Lady Cassie Peregrina by Terry McDonagh, Celebrated Irish Poet, Writer, Playwright and Founding Contributor to Live Encounters Magazine.
It all began in July 2013. Matthew, our son, persisted in his wish to have a dog and, seeing as we were going to be in County Mayo for a year, we were pleased to comply. The Ballyhaunis branch of ISPCA came up trumps and we met a border collie, Cassie, for the first time. She seemed timid and unsure which would indicate she’d not always been well-treated.
We fostered her on a trial basis, but the trial came to an end after about two hours and fostering became permanent. She very quickly got to know the roads, lanes and routines within a radius of seven kilometres of our house in Cill Aodáin, Kiltimagh. We struck up dog-walking friendships and I began taking notes and scribbling a few lines here and there, but it was only when I realised that Cassie must have memories of her own and definite opinions on her current lifestyle, that my scribbling began to shape into poems. Our routine brought me into contact with childhood experiences and memories – people I’d been to school with and grown up alongside. I got closer to the boy hiding within me.
Just after Christmas, the question of quo vadis arose and when we decided to return to Hamburg, Cassie’s future became an issue. Seeing as we were in this together, provision had to be made for a dog in our Golf estate. Months passed quickly and when summer came we set out with a carload of stuff and an inexperienced dog. Our journey took us from Cill Aodáin via a ferry from Larne to Cairnryan, to Newcastle by road, to Amsterdam by ferry and, finally, by Autobahn to Hamburg where I began the first draft of this poetry collection.
I am indebted to Cassie, my family, childhood gallivanting, lifelong friends and experiences, the ongoing struggle with life and mortality, my two sons, Seán and Matthew, granddaughter, Emma, and, especially, to Joanna for her support.
© Terry McDonagh