Conversation of a Lifetime

Mount Congreve Garden, Co. Waterford

I came across a question yesterday on Twitter, with a picture of a seat overlooking an ocean,  that had me thinking long into the night. Here’s what it was:

If you could spend an hour on this seat talking with one person (past or present), who would it be?

While I was thinking about the possible contenders, I decided that the seat should be in precious Mount Congreve, but I found it very difficult to nominate one person.

Part of me wanted to have the pleasure of an hour with a personal loved one who has died but I decided that I couldn’t face seeing him/her walk away at the end of the hour.

The person I finally came up with was Nobel Prize winning poet, Seamus Heaney ( 1939-2013), whose poetry I adore and who made such a lasting impression on me when I heard him read at The Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2009.

Here’s one of his poems that I’d loved to have him read to me in that wonderful voice of his:


Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may have let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

Seamus Heaney

So who would YOU choose to chat with for that one special hour?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

48 thoughts on “Conversation of a Lifetime”

    1. Hi Sue, you’ve sprung a surprise at me here. Looks like I most definitely need to get to know the work of Dion Fortune because this is BIG talk coming from you!

          1. She is very much a product of her era and there are a few things that would not pass muster today, but beyond the social veneer of the times, there is pure gold.

  1. I started reading this and I was POSITIVE you would choose Seamus Heaney! How do you like them apples?
    Hmmm… I would love to sit with Maya Angelou. The life she lived, the wisdom she earned, the respect for all. It would be such a conversation, I am sure!

    1. Dale, YOUR comment has taken be aback as well as Sue’s.
      I didn’t think I was THAT predictable but then you are very intuitive.
      Maya would be very high on my list as well. What a woman!

      1. No, no, NOT predictable at all! I just know how much you admire his writings….and I pay attention! 💕
        She was definitely amazing!

      1. I’ve lost too many people that I would love to be able to spend that hour with; so many things I never got to say. But I am torn between three particular individuals that I think I might actually write a post of my own explaining why.
        Thank you for the inspiration. 😃

    1. Tric, love your suggestions. Obviously my late parents were very much in my thoughts but I don’t think I could bear to have them go again. Perhaps, in another twenty years? Who knows?
      I wonder, too, how I would have answered this question 30 years ago, I suspect very differently to now. What about you?

      1. Definitely. I think it would probably have been an actor or an olympic swimmer. Give us another ten and our answer may be different too.

  2. That would be a hard choice but I would probably choose my father or mother so I could ask them all the questions I should have asked before they died. Yet I would like to hear Seamus Heaney too!

  3. Now that would be such a grounding and really interesting conversation Jean!
    I found it difficult to focus on just one person. There are so many who inspire and whose presence would be heartwarming.

      1. Not so much about religion but rather to see what sort of person he was – there is no way that anyone under that much scrutiny had their personality described objectively.

  4. Loved the poem and post, Jean, and this is a tough question. There are so many people I would choose…my Mom and Mother-in-Law who aren’t with us anymore, family members who I don’t see that often, many bloggers who I’d love to meet, poets, celebrities and the list goes on, but for fun and since singing was my passion in my younger years and she was my idol then and still is, I would say Barbra Streisand. I’ve seen her in concert, which was awesome but it sure would be great to meet her. 🙂

  5. What a question Jean. Before now I’ve organised fantasy dinner parties where you invite half a dozen people of your choice, living or dead. But just one? Maybe Tom Barry to hear first hand of his life and times during the War of Independence and the Civil War.

  6. My mother! I’ve so many questions to ask, and didn’t think to ask before she died twenty-six years ago, and I’d love to tell her about my kids, who she didn’t live to see, but who I know she would be so proud of.

    1. Hi Naomi, I can imagine how one’s mother must come very much to the fore when one has babies. I was very lucky to have mine until our son was 13 and he’s the youngest of all the grandchildren.

  7. I would like to share a bench with my maternal great grandfather, to ask why did he leave his daughter, my grandmother and her mother when she was a baby, and where did he go? Did he ever come back? Was he happy?

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