Sean Bothar (Old Road)

Follow the path of Sean Bothar
A haunted place where once stood homes
Feel the ghosts of An Gorta Mór
Lingering among the tumbled stones
Too poor to answer the immigrant call
Too weak to throw an American wake
Put to work building useless walls
In the mountains above Corrib’s Lake
This old road lined with hazel and gorse
Famine cottages with the family names
Bears the hoof prints of the pale rider’s horse
Bears witness to the oppressor’s shame
Two million souls lost to hunger’s grip,
The famine fever or the coffin ship

**A note: An Gorta Mór is ‘The Great Hunger’ referring to The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. The province of Connacht, where I live, was hit particularly hard by the famine and the evidence is all around us. Sean Bothar means Old Road in Irish and there is such a road near me and is featured in the header photo. An American Wake refers to a sendoff for anyone emigrating to the US, Canada or Australia, since the families would likely never see one another again. To those left behind it was as if their loved one had died. Thus the ‘wake’ to say goodbye.

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