Sunday 25 February 2018

'You can change your life when you're inside' – Prisoner's inspiring poem brought governor to tears

Waiting game: prisoners in Limerick wait in the corridor. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Waiting game: prisoners in Limerick wait in the corridor. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Poem written by prisoner in Limerick Jail
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

An inspiring poem written by a convicted criminal has been praised by fellow inmates and staff.

Louise*, an amateur poet from Limerick city has been praised by staff for the way she has turned her life around inside Limerick Prison.

Last Christmas the 34-year-old wrote a verse about her time in the jail and dedicated it to the other women serving sentences.

Such was the power that one governor even admitted the poem brought him to tears.

“It's just something I do myself,” Louise explained. “I have just always loved poetry. It is a way of expressing yourself, to write down what you feel. I have been writing since I was a little girl.”

Louise explained that her life has transformed since she entered the prison 12 months ago.

“When I came in this time I ended up fighting with people, getting into trouble, picking up P19s [discipline reports]. I was very angry with myself and everyone.

“I knew I had to do something different.”

She said: “My own experience in here is that jail is after saving my life. I am in the gym every day, I am fitter now than I was when I was18. So it has been a positive outcome for me.”

It is her second time in prison and she is due for release in June. She says she is serving the sentence for shoplifting.

“I look at the place like a rehab rather than a jail.”

Asked what she will do on her release Louise said she is going to continue going to the gym.

“My mam is on about starting up a business making cards. Personalising the cards with the poems in it for certain people.

“I'll have a clean slate when I get out this time.”

This is Louise's poem 'Having Hope':


Four brick walls and a steady bed,

Wishing you were anywhere else instead,

Plenty of time to think what you've done,

Wanting to turn back time and run,

Run from your problems,

Run from your past,

Run from the people that want to hold you back,

Being inside changes you in many ways,

Being depressed and hoping for better days,

Writing long letters to the people you love,

Pictures of loved ones on the wall,

Ringing home with just one phone call,

You can change your life when you're inside,

Work on yourself and swallow your pride,

You can learn a lot whilst you're here.


* All names of prisoners have been changed at the request of the Irish Prison Service to protect their identities and the identities of their victims

Read the full story of Irish Women behind bars in today's Irish Independent Review magazine

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