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…

The Innkeeper’s Story

Published on Thursday 7th December 2023 by Sean Walsh


Yes?!. A, a bed for the – ? You haven’t a hope!

I’ve never seen such crowds in Bethlehem!..

You, your wife is?.. Oh… Is she – due?.. Oh-hh…

Well look, round the back – the stables.

Ye’ll be in out of the weather, that at self.



She’s like that, my missus – always the good turn…

Quick! A sheet, blanket, towel, hot water, food.

Then away with a servant to the stables.

Me, I went to bed.



For all their haste, they weren’t in time.

He had delivered – with hands calloused by carpentry –

a healthy male. Seamlessly…

In truth, they were in awe

at how little remained to be done…

Mother and babe, well – and Joseph 

quietly proud of his, well, handiwork…



What? What are you saying, woman?!

Shepherds? ‘Down from the hills, 

Angels!? Angels, no less! A-appeared to them!

‘Told to make haste, where to go…

And found all to be as the angels had – 


Oh, this is all too much!

Woman, go to your bed, sleep a while.

You’ll feel better when the sun’s at midday –

 a blue sky in place of starry velvet…


What’s that? They’ve gone back to their flocks?

Hmmm… And the angels into Heaven, no doubt…

No more harps for a while, eh?



I would see for myself – and about time, too!

There, standing at the entrance, all quiet within.

Family… Indeed, you might say, a holy family –

the new-born demanding attention of a sudden!


I turned to return to inn keeping –

and there they were, quietly… wise men

from the East who had followed a star

that had stopped over a stable.


I stepped aside as they entered:

Such finery… precious gifts.

‘Stunned as they knelt in straw and dirt,

bowing low, foreheads touching the stable floor…

And this in adoration of an infant!

Wise men – or fools?..


Oh, Father Abraham! Me, a lowly inn keeper,

Ill versed in the Law and the Prophets…

But I well knew the command that makes

Jewry stand out from all the others:

one only God… Him alone must you adore…

Moses surely turning in his grave…



All was in readiness when they called around:

the missus on edge; servant girls on their toes.

They seemed to enjoy the fare – while anxious

to be on their way… Coins, smiles…

I saw them out, watched as they mounted…


Then one of them asked for directions:

was there another way that would see them clear

of Herod’s castle? I pointed – reluctantly – towards a

ragged road that would add time to their journey…

They shrugged, then spurred away…



Now why would seers not wish to be seen

passing a king’s castle?

The question nudged me during the broken hours of sleep,

surfaced again at daybreak as I rose, washed, dressed…





They’re gone – from the stable.


‘Left at first light – urgently.

Did they say why? –

Only that the infant would be in grave danger

if they loitered…

Well… they should be back in Nazareth by night –

No, they headed south –


Asked me to direct them to the nearest point of entry…





Two, three days later. I sensed something was amiss,

stepped outside… Why, the main street was deserted!

No bustle of commerce, no open markets, no children playing…

Had everyone gone indoors of a sudden?


And then I saw them:

soldiers under Herod’s command,

standing back from the sun, in full uniform,

lining the two sides of the street…

And still the eerie silence.


Then the C O roared a command

and to a man they drew swords

that gleamed and glistened in the sunlight…

But where the enemy?  Where armed opponents?

Only men and women here – many of them old –

going about their daily lives…

And children… infants… new born innocents.

2023 Sean Walsh


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