Poems by Seán O'Donoghue

My name is Seán O'Donoghue.  I live in Ballymun and I wrote the first poem last week and I wrote the second poem in 1983 in the middle of the troubles. 

My First Memory

Dad was holding me at ground level
Hurley stick and sliotar swivel
His hands huge over mine
As he directed a swing so fine
Dressed in black tie suits for mass
Both standing gently on the grass
My brother Paul sound asleep
In a large pram that mothers keep
The home decked out in blue and gold
Tipperary's colours to be told

Kilkenny, the enemy on the wing
The speed of hurling was the thing
The thing he instilled in me so young
For a generation with a brand new song
He played for the minors as a younger man
Now he supports with all he can
His joy infectious as a flame
For hurling the sacred game

And my second poem is called "When will they go?"  There is a place called Sandhurst in England where young men are trained to implement British Government Policy in our country. These men speak with a different accent to us but it is not their accent we object to, it's their attitude.  My poem is called "When will they go?", and the first two verses are delivered in the Sandhurst accent.

When will they go?

It's bombing season so they say
Mustn't give in now Ho: Hurray
When will these terror types decay?
And realise, this is not the way.
I don't understand these common folk
Their attitude to crown sends peace up in smoke
But my men need training; we've a job to do
So search that house and stop 'Hey you'.

[The reply comes from a young Belfast man]

There are two 't's in terrorist,
Each day they put us to the test
Metal pigs daily scream into our streets
Terrorise with awful feats.

When will they go and leave Ireland alone?
Then me and my friends can pack up and go home.
You can't take a land, run off people and more
And expect to go shopping in your local store.
When will they ken that with foreign laws here
They will always be searching for items of fear.

You act like a blacksmith forging iron young men
They won't bat an eyelid spending time in your pen.
You'll never defeat them, you never ever will
And if you keep trying they'll fight back and kill.
You'll never defeat them, you don't even know how,
So why don't you stop and give it up now.

For people are dying alone in the street
And prisoners are left standing all night on their feet.
When will they go and leave Ireland alone?
And then me and my friends can pack up and come home.


Recorded at Ballymun Library Creative Writing Group, facilitated by Orla Ní hAonigh.

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