Today, we return to poetry with the first of three poems by Mairi Murphy, dealing with the tragic desertion of a village on the Achill Island during the Irish famine of 1845.

17th-18th-19th-march-mairi-murphy-by-kath-warren-courtesy-of-the-scottish-writers-centre
Mairi Murphy by Kath Warren, courtesy of the Scottish Writers’ Centre

‘Famine Village, Achill Island’ by Mairi Murphy

Slievemore black, black against the sky

swallowing light

 

scattered on the mountainside my

children scramble goats among sheep

 

unmortared stones pile gable ends

cottaged along a mossy track

 

plainstone hearths and shelving empty

unwelcome at the door, this gorta mor

 

brings no birthing on the kitchen table,

sings no dancing on the hard earth floor

 

in Westernmost graveyard, Mulligans

cling to the hill: now I know

 

how deep a hungered migration

pierces the heart’s core

 


Mairi Murphy graduated last autumn from Glasgow University with a Masters in Creative Writing. Whilst there she was awarded the 2016 Alistair Buchan Prize for poetry for which two of her poems were also shortlisted. Recently her poems have been published in ‘Shetland Create’, ‘From Glasgow to Saturn’ and ‘Crooked Holster (an anthology of crime). She is the editor of ‘Glasgow Women Poets’ published by Four-em Press in 2016, of which she is the co-founder.

 

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