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Alice Guerin Crist

(6 February 1876 - 13 June 1941 / Clare Castle)

“O’Shea”


O’Shea was a big railway ganger, clean-hearted, and clean-limbed and shy,
With a glint of grey hair at his temples, and smile in his Irish blue eye;
He’d but one speech for every occasion, as you told him the news of the day,
And I know I will shock pious people-but poor Tim meant no harm when he’s say.
“Aw! g’long, go-to-hell, go-to-hell now! In a mildly expostulant way.

Oft the boys told, with winking and laughter, how O’Shea courted early in life
The dashing and voluble lady who’d make him an excellent wife;
And how slowly that courtship proceeded, till herself had to “settle the day”.
For Tim, though he madly adored her, could find nothing better to say
Than ‘Aw! G’long, go-to-hell go-to-hell now,” in a tender and loverlike way.

The flying gang loved and served him, for O’Shea was a leader of men,
But we never knew Tim for a hero, till the train smash at Appletree, when
The seven forty-five lay in ruins in a setting of scrub, ferns and flowers,
With the summer sky smiling above it, and the air fresh and fragrant from
showers.
There was tragedy, death and confusion, there was horror and grief beyond words,
Pain blent with the incense of blossoms, and groans with the song of the birds.
The flying gang came to the rescue, ah O’Shea was magnificent then,
When there’s danger and death and destruction-God send us the silent men!

His clothing in rents and in tatters, fire-blackened on forehead and cheek,
He fought with grim death like a hero, but never a word did he speak.
All were saved, but the wreckage was blazing, the flames rushing madly up, where
A great ’Prince-of Wales’ feather orchid blossom just out of reach of the glare.
Then a child’s cry arose from beneath it, and we shrank back aghast as it came
But O’Shea, with a roar like a lion, leaped right in the heart of the flames.
And he saved her, we found her unscathed, as we rushed to the spot where they lay,
But we laid on the cinder scorched grasses what that furnace had left of O’Shea.

We were paying the last loving tribute to our hero, who lay there at rest,
His grizzled hair singed at the temples, his hands fold still on his breast,
The ‘beads’ round his sinewy fingers, that the never neglected to say,
Ah, we all know that God’s Holy Mother had his soul in her keeping that day.
On his breast lay a big creamy orchid, unspoiled by the smoke and the flame
(‘Twas McCarthy, the city reporter, had carefully gathered the same).
His poor wife and girls clung together and stifled their heartbroken cries
While Simpson, the posy old Mayor, was lauding O’Shea to the skies;
‘The noblest of heroes,” he called him, while serene in his coffin Tim lay
With a smile on his smoke-blackened features and the quiet dry smile seemed to say:
“Aw! g’long, go-to-hell, go-to-hell now! In a mildly expostulant way.

Submitted: Monday, April 05, 2010

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