“My Ireland” is an odyssey through 2017 Irish life created for St. Patrick’s Day by Dublin poet Stephen James Smith.Tourism Ireland

Commissioned for Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival 2017, Irish playwright and poet Stephen James Smith has released this incredible “celebratory narrative” of Ireland, in which he pays tribute to some of the most unique, funny and oftentimes heartbreaking habits, histories, and quirks that make up life in Ireland in 2017.

Including everything from the beauty of the land, the Irish language, our famed poets and playwrights, our fabulous range of folklore and mythology, to our struggle for independence, “My Ireland” also encaptures a touching rundown of the memories from Irish childhood and the current fads that, while they may go unnoticed to the stranger or tourist, will make all Irish people smile to remember.

Our modern failure at the Eurovision Song Contest, our obsession with looking back with the hugely popular TV show “Reeling in the Years”, our obsession with selfies and chicken fillet rolls, and the somewhat bizarre success of TV show “Mrs. Brown’s Boys”, are all combined by Dublin-born Smith (who you may remember from his previous creation “Dublin You Are) to create a clear and honest odyssey through Irish life in the 21st century.  

It isn’t all sweetness and light, however. References to Apollo House, the current homelessness crisis, the echoes of the Magdalene Laundries, and the influence of the Catholic Church over Irish politics and society are just a some of the major modern Irish problems and barriers to progress highlighted and the poem does nothing to gloss over any self-questioning and self-analyzing the country as a whole has to undergo now and in the future to decide our place in the rapidly changing world.

Founder of the annual LINGO Spoken Word Festival, Smith created the 12-minute poem alongside Ivor Novello award-winning Conor O’Brien from Irish band Villagers, with the spine-tingling music and backing vocals performed by Colm Mac Con Iomaire from The Frames, Ye Vagabonds, Saint Sister, Loah, and Eithne Ní Chatháin aka Inni-K.

The video itself, perfectly encapsulating the running water, river rush of Smith’s words, was shot by director Myles O’Reilly.

As Smith, like most Irish people, speaks quite fast and has a whopper Dublin accent, we’ve posted the complete poem for you below, just in case you miss anything!

You can see the full 12-minute video here:

My Ireland by Stephen James Smith

My Ireland you are

the river rush,

always fluid influx

in need of a little hush...

 

My Ireland is talking to itself

but so busy listening to Joe

it’s not hearing anything!

My Ireland is saying,

“gra go deo” agus “slainte Diageo”.

 

My Ireland is reeling in the years

and not watching what’s happening now.

While so many are reining in the tears

and trying to cope somehow...

My Ireland is terrified of leaving the immersion on

and lamenting not having won the Eurovision

in God only knows how long!

My Ireland loves laughing at Ó Briain and Norton.

My Ireland is sending gifs and emojis

while waiting for absolution.

My Ireland needs

a vision, an Aisling,

to move on from:

bacon & cabbage,

potatoes, leprechauns,

and jaysis Mrs. Brown’s Boys!

My Ireland is checking itself

after a Queen’s Noble Call

and in Dublin Castle heard

“A Úachtaráin, agus a chairde”

from auld Lizzy.

My Ireland is dizzy from misinformation

and celebrations arising from The Proclamation.

My Ireland wonders if it’s a sovereign people

still under the shadow of a steeple?

My Ireland constantly asks:

“was it for this?”

and

“an bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas?”

My Ireland is Zig & Zag

and top shelf mags,

Pearse lonely as an old woman

defiant in defeat.

My Ireland is a white flag

and Elizabeth O’Farrell’s feet.

My Ireland is Savita needing agency,

The Magdalene Laundries.

My Ireland is hysterical

and in denial of being patriarchal.

My Ireland didn’t Wake The Feminists,

Queen Méabh was an early riser.

My Ireland you are:

Cumann na mBan

praying to St. Brigid,

Ireland playing frigid

Naysayers and Peig Sayers.

My Ireland is still Hailing Mary Mother of Grace,

And here’s to you Mrs. Robinson thanks for the embrace.

My Ireland wishes Grace O’Malley our Pirate Queen

could’ve been out at Shell to Sea.

My Ireland is cherishing anything

from an Instagram snap of a

ham & cheese toasty

to finding the right filter

for taking that selfie.

My Ireland is rich land

dressed by Penney’s.

My Ireland is The Quiet Man

and Waterford Whispers,

shouting for us all.

My Ireland isn’t sure what to do about

the water charges

and needs someone to take the fall.

