John McCullagh March 17, 2006
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Our eyes followed the plume of smoke and the sound of the approaching train grew louder as it came directly into view. With a loud hiss of steam, the train came to a halt close to us, at the station beside Taffe’s Castle.

We watched the train doors open and the passengers stepped onto the platform. Many were working in Dundalk and were anxious for a hot meal and the comfort of home. The last passengers to alight were a family of five who were greeted on the platform by a local couple. The children – two boys and a girl – were hugged and embraced. Greetings and handshakes were exchanged by the older couple. They all moved off the platform, deep in animated conversation and, no doubt, the exchange of memories.

There was the slam of train doors being closed .. the Guard was waving his flag .. the train baton was passed to the driver .. the Station Master blew on his whistle .. then with a long swoosh of steam and noise, the train moved out of the station.

From a nearby window a little girl waved to the slowly moving train, its smoke trail temporarily masking the cragged outline of Slieve Foy. As it disappeared on its journey to Newry, we were left alone, with our gulls …

.. gulls that, from the walls of King John’s Castle, have seen time and history pass by from time immemorial.

Our contemplation with the gulls is interrupted by an angry voice from below, at ground level.

‘Get you down HERE at ONCE!!!

It’s TWO HOURS ago that I sent you on a message to the shop!

Just you wait till I get you home!’

It was my mother calling! The magic was broken.

And now I’m back to reality. My youthful pals can no longer dream with me from the walls of the Castle.

I stroll past the gulls and into the present.

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