Plotting a Duel in Merlin Woods

Merlin Woods in a wood near where I live. A hospital is there now, and the wood is a public park. However, in days gone by, it is where duels were fought and scores settled. While walking there one day lately, and pondering the stand off over the Banagher Horse Fair, I wrote these words…

Shadows stand each side of me,
Change shape as I pass by
They are but shadows of the trees
In the corner of my eye
I tell myself, as dusk falls down
Now duellers of times past
Whose doubts and debts were settled by deaths
Invoked by pistol blast.

How many died here, through those years?
The history books dont tell
In time we will all know all
Who faught, who went to Hell
Disputes are not so settled in this modern age
Prehaps it is a good thing
Or to be fair and settle the issue of the Fair
Pistols at dawn I to Merlin Woods might have to bring!

Why cant a people sell horses on a village street
As they have done for centuries past
The whinging of folk with power hungry and powerful folks ears
Mean these old traditions may not last.
If only it was those times now past
The battle I fair and square would have won
For Id practice will as good as McCarty the Kid
Drop all foes with a blast from my gun!

Castle in Merlin Woods
Castle in Merlin Woods


1) Merlin Woods – a place outside Galway in the Renmore / Doughiska area where duels were fought. Its where I live as I write this poem. More on Merlin Woods >>>
2) Duel – pistol fight, usually at dawn, to the death. The best shot wins, justice of survival, not right.
3) Banagher Horse Fair, I grew up in Banagher and loved its fair, and am trying to keep it, against a powerful opposition from people with money and the ears of politicians, who are every bit as currupt as The Big House in the Lincoln County War
4) McCarty the Kid – the story of Billy the Kid vs Brady (a Cavan man). William McCarty (not Carty like me, and we think no relation, though the spelling is the same, we are O’Carty not McCarty!) a.k.a. William Bonney is of a desperado who hated curruption and ended up on the wrong side of the law. Akin to today, the law was brought in not to be just, but to further the aims of a section of society at the expense of the rest.
5) Desire to duel: In courts, you get state justice, what the powers that be want, not what is just. In a duel, you stand a better chance, depending on your shooting skills!

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