This poem is inspired by W.H. Maxwell’s report of a woman carrying a man over a river in the west of Ireland in the 1820s. The poems imagines them, years later, married and impoverished during the economic crisis of 1829 and the woman still adhering to a sense of ‘duty’ in carrying her husband across a river.
 The above is based on a short excerpt from the 1835 Irish poor law commission about a man by the name of Crowley who had returned to Ireland from Africa:
‘There is a man of the name of Crowley, a native of Carlow, who left it thirty years ago in the capacity of a servant, and served with Captain Denman in his travels in Africa, where his sight became impaired, so as to induce him to return to his native place, where he found his relations all dead and gone; he has no resource but begging, and is quite blind, and sixty years old’.
The poem imagines Crowley returning to Ireland in 1832 amidst the cholera outbreak of that year when ‘blessed turf’ was carried from town to town to ward off the disease.
 Michael Mullins, a ‘roulette gambler and thimble rigger’ was arrested for the murder of his one year-old daughter Winifred Mullins in September 1867. Mullins was later tried and found guilty but insane at the Limerick assizes.