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It was 19 years ago that local historian Jago Hayden wrote his first memoir, Hair All Curling Gold, and, well, he needed to let the world sit up and take notice

So, he got in touch with fellow Greystonian Ronnie Drew, to see if one of the most famous Irishmen in the world might be up for a little launch party in Dann’s pub.

You had me at pub,” was Ronnie’s swift reply, and so it was that a grand old time was had down at the seafront, with Jago getting to tell all and sundry about his memoir, and the bould Ronnie getting to hang out in a Greystones bar, purely as a favour to a friend.

When The Dubliners deity passed on August 16th, 2008, like pretty much everyone in Greystones – and far beyond – Jago was heartbroken. That Ronnie’s beautiful wife, Deirdre, had died the year before made this sad day all the more tragic

“My own parents each passed about this time,” Jago explains now, “and I always and forever get the three dates mixed up. So much so, I decided to write poems about their passing, just to try and make sense of it all…”

Below, we reproduce Jago’ poem written on the passing of Ronnie Drew…

Remembrance 2: Ronnie Drew

On Saturday also, news of another death – Ronnie Drew!
Generous, he launched some years ago below in Dann’s
My memoir of what life had seemed. Kevin Dillon and I once
Showed his Deirdre – McCartan then – the necklace of tunnels
About the Head threaded through by the railway to Bray
From a boat promised my father by John Spurling and built
For me and Jimmy Smullen, another friend now gone!

He chided me for having no P A or microphone, he whose
Gravelled voice could carry to the Kish, but raised it and spoke
Feelingly of those who treasure place and value people
Who lived and died, not before our time, but at our beginnings.
And those who came remembered too, without writing, and
Applauded, sharing the same memories. Now he and his
Deirdre lie with all those remembered beyond in Redford.

Kitty Kinsella, someone said, cleaned house for the Drews;
Cousin to my mother, one of two nieces named for an aunt –
A grandmother I never knew – her folks are buried alongside
My mother’s in the centuries old graveyard below Kilcoole,
A different place, her father ‘Blacktop’ last caretaker to know
The provenance of every plot! At his burial the Boss McKenzie,
Grandfather, showed me the informer’s grave. I still know it.

“The Irish Sea in the east”, I wrote, “our morning window!”
East and West Bank in one, Pharaohs could have rested
Where Redford slopes silently to Muir Manain; instead,
Whole layers of community lie, those who went and those
Who stayed, generation by generation, Georgie Kendrick
The first – he lived a stroll only across a park from where
Deirdre McCartan grew. A stranger now, still I remember.

You can find out more about Ronnie in our archives here, and read Jago’s history of the Kinsella clan here, and his recent take on Greystones harbour here.

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