Winner: The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle

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The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle

Róisin 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.

Róisin Dubh has grown old.
And yet the emerald of her complexion is unaltered
Though now speckled with modem 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’
Róisin Dubh has found her Tír na nÓg
In the hearts of her people.


Róisín Finnegan
Holy Faith Secondary School
Clontarf, Dublin