New Poetry Jukebox Commemorates Complex Shared History in Derry~Londonderry

A new temporary sound installation has been placed outside the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry~Londonderry. The Poetry Jukebox contains recordings of twenty poems reflecting on the legacy of the War of Independence and the Civil War one-hundred years ago.

The installation is part of Poetry as Commemoration, an initiative led by UCD Library with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023.

For a period of twelve weeks the Poetry Jukebox allows members of the public to listen to twenty poems commemorating the centenaries of the War of Independence and the Civil War. With a turn of a handle and a press of a button, people passing by on the City Walls can listen to a selection of works from some of the most talented poets on the island of Ireland as well as members of the diaspora. Poems can also be accessed via QR code.

10 poets commissioned to write new poems as part of Poetry as Commemoration

The first ten poems featured were commissioned by UCD Library in partnership with Poetry Ireland and Arts Council Northern Ireland. The following poets were invited to draw inspiration from rich archival holdings across the island: Paul Muldoon, Martina Evans, Seán Hewitt, Victoria Kennefick, Stephen Sexton, Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Padraig Regan, Aifric Mac Aodha, Nithy Kasa, and Bebe Ashley. The resulting poems offer unique perspectives on a variety of documents from Ireland’s revolutionary past. Commenting on the commissions, Dr. Lucy Collins, UCD academic and project lead said: ‘[t]ogether, these [poems] reveal what is deliberate and what is accidental about the archival encounter: ten moments of inspiration, each shaped in a unique way by a poet’s linguistic flair, as well as by their existing styles and preoccupations.’

The next ten poems were selected following an open call to the poetry community earlier this year and feature reflections on the individual lived experience of those living through the upheaval caused by the War of Independence and Civil War. Family stories and neglected narratives feature in the contributions of poets Julie Morrissy, Ian Duhig, Eoghan Totten, David McLoghlin, Ann-Marie Foster, Karen J. McDonnell, Brian Kirk, Angela Graham, Karl O’Hanlon, and Mike MacDomhnaill.

Chief Executive of the Verbal Arts Centre, James Kerr, welcomed the installation with the following statement:

‘We are deeply honoured to host the Poetry Jukebox at the Verbal Arts Centre. This interactive installation breathes life into our shared history, allowing the public to connect with the struggles, triumphs and deeply personal stories of the War of Independence and the Civil War. Poetry has the power to evoke emotion, spark dialogue and, most importantly, foster understanding. We are confident that this unique and innovative experience will not only engage our community in Derry-Londonderry but also inspire deep reflection and appreciation for the rich, complex tapestry of our past.’  

Poet and playwright Maria Mc Manus brought the Poetry Jukebox to Belfast in 2017 with the aim of ‘bringing literature into the cityscape, so that we can encounter the beauty and imagery of words (sometimes unexpectedly) as we go about our everyday lives’. 

As Artistic Director of Quotidian – Word on the Street, Maria partnered with Poetry as Commemoration to bring this Decade of Centenaries tour to fruition. 

Poetry as Commemoration fosters creative engagement between writers and the material history of the War of Independence & Civil War with the aim of deepening our collective understanding of this complex period in Irish history. The Poetry as Commemoration tour will continue in Galway and Dublin in August.

UCD Special Collections welcomes submissions to the Poetry as Commemoration archive where they will be preserved. Please send a signed handwritten copy of your own commemorative poem to UCD Special Collections or email it to

You can listen to the poems featured in this curation here.

  1. ‘Ossuary’ by Seán Hewitt
  2. ‘Poppies In A Field Of Shamrocks’ by Nithy Kasa
  3. ‘The Belfast Pogrom: Some Observations’ by Paul Muldoon
  4. ‘Hogan, Grianghrafadóir’ by Aifric Mac Aodha & transl. by David Wheatley
  5. ‘Blood pulled my Shoe Off: The Birth of the Freestate in the Words of Máire Comerford’ by Martina Evans
  6. ‘Wound’ by Chiamaka Enyi Amadi
  7. ‘The Head of a Man’ by Stephen Sexton
  8. ‘Special Topics in Commemoration Studies: The Kerry Archives’ by Victoria Kennefick
  9. ‘The Lookout’ by Bebe Ashley
  10. ‘This Video Has No Sound’ by Padraig Regan
  11. ‘Faithful Comrade and Life Long Friend’ by Julie Morrissy
  12. ‘Telescope’ by Eoghan Totten
  13. ‘Without Fuss or Splutter’ by Ann-Marie Foster
  14. ‘Uncle Maurice’ by Ian Duhig
  15. ‘The Irish Civil War, Co. Tipperary, Summer 1922’ by Angela Graham
  16. ‘Bloody Sunday, 21st of November 1920, Croke Park’ by David McLoghlin
  17. ‘Cogadh na gCarad ó Bhéal mo mháthar’ by Mike MacDomhnaill
  18. ‘Eliza’ by Karl O’Hanlon
  19. ‘Yew’ by Karen J. McDonnell
  20. ‘Kingdom’ by Brian Kirk