TAKING THE BOAT (Paul O’Brien)

 

We both came from Dublin, my Annie and me

From a place stuck between the railway and the sea

We played in the shunting yards and down by the docks

And along the canal we swam in the locks

Gone are the days when the men worked the boats

With their navvy hooks, caps and their black donkey coats

With no chance of work when we finished in school

We left Shelmalier for cold Liverpool

 

Goodbye to the North Wall, farewell Tolka Bay

From Bargy and Merchants

we’re bound for to stray

from strangford and caledon,

faith and from hope

like so many others,

we’re taking the boat

 

The ferry was full and dark was the sea

There were queues for the lounges and for duty free

We drank to our future and what was to be

I clung to the bar and you clung to me

I worked as a navvy on the roads and highways

While you worked in hotels and served in cafes

We saved a few shillings and got settled down

And bought a small flat in old Camden Town

 

Then came the children, a girl and two boys

The nurseries and schools, the clothes and the toys

Watching your accent and things you might say

Not to embarrass when friends come to play

We brought them in summer to grannies and rain

When they got older we brought them to Spain

We watched them confess, we watched them receive

We watched them grow up, and then watched them leave

 

We talk about moving but Annies not well

But she misses the crack, she frets, I can tell

But with grandchildren calling around every weekend

It’s hard to pack up and start over again

We go back now and then to visit the place

Friends have moved out to faceless estates

We still like to walk, my Annie and me

Along the East Road, where the sea used to be