Korea by John McGahern
‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan
Junior Certificate English
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Korea by John McGahern 2
'You saw an execution then too, didn't you?' I asked my father, and he started to tell as he rowed. He'd been captured in an ambush in late 1919, and they were shooting prisoners in Mountjoy as reprisals at that time. He thought it was he who'd be next, for after a few days they moved him to the cell next to the prison yard. He could see out through the bars. No rap to prepare himself came to the door that night, and at daybreak he saw the two prisoners they'd decided to shoot being marched out: a man in his early thirties, and what was little more than a boy, sixteen or seventeen, and he was weeping. They blindfolded the boy, but the man refused the blindfold. When the officer shouted, the boy clicked to attention, but the man stayed as he was, chewing very slowly. He had his hands in his pockets.
'Take your hands out of your pockets,’ the officer shouted again. The man slowly shook his head.
'It's a bit too late now in the day for that,’ he said.
The officer then ordered them to fire, and as the volley rang, the boy tore at his tunic over the heart, as if to pluck out the bullets, and the buttons of the tunic began to fly into the air before he pitched forward on his face.
The other heeled quietly over on his back: it must have been because of the hands in the pockets.
The officer dispatched the boy with one shot from the revolver as he lay face downward, but he pumped five bullets in rapid succession into the man, as if to pay him back for not coming to attention.
'When I was on my honeymoon years after, it was May, and we took the tram up the hill of Howth from Sutton Cross,’ my father said as he rested on the oars. 'We sat on top in the open on the wooden seats with the rail around that made ...