A Catholic to his Ulster Brother

by Dora Sigerson Shorter

Is there no bond of blood to you, my brother?
Who have called her ours, the ancient Mother,
And here we hope to rest from Life’s temptation
Building of souls our patriotic Nation.
Can we not stand amongst the purple heather
To find that God we both revere together?
Beneath this sky can come no bigot preaching
To fling our lofty dreams to lowly teaching.
William or James, need we still hate each other
For their dead sakes, my Irish-hearted brother?
Can we not pray without fear of dissension
“God save our land” with but the same intention?
If we from Derry walls were flung defeated,
And you from Limerick town in speed retreated,

One God is ours no matter what religion,
One land we love and shall not have division.
Shall we divide? Ah, better take the token
Of Ireland’s luck and leave the shamrock broken
Of one green leaf, when four brought joy upon it,
As Ulster lost—from Munster, Leinster, Connacht.
But Ulster lost with each green sod still crying
For those dear dead who left us dreams undying
Of Ireland’s needs, O’Neill whose heart took fire
And joined the sacred flames of Hugh Maguire.
Shall we not cry “Lamh Dearg abu” and glory
In Cromwell’s fall, in reading Clonmel’s story,
Or by the “Yellow Ford” who cheered most loudly
As hand from hand we passed the same flag proudly?

Yea, we have gone with joyous hearts to follow
Men of your thought by mountain, hill and hollow,
Died for them, lived again, loved down the ages
To bless them yet upon historic pages.
Emmet and Tone! Ah, half our pride uprooted,
We were but dead if we such names refuted,
Our well-beloved, dear brothers of our Sireland,
We call with them “For God and Holy Ireland.”
And do we mourn our Owen Roe less sadly,
Or hold Lord Edward’s claim more loved or gladly,
Because of “popish” ways of Owen’s praying,
Or Edward went to other altars straying?
Do we forget or could our fond faith slacken
A patriot’s glow in owning Joy MacCracken,

Who Belfast-born has helped the island’s story
And shed from Antrim’s hills a sunrise glory.
Mitchel or Meagher! Ah, hear the dear names falling
On no deaf ears, we welcome to you calling,
“O dead long gone, O dead of recent slaying,
From your chill hands we take the banner, praying.”
Where this dear land forbids us to forsake her,
Join with the one sweet voice to the same Maker,
“Our hate is one, our love is one the other,
Lead on! or follow, O my Irish brother.”

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918)

Sigerson Shorter, Dora. ed. The Tricolour: Poems of the Irish Revolution. Cork: CFN, 1976. pp.14-15.