The dance at the Merchant's

Some were back from England for a week

And thought to capture that which they had missed.

A night of dance and gaiety they’d seek

Replete with song, with fiddle music blessed.

They borrowed, then, the Merchant’s kitchen floor

And placed a cask of Guinness by the door

With poteen stored for those with need for more.


To Doonfeeney and Glenurla I was sent

To summon those who owned a pair of feet.

The supple young and those whom age had bent

To dance a set, both elegant and neat.

Joe Mahon with a hundred tunes in store,

Faulkner, with at least a hundred more

Combine their skills to make the rafters roar.


Accordion and fiddle found an air,

Miss McCloud was reeled into the night.

The dancers stepped together pair by pair

The oil lamp bathed us all in subtle light.

At times they swung together four by four

At times all eight around a central core:

The flagstones, then, for mercy did implore.


A bed beside the chimneybreast was built

Four-postered and with flowered curtains pent.

Where Mary Loftus lay beneath the quilt,

The haven, where her final years were spent.

Her fingers danced like those upon the floor

She remembered Sunday dresses she once wore

When she was young, at dances by the score.


Songs of emigration filled the room

The Old Bog Road as well as Noreen Bawn

Nell Flaherty’s dead Drake dispelled the gloom

As sunlight, through the window, signalled dawn.

To bed, upon my uncle’s back I slept

Till afternoon when out of bed I crept.

Until now, those memories I’ve kept.

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