Written after a visit to the old Mellon Homestead in the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone.
I remember long ago beside the warm turf fire,
Father resting in his chair before he did retire;
Oil lamp with double burner sitting on the shelf,
High up out of reach, from someone like myself.
The newspaper it was poised so as to catch the light,
Enabling him to read it in a glow that was not bright;
Plug tobacco’s heavy fragrance hung upon the air,
Nowhere I have ever been, does that scene compare.
Griddle, pot and pan at that hour were all at rest,
For supper, soda farl and pancake, butter of the best.
Then to bed under patchwork quilts we lay down to sleep;
But first our prayers to the Lord for us to safely to keep.
When grown I walked the loanin along by the dry-stone wall,
That far off sad departing I here now recall;
Mother kissed me on the cheek a tear within her eye,
A sister trudged beside me racked by sob and sigh.
Father shook me by the hand and told me to take care,
And remember all of them I was leaving there;
Aware of my crunching boots, I looked back in final nod,
My future to America, I placed before our God.
Passing the School where I was taught, on that far off morn,
I vowed to write to one and all, just there where I was born;
Believing I was on my own, I happened to look round,
The dog he had followed me, padding along the ground.
I patted him upon the head and ordered him back home,
No longer would we hunt and fish, o’er the hills to roam;
He just stopped and stood there as I went beyond his view,
Never to see each other again; this he somehow knew.
Years have passed since I was warmed beside the burning turf,
I’ve climbed mountains high, seen valleys low and the Pacific’s surf;
Here in my adopted land, I have dallied and I’ve wrought,
Conflict I have faced; I have hunted and I’ve fought.
But in the gloom of evening, when each day is over,
I see whin bushes blooming, the shamrock and the clover,
Bramble intertwined with thorn along the lanes of home;
In the land of Erin from whence I was to roam.
Monty Alexander 23.11.97