'Wren's Island' by 'Dr Feelgood'
Summertime was a great time for us in 1960s Athlone. We were practically ran out of the house every morning and gathered in the square to plan our day which was usually dependent on the weather. Hot Sunny days were spent by the river swimming or if we had the money we'd hire one of Waterstones boats and head to Wrens Island a half mile downstream from town. There'd always be a row over who rowed down and who rowed back but it was usually resolved quickly as we just wanted on the river-and listening to the gurgle of the water as our boat cut through it was sublime. We'd usually fish our way down with two rods trawling two Voblex baits and always had a few nice Pike by the time we hit the Island.
The island was about half an acre of overgrown interior but this added to the treasure island scenario for us. Huge boulders dotted the waters edge and we had mighty craic jumping from them into the clear cooling waters of our Shannon river. The river was our life-blood then and though we were young and carefree we recognised it as such and loved it with a passion that still burns within each of us today. After going through the whole routine of pirates, gunmen and the obligatory hide and seek we lit a fire and cooked our Pike. There was always tons of dried reeds and twigs for the fire and we just gutted the fish, ran a stick through it and cooked it spit-like.
The westward side of the island was my favourite spot. The channel between Land and the island was deep and narrow and huge trees spread their branches over it blocking out the Suns rays and adding to the eerie effect. I used to love finding a nestling branch and just dangling there,over the water and dreaming. Each of us found our own place and just sprawled-a million miles away from people, school, brothers and doing the messages. The Gentex factory horn was the signal to gather our meagre belongings and head home against the current, tired but drowsily content. In bed by nine, asleep by ten, soothed and calmed by the gentle therapeutic hum of the river as it quietly hushed its way south we relived every fish-fight and battle in dreams so simple and wished only for tomorrows as long and vivid as our todays.
Our friendships evolved as we grew older and changed as we did. On the island we were brothers-untainted by lifes tainting ways. Like minnow in shoals we drifted where we liked and steered clear of people and the dusty glaring streets. Eventually we drifted apart and like every Pirate and Gunman were ensnared by society until our drifting became methodical and planned. Captivated now by lifes inane intricacies we left behind our best years where innocence reigned and wars and famines and behind-door-stuff were left to others.
Wrens island is there still-an overgrown myriad of countless dreams and escapades, where friendships forged in sweat and laughter ring from every rock and root and where even silence shimmers expectant on every dawning rivulet. I have wished for many things in my life-some granted-others may still come true-but my final wish is that my ash be scattered mid stream in my beloved river-below the Rocks and I pray that part of me will find a place on Wrens island-and there among the rocks and timeless shale I will repose-content.
In time we will meet again
In places we never leave
In bodies that never know pain
In hearts that never grieve
And there will be no remembering
Regrets or sad adieux
Just truth and understanding