My father was a man of peace
A gun he never carried
Though he often spoke of the civil war
And of the friendships sadly severed
Some for the patriot’s dream
Of an island free from foreign rule
And some for the gains hard won
And freedom to win more freedom.
He had good friends on either side
And never sought to judge them
He mourned the lives of brave young men
Caught up in the coils of history.
What drove some on to fight their own
With the war already over?
Not so, they said, it’s not done yet
We stand for the Republic ever.
Dream on, dream on, we had nothing left
With which to fight the empire.
The people spoke, we must obey
And forge our nation’s future.
And now with tempers raised
And reason out the window
O sad the day it came to pass
They rushed to fight each other
Though some had trained in freedom’s fight
The very men who faced them
My father knew some men who fell
Surrender not their nature
Cut down in their neighbour’s hearing
As they made a run for freedom
He knew the man who led the troops
A family man and fearless
Who had joined the Free State army
When his family faced starvation.
Nearly fifty years had passed
When I met an old survivor
Who remembered well that fateful day
And his dash from the lethal ambush.
For him the bitter wounds had healed
And all now lived in harmony
What mattered most was peaceful land
To which all could give allegiance.
Reproduced with kind permission of the author.
Cover Image: Gutted interior of a building. UCD Archives. Desmond FitzGerald Photographs. P80/PH/97