And who can imagine the final days that they spent on this earth? There is nothing we can imagine but them lying there on the floor on either side of the fireplace as they stare at each other with the eyes of the blind. We do not know which one of them was the first to die. Nor if the one who was alive was sufficiently aware as to know that the other person was dead. The only account we have of them is that the two of them were lying dead on the floor when a neighbouring man called to the house to ask how they were.
But we are able to look back over their life as we might look at moving pictures rushing past us, one after the other. We see a wedding celebration and the fine young man and his sweetheart on the floor facing each other as they danced. . .
There they are now out on the top of the hill. The moon is full and it looks as if it is enchanting them.
First the match and then the marriage. . .
Sheila going to live on Oileán Eala. The first child they had; a fine boy, and the father is counting the years till the son will be with him on their boat. After that a few more pictures. A boat being driven by the wind over the sea by day and by night until it arrives in Scotland. Síle being tormented and worn away by grief until finally Tuathal comes across the floor to her as if he was coming back from the dead.
Again after that we see them coming to the mainland and making a house in Gleann Locha. The men of the place helping them. A lovely summer’s evening and Tuathal and Síle are looking at how much of the house has been made and they are smili0ng with joy. . .
We see them living in their own house and they have two children.
Then a picture that astonishes and horrifies us—a sunny morning at the end of summer and the potato crops are blighted and withered, as black as coal and as stark as a pot hook, as if lightning had flashed out of the sky and destroyed them. . .
From picture to picture until the last picture—two corpses wasted away to skin and bone are stretched out side by side without coffin or shroud and the neighbouring men are putting clay over them.
From the novel, Ó Mhuir go Sliabh (‘From Sea to Mountain’), written in Irish by the Donegal writer, Máire Seamus O’Green (1889 - 1969) which is in stock at Cardiff Central Library as part of the collection of books in Irish
As a mark of respect the names of the family members and of the places linked with their deaths have been left in the Irish language they would have used among themselves.
In Irish / Sa Ghaeilge.
In Welsh / Yn y Gymraeg.
A longer excerpt in English from the novel.
St. Patrick’s Day 2002
John Breese Collection
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