Friday, December 23, 2016


I should stay out of the storage room. It’s too full of old files, poignant memories, temptations to blog.

This time, I stumbled onto a file entitled “Larry Brennan’s Song.” It was nineteen years ago. Northern Ireland was still mired in “The Troubles” and suffering from endless rounds of murder and revenge between the Catholics and the Protestants of Belfast.

USA Today carried a story about a 52 year old Catholic cab driver who was assassinated while sitting in his parked taxi.

I wrote a song about it:
The Legacy of Larry Brennan

Twenty-five days after Christmas Morn
         In dear old Belfast Town
Assassins hailed a taxicab
         And gunned the driver down

Well, he died for being Catholic
         He died for being Green
His sweetheart was a Protestant
         She’ll never be his queen

No, she’ll never be a Brennan now
         She’ll never share his bed
The Troubles split poor Larry’s brow
         The Troubles left him dead

Now, he was a gen’rous witty man
         Who loved most everyone
And for his kindness he was paid
         Four bullets from a gun

Oh, he had no time for politics
         He helped the sick and old
His killers didn’t care at all
         They left his body cold 

Yes, the Troubles trouble Ireland
         A People torn apart
They took poor Larry Brennan’s life
         And broke his mother’s heart

Then his sister, Lish O’Reilly, stood
         Midst flowers in the hall,
And with good sense she spoke the words
         That echo for us all:

“I forgive them, those that did this thing”
         Her eyes were rimmed with tears
“They’re sick and wounded animals,
         Imprisoned by their fears.

“No, we can’t let hate and bitterness
         Control the Irish heart
If we’re to see the Troubles end
         We’ve got to make a start”

Tho’ two thousand years have come and gone
         Since Christ was crucified
The world still longed for peace on earth
         When Larry Brennan died.

Now his little house on Friendly Street
         Will never be the same
The World has built a friendly shrine
         In honor of his name

So let this be Brennan’s legacy:
         That vengeance won’t be seen
And peace will come to Ireland
         For both the Orange and Green

Historians tell us that the Irish Troubles erupted in 1968 and ended thirty years later with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. As we gather to celebrate Christmas 2016, in a painfully divided America, let us pray that our troubles will soon be consigned to history as well.


  1. Merry Christmas to you and all the family, Tom.

  2. Excellent verse with a good ending in 1998.
    Not so for so many other parts of the world.
    Please write for them,
    and perhaps your rhyme will help again.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Amen, Judge, Amen. Merry Christmas to you and yours.