A Stone's Throw
Tommy Sands - © Elm Grove Music

Often people ask why there was trouble in Northern Ireland. One could just as validly ask “How could there not have been trouble?” We lived within a stone’s throw of each other but we went to different schools, we learned different histories and we played different games. We didn’t know each other.

If people know each other before a row starts it’s much easier to resolve it. There are now more mixed and integrated schools. Unlike me, my daughter Moya went to a mixed school. During the highly charged marching season a few years ago in a local divided village her Catholic friends urged her to leave quickly before the Orange band arrived on the street or else they could be in trouble. It was too late. The band suddenly appeared but instead of aggression many were waving to her with a smile. They had been in the same class together. Everything was different.

I was only three years old and you were nearly five
Playing in the daisies in the early Summer time
Your father in his meadow he was working at the hay
And mine was in another one doing much the same

And so we grew together a stone's throw from each other

They marched in two directions when the holidays would come
Commemorating difference to the rattle of the drum
But wars were not for making when there's harvest to be done
And they'd always help each other when the threshing man would come

And I was barely seven years and you were nearly nine
Toddling off to different schools and toeing different lines
One admired an empire with its kings and queens so brave
The other told of rebels bold who fought them tooth and nail

I see you on the other side you lead an angry band
You look in our direction and a stone is in your hand
I don't know should I wave at you or would you understand
But as you turn your head away the stone falls from your hand