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
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’