At Blackwater Tavern or ‘Lucky Polly’s twenty-two be damned!’

by Simon Robinson

New Year’s Eve – driving along the minor roads
of a mountaineous south-west Kerry peninsula,  
we’d yelled – Next pub!  and a toothless giant
appeared peaked with cap, to direct us deftly –
You’ll be grand there – through the hedge gap
to a field full of deserted tractors beside the
hostelry, thronged inside to suffocation, children
ringing rosies and jet black beers around the fire
as bodhrans rattled reels from its dark corners,
at Big Bertha’s wake. The grand dame of bovinity
she’d died that morning just three months short
of her 49th, the mother of 39 calves, the leader
of the St Paddy’s parade crowds – yearly fortified
by a nerve-steeling whiskey, now taxidermically
immortal and for view at Hazel Farm, Beaufort.