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
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
Or come within an ass’s roar
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!