Tulaigh Ua Thiomain (November 8 1987)

A poem about hippies touring Ireland


God helps three kinds of people:

fools, children, and drunkards –

we were two of the three.

 

We were on a jaunt,

Carolyn and I that is,

in her beat up van

with two ounces of hashish

and headed nowhere special.

 

Just mooching Ireland,

in and out the Republic,

crossing the border

when munchies or booze ran low,

driving slow and staying cool.

 

Fermanagh? Scenic.

Enniskillen?  Slumbering.

Remembrance Sunday,

a massive parade was on

so Carolyn and I split –

 

we weren’t those for flutes,

drums, marching bands, poppy days.

We drove through Belcoo,

Sligo, into Donegal –

stashed the hash near Pettigo.

 

Around a corner,

soldiers and a barricade –

oil drums, bollards.

Lots of shouting, I recall,

“Hands up! Out that fucking van!”

 

Was that hands up first

and then open the van door?

Guns cocked. We were yanked.

I got thrown against a wall.

“Name? Date of birth?  Place of birth?”

 

They turfed our stuff out

all over the bloody street.

Dogs nuzzled the pile.

“They sniffing for bombs or what?”

“What do you know about bombs?”

 

“Zilch.  Bongs more my style.”

“Fuckin’ hippies.  Fuck off.  Go!”

It was poppy day

in Tullyhommon. Large crowds;

Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades marching,

 

squads of soldiers, and

uniformed RUC, all

gathered around a hidden

bomb destined not to go off.

No one knows what went wrong,

 

or rather went right.

Orders from ‘On High’? Chequers?

Or from the Provos?

Did a tractor wheel sever,

or cows chew, the command wire?

 

Carnage – slain children

in their hundreds – averted.

The neutralised bomb

(miracles sometimes happen)

went largely unreported.

 

Carolyn and I

watched the parade glassy eyed.

Giggling, stoned, waving

a plastic Union Jack

as banners marched proud past us.

 

Unharmed. Protected.

We might have been blown apart

in Enniskillen.

We came.  We saw. We left town,

taking just the flag with us,

 

white Cadbury’s buttons

(Cazzie’s favourite munchies)

bottle of Black Bush

a tank filled with red diesel

a clenched fist of memories.

 

 

 

 

 

© coolhermit 2018
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critique and comments welcome.

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6 Comments on "Tulaigh Ua Thiomain (November 8 1987)"

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Ifyouplease
Member

things i don’t know, but described effectively to get the idea, well written

Andrea
Member

‘…God helps three kinds of people: – fools, children, and drunkards –…’

Ain’t that the truth – brilliant as always (I was there during the Omagh bombing)

Pommer
Member
Well described, I spent a lot of time in Co.Kerry ,and lived in digs in London.with Irish people from Nprth and South,,and it always puzzled me that they all got on well together living in the same house.Yet,back in the North they fought each other again..My daughter who lived in Kerry for ten years never had any bother in spite of being English..Omagh was bloody awful. I hope it will never happen again..Thank you for sharing. Peter.
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