To The Man Who Defines Ireland
by Kevin Higgins
When telling us, as a nation, to cop on to ourselves
you spit the words Provo
or workers’ paradise like a lady
trying to rid her mouth of sour milk.
But your voice is church bells and sunshine
pouring down on Kingstown Harbour, circa 1913
when you put your tongue across the syllables
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.
The greatest thing to come out of Crumlin
since the curried chips
that made a young Phil Lynott
question his lifestyle choices.
You are as politically and philosophically serious
as a Second Division footballer’s fashion sense,
circa 1977; or a stockbroker last seen exiting
a high-end house of great repute
wearing a thirteen-gallon hat;
or a guy in a white linen jacket
who’ll end up wandering O’Connell Street
shouting against Home Rule.
And without you, we’d not be ourselves.
For you are our national anticonvulsant
without which we’d be in danger
of actually doing something.