In the early sixties, my father would travel with his family to visit his brother, my uncle, the poet Richard Murphy, living in the old forge in Cleggan outside Clifden. To supplement his meagre income my uncle would sail tourists to Inishbofin in his Galway hooker called The True Light. On the way over you could watch the mackerel dying slowly in the bilges and follow the porpoises. Sometimes we would stop off at High Island where monks had eked out their existence over a thousand years ago. No harbour, just a leap ashore at the foot of a cliff.
But the pagan world was present too for Mrs Coyne was definitely a witch. A witch that knitted my geansaí of emerald green that caught every flying fishhook. To my eye then Fodhla (ancient Ireland) was everywhere and the sweet smell of a donkey’s breath was a revelation. Today I see how well-named was my Uncle’s boat. If a painting of mine holds true light – then I am still aboard, a little seasick, but at least I am not a mackerel.
– Anthony Murphy, March 2012.