As the Siarsceal festival approaches, which celebrates the River Suck, we begin a series examining the nature of the river with Glenamaddy-based poet John Malachy Raftery. The Suck – super stimulant to verse We can never know a river from merely crossing its bridge. The Suck is a wonderful waterway for the canoeist, with a pleasant variety of gentle rapids and long smooth stretches. John Malachy Raftery, the Glenamaddy poet, has derived much inspiration for his literary work while painstakingly paddling from Ballymoe to Ballinasloe. Its course unchanged for aeons, was certainly followed by our prehistoric forbears in dugout canoes before roads came to be. Going with the self-same flow as they did, is a special connection with ancient times, highlighted by alighting on one of the island created by forks in the flow, where their crannóg-type settlements must surely have existed, as testified to by lines of mossy boulders and curious earthen mounds. Suck ‘landfalls’ are a timely prompt to the poet to rest a while and muse on the nature of life as it was lived by these Fir Bolgs or ‘Tuatha de Danann’. What artefacts, weapons, tools etc, lie hidden in the silt, will never be known, although an occasional example is unearthed by a surprised fisherman. Strange fruit Scallops of deal from a deep dark bog Wood which last saw the light of day When this globe had circled its sun-cog Four thousand times less than now today Resurrected, bisected, dissected, injected With light by a crafty touch of fingers By four million and more years perfected In these fingers, this wood, photosynthesis lingers. Let the light of past light years, back in, To let the hope of light-years hence take root, These scallops of deal are our deep dark kin, On the tree of life are we strange fruit. Of seed thou art, with seed thou shalt return The complement of life back to the chain and tree Unlikely long shot in the dark, ferment of an urn Of creation, primeval ooze of aeons bubbling free