An unsung land is a dead land
Forget the song
And the land will surely die.
Our forebears, though mostly illiterate,
Made music that can still make us cry
Musical phrases, like a map reference,
And the land read as a musical score
Where singing the land
Has the crowd calling out for more.
The song couplets stretch across tectonic plates
Just like mountains stretch across continents
And someone waving as we pass through endless gates.
Pale sand, red rock, burning fire
Everything your heart may desire
Mapping the music
to which everything transcends
This is where the story begins not ends.
Religion, pagan or Christian
Permeating everything, blending,
People sympathetic and synthetic,
Careless and unknowing of secular beginning
Or religious ending.
All the colours of the rainbow
Dressed in human clothing
Aisling, dreang, radharc
And the gift of seeing what isn’t there
When the songs are left unsung
Who is then left to care?


Maybe it was a dream I once had
This part of Ireland with no lights on
A place where strangers
Looked over the border
With razor-blade eyes
Where tall trees swayed South
From one vast plantation
And bowler-hatted drum-bangers
Stomped the streets like toy soldiers.

A game – perhaps that was it;
Where the lowest common denominator
Was religion…or the lack of it.


I Finally saw THE SILVER TASSIE at The National Theatre last night. What a play, and what a performance! O’Casey’s great war play – or should that be anti-war play – has finally found its natural home.
Act one is set in a Dublin pub, where the victorious football team is celebrating their victory in the cup – the Silver Tassie of the title. Most of them are home on leave from the trenches and are having one last celebration before heading back to France.
Act two, which is set in what appears to be a bombed-out Monastery, drips with symbolism, and the realism of act one has been replaced by a fantastical second one. The soldiers, battered and beaten by their experiences, cower among the ruins,trying to make sense of all the madness, seeming at times to be worshipping the huge gun which pokes its nose out at one corner of the stage. Whether the inference is that religion is as bad as war,or that it causes war, I couldn’t make my mind up,but that there is a clear link between them is certainly implied. The booming and flashing was quite alarming at times, never moreso than at the end of the act, when the huge gun is trundled centre stage, loaded and then pointed directly at the audience, resulting in another almighty bang and a flash that had me seeing stars momentarily.
Acts three and four deal with the aftermath; act three with with the gassed, the shell-shocked, the maimed and the blind trying to recover some kind of normality in hospital; act four at the celebratory dance at the football club where the story began. Here the wheelchair-bound footballer who had won The silver Tassie for the team and his blinded friend finally realise that for them life will never be the same. The ending is surreal, several girls dancing with their ‘scarecrow’ partners, falling down and picking them up,falling down and picking them up…

Brilliantly done and great writing. 5*****