Legacies of Empire

Catherine Phil MacCarthy

        – in memory of Michael Davitt



Can you create a sketch within the space
outlined in red pencil of Ireland with
‘landlordism’ become a kind of blight?
On second thoughts, a winged vulture,
that throws a shadow across the land.
The sketch should be made in India ink,
to print well in photographic presses.


It was said by old people who mind
the year he was born, that the starving
were found on the sides of roads,
in the fields, once or twice on the street.
Mothers with infants in their arms,
children, hand-in-hand with father,
sometimes a toy, a puppy in their grip,
all their belongings heaped on carts,
walked mile after mile barefoot
against the clock of an empty gut.


1. Letter from Michael Davitt to Sarah Purser, dated 16 September 1890, held in The Manuscript Room, National Library of Ireland.

Page 29, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 123
Issue 123

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 123:

Edited by Eavan Boland

Among the poets offering new work in the final Poetry Ireland Review of 2017 are Orla Martin, Catherine Phil MacCarthy, Harry Clifton,  Erin Halliday, Alan Titley, and Nan Cohen, while the Featured Poet is Belfast sensation Stephen Sexton. The books reviewed in this issue include new titles from Michael O'Loughlin, the late John  Montague, Biddy Jenkinson, Aifric Mac Aodha, Mark Roper, and Colette Bryce's Selected Poems.  Also included is editor Eavan Boland's examination of the life and work of the late John Ashbery, and the reasons for his pre-eminence among American poets of his century; and an evocative tribute to the late Gerard Fanning from his friend Gerard Smyth. The artwork for PIR 123 comes from the SO Fine Art Editions gallery, and the issue concludes with nine intriguing questions for Michael Longley, posed by fellow Belfast poets Stephen Connolly and Stephen Sexton – followed, of course, by nine intriguing answers.