For what may have been and for John.

On the isle of giants beneath the wings of eagles, a flycatcher sings in the bough of an apple tree. It sears the damp air with high-pitched bullets that ricochet off the nunnery rocks and out toward the Ross.

Standing midway between its beak and the pebbled beach lilts an ancient wall, in whose lea lies a stone.

Common, unassuming, like a mound of proving granite bread rising with stature and purpose from the Ionian soil, it marks the final resting place of a generations’ dreams.

And one request.

Naturally curved, no straight lines define this headstone, a diminutive power source, resolute, fixed and determined to leave its mark. Without ostentation, it demands our attention.

Those interred dreams once took more breath away than any regal mountain over which the sun rises and Columba once held dominion.

Here, among the isles of kings lay the kings of Norsemen and Picts. In their sacred clay brown Celtic earth the entombed voices of ancient warriors can be heard whispering to each other, in the way the highland heather and gorse engage under the setting sun. Proud royals regalling themselves with stories of standing in defence of their land and people, fearless in their aims to suffer to none and raise all from suffering.

“All we ask is the chance to serve” cry the cold carved noble comments of Mann, echoed in life by the noble man sleeping asunder. Those leaders keep worthy company.

Here, pebbles of various hues, crimson flowers and feathers rest as tokens of remembrance, love and testify to the right in fighting for a better world.

Not the world to come, but the world that never came with his passing.

Tears fall down cheeks like seals slipping into the sea. Raindrops of lost hope running over faces to be carried by westerly winds back to that fateful day in May.

The day our world stood still, still in shock and disbelief, still in our realisation of the theft torn from our breasts by a lion’s heart.

And still the pain and loss cut though like an ice drenched gale blowing all the way from Greenland.

So, we stand for a while, and think of what might have been and what came in its place. And sigh into mournful Reilig Odhráin sky.

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