Blood Sport

by Mary Howlett

Rain falls on the thatched cottage,
in the flag stoned kitchen
mother kneads bread.
East wind howls,
fallow deer, noses twitch, eyes dart.
Father kneels, joins hands,
Angelus bell echoes.
Tans scour the ditches, rifles cocked.
Three shots at Carrueragh bog
shatter the silence,
a lone curlew cries overhead.
Father runs towards the marsh,
mother falls to her knees.
Unarmed, Lyons, Walsh, Dalton
fall on Kilmorna’s peat.
Jammed rifle gives Dee the chance to bolt.
Soft rain weeps,
stag shivers behind the gorse.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Waterford Central Library in November 2022.  The workshops were led by writer David McLoghlin.

Inspired by ‘Letter from the Officer Commanding of the IRA in Listowel
County Kerry detailing activities of the Black and Tans’
Date: 14th May 1921
Collection: Administrative files of the early Dáil Éireann Secretariat, 1919-1922
Reference: DE/2/436(011)
Archive: National Archives of Ireland

Attached to this account is a memo from Michael Collins to the Dept. of Propaganda noting that the report could be used to illustrate abuses by enemy forces.