Poetry by John Bourke

A selection of poetry by John Bourke, Rathcoole



The old man’s life near over

His voice was weak but clear

When he told me his life story

O’re many a bygone year


I was born in this cottage he said

And I’ve lived here all my life

T’was here I brought Mary

When first she became my wife


T’was here we reared our family

Now they’re scattered far and wide

And I’m left here on my own

Since my love Mary died


It’s nearly ninety years

Since I was once a boy

This house was filled with laughter

With happiness and joy


We had no television

Motor car or telephone

Just a humble jackass grazing

In the acre all alone


We had laying hens in the yard

And a fat pig in the tub

We were never left go hungry

We had always plenty grub


My father worked in the railway

While my mother kept the home

There was no need to grumble

There was no time to moan


When supper time was over

We were ordered to our knees

To join in with the rosary

As we fumbled through our beads


We went to school barefooted

The road were very bad

And the friends that I made way back then

Through all my life I always had.


I got little education

No University Degrees

I was thinning beet and turnips

At twelve years on my knees


I kept myself so busy

I always had a job

I did the very best I could

And left the rest to God


But now life’s nearly over

For I know that call is near

When I’ll meet again all of my friends

That I knew in yesteryear


I know my Mary’s waiting

With a white rose in her hand

And we’ll walk again as we used to

This time in the Promised Land.


Our Wedding Wish

May the promises that we are making

Be a treasure for to keep

May the love that we are sharing

Never fall asleep


May the laughter of our children

Fill the echo of our home

May our love grow even closer

So we will never feel alone


May our friends be there to help us

At a distance we are happy with

For our best friend stands beside us

Their help we will sure get


And as we go through life together

Like tow peas in a pod

We must do the very best we can

And leave the rest to God


The Circle of Love

You’re never too old to start loving

You’re never too young not to care

For someone out there needs your kindness

Their troubles, with you, they can share


For love, it is like a circle

The beginning is joined at the end

The circle of love goes around every day

So make, each day, a new friend


Life without love is a darkness

You always want more than you give

Your heart is always so bitter

You find it so hard to forgive


Life with love is a blessing

God’s gift to the human race

With love in your heart and peace in your mind

It shows in your happy face


Now times can get tough and times can get rough

Sometimes it is so hard to understand life

With friends all around, sure love will abound

To help you through trouble and strife


When you grow old and you look back in life

At the good deeds that you used to do

Your body may ache and your mind nearly break

But there’s somebody there to love you


My Angel Guardian

My Angel, you walk before me

To keep me on the righteous path

For Satan is planting his snares

My soul he wants to entrap


You bring me God’s love in abundance

To help me this day to get through

But the treasures and pleasures of life misguide me

The times I forget about you


You’re there in all of my failings

Getting me back on the right track again

You show me how to see Christ in others

And repent from all stain of sin


Then someday the Lord will call me

When my inner most thoughts are made known

You’ll be there at my final passing

So don’t go to heaven on your own

A Special Child

My mom was twelve weeks pregnant

When she heard her best friend say

This pregnancy must be ended

There is no other way

The foetus is deformed

In body and in mind

You’ve got three lovely children

You don’t need this other kind

But mom knew life was sacred

From conception to the grave

And promised all her energies

This fragile life to save

She soon brought forth a son

And called him baby Ross

She prayed to God that morn

To help her with this cross

She has toiled for him many a long day now

It’s twenty years or so

Her hair has turned from auburn to brown

To be as white as snow

Her face, with wrinkles, is engulfed

But her eyes, they show a peace

For her deep love of her special child

Will never ever cease

Ross died last night, of circumstances

Outside of her control

The Lord came down to lift that weight

And rest his sinless soul

I heard her say, with pride this morn

That she’ll mourn a loss

She found his life more as a blessing

Than of a heavy cross

She now looks forward to the day

When God will call her home

When, hand in hand they both will stand

Before the blessed throne

I am a brother to that boy

The one that someone called odd

Now I pray to him nearly every day

For he’s now so close to God

A Visit to Lisdoonvarna

I am a young man in my sixties

I’m living a single life

I went to Lisdoonvarna

In the hope of finding a wife

Paddy Joe down the road, he came with me

He was also on the look out

But his first want was not for a woman

It was for a good pint of stout

The first girl I met looked an angel

She told me her name, it was Peg

When I asked her to dance

She said there’s no chance, I’m not too good on one leg

The next girl I met, had the figure of a model

With her I would like to spend time

But she turned me down cold, when she said you’re too old

You’re a long way past your prime

The last one I met, was as ugly as sin

You’d see more beauty eating nuts up in Fota

All she wanted to know, was the size of the farm

And with how many gallons of quota

Then I went to poor Paddy

Thrown flat on the floor

As drunk as a skunk

With a fine healthy snore

So I gathered him up

And set off with my load

When Paddy called out

We’ll have “one for the road”

As I lie here alone in my four poster bed

Realising that I might never wed

My mind wanders back to might have been

When my heart was broken by a lovely cailin

But I’ll not give up

For I need someone dear

And I’ll be back searching

Lisdoonvarna next year

1 thought on “Poetry by John Bourke”

  1. Good work, John. Loved meeting up with you while in Ireland with Anne Marie. Such a talented member of the family, no matter how distant!!

    Pat Casey

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