Finalist: ‘Pride in Bród’ – A Poem for Ireland

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‘Pride in Bród’ – A Poem for Ireland


You can’t shake that feeling
when you pass below the clouds
to find the miniature patchwork fields
slowly rising up to meet you
with a reassuring hug, to step busy
off the plane onto tarmac, not just any;
Fáilte go hÉirinn. I am home.
To breathe again the air
that needs no explanation;
Seo í an tír. Tá mé saor.
Identity may change, but not ours.

I have not stood
on Inis Oírr drinking in
the Cliffs of Moher
and thought our island small.

I have stood
in cobbled streets
and weeded boreens alike
and never felt lost.

They say Gaeilge will be gone soon.
A language being carried to its hearse.
Yet still!
Come stand and fight the uphill battle,
students may curse it as they
fletch their arrows but do not loose them.
Fletch arrows of our psyche instead,
focus our eyes on landing the target
before our feathers change colour
and we lose them.
Identity may change, but not ours.

I have not stood
on Skellig Michael
amidst stone huts and steps
and thought our history boring.

I have stood
atop Carrantoohill and wondered
why above the green and blue
a cross stands there too.

An island as if earth’s canvas was ripped
to form our coast, and onto the land
the waves threw us, landing flat
we’ve risen from sod and bog
from Malin head to Mizen
midland lakes and sweeping hills
it is on this island we’ve made our home
a home where we vote for our leaders
and anyone might marry, where it’s alright
to treat strangers as friends.
Identity may change, but not ours.

I have not stood
awhile and talked
with small folk and tall folk
and found our culture lacking.

I have stood
on the soil of my home
and wondered whether it’ll
hold my ashes or my bones.

A proud nation,
you’d think a population starved
and halved would affect us? It did.
We’re no longer forced to build
roads from nowhere to nowhere, or to be
buried in blighted soil or floating coffins.
Though we may weep for ancestors fallen
it is to their promise we shall keep
when we decorate their graves with flowers
we clench a fist of grass and utter
Identity may change, but not ours.

I have not stood
Under Ben Bulben
and thought nothing of the words
that once adorned its slopes.

 I have stood upon
blocks of basalt with a
brine filled wind blowing
and believed in a mutual ownership.

A bruised nation,
farce or blood sacrifice?
Did they really free us from the Rose’s vice?
Look back and now before you:
Martyrs. A word so lightly thrown,
yet they broke us from our lasting strife.
Law is not stronger than life.
We’ve withstood centuries, millennia
even the darkest seconds, minutes, hours
Seo í an tír. Táimid saor.
Identity may change, but not ours. Alas

I have stood before
the GPO, as have many,
and considered the seeds they sowed

 for this Ireland would not be
the Ireland it is today, were it not
for a hundred years ago.

An old nation,
our present has been wrought
by brave men and brave women,
by those who fought for our right,
by those who died without hope in sight.
But our future is shaped by us;
I will not stand by and have our culture
dilute into bland world,
nor I think, will you.
Not if you are Irish.
Not if you are true.

Tricolour bruises caked in mud
are worn beneath our dresses and skirts
our suits and shirts,

arrows are fletched with feathers green,
a nation in draw,
let loose the dream.


by Fionn O’Sullivan
Newpark Comprehensive Blackrock
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown