To James O'Sullivan, Witness No. 1455

by Thomas McCarthy

Dear James, all that close order foot drill
and marching in foundation, it must have reassured
each Protestant neighbour, made them feel
you were more than ready for the Great War
that might save civilisation. I can tell
that you were mild as a Postal Clerk, a mere
lad of the soil improving himself who’d hear the appeal
of his betters and joins the Munsters at the rear
of some hopeless battle. From your report I can tell
you grew in fierceness and resolve, unwilling to bear any drum-roll but that of the Republic. The hell
you wished to be rid of was the old Empire
and its parasitic ways. There was nothing frail
in this report of yours, only the fire
of youth at the Republic, only the integrity of the Gael.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. Thomas McCarthy led Poetry as Commemoration workshops at Bantry Literary Festival in July 2023.

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement: James O’Sullivan, Rock Villas, Bantry, Co. Cork. O/C, Bantry Company, Bantry Battalion, Cork