WE ARRIVED in Northern Ireland during Parade Season and every fourth town within easy driving distance has a parade on July 12th. While the drums beat, I spent part of a quiet morning looking out at part of the 350 acres that comprised RAF Greencastle, lands surrounding the cottage where we are staying.
In the 1940s, heavy bombers lumbered overhead. Only a handful of the locals remember those WWII days. I think J. R. Walsh captures what I feel in his poem "No Weeping Now".
I went back to the lonely Wolds, the fens and the empty sky.
I saw the tall gaunt elms, heard the calling rooks, how time had passed me by.
Grass had grown on the runways, in the hangars stood rusting ploughs;
The dispersal points were empty, just starlings and grazing cows.
The Watch Office stood deserted,
Or maybe the ghosts of men:
Stood and watched as I walked remembering,
For I'd said "I'll come back again".
The windsock hung in tatters, forlorn in the cold damp air,
Then I thought, "What does it matter?" there is nobody here to care.
The crew huts were but ruins, rotting timbers and sagging floors;
Not a voice to break the silence, just the wind and the creaking doors.
Then I recalled these once were billets,
Full of life and the noise of men:
With the crackling roar of Merlins,
Or the whispering by scratch of a pen.
So I stood quite still to listen; was there a message there for me?
In the shadows would they remember, had they left me a sign to see?
If they had it was too elusive, made dim by the veil of years;
And I recalled all the purpose and courage, till my eyes were blurred by tears.
I turned away downhearted for this was not the field I had known;
Not the brave bold home of my memories; fool I was for the years had flown.
+++ Photo of 5yo Dylan standing next to remnants of the chopped up main runway of RAF Greencastle. See more photos of the area in my Northern Ireland photo album.