Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Summerhouse

The summers of my childhood hold wonderful memories of Sunday afternoons when my mother and father would take me to visit uncles Bill and John in Lucan, a picturesque village about twelve miles outside Dublin.

The highlight of those trips was entering the house they lived in. It was a single storey, possibly thatched roof, creepy cottage set deep in a field surrounded by trees that shrouded the house like menacing tentacles. The main room with its open fireplace had one of those large wooden benches with the backs you see in period films but what I remember most about that room was the total lack of natural light mainly because the window was tiny. What more than made up for it though was the warm glow from the turf fire where black iron cooking pots hung from a black iron rail.

Outside the house was the huge field which had a gate lodge at its entrance. I got to know its occupants simply because they had a baby and of course wherever there was a baby to be held I was there.

Shortly before I'd leave uncle Bill would take me for a walk along a pathway behind the house which led to an old summerhouse. Uncle John, his brother, because of his poor eyesight would remain in the cottage for the duration smoking his pipe and chatting with my parents.

I keep promising myself to return there some day but I think what's preventing me from going is the fear that the strange little cottage, which incidentally reminds me of the little house in the Hansel and Gretal fairy tale, may have been demolished to make way for a housing estate. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

In order to preserve my memory of those lovely times I've put together a few words of dedication to both the summerhouse and my long departed uncles. May they rest in peace.

The Summerhouse

Along the winding path we'd stroll
William pointing out a pretty flower here and there,
I'd ask its name, he'd tell, but the passing years have stolen its label.

This sanctuary with its soft earthy footing,
Framed on either side by trees with arms entwined like fragile ballerinas,
Fed the hunger of my fledgling imagination.
The gurgling unhurried weir sauntering alongside our footsteps,
The cooing wood pigeons pledging love across the treetops,
Both these sounds created for me a world momentarily devoid of suffering.

At the end of that magical pathway stood the summerhouse;
Its round frame enveloping me in its paint-flaked wooden arms
I'd dance, round and round, my own arms outstretched
Touching the vertical bars until I was dizzy, dizzy, dizzy!
Exhausted, I'd stretch along its circular seat amidst the bird feathers
And dead leaves from winters long past.

Outside, William, or Uncle Bill as he was to me, would wait with
Job's patience for my emergence.
Then, hand in hand, we'd make our way back to the little house
Between the trees.

© Ann Brien 2011

Gazebo image via:
Hansel and Gretal image via: wikipedia



  1. Childhood memories will always be cherished. Loved the poem. It's written with love. :)

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, those visits were very special, I hope someday soon to revisit that wonderful place although I suspect that the house may long be demolished and may well be replaced with a housing estate. I live in hope!