Francis O’Hare

The Electric Brae

Mr Mooney, our Geography teacher,
was dead on. He’d take our class on day-trips
after exams at the end of the year.

This year the place was Silent Valley,
in the heart of the Mournes, peaceful, serene
and a world away from the streets of Newry,

filled with the dogs of war, their havoc.
Spelga Dam, huge, Hooverian,
was our educational ‘reason for visit’.

With its geographical, mathematical,
socio-historical, etc. potential
for all kinds of field work, it seemed a bit dull

but that morning in June the sun was smiling
as the Oriel boys piled into our old
creaky school mini-bus, already half-dying

with the weight of us all, and we secretly knew
that the aims and objectives of this day were fun!
An expectation confirmed when the blue

skies above Spelga appeared cloudless with promise
and we gazed down into the dam water, searching
for a famous drowned village, our own lost Atlantis

or Hy Brasil, wondering were the Danann down there.
Then, on the way home, somewhere near Hilltown,
parked on a slope magic with mountain-flower

and whin, waiting in silence on board ship,
as the moaning and groaning jalopy’s old engine
stilled… cooled… Mr Mooney let slip

the tremulous handbrake… and we floated uphill
against the currents of gravity, history
and everything earthbound, transcendentalists all,

as the mini-bus freewheeled into the sky
taking flight, the heather below us ablaze.
Hallelujah, Hosanna, we all wanted to cry,

but not a soul spoke, gazing out on briared braes.

Francis O’Hare was born in Newry, Co. Down, NI, in 1970. His first full collection, Falling into an O, was published by Lagan Press, Belfast, in 2007. A further pamphlet collection was published by Lagan Press in 2009, entitled Alphaville. He published his second collection, Somewhere Else, with Lagan Press in 2011. In the same year, he also published a collection in America, with Evening Street Press, Ohio, entitled Home and Other Elsewheres. A new collection, Sailing To Omeath, was published by Arlen House, Dublin, in January 2020. He has published poems in various magazines in Ireland, the U.K. and the United States.