Safe House 1966

by Lucy Moore

From my childhood bed I hear

the regulars slip through the back door. 

Every one of them knows his place.

My father stands behind the counter

purveyor of drink, commander-in-chief

of his own brigade.


Wheylan takes charge of the herrins

sizzling over the fire 

on a homemade blackened fork.


Stories flow, of Peelers dodged, 

paltry fish catches, upcoming repairs 

to nets, thatch and white-wash 

before the day of our National Saint,

punctuated by the kushshsh of Guinness bottles

decapped and expertly poured

by my father.


When Taylor and his lieutenant arrive

they head for the hearth, pick up 

the fish with unwashed hands 

and eat. My father serves, silent 

until the jibes land too close.


‘Your father took the king’s shilling

and ended up a lunatic 

for his trouble.’

Sniggers and laughs.


‘That’s enough out of you,’

my father shouts, ‘drink up and go!’ 

Taylor grins. Having successfully ruffled 

the feathers of Jimmy Dineen,

he leans over the counter 

to deliver his parting shot:

‘And where were your people in 1916?’

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Wexford Archives  on 20th and 27th of March 2023. The workshops were led by writer Mark Granier and archivist Gráinne Doran.