50th Anniversary of The Rising - Insurgents in Toomevara National School

by Marie Studer

Like all those green, white and gold days
the Master recited the Proclamation
pointing to the heroes hanging on the beige
distempered wall. That day, at the peal of the bell
we spring to opposite sides of the schoolyard –
a space split in two by three-pillared concrete sheds.
Some heed a call as high-pitched as MacDonagh’s
lark, sprint to a girl with cross-the-back straps
on her pleated skirt holding the hand
of a boy in short pants, and in domino effect
we become four, sixteen, maybe more
swivelling and screaming our human chain
back and forth over the line.
The Master, his back against a pebble-
dashed wall tamps his pipe, puffs from its brown bowl
white, sweet-spice swirls of tobacco smoke.
At the re-peal of the bell small hearts pound
in two opposing lines, step to the order,
lean ar aghaidh.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshop held online in December 2023.  The workshop was led by writer Nessa O’Mahony.