We bought schoolbooks in Ennis classrooms then:
Penny by penny the poorest paid. My mother
Would skimp on call; others found it too much bother,
And some could scarce afford to feed the children.
One day my Reader disappeared, and when
The teacher searched the desks was found, covered
In flowery wallpaper. The small thief hovered,
Shamed; blushing and trembling, he was beaten.
And me, I sat and saw him cringe and beg,
A nervous clever granny's boy, an orphan
Of eight or nine, Anthony Cullinan,
Who boasted to me once he'd eaten an egg.
Property has rites, and childrens' rights are slim:
I redden still for what we did to him!