This Soldier’s Home

by Carmel Hogan

In Memory of James Hogan


When I looked at you, I saw only your disfigured hand

and wondered, where you’d stand, if you hadn’t gone to fight

for a King and country that wasn’t yours.

How did you feel when you watched your children play

with playing cards ‘Made in a Free State’ 

and your country wasn’t free?

With only a thumb, you couldn’t hold the cards.         

Couldn’t hold a gun.


Nothing civil about a war that turns brother against brother,

driving them to take up arms to fight one against the other.

Not what you imagined in the deep dark trenches.

Or the life you dreamt of for your children, 

as you lay in the concentration camp,

with the sound of ferocious gunfire searing your head

and in your nose, the stench of rotting flesh, your comrades dead.

Unwilling and unable to take on another fight.


Now I look up to you, hero that you are.

You couldn’t hide the sacrifices.

Couldn’t hide the scars, the ones we couldn’t see.

Your home a British Army House on the Dunmore Road. 

Royal red paint on windows and doors.

Signal red, a signal to the world.


I look at your name, now and forever on the Railway wall,

with other names – husbands, fathers, brothers, sons.

Not the fallen, but still falling Soldiers of World War I

and I tell my sons the little I know.

We deal the cards, ‘Made in a Free State’.

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.