Recently, an Irish poet named Seamus O’ Rourke from County Leitrim penned a very humourous ditty (can be viewed on YouTube) about how he missed the border which used to physically separate the North and South of Ireland. Anyone who has read my memoir; “The Big Yank – Memoir of a Boy Growing Up Irish,” will know that my family used to smuggle food and other goods across from Derry into Inishowen on a weekly basis. His family did the same from Leitrim.

Inspired by Seamus, I wrote this poem about a recent comment made by Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. Ms Foster shot herself in the foot, so to speak when she publicly announced that there was never a hard border in N.I. – despite the fact that we had to cross over it every time we left the Republic and entered N.I. for more than thirty years. Here then is my take on the idea that the border was “imaginary,” despite the included photo of a typical Brittish Army checkpoint which became part of our daily lives.

Border, What Border?

According to the DUP

There never was a hard border

If you ask me,

That’s totally out of order

Sure, yer man Seamus O’Rourke

And many others

Smuggled butter, cheese and pork

Like me and my brothers

And us only wains


Arlene Foster would have us believe

It was all our imagination

She’s some noodle

Yer one could talk the spots

Off a dalmatian

And convince the poor dog

It was a poodle


As if the cars driving in from Donegal

Risked life and limb

For no reason at all

And the bars of Kerrygold

The mother stuffed down your anorak

Before you reached the Custom’s shack

In Muff

Was the stuff that dreams are made of.

More like nightmares.


Back then you had to douse your lights

At night, as the bright glare

Could hurt British squaddies’ eyes

‘Tis Arlene who is telling lies

All she had to do

Was take a wee drive to Portnoo

And see for herself

Northern toilet paper

On every pantry shelf.


Not for her though to cross into the South

Behind “enemy” lines

Where difficult Irish road signs

Would steer her

To queer sounding places like Louth

And I reckon

She wouldn’t be caught dead

In Termonfeckin

Or come within an ass’s roar

Of Templemore


So between you and me

The DUP should rethink

And come up with a better excuse

Memory loss could be due to the drink

In Ireland we know well the booze

Plays havoc with one’s recall

And if Arlene wants to be forgiven

From Dingle to Dungiven,

She should just admit – she’s Irish after all!