The Long Walk

They started on their long walk so many years ago from Fermanagh to Belfast in wind and rain and snow.

There was Ann, there was James and with them their three weans. My great grandad was the eldest and he bore his father's name.

Far behind they left their loved ones their neighbours and their friends. They knew their native homeland they would see again.

James would take work when he could, just to pay his family's keep but far too frequent where the nights when there was no place warm to sleep.

Hospitality would be offered by a stranger now and then. They would stay there for a night or two then be on the road again.

It took them several weeks this long trek across Ireland and they must have looked so weary, quite a sad and lonely band.

From the port of ould Belfast on a steamboat called "The Rover", they would journey on to Scotand, the long walk would soon be over.

And so they found themselves in Scotland owning nothing but their name and they settled down in Glasgow, "The Dear Green Place" now was hame.

They were Irish, they were catholic, not a welcome combination in the land where Calvin ruled with self-rightous indignation.

But had they remained in Ireland a far worse fate they would have met in the form of the Great Famine which had still to happen yet.

So they faced discrimination and they took it on the chin as they manned the cotton factories in a wee place called Bridgeton.

Yes their long walk now was over and the years went by so fast and the children of their children soon forgot their migrant past.

It would still be long forgotten had I not traced my family tree and took the footsteps back again that set their memory free.

So this poem is a tribute to my ancstors James and Ann from the green fields of Fermanagh on their long walk to Scotland.

Bridget Brennan

July 1997

To Bridget's Place