War of Independence 1922 and Belfast 1972

by Angela McCabe

Each night I pass the neighbours’ house
and remember Johnny Gaffney who wouldn’t
drive the train in 1922 with four IRA prisoners onboard.

They were caught setting an ambush
near Ballinamore, marched to the station
handcuffed and bound for Sligo jail.

News spread throughout the townlands.
Locals on the platform cheered
Johnny Gaffney for not driving the train.

They lay on the concrete huddled together,
a smidgeon of warmth from the rising sun.
Solemn waves as the driver eventually chugged away.

Bloody Friday, 1972 Belfast, no one could drive a train.
Twenty bombs exploded, a bomb a minute.
The summer sun could not warm the bodies on the tracks.


Reproduced with kind permission of the author. Angela McCabe participated in Poetry as Commemoration workshops in Leitrim County Library, Ballinamore, facilitated by Mary Melvin Geoghegan in October and November 2023.