Gerard Sheehy – Dark Hibernians

Profile Sheehy LE P&W March 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing March 2021.

Gerard Sheehy is in his mid fifties and lives in Limerick City, Ireland. He has had poems in the north and south of the country such as A New Ulster, The Stony Thursday, Revival and Boyne Berries. He was one of the poets included in the inaugural Trio book, showcasing emerging writers, from Revival Press, the imprint of the Limerick Writers Centre.

Dark Hibernians

(Bog Bodies in the National Museum of Ireland)

Cut by crude caesarean
from the womb of the bog
they are delivered still-born
and without half their bodies
into the twenty-first century.

I go to see my cousins
my countrymen
and find them incubating
in glass cases and there
come face to face
with my ancestry.

The awful angle of a neck
is the first sentence of one story.
Murdered it says
for sin or sacrifice
and placed in the peat
to meet the desire of priests
or a tribal manipulator.
But it is they who have endured
and not any religious
or political ambition.

I notice one cousin’s nails
planted like tombstones
at the end of earthy fingers
and from there I follow
the sinewy line of his arms
sensing their craving for an embrace.
Their skin is tanned by the ages
and the magic of the bog, and
when I examine the features of a face
I am struck by their familiarity.
A mouth is open
as if labouring to loosen language
and I almost stoop to listen,
but the arrival of another visitor
reminds me I am in a public place.

It will be later
in the privacy of my own thoughts
that words are heard.


Mother, Daughter
Sister, Aunt
Cousin, Friend
thank you for making me
the man who I am.
For giving me something
to believe in
for someone to praise
and for proving the existence
of a higher power
because of your divine intervention.

© Gerard Sheehy