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Poetry Magnum Opus

Conor MacArt is back in Ireland


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is é an rud iontach

ag teacht ar ais go dtí do thír féin



Home in Ireland again, tears come to my eyes,

as I buy two pistols and sharpen my sword

and set out on the rocky road to dear old Dublin.

Shane O’Neill, my nemesis, is dead at last, killed

stone dead by the MacDonnells, God bless them,

and I am free to return to my wife and children.


Light-hearted with Liam and Taig, two stout young lads

I’d picked up along the way, and me given to song,

and it was in the middle of the chorus of the Fiddler’s Bitch

I was brought up short-handed by a black-hearted knave

who said get down off that fuckin horse, young gentleman,

hand over all your money if ye know what’s good for you.


I am lately returned from the Ottoman Empire, says I,

where I was a general commander in the Sultan’s forces!

That’s very nice, says he, and my heart salutes you,

now get off the fuckin horse and remove your boots,

but I was loathe to do so, with Liam and Taig looking on,

and I the hero of foreign battles in their eyes.


I spurred the horse amid a bark of pistols, young Liam

went down and Taig calling for assistance, poor fellow,

but they were not friends nor family so I galloped away.

I had come so far: I was going to go further. I arrived,

at last, in Dublin, and sought out old relations, Auntie Jo

took me in her house, a lovely house on Merrion Square.


This was bon ton indeed. Hired bands playing Bocherelli

as we dipped and bowed and curtsied and danced.

But the English officers were asking sharp questions

so I took it upon me it was time to leave. Auntie Jo

cried into her handkerchief, the dear creature, and I,

the last man of the family prepared to leave.


Just in time, as it happens, since the troops came in

the following day to find me gone. I was on my way

to the black heart of Ulster. I will go back now, I thought,

I will go back to the dread North, where my story began.


As Gaeilge:

There is nothing to compare

with the pleasure of coming home

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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