Sean Walsh

I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…

Ave Maria

Published on Thursday 23rd May 2019 by Sean Walsh

Back row, centre aisle.


A tangible stillness in an almost empty Church…

Elders moving slowly –

genuflecting, kneeling, standing –

making their way to Calvary,

treading their very own,

plaster statued, Via Dolorosa…


Re-living the Greatest Story Ever Told

in reparation for their own sins

and the sins of the whole world.



Jesus is condemned… the weeping women…

Falls the second time… Veil of Veronica…

Nailed to the Cross… Company of thieves…

Sitio, I thirst… Sponge of vinegar…

This day you will be with me in Paradise.



Stopping, betimes, to nod, whisper, chin-chin –

in-house salutations, parochial palaver –

silhouetted against flickering candles,

framed by altar lights,

passing by the stray soul nursing

a luke-warm radiator.


Pausing to petition

the Sacred Heart,

our Lady of the Miraculous Medal,

Saint Anthony,

the Little Flower:

‘grace of final perseverance,

‘grace of a happy death…

and so to the Beatific Vision.


Clink clank of copper and silver

into Offerings Box:

for the maintenance of the Sanctuary…

the new roof…

the Foreign Missions…

the poor that are always with us.


But where the crowds, the queues,

the thronging congregations of Yesteryear?

Singing out with one voice a hymn to Mary?

Whatever happened to Saturday night?..


Mary?..     Mother?..      Hi…


You came through it all with hardly a scratch,

so they tell me.

And now you’re on a direct line to Himself:

easy access,

unlimited credit,

excellent equity,

buoyant stock –

in-in-interceding for us…

All I’m asking is that you put in

a good word for me –

hoping you’ll understand,

even if He doesn’t –

so when the time comes

I won’t be caught on the wrong foot…


And look, I know you’re inundated

with all sorts of prayers and petitions.

But I’d ask you – as a special favour –

to look out for my wee one.

She’s heading for the rapids and there’s

little I can do about it…


Well, you only have to go up the town

of a Saturday night

if you don’t believe me!

Teenagers on their way to the party,

pub, disco, rave…

chattering, shrilling, giggling,

hardly aware of the elder world

about them.

‘Caring not a whit for this granite building,

dim-lit presbytery…



And in no time at all my wee one

will be one of them:

on-stream, ’full spate…

in tow, keeping up…

matching their form…

cool, laid-back, with-it…

Maybe even a leader?

In thrall to her peer group.


So please, will you keep an eye on my Jenny?

God knows, she could do with a bit of mothering.

And why not? Ah, now! ‘No better woman…

Do. Oh, please.

Put your mantle round my daughter

and protect – save her.


Oh, I know, there’s the nuns and they’re doing

their best, I’m sure, and they’re an extension

of your own good self on earth, doubtless.

But they seem to have their hands full

and they stream, unmercifully,

and if you don’t mind me saying so,

their idea of Instruction, Christian Doctrine,

is a far cry from the Penny Catechism…


‘Years ago, my wee one,

holding my hand, looking up at me:

‘Only the two of us, Dadsers!..


To tell you the truth, we’re both a bit

lost in our own ways…


 Oh, Mary… Mother mine… And Jenny’s…

When I think of it! ‘Looking back…

This wee girl, holding my hand, clinging to me…

waiting, wanting – oh, longing! – to be moulded.

And I, I paid her scant attention.

‘Thinking, ages before she… 

years and years yet a growing.

Plenty of time to, to…

More fool me…


Lord, I’m hopeless!

‘Can’t even say hello to your mother

without going off the rails…






I climb the stairs to the attic –

summer day… winter night –

into an empty room full of

Might Have Been…

‘Cross to the slanting ceiling,

lever open the Velox window,

look out across Joycean rooftops

toward Dublin bay

and London

so far away…


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