A friend vacationing in Ireland, sent an email saying. in part, that she was staying in "Magherafelt (Machaire Fiolta = The Plain of Fiolta) originally Teach Fiolta (The Monastic House of Fiolta). The guest house, Laurel Villa, was built in 1870 for Doctor Murdoch. On his gravestone in the Church of Ireland graveyard opposite his tombstone reads, "was called away from a life of usefulness in Magherafelt in 1882." Which, you must admit, is a pretty swell epitaph for any of us.
Anyway, she was staying in the Longley Room. Dedicated to the Ulster poet Michael Longley, born Belfast 1939 and now "reading" Classicas at Trinity College in Dublin. I am unfamiliar with his work, but here's a wonderful poem of his (and her added footnote) which she sent along to share.
I have imagined an ideal death in Charlie Gaffney's
pub in Louisburgh: he pulls the pluperfect pint
As I, at the end of the bar next to the charity boxes,
Expire on my stool, head in hand, without a murmur.
I have just helped him solve his crossword puzzle
And we commune with ancestral photos in the alcove
He doesn't notice that I am dead until closing time
And he sweeps around my feet
But it's Charlie Gaffney
Who has died, how do I buy a fishing license?
Shall I let the dog out? Would the fire take another sod?
The pub might as well be empty forever now. I launch
The toy lifeboat at my elbow with an old penny.
(The toy lifeboat is on every counter; a fundraiser for the National lifeboat Association, a volunteer organization. Sod is peat, a traditional fuel harvested and dried from the peat bogs.)