The following story and poem comes courtesy of Liam O’Brien.
Lieutenant. Colonel Galloway was a retired British army officer who had served during the First World War. He and his wife moved to Ireland in the 1930s, purchasing a house and land on the banks of Lough Gur in Co. Limerick.
I am told that Galloway and his wife got on generally well with the local populace and their household and land was a source of employment for many during their time there.
In the late 1940s a teenage boy out hunting rabbits on the Galloway’s estate had a close encounter with the landowner. I know this tale to be true as the boy in the story is my Father, Willie O’Brien who lived at the time at the family home in nearby Holycross.
Here’s a poem which is my interpretation of the story from that encounter:
The Colonel’s March
One brisk and bracing morning
the Colonel feels the chill;
Puts on his cap and great coat
in the big house by the hill.
He walks outside and calls his dog
with blackthorn clutched in hand;
Then on he goes to greet the day
and oversee the land.
Through frosted fields by walls of stone
he marches o’er the hill;
As marching was his only way
since he first learned to drill.
For though his war was over
and the Kaiser vanquished be;
The army way was his cliché
’twas plain for all to see.
Then through the gorse he spies a lad
crouched low beside a ditch;
He swiftly moves to view what’s up
and see who’s on the mitch.
“Hello there, boy”, he bellows out
the lad stays calm and still;
For he too spied the Colonel brash
when he climbed o’er the hill.
“Good morning Sir” the boy replied
“And how are you today?”
While hoping that his recent catch
would never be displayed.
The Colonel twirled his neat moustache
his disposition easing;
This charming boy had stuck a chord
with manners mild and pleasing.
“Young rascal, now be on your way”
the old man said and grinned;
And walked away but never saw
the rabbits snared and skinned!
The Colonel left, his tract secured
and nothing more to do;
Oblivious to the fact that he
had met his Waterloo!