Tiocfaidh Do Lá
by Kevin Higgins
Dear great-uncle-in-law in Larne,
who secretly thinks people should cease picking on the poor
Duke of York. You punched the air so vigorously
the night Doris Johnson won his victory and proper
order was temporarily restored that your wife was about to
speed-dial the cardiologist when you finally drifted
on your latest new sofa to your recurring night fret: how will
the united Ireland the papers say all this
makes more or less inevitable
pay for my pension?
Short answer: it won’t. Though worry not,
there’ll be plenty of gainful work
for buck-eejits like you: painting road-signs in Irish
in the likes of the Shankill and Ballymoney with the giant
can of extreme green spray paint
that will be provided.
Your induction day task,
that first Monday morning, to daub
Liam of Oráiste on the statue
of King Billy at Carrickfergus
under the bespectacled eye
of a trained Gaelgeoir, there to ensure
you restore – though a few centuries late - the fada
they stole off the ‘a’ in ‘orange’.
Author's Note: In this poem a fictional narrator living in the Republic of Ireland addresses an entirely fictional elderly in-law who lives in Northern Ireland and is from a protestant, unionist background. All of the towns and districts mentioned are staunchly unionist (sometimes called loyalist). The fictional in-law in question is a big fan of Doris Johnson (and bad things generally) at least in theory. But said fictional in-law is worried that Doris Johnson’s political wrecklessness might lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom and a united Ireland which he worries might not be able to pay his pension.
The poem’s narrator decides not to assuage his in-law’s fears because he doesn’t think people who cheer on upper-class psychopaths deserve to be reassured. One of the key issues preventing a restoration of devolved government in the northern part of Ireland is the fact that the DUP have resisted an Irish language act which could mean, among other things, that all road signs and public notices would have to be in both English and Gaeilic. “Liam of Oráiste” is the Gaelic translation of William of Orange; a “Gailgeoir” is an Irish-language enthusiast (some would say fanatic); a “fada” is the Gaelic equivalent of the French accent which appears, for example, over the “a” in “Oráiste” to indicate a vowel should be pronounced long; “Tiocfaidh Do Lá” means ‘your day will come’ and is a play on the traditional Irish Republican slogan “Tiocfaidh Ár Lá”, which means ‘our day will come’.
Kevin Higgins is a Galway-based poet, essayist and reviewer, and satirist-in-residence at the alternative literature site The Bogman's Cannon, www.bogmanscannon.com.