Our Great Aunt Susan Wrote a Memoir for her Kids

by Róisín Ní Mhóráin

After 50 years,
my granny’s sister wrote of carrying notes
to Michael Collins, Chief
of young girls’ duty, pride, bewilderment and dreams,
a Nation Once Again.

Her family sang in sitting room above the shop,
hearts too big for bodies to hold them in,
a song of Kevin Barry, young boy hanged
while, they said, his mother bravely prayed
knowing that he died for country, Ireland to be free.

It’s 50 years again now since and now,
I wonder — how she, his mother, died and how so many
young men in another time threw bombs,
hearts beating to that song?

— and how many mothers’ lacerated souls
slinged through endless purgatory in a wheeling search
To find a way from hell on earth in dreaming of another heaven’s song.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the National Museum of Ireland — Country Life, Co. Mayo, in November, 2022. The workshops were led by poet Terry McDonagh.