A Poem for Ireland: The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle

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A Poem for Ireland logoThanks to Róisín Finnegan who has given us permission to publish her winning entry in the national competition ‘A poem for Ireland’, which was part of the commemoration events for Ireland 2016. Róisín's poem shows a vivid and mature voice significant in this commemorative year.  We see Róisín Dubh, an ancient figure moving about in modern day Ireland.  There are elements of nostalgic patriotism mixed with modern references in a gentle and natural order which are all the more lovely as they are inspired by a teenager in 2016.

Read the poem in full:

The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle

Róisín Dubh has grown old.
She re-reads her love letters and smiles fondly
Brushes a gentle hand along the scars of her history
Remembers when it was a crime for her to be loved.
She rises as they did that day and looks upon the land.

First she lingers in the bars
Shrouded in a hundred beer saturated breaths
Leans closer to the oldest man,
He’s telling the one about the boat and the brother again,
His grandson picks at crisps beside him
And won’t realise that he’s listening for years to come.

She laughs as she reaches the céilí
She’s seen a hundred more, before,
And yet the red faced breathless laughter
And the spins and stumbles and turns
The jumping music mingling with the Gaeilge
Buzzes with a magic she thought she’d lost fadó fadó.

She casts an eye across the world
And sees the green spattered here and there , everywhere,
The salvation of a pub for the fled
When she could not hold their spirits in her arms
When the earth had died and could not feed their songs
Her tears became a constant rain as she watched the starving go.

Róisín Dubh has grown old.
And yet the emerald of her complexion is unaltered
Though now speckled with modern attributes impossible to avoid
Her voice remains warm and sharp with nostalgia
Her song evermore a hopeful promise
Her echoing laugh a legend, told for the thousandth time.

‘Is deas a bheith óg,’ deir sí,
‘Age means nothing when you have such a memory’
Róisín Dubh has found her Tír na nÓg
In the hearts of her people.

Róisín Finnegan, Holy Faith Secondary School
Third year student (2016)

Download a printable version of The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle(PDF, 37kb)

'A poem for Ireland' National competition was co-ordinated by The Department of Education, Local Government Management Agency and local authorities library services as a commemorative project for 1916.

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