White Sails on the Claddagh – alas but a yacht today, not the King leading a Red Sailed fleet of hookers out for a days fishing…
Peasent folk of Claddagh
White sails on the Claddagh
Sail out neath grey skies
Red sails of the Hookers
Fished there in days gone by
White cottages, since knocked
Once proud there did stand
Neither English or Irish
They told each armies Command.
Their King of the White Sail’s
The men voted on
Who sailed the rough waters
Elected on the Day of Saint John
Portraits of People of Claddagh
The women in blue, wear not Connemara red
On the cloaks that blow in the wind
Gut the fish brought in by men neath the Red Sails
Follow the White Sails to where the fish they may find.
Instructed in a tongue ancient
Only understood by theirs, to them known
Who look on the Gael strangers as much as the Saxon
Marry maidens from among their own.
But men in ties who know more
The buildings condemned
In a craze for health and safety
Brought a culture to an end.
Today a social project
On the former Cladagh lands
Ugly in form, without passion of construction
Was built by strangers hands.
Lost is all today bar the tales
The culture is wrecked
Rare today heard local the ancient tongue
Never mind the Claddagh dialect.
We race for progression
To reject what is ours we choose
We gain little from a world that does not know us
What we are as a people we lose.
Could they not have built new cottages
Bigger, hygenic, kept a community as one?
They smashed a society that even the British did not
Mere poets write now of a society now gone…
The white sails I see on the Claddagh
Are but that of a yacht
Not of the King directing his fleet
To where the fish may be got.
The red sails of the hookers
Still bob up on the waters of the bay
Curiosities seen as quaint by passing strangers
Who take photos and sail them as a toy with which to play.
Claddagh in Galway. Image from Library Ireland – http://www.libraryireland.com/SceneryIreland/2-XI-2.php