Wrens Island

Summertime was a great time for us in 1960s Parnell Square. We rose early and were out of the
house and gathered in the square to plan our day which was usually dependent on the weather. Hot
Sunny days were spent by the river swimming or if we had the money we’d hire one of Waterstones
boats and head to Wrens Island ,a half mile downstream from town. There’d always be an argument
over who rowed down and who rowed back but it was usually resolved quickly as we just wanted on
the river-and listening to the gurgle of the water as our boat cut through it was sublime. We’d
usually fish our way down with two rods trawling Voblex baits and always had a few nice Pike by the
time we hit the Island.
The island was about half an acre of overgrown bush and bramble, but this added to the Treasure
Island scenario for us. Huge boulders dotted the water’s edge and we had mighty craic jumping from
them into the clear cooling waters of our Shannon river. The river was our life-blood then and
though we were young and carefree we recognised it as such and loved it with a passion that still
burns within each of us today. After going through the whole routine of pirates, gunmen and the
obligatory hide and seek , we lit a fire and cooked our Pike. There were always tons of dried reeds
and twigs for the fire and we just gutted the fish, ran a stick through it and cooked it spit-like. The
westward side of the island was my favourite spot. The channel between Land and the island was
deep and narrow. Huge trees spread their branches over it blocking out the Sun’s rays and adding to
the eerie effect. I used to love finding a nestling branch and just dangling there, over the water and
dreaming. Each of us found our own place and just sprawled-a million miles away from people,
school, brothers and doing the messages. The Gentex factory horn was the signal to gather our
meagre belongings and head home against the current, tired, but drowsily content. In bed by nine,
asleep by ten, soothed and calmed by the gentle therapeutic hum of the river as it quietly hushed its
way south we relived every fish-fight and battle in dreams so simple and wished only for tomorrows
as long and vivid as our todays.
Our friendships evolved as we grew older and changed as we did. On the island we were brothers-
untainted by life’s tainting ways. Like Minnow in shoals we drifted where we liked and steered clear
of people and the dusty glaring streets. Eventually we drifted apart and like every Pirate and
Gunman were ensnared by society until our drifting became methodical and planned. Captivated
now by life’s inane intricacies we left behind our best years where innocence reigned and wars and
famines and behind-door-stuff were left to others.
Wrens island is there still-an overgrown myriad of countless dreams and escapades, where
friendships forged in sweat and laughter ring from every rock and root and where even silence
shimmers expectant on every dawning rivulet. I have wished for many things in my life-some
granted-others may still come true-but my final wish is that my ash be scattered mid- stream in my
beloved river-below the Rocks and I pray that part of me will find a place on Wrens island-and there
among the rocks and timeless shale I will repose-content.