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Paddy in The Shed - poem of the Great War

category galway | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Thursday April 13, 2023 19:57author by Fred Johnston - Private Report this post to the editors

Poem around my late grand-uncle in Dublin


A poem retrieved from memories of my teenage years listening to tales of The Great War from my grand-uncle, Paddy Caffrey, who remained affected by it decades afterwards.

PADDY IN THE SHED

Paddy’s gone into the shed again
Shivering from his war
Till he fell down the stairs in Gardiner Street
And died behind the door

My grand-uncle was a dapper lad
Even in later years
A handkerchief in the breast pocket
He was fond of his few beers

He’d had a few when he tumbled
Down the tenement stairs
He’d survived his war and made it home
But he fought on for fifty years

I was a raw teenager then
The same age, more or less
He’d scuttled off to Flanders fields
On the Kitchener Express

He had some great yarns of courage
And a few about losing your nerve
And one of a young lad tied to a post
And shot for refusing to serve

He rode on a two-horse and limber
And one day while standing at ease
Came the whack of an Albrecht mortar
And blew one horse into the trees

My Granny would tell him to shut it
His stories were gory and rough
Too nasty and brutal and bloody by far
For young lads to hear, shocking stuff

As if we didn’t see him
Shivering in the back yard shed
When he reckoned that no one would miss him
If he popped out to chat with the dead.

FRED JOHNSTON

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