Entertainment Books

Sunday 15 September 2019

Poetry: Dublin made me and no little town - Donagh MacDonagh

Poet Donagh MacDonagh.
Poet Donagh MacDonagh.

Anthony Cronin

Donagh MacDonagh was the son of the signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Thomas MacDonagh. He was four when his father was executed. Thomas MacDonagh, kilted, smiling and talkative was often to be seen wheeling him around Dublin in his pram. This was an unheard of thing for fathers to do at that time - and remained a fairly strange sight until, say, the 1960s.

Donagh MacDonagh (pictured) became a barrister and was eventually made a District Justice, probably more because he was the orphaned son of the signatory than because of any special knowledge of the law.

Anyway, his vocation as a poet and the appointment as a DJ seem to have proved more or less incompatible as the number of his poems, which had not been inconsiderable, dwindled away before his death in 1968.

Dublin made me and no little town

Donagh MacDonagh

Dublin made me and no little town

With the country closing in on its streets

The cattle walking proudly on its pavements

The jobbers the gombeenmen and the cheats

Devouring the fair-day between them

A public-house to half a hundred men

And the teacher, the solicitor and the bank-clerk

In the hotel bar drinking for ten

Dublin made me, not the secret poteen-still

The raw and hungry hills of the West

The lean road flung over profitless bog

Where only a snipe could nest

Where the sea takes its tithe of every boat.

Bawneen and curragh have no allegiance of mine,

Nor the cute self-deceiving talkers of the South

Who look to the East for a sign

The soft and dreary midlands with their tame canals

Wallow between sea and sea, remote from adventure,

And Northward a far and fortified province

Crouches under the lash of arid censure

I disclaim all fertile meadows, all tilled land

The evil that grows from it and the good,

But the Dublin of old statutes, this arrogant city,

Stirs proudly and secretly in my blood.

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