August 2016        

The great famine conspiracy

Gabriel Rosenstock

This poem, in Irish and English, is dedicated to Christopher and Mary Fogarty. The Irish-American Christopher Fogarty believes that there is a conspiracy about the so-called Great Famine and that the word “genocide” is more appropriate.
     He argues (in his words, based on meticulous research) that (1) “the land of Ireland was then ‘owned’ by landlords, nearly all English, in multi-thousand-acre estates; (2) that the output of Irish labour was usurped by those landlords, many of whom, as members of Britain’s Houses of Lords and Commons, had the clout to use the British army to seize for their exclusive benefit that Irish output and have it escorted at gunpoint to Ireland’s seaports for export, thus starving the people; and (3) that it took more than half of Britain’s then empire army to perpetrate that genocide, 67 regiments of its total of 130, and they were used only when the 12,900-man constabulary and 37,000-man militia met too much resistance.”

To the Famine Dead

(for Chris and Mary Fogarty)

Stars look down
but you cannot see their tears
your eye sockets empty
hunger has torn your vocal cords
you cannot speak
your mouths stuffed with earth
that once again is fruitful
stars look down
on golden corn
that never will be bright flour
or bread on your table

The berry on the holly
is trembling—
Redcoats hollering
left right left right left right left
thunder of livestock on its way to England


Stars, look down until the sun is nothing
but a black dwarf

Do na Mairbh ó Aimsir an Ghorta

(do Chris agus Mary Fogarty)

Féachann na réaltaí anuas
ach ní léir daoibhse a ndeora
folamh bhur meallta súl
réab an gorta bhur dtéada gutha
níl sibh in ann labhairt
bhur mbéal pulctha leis an gcré
atá torthúil arís
féachann na réaltaí anuas
ar an ngrán órga
nach meilfear go deo ina phlúr geal
ná ina arán ar bord

An chaor ar an gcuileann
ar crith—
clé deas clé deas clé deas clé
na gCótaí Dearga
trup na mbeithíoch ag imeacht go Sasana

A réaltaí, féachaíg’ anuas
go dtí nach mbeidh sa ghrian
ach abhac dubh

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