 

My Ireland you are

The river rush of the

Corrib, Nore,

Foyle, Suir, Shannon,

Lagan, Liffey, Lee

And every tributary

Wash over me,

Wash over me,

Wash over me...

 

My Ireland should learn from its rivers

and burst its banks

My Ireland needs to go back to the source,

the initial trickle, a spring

and tickle out its flow.

My Ireland needs to let go.

My Ireland saw Sinead rip up the Pope

and isn’t able to cope.

So we’ve:

Pieta House, Apollo House, Pelican House

for our new age Blood Sacrifice

and Ghost Estates.

My Ireland doesn’t know what a tracker mortgage is

and is hoping it’s not too late.

My Ireland sees goodness,

in the kindness

of its people every day.

Which bonds us

just enough to get by,

My Ireland’s sense of community

isn’t ready to die!

My Ireland celebrates the underdog

who “Pull Like a Dog”.

“We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over!”

My Ireland you are:

The Guildford Four,

Rossport Five,

Birmingham Six,

Traveling people,

and forgotten demographics...

My Ireland is a terrible beauty,

agus

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí.

My Ireland knows,

When All the Others were Away at Mass

there was The Meeting on the Turret Stairs.

My Ireland can let go of all its cares,

it has the arts.

We have The Salmon of Knowledge

and blistered hearts.

My Ireland has warriors like;

Damien Dempsey singing Colony

and

Katie Taylor knocking out misogyny!

My Ireland doesn’t forget to pour a sup for the fairies

and our women’s fairy tales sail to Holyhead.

 

My Ireland you are

The river rush of the

Corrib, Nore,

Foyle, Suir, Shannon,

Lagan, Liffey, Lee

And every tributary

Wash over me,

Wash over me,

Wash over me...

 

My Ireland can be hard to take,

asks, “Did St. Patrick banish all the snakes?”

My Ireland is the Children of Lir, Tír na nÓg

a herd of deer and a Connacht brogue.

My Ireland is singing,

“Óró sé do bheatha abhaile”, while

the Eastern Europeans are coming,

the Africans are coming,

the Muslims are coming.

Can we all just come together?

My Ireland you are the National Stud.

My Ireland you are:

Four Green Fields

and a clover,

transgender,

other,

Othered,

he,

she,

non-defined,

unexplained,

yet to emerge,

fluid queers.

My Ireland may be drunk on 800 years!

My Ireland is the undocumented

and 40 million worldwide.

Failte them abhaile.

Open your arms.

Do you care about your diaspora?

My Ireland you are:

West Brits, Expats, immigrants,

Shane McGowan Tipp via London Town.

Ireland you are:

the Kilburn Road, Ellis Island,

Boston, To Hell or Connacht,

Dubai, Oz, and Canada.

Skyping to your Da & Ma

My Ireland’s calling...

“Tiocfaidh ár lá!”

My Ireland is pulling the Aran wool over the Yankee eyes,

while thanking its bus drivers since 1916.

My Ireland is worried that,

Dustin the Turkey and The Rubberbandits

deserve more plaudits for speaking the truth.

My Ireland is fearful of the litigious.

My Ireland is a religious delirious crowd and Synging Playboys,

in a post-truth Western-World…

My Ireland is full of notions, revelations framed in song

and the constellations of a plough under which we all belong.

My Ireland is Gerard Donnelly resting in the Phoenix Park

as Wellington’s obelisk loom in the dark.

My Ireland is Glendalough, Lough Derg,

skirmishes, Skellig Islands and Star Wars.

 

My Ireland you are

The river rush of the

Corrib, Nore,

Foyle, Suir, Shannon,

Lagan, Liffey, Lee

And every tributary

Wash over me,

Wash over me,

Wash over me...

 

My Ireland, oh my,

you are Omagh!

Danny Boy in Loftus Road,

Good Friday, Bloody Sunday

An island in Trouble in shock

caught in the crosshairs of a Glock.

My Ireland is,

Tir gan teanga

Tir gan anam,

and hiding ammunition.

You are white in division,

all sides aiming for some Union...

My Ireland you are:

a Peace Bridge in StrokeCity,

a battle for some,

The Battle of Somme,

a Rising,

a Lily,

a Poppy,

a speech at Woodenbridge,

Others talkin’ of leaching on Jobsbridge.

Ireland “is feidir linn!”

Oh yes, we can, oh no you can’t.

My Ireland’s a Gaiety panto.

My Ireland’s got the Fear.

Wondering why are we here?

Looking for a pot of gold under

The Cliffs of Moher.

My Ireland’s postmodern,

Self-aware, more than a list poem!

