The Big Bush of Cashel

No one knew from where it came
Or noticed it when small
Till one day it peeped at passing folk
From behind the roadside wall.

And that is how it all began
The public life of a tree
When the Cashel bush emerged
For all the world to see.

When local men went to the bog
It showed them new green leaves
And never stopped its growing
Till they put the oats in sheaves.

It grew taller than a reek of turf
A cock of hay or a stack of corn
And spread its branches widely
Like a sunray in the morn.

It suffered many summer droughts
Gales made it twist and bend
It even lost some branches
On the night of the big wind.

It stood there a lonely sentinel
At the crossroads of time
And saw many changes
As they came down the line.

The cruel years of famine
When hunger stalked the land
The winning of a tenant’s right
From Michael Davitt’s stand.

It saw many silent funerals pass
In rain and wind and sun
Some big ones like McDonnell’s
For both the father and the son.

Men with horse and donkey cart
With jennet and with mule
On sidecar and on pony trap
But walking mostly as a rule.

Nights of crossroads dancing
The sessions in Bligh’s hall
Sure the big bush of Cashel
Was there to see it all.

But its long life was ended
In the year of forty three
When the order it was given
Cut down the Cashel tree

To feed a quarry engine
Was the object of the crime
The bush of Cashel sacrificed
To the progress of time.

So let us learn a lesson
From the story of the tree
And why the bush of Cashel
Is not there for all to see.

Not all change is progressive
Not all big deeds are good
Be slow to kill a living thing
Be it made from flesh or wood.

Author: William Keaveney
Source: ‘Happy With The Day That’s Done‘. Published 2004