Island People: a poem for our times

Island People January 2007


High upon the side of the globe

We cling tenaciously

The North Atlantic has sent its fingers

To probe our innards

Leaving great serrations

But failing to dislodge us


Over time we have hunted and gathered

Gathered and hunted

Building stone walls on other occasions

Before we hid them in our soft underbelly of bog


All attempts to move us have failed

Plague famine emigration tried

Found wanting

Our neighbours transported us for good measure

We did not go quietly

We saw them off


Those who remained limpid like

To barren soil to mountain side

Grew in strength from deprivation

Experienced spiritual renewal

Asserted freedom


At the time of writing

We are poor again

Lost in the sloshing miry swamp of wealth

We want for storm and sea

To wash over us cleanse us

Reduce us to humanity again


For now we are gods of our own making

Leaving the land behind

Climbing to the realms of virtual reality

Heady with success


But for all that

We are an island people

Our boats upturned at present

Want new tarring

And a clean clear sea

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About the Author:

Joe is an author, poet, historian, and guided walks consultant. He lives in Newport, Co. Mayo. Scriptwriter and presenter of “Old Port to Newport”, Joe McDermott is the author of a number of fiction and non-fiction books including Sheegorey (historical fiction), the History of St. Mary’s Hospital, Castlebar, as well as hiking guide books such as The Western Way, The Bangor Trail, and The Foxford Way.

One Comment
  1. Mary E.Brown

    A very beautiful piece of poetry. You are truly fluid with your words and have a rare gift. Joe and Mae are proud of you as their son and in the stars above they send you energy to keep the ink pouring through the tip of your pen. God bless you always brother.

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