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Going Home to Mayo, by Paul Durcan

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Going home to Mayo a lovely poem about Paul Durcan travelling with his father as a child.

I loved this poem, there’s something about the journeying that draws you in and opens up thought.

Paul Durcan talks about a trip to Co. Mayo with his father to his grandmother’s house. I feel in this poem he really transports you on that journey that he took. His use of imagery brings you right there. I hope you enjoy this brilliant Irish poem. 

Welcome, this week I have number 85 from my list of top 100 Irish poems.

I send these Irish poems out every week on my weekly dose of Irish email newsletter. You can join it here, only one email every Friday. 

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Going Home to Mayo, Winter, 1949
by Paul Durcan

Going home to Mayo Irish poem

Leaving behind us the alien, foreign city of Dublin
My father drove through the night in an old Ford Anglia,
His five-year-old son in the seat beside him,
The rexine seat of red leatherette,
And a yellow moon peered in through the windscreen.
‘Daddy, Daddy,’ I cried, ‘Pass out the moon,’
But no matter how hard he drove he could not pass out the moon.
Each town we passed through was another milestone
And their names were magic passwords into eternity:
Kilcock, Kinnegad, Strokestown, Elphin,
Tarmonbarry, Tulsk, Ballaghaderreen, Ballavarry;
Now we were in Mayo and the next stop was Turlough,
The village of Turlough in the heartland of Mayo,
And my father’s mother’s house, all oil-lamps and women,
And my bedroom over the public bar below,
And in the morning cattle-cries and cock-crows:
Life’s seemingly seamless garment and gorgeously rent
By their screeches and bellowings. And in the evenings
I walked with my father in the high grass down by the river
Talking with him – an unheard of thing in the city


But home was not home and the moon could be no more outflanked
Than the daylight nightmare of Dublin city:
Back down along the canal we chugged into the city
And each lock-gate tolled our mutual doom;
And railings and palings and asphalt and traffic-lights,
And blocks after blocks of so-called ‘new’ tenements –
Thousands of crosses of lonelinesses planted
In the narrowing grave of the life of the father;
In the wide, wide cemetery of the boy’s childhood.

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I send these Irish poems out every week on my weekly dose of Irish email newsletter. You can join it here, only one email every Friday. 


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