Wandering like Bloom through

the Slieve Bloom and Mourne Mountains.

My Ireland is

Carrickfergus, Carrickmines

the Ring of Kerry, Boyne Valley,

Bunclody, Enniscorthy.

My Ireland you are:

waterways, wildlife, curlew.

You are:

a Seanchaí lament,

a Celtic Phoenix,

perpetual hubris.

Ireland you’re not one to complain,

“Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin....”

My Ireland is,

taking the soup,

dropping the ‘O’,

Do you feel emancipated?

My Ireland you are:

Bosco knocking on a magic door

Zebo and the Haka in Thomond Park.

You are:

birdsong from a Lark,

Fenians, farmers, freemasons,

executions at Kilmainham Gaol,

you are UN peacekeeping

and speak of The Pale after

Kissing the Blarney Stone.

My Ireland wherever you roam,

you are always a Paddy a Biddy a Mick,

hailing from a Banana Republic.

My Ireland is getting the ride in Copper Face Jack’s

and made Big Jack an honorary Irishman.

My Ireland is Anglo Irish

and playing GAA for the parish.

My Ireland is Glenroe and Joanne O’Riordan.

My Ireland you are

and aren’t the Vitruvian male

and you’re up for sale

at the right price.

My Ireland is

the lovely girls at the Rose of Tralee,

Mount Rose and TV3.

My Ireland will gobble you up!

It’s obsessed with:

Clonakilty black pudding,

Superquinn sausages,

bottom feeders,

Hunger Strikes,

1798 and pikes,

Black & Tans,

yips and yurts,

scapegoats, drive-bys,

fiscal crisis, Jesus, ISIS,

The Irish Elk, Ireland help!

Ireland, viral, Titanic, epidemic,

from Normans to Neither/Norism.

My Ireland is Archbishop Charles McQuaid,

enough said!

 

My Ireland you are

The river rush of the

Corrib, Nore,

Foyle, Suir, Shannon,

Lagan, Liffey, Lee

And every tributary

Wash over me,

Wash over me,

Wash over me...

 

My Ireland has erased

The Famine, The Great Hunger, The Emergency.

Let’s not write our epitaph until we’re all free.

My Ireland had a Centenary and got D.P.

My Ireland couldn’t look its signatories in the eye.

My Ireland’s:

ditties & songs,

sure we’ll all sing along,

while Louis Walsh looms

and wooden spoons

cause national trauma.

My Ireland is saying RIP Billo,

and knows Dunphy’s a spoofer.

My Ireland’s trying to survive on the dole

and livin’ off of chicken fillet rolls.

Ireland you are:

Happy Pears and Apple accounts.

Ireland you are still living in the past,

how long can this last?

Do you even understand Peadar Kearney’s words?

Ireland invented by Declan Kiberd,

revived by Lady Gregory,

wants a portrait from Colin Davidson

but is scared of what it’ll see…

 

Ireland you are:

Some woman’s yellow hair,

Marty Morrissey’s hair,

EU fishing quotas,

Bankers, bonuses,

Paddy Clarke HA HA, Enya,

Eircodes, uilleann pipes,

NAMA and the HSE,

a biscuit and stout industry,

Riverdance, The Walls of Limerick,

private islands, apologies,

Bog Poems, Blackberry-Picking, fermenting,

Wild Geese, Web Summits, Harps,

Jimmy X, All Kinds of Everything,

caught in a whirlpool spin.

You are part of the world,

look out

and

look within...

 

Mise Éire, Ireland, Hibernia,

you are all this

you are all this

and more!

 

My Ireland you are

trying to be all encompassing

and it’s an impossible task.

So I ask you,

“what’s your My Ireland?”

Ireland are you evolving,

Arising, an Aisling,

Remembering,

Ireland Arise!

 

Ireland from what I’ve heard

a great compassion

is calling you.

You have a teanga,

add your voice.

Ireland from what I know

a great courage

is in you.

So stand united rejoice.

Go back to the source, the flow,

forget mainstream.

Let out a roar,

I want to hear you scream:

“This Ireland is my land.

This Ireland is your land.

This island is our land.”

 

And know I love you.

And know I love you.

I love you.

Sin é!

I’m trying to listen,

so what have you to say?

 

My Ireland you are

The river rush of the

Corrib, Nore,

Foyle, Suir, Shannon,

Lagan, Liffey, Lee

And every tributary

Wash over me,

Wash over me,

Wash over you,

Wash over us…

You can find more from Stephen James Smith on his website, Twitter account or via YouTube.