Poems for the Lockdown - Eyre Square

Poet Kevin Higgins provides a Galway related poem to chime with these strange times

Eyre Square during its reconstruction in 2004. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Eyre Square during its reconstruction in 2004. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

THIS POEM was written for a poetry competition the Galway City Council organised on the theme of ‘Eyre Square’ and it featured in my fourth poetry collection, The Ghost In The Lobby, published by Salmon in 2014.

In the poem, I reference many of the prominent buildings around Eyre Square, several of which have become something else since I first visited it as a child in the very early 1970s. There is the famous saying: You can take the man out of the bog, but you can’t take the bog out of the man. Paul Muldoon varied this in a poem about the Northern Irish political situation, when he wrote: “You can take the man out of South Armagh/but you can’t take the South Armagh out of the man.”

This poem is about me as much as it is about Eyre Square. It surprised me at the end by turning into a love poem. In 1998 when visiting Galway with her mother and step-father, who live in Belfast, my now wife Susan took one look at Eyre Square during Galway Arts Festival and said to herself: "I could live here"

You Can Take The Man Out Of Eyre Square But You Can’t Take The Eyre Square Out Of The Man

for Susan

His head recognises the reality of Supermacs

but his heart still steals sweets from Woolworths.

His monologues are every St. Patrick’s Day parade

since nineteen seventy four; his private thoughts

filthier than the old Eyre Square Jax.

    

His political views are like Curran’s Hotel,

not there anymore, but his words still subversive

as someone putting an orange jumpsuit

on Liam Mellows’ statue.

    

His balances are healthier than the Bank of Ireland

and Permanent TSB, his mouth bigger

than The Galway Advertiser,

but his answer to everything is

    

Dunnes Stores. His stubble sometimes bristly

as a rough night in Richardson’s;

his idea of himself inflated

as The Great Southern Hotel.

    

His greatest stroke of luck

drums and face painting

the day she stepped out of a car

and thought: ‘I could live here’

 

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