2023 A message to Ireland a century hence 2123

by Alan Millar

if our hopes for you have succeeded
you do not use memories
of the long centuries of oppression
as a tool
to control minorities
or the weak and morally vulnerable
even ones
linked to the former overlord

you remember and commemorate
through song
you teach our children in school
to remember, but move on
unburdened with anger
complete and strong
in unity
with tolerant
and politically practical soulmates
in other small nations
and large

you may have a public holiday
marking world injustice day
the Irish part
you certainly do
perform plays, make movies
create in the latest digital mediums
or whatever unimaginable else
you do

from time to time
you still read and write novels
about terrible medieval atrocities
demographic violation

endless ethnicized wars of attrition
unjust alien government
but you never ever use memories
of the Great Hunger
as a tool
to manipulate and control
a person’s soul

in your wind sun water
and nuclear-powered world
you still have the parks and streets
our grandfathers named for heroes
but an odd one gets put by
now replaced by icons
born long after we here are gone

some of you will have cultivated
a personal philosophy
of looking back
pondering and speculating
learning lessons
never glorifying terrible deeds of revenge
or encouraging pointless
anger filled harbouring of animosity
in our young people

nor teaching them to give the dead
a false life

the capacity for geopolitical wisdom
in the living

if our hopes have succeeded
you are living in an Ireland
where the there is no back door sorting line
of what does
or does not
constitute an acceptable Irish person
defined and policed
by those who rally to populist visions
of that terrible uncontrollable past
or wield equality
as a weapon
against those migrating to our shores
from other regions
or those whose affiliate with identities
linked to the former overlord

because you are free
in a European Union
sharing interest in a highly volatile world
you can
if the whim takes you
compose a sonnet to Four Masters
or pontificate
in the language of the Gaelic chieftains
or eulogise in the manner of ancient bards
sing of a sad history busking
or do none of the above

you might even
for some reason personal to yourself
sit feeling like a passenger
in a coffin ship

on the steps of a building
still named for a former overlord

but you do not disrespect
the visions of liberty, equality, and fraternity
that compelled our dispossessed forbears to escape
the pit of defeat and subjugation

because you have sought out
and united with the fair minded
everywhere on Earth
you are formidable

recognising the unjust
and holding together against tyrants

and you never ever use memories
of the long centuries of oppression
to lift yourselves above
other Irish people

Alan Millar, 57 years old, from Donegal. Based in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, NI. Journalist. Writer and poet in Ulster-Scots and English. In 2021 winner of Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie for Scots poetry and Belfast Linenhall Library Ulster-Scots short story competition. First collection ‘Echas frae the Big Swilly Swally’ published May 2023.

Cover photo: Alan Millar