-615It was the wet dry wet of it all

That struck the gatherers

 Is it wet or dry, is it land or sea

Sand, dunes, strange grass,

Shifting shapes, a strange uncertain place

And yet the hunting was good, fish, rabbits

They did not know it was not forever

They thought only of meals, shelter, warmth,

Days, changing seasons, weather.

Eras, or Global Events were not known to them

West of where they came from

East of the chalky hills

They had no name for East or West, for this or any place

They were cold, on the move

They moved towards the setting Sun, overland

The wanted warmth, comfort, but did not know

Yet the huge price heat would bring

To Doggerland and the world  

But they would change as everything changed

and continues to change.


South Uitsire

Low 960 Deepening SW Veering Westerly 6 to Gale 8

Moderate or Good becoming Poor



 Losing its identity

Doggerland was an area of landbridge, now lying beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age. It was then gradually flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500 or 6,200 BC. The Dogger Sandbank remains and gives its name to the Sea Area of The Shipping Forecast

Martin Swords      September 2015