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Remembering Joanna O'Shea

Joanna, O’Shea, Myrtleville, who recently passed away was a columnist for this newspaper for many years. Here, Joe Healy has kindly sent us a piece on Joanna which first appeared on the Carrigaline Newsletter almost 30 years ago, in the Summer 1991 edition of the Carrigaline Newsletter.

"I joined the Carrigaline and District Writers' Group during the year that they launched their second Journal. At first I was very shy and just sat there scared of all the 'brainy' people around me. Then I began to write a little and eventually became more confident.

At school I used to get credit for English essays. I was useless at Maths and I was "kicked" out of the Latin class, if one can imagine a nun in floor-length habit performing such a feat! Well, I was politely asked to turn my steps towards office work, which I did after secondary school, and spent seven happy years with Dwyer & Co. At Washington Street.

The companionship there was great, and we had good craic. We still keep in touch and have nice reunions when friends arrive from abroad. At work, I wrote poems to amuse my friends and annoy some people, especially the bosses! When anyone wanted verse for a valentine, I was the writer in the background.

Now that my children have grown up, I am occupying myself with writing again. I hope to write a children's book, because children are the best comedians and often come out with great wisdom. I write to my many friends and was recently involved with a relative in America in helping to document my mother's family history. I also joined an oil painting class. I enjoy living by the sea where I have been all my life. I love flowers and sitting in the garden watching my grandsons at play. They are a great joy to me.

‘Fountainstown Back Strand’ Why did I write it? Well, I walked alone along the Coast Road one evening, remembering the times when my five children were beside me. I thought that one should savour every precious moment in life as one cannot turn back the clock. I kept walking past the main beach until I came to the old ferry-end on the Back Strand.

Here, cosy little homes nestle together, occupied by people, many of whom are descended from very old residents of Fountainstown. (Different origins are given for the name of Fountainstown, but I like the one about the Frenchman named Fontaine who once lived there). Here people pick shellfish and go out fishing and sailing. I remembered going across to Ringabella on the ferry. I sat down and wrote the poem, shed a few tears, and returned home thinking of times past".

Fountainstown Back Strand

In long and lazy Summer, hearts are glad and light, Youth surrounds me everywhere, yet I'm alone tonight. I walk along the Coast Road, the sea is wide and grand, I make my way, like old times, to Fountainstown Back Strand. I'm here again in this dear place, a haven from all care, In memory, again I see my friends still walking there, The fishermen, the ferrymen, the shellfish pickers' beat, The nestling homes, where chimney-smoke smells sweet with gorse and peat. People go so far away, but come back here to rest, Charm draws them to the spot, as birds come to the nest. Recalling faces long ago, in spirit will remain, In that wondrous, winding way of swans, the home of La Fontaine.

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