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Irish Poem: For Rita With Love, by Pat Ingoldsby

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This week I went to the end of the top 100 Irish poems list. Number 90 is titled “For Rita With Love” by Pat Ingoldsby. I have also featured it in my top Irish love poems list.

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I felt it appropriate to find a poem about love. I had previously started writing about number 83(Woodman, Patrick Deeley), but I could not find that poem anywhere online! Please let me know about that poem in the comments if you know about that poem. 

But this touching Irish poem is about a different kind of love—a love for a person who has a disability. In particular, in this case, it is believed to be Down syndrome. But rather than reflect on the hardship she has to face, Ingoldsby speaks about how wonderful a person they are and how “Normal people will hurt you”, suggesting that she might get taken advantage of. 

A powerful poem, for sure. 

Who is Pat Ingoldsby? 

Dublin top poem

Pat Ingoldsby (born 25 August 1942 in Malahide, DublinIreland). Pat has pretty much disappeared from mainstream media since the mid-1990s and is most widely known for his poetry collections. Previously, he would be selling them on the streets of Dublin (usually on Westmoreland Street). 

According to his website, since 2015, he has retired from selling on the streets. For trying to contact Pat, his website says he will most likely be at The Winding Stair Bookshop, in the Dublin centre.

I also came across this Facebook page that shares old photos of Pat.

Now back to his poem; it is a deep and meaningful poem. 

For Rita With Love by Pat Ingoldsby

You came home from school
On a special bus
Full of people
Who look like you
And love like you
And you met me
For the first time
And you loved me.
You love everybody
So much that it’s not safe
To let you out alone.
Eleven years of love
And trust and time for you to learn
That you can’t go on loving like this.
Unless you are stopped
You will embrace every person you see.
Normal people don’t do that.
Some Normal people will hurt you
Very badly because you do.

Cripples don’t look nice
But you embrace them.
You kissed a wino on the bus
And he broke down and cried
And he said ‘Nobody has kissed me
For the last 30 years.
But you did.
You touched my face
With your fingers and said
‘I like you.’

The world will never
Be ready for you.
Your way is right
And the world will never be ready. We could learn everything
That we need to know
By watching you
Going to your special school
In your special bus
Full of people
Who look like you
And love like you
And it’s not safe
To let you out alone.
If you’re not normal
There is very little hope
For the rest of us.


I have to say it is one of my favourite, most powerful Irish poems. Overall, “For Rita With Love” portrays Rita as a symbol of pure, unreserved love and questions the constraints imposed by societal norms. Through her actions, the poem encourages readers to reflect on their own attitudes toward others and to consider the value of embracing differences and showing genuine compassion.

And reminds all of us not to put any limitations on ourselves. A truly great poem by Pat Ingoldsby. If you liked these types of Irish love poems, you can read my full list here. 

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