Night Visit, 1922

by Kevin Dowling

A late knock on the door meant trouble.

She listened for the muffled password,

hesitated before opening  and

letting light leak into the night.

A voice she couldn’t place.

“Come quick Kate, Jimmy’s hit.

Bring your black bag.”


Her mother hushed the smaller ones,

led them to a darkened room,

dimming the lamp while her father

readied the trap, harnessed the horse.


She practised what she’d say when stopped.

“I’m going to Mrs Mulryan, her time is near.”

She hoped they wouldn’t check the pile of rags,

risked the soldiers’ sneer.


They found him below the bridge,

tended his wounds, stopped the bleeding.

“Take him up, the barn’s ready.

Its best go  by McFadden’s yard.

They’ve the roads watched.”

She blessed herself as they crossed the jealous fields,

already dreading the next knock.


Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshop led by Mary O’Donnell in Kilkenny Library on March 8th 2023.