Cap pulled low on his brow,
The longest dark lashes you’ve ever seen
Fringe the beautiful blues.
Tall, lean, and muscular
With a delightful Irish brogue
You never tire of listening to,
He graced us with his presence,
This lad from Thomastown,
Of the Emerald Isle, County Kilkenny.
Good horseman – no, a great horseman,
Groom, handler, stable manager of All Around Farms.
Always turned out show horses with unmatched skill –
Checkerboard rumps, perfect braids and tails,
Shining like a glass mirror – perfection!
Everyone knew him around the show circuit,
Girls loved his teases and swarmed to him
Like bees to honey – yes, it’s true.
Old Betsy painted dark blue and light blue,
Parked regularly behind Phil’s Tavern.
She probably could have found her way home,
And often brought him home to Gwynedd Valley
When we knew he shouldn’t have traveled.
Jokes about “Nasty Grasty” and songs he sang –
“Whiskey in the Jar” and “Seven Nights Drunk.”
St. Patrick’s Day, a big celebration each year.
Richard, a cigarette burning slowly in his hand,
Long columns of ashes spilled in the wind.
Tired, bleary-eyed, and full of beer,
Stumbling through the barn
to climb the long, somewhat steep stairs to bed.
The next morning he won’t remember
What jokes he told or how many mugs were downed;
What girls he kissed or heart he broke –
But he always made it home!
Today, I twirl the heavy ring,
Silver with a horsehead carved and
Split in two from years of wear.
I don’t have a photograph,
But I have this ring that slipped off his finger,
So thin he had become from the cancer.
I remember when he told me tearfully –
That he knew he would not beat it.
Richard was so full of life,
How could this thing take him from us?
He’d make the trip home,
Returning to Ireland once more
And tried to beat his illness.
His mother had already buried a daughter,
And now they would bury a son.
It wasn’t right. He was too young.
We miss you, Richard:
All the wonderful songs sung on
Trips to and from Kennedy Airport
for trips home to Ireland.
The delight in Elvis’s music,
The practical jokes – oh, the practical jokes,
Especially when you turned the hose on Sue Scales!
We couldn’t believe it – but you did it!
You loved all the dogs: Patches and Nugget and Lilly,
And they loved you right back!
Here at Phil’s Tavern on Saint Patrick’s Day
We still wonder if you are in New York
Or perhaps Villanova Stadium
Listening to The Dubliners
And singing along
(you always had a great voice):
“I am bound away for to leave you
and I’ll never see you again…
It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me
But my darling when I think of thee.”
Lad from Thomastown,
County Kilkenny of Ireland,
On this day and every St. Patrick’s Day,
We raise a glass to you, dear friend.
Missing your laughter and your smile,
Missing you so much,
Richard Fennelly, missing you…
Credit to The Dubliners and their song “The Leaving of Liverpool.”
I had written this piece during the March Slice of Life, on St. Patrick’s Day, but I never posted it. I decided it couldn’t wait until next year. Richard was a friend, more than I ever realized in his lifetime, and I do miss him. He was a rascal and a practical joker. He loved to have a good time. Here’s to you, Richard!