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Caislín Cloch

stonechat72dpi Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 21.59.41

The Stonechat  

Poem by Helen Hagemann      

                       for Marie Connole



Visiting the capital of Ireland,

its country lanes and drumlins, I drove

on desired paths that took me across

the breadth of Monaghan to Sligo.


Back home you want to return to that curious

spell of country, its tidy towns of hanging

Fuchsias, painted shopfronts, an Irish aria

of how'ya doon in the mornings.


And the best was yet to come, a mailed painting

of a perched Stonechat, autumn flush of chest.

Can you hear him, chipping notes and sounds

like small stones shaken in your fist?


The Stonechat looks across fields,

towards Knotweed’s opportunity,

two drops of blood falling, red as the

ear tips of stag, or slain Celtic gods.


'Every Stonechat has a drop of the devil's

blood', says the artist. But I’d like to think

this tiny bird might snatch a severed thorn,

take flight, spread its wings against the sun,

a sprig of mischief on its mind.


The Stonechat rests on a branch above a view of the lakes and rivers of Clare. Crossing this topography are the roads and the villages of Tubber, Crusheen, Boston and Ruan each are indicated by a pearl. Three droplets of blood pierce the landscape.


The Stonechat makes a sound like stones banging togehter hence the name. The belief was that each Stonechat had a drop of the devil's blood.