Rachael Hegarty is the Poet Laureate for Dublin 1. The poet and teacher has strong local ties to the area, having lived at various addresses over the years.
“Me and mine are pure delighted and excited – I'm now the Poet Laureate for Dublin 1!” she says. “Himself and meself had a first home in Summerhill. Both our sons were born there. We lived on Healy Street from 2000 to 2006 and our lives in Dublin 1 were so much fun.
“Also, me Ma and Da had their first flat on Buckingham Street. So, you see, being asked to be Poet Laureate of Dublin 1 is not only a great honour, it’s the most lovely of homecomings.”
Rachael Hegarty is a Dubliner, born and bred between the canals until she was seven years old. She was educated by the Holy Faithers in Finglas, the U. Mass Bostonians, the Trinity M.Phillers in Dublin and the Ph.D. Magicians at Queens University, Belfast.
Her debut collection, Flight Paths Over Finglas, won the 2018 Shine Strong Award. A child survivor of the Talbot Street bomb, her collection May Day 1974 (Salmon, 2019) has received critical acclaim for the 33 docu-sonnets and 33 ballads for the people who died on the single worst day of The Troubles.
Her third collection, Dancing with Memory (Salmon, 2021), is a dance hall of memory for her mother who lives with Alzheimer’s. She teaches at the Trinity Access Programme because she wants more working-class students causing some havoc in academia. Rachael’s kids say she uses the 3 F- words too much: Finglas, feminism and feckin’ poetry.
Rachael presented Dublin 1’s Town Poem at a special event on 10 September. You can watch the event back here, and find the full text of the poem below.
Ode to Dublin 1
See the sunrise sail up the Liffey’s lane
like swans gliding on a watery plane.
Smell how morning dew marries the sea air
as a binman kisses his baby’s hair.
Touch the bullet holes at the GPO
while our past, present and future go-slow.
Hear children play in playgrounds on the Hill
Mountjoy or Sean Mac’Er – for the pure thrill.
Parnell Street boasts food from other places
lovely tastes, old cultures and new faces.
Ramble art at the Huge Lane Gallery.
It’s free, no matter your job or salary.
Listen to poems at Poetry Ireland
or a Henry Street busker’s song island.
Then watch the players on the Abbey’s stage –
stories of us to engage or enrage.
Our Kellie brings home her Olympic gold.
Harnesses a fighting spirit of old.
Footballers delight those on Hill 16,
so many in a row – never before seen.
The Travellers who stop by Pavee Point,
our Lady of the Wayside will anoint.
And evenings on Capel Street can be bliss –
a few jars, music, dance – maybe a kiss?
An urban fox sniffs Moore Street for some grub.
Seagulls squawk like revellers at a club.
Badgers come from beneath hawthorn hedges.
A heron guards the Royal Canal’s edges.
Look, it’s not all the Garden of Eden.
Yet our town thrives, resists, beyond beaten.
Stall at Summerhill, watch the setting sun,
a honeyed sky shines over Dublin 1.