Clontarf student wins 'A Poem for Ireland'

Pictured with Róisín are: Joseph Nugent, CEO of the LGMA, Seán O Foghlú, Secretary General of the DES, and Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian.

Róisín Finnegan, a pupil at Holy Faith Secondary School, Clontarf, was announced as the winner of A Poem for Ireland at the Grand Final which took place in Dublin Castle.

The theme ‘Your Ireland, past or present’ and the historic events of 1916 inspired large numbers to enter the competition and the entries came in a wide range of poetic forms, from ballads, sonnets and odes to free verse, rap and even the occasional limerick.

Runner-up: Jane Rigby (St Mary's College, Naas)
3rd place: Lucy Ní Dhuiginn (Gael Cholaiste Cheatharlach)
Highly Commended by the judges: Alisa Oriol (Loreto, Balbriggan)

Other Finalists:
Louise Dunphy (Our Lady of Mercy, Waterford)
Fionn O'Sullivan (Newpark Comprehensive, Blackrock)
Una Faller (Athlone Community College)
Anita Walis  (Portlaoise College)

Róisín was awarded her prize by the Secretary General of the Department of Education, Seán Ó Foghlú.


The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle
by Róisín Finnegan

Róisin Dubh has grown old.
She re-reads her love letters and smiles fondly
Brushes a gentle hand along the scars of her history
Remembers when it was a crime for her to be loved.
She rises as they did that day and looks upon the land.

First she lingers in the bars
Shrouded in a hundred beer saturated breaths
Leans closer to the oldest man,
He's telling the one about the boat and the brother again,
His grandson picks at crisps beside him
And won't  realise that he's listening for years to come.

She laughs as she reaches the céilí
She's seen a hundred more, before,
And yet the red faced breathless laughter
And the spins and stumbles and turns
The jumping music mingling with the Gaeilge
Buzzes with a magic she thought she'd lost fadó fadó.

She casts an eye across the world
And sees the green spattered here and there , everywhere,
The salvation of a pub for the fled
When she could not hold their spirits in her arms
When the earth had died and could not feed their songs
Her tears became a constant rain as she watched the starving go.

Róisin Dubh has grown old.
And yet the emerald of her complexion is unaltered
Though now speckled with modem attributes impossible to avoid
Her voice remains warm and sharp with nostalgia
Her song evermore a hopeful promise
Her echoing laugh a legend, told for the thousandth time.

'Is deas a bheith Óg,' deir sí,
'Age means nothing when you have such a memory'
Róisin Dubh has found her Tír na nÓg
In the hearts of her people.

A Poem for Ireland is an initiative of the Local Government Management Agency, the Department of Education and Skills and the public library services of the local authorities and is part of the national Ireland 2016 centenary events.