by Tina Hunt

“The Tan opposite C. Dee must have lost his nerve

or something happened his rifle as it fell from him”

(extract taken from a letter detailing the capture of a group of unarmed
volunteers by the Black and Tans in Listowel in 1921. One of the volunteers escaped being shot)


You pointed death at him

 from ten yards

yet no crack snapped the air


Were you human 

just in that moment

not the bloodhound

of all other moments


No photograph 

betrays your secret

ties your colours to the mast

not in this field not on this morning


A lorry a lonesome road

and you just then

maybe human 

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Waterford Central Library in November 2022.  The workshops were led by writer David McLoghlin.

Inspired by ‘Letter from the Officer Commanding of the IRA in Listowel
County Kerry detailing activities of the Black and Tans’
Date: 14th May 1921

Collection: Administrative files of the early Dáil Éireann Secretariat, 1919-1922
Reference: DE/2/436(011)
Archive: National Archives of Ireland