The Missioners

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, portrayed in a 13th century stone carving at the ancient Abbey of Holycross near Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The Missioners

Courtesy Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

In a town, in my memory now,
Strong men nourished their courage for months
For the Mission.
In the Rosary month of October,
Oh pity the pint drinker now
And he of the lusty thoughts
That travelled no further than desire,
Or to a body or mind of frustration.
I was a boy then, fit for anything,
Sure as grass will grow and water runs,
Yet feared before heaven, retribution,
For the kiss of a convent girl
In Dulanty’s cinema the night before.
The sainted ‘ould wans’,
With a fickle fierce flick of their shawls,
Told their beads for us all,
But little understood
The Missioners’ roaring renunciation
Of word, devil and flesh.
We shuffled the cards for 25
There in a chapel corner,
Cowboys, brave and defiant
In our ignorance and innocence then.
I loved the brown and silky scapulars I bought
In the little painted commercial grottos,
In the evenings, lit by the paraffin oil,
With a million wonders of rosary beads
And medals miraculous
To pray our way to Heaven.
Homeward bound by the river bank,
And rapping the occasional bell and door,
Bold, brave and thirteen,
We flew in the face of everything
But the dread of the ma and da.


Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


2 comments to The Missioners

  • Michael

    Very Nice Tom.

  • Katie

    Oh Tom you do make us laugh with your poems. I often print them out and bring them along to the expats from Thurles who are in care. Always gives them a smile on there face. One dear lady called Maureen always tells me about all the Irish Wolf Hounds she had as a young girl?
    George did you know Kerrygold Butter is celebrating its 56th Birthday today. We buy it here for $6.00, but not near as good as the creamery butter from Thurles. Maybe one day Tom might come up with a poem about same.

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