A BUS journey can be an ideal time for reflection for a passenger, looking out the window as the miles pass by – and it turns out one local bus driver has had a good bit of inspiration himself.
That’s not to say he’s been letting his mind wonder behind the wheel, but rather Jimmy Phelan has devoted some of his free time to recording his thoughts and recollections in the form of poems and short stories, which are now available in his collection, A Busman’s Musings.
The pieces in the book were written over a period of three or four years and include reflections on past memories (Coal Miner’s Lament, My First Waltz), political life (The Candidate (A Satire), The Backbencher); and quirks of modern life (Hen Night).
There’s even a musical musing on the present economic situation, entitled Ireland Bankrupt:
Owing to publication
Of poor regulation
In banking operation
For our population
And national fixation
On this limitation
Of money presentation
By the administration
Governing this nation
“The book is a blend of poems and short stories carrying no particular theme but rather a variety of comment on life experiences ranging from a Dáil backbencher to driving a school bus to learning how to waltz,” the writer explained. “The short stories range from the excitement of the fair day in times past, to the concerns associated with flying by night at present, among others.”
Now a resident of Rosbercon, Mr Phelan was born and reared at Mooneen, Graignamanagh, and attended national school until the age of 14. He worked on the family farm until the age of 23, at which point he decided to leave and go to Dublin in pursuit of a Leaving Certificate qualification.
“Adult education facilities were poor at the time so despite a lot of hard effort, nothing of recognisable value emerged from that adventure other than experience,” he said. “However, the change led me to a job offer with John M. Murphy and Sons of Graignamanagh in their milling division – which I accepted – and spent five wonderful years with that highly respected company.”
He has spent the remaining 40 years to date driving buses as a way of life.
This book was inspired by creative writing courses he attended with tutor Mark Roper in Waterford Adult Education Centre and Frances Cotter in the Castlecomer Library.
Copies of the book are available for e5 at The Book Centre, High Street, Kilkenny; Dubray Bookshop in the Market Cross Shopping Centre, Kilkenny; P.J. Cullen Centra in Bennettsbridge; O’Keeffe’s, Market Street, Thomastown; and Barron’s Daybreak, Inistioge.