Nigel's Version

by Nigel Quinlan

Joseph MacDonagh stood as he described the bitter death of Thomas Patrick Ashe at the inquiry
Freedom is the bitter sadness and grief of Bloody Sunday
They standardised our memory into textbooks
Frayed humanity, reaching, yearning, trying, failing, arriving at last at restless compromise
Scraps aflutter in the rising wind
The medals lie on the fold-up table
In faded documents we see the lives and deaths of those exalted heroes who gave us our freedom
These memories are frayed, fragile: don’t speak of them
Outside the museum the sun and rain write indecipherably across the surface of the world while the
poets at their tables dig with words into history and memory
On barren fields the hopes and heroes of the revolution lie,
Their freedom shackled by English pennies placed on every eye
No children’s children will they ever meet in our land but wait with open hearts in God’s world.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the Thomas MacDonagh Museum on 20th and 21st of September, 2023. The workshops were led by poet Thomas McCarthy.