Basket-of-eggs country, Poyntzpass
sleepy in a March unusually mild; the canal,
blighted from birth, links border killing-zone
and murder triangle; but this is a peaceful place,
no rebels or Orange bigots - a strange little town
though not unique, I know. After twenty-nine years
the shadow has slithered over the green fields
where Poyntz's men once routed The O'Neill's.

Ochón, ochón, ochón, agus ochón, ó

Damien Trainor and Philip Allen, we know
your names now, killed on the day of the sheep sales.
Unemployed barmen may stir in their sleep,
but not because of you, or your families, your
brides-to-be, lost hopes. The Sons of Ulster,
whose great-grandfathers marched to the Somme,
may stir in their sleep, but not because of you,
your neighbours, friends, the untouched few.

Ochón, ochón, ochón, agus ochón, ó

Politicians will comfort your mothers, touch
shoulders, clasp hands, mumble, even weep,
but your wasting will not melt their bitter resolves.
You are buried now in sight of each other,
two more victims, the people of Ireland still
dying for gunmen whose songs will soon be written,
sung in a thousand smoky Railway Bars; and
this time no-one can say it isn't one of ours.

Ochón, ochón, ochón, agus ochón, ó


Notes on the poem:

On Tuesday March 3rd 1998, Damien Trainor and Philip Allen, a Catholic and a Protestant, friends since childhood, were murdered by Protestant terrorists in the Railway Bar in Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh. The Protestant and Catholic population of the little village (300) are of roughly equal numbers, and this was the first time since the Troubles started in 1969 that any violence had occurred there.

The name "Poyntzpass" derives from that of Charles Poyntz, an English lieutenant in the late 1500s, whose men defeated those of the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill, in a local skirmish. The Crown rewarded him with 500 acres in the area; 400 years later, innocent people are paying a price for the past.

The Irish lament roughly translates as "Alas! Alas! Alas!and Alas!".

Three men were convicted on Wednesday 2nd February 2000, two of them for the actual murders. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. Under the terms of the Belfast Agreement they will probably be released summer 2000

Seamus: "It's the civilians that suffer; when there's an ambush they don't know where to run. Shot in the back to save the British Empire, an' shot in the breast to save the soul of Ireland. I'm a Nationalist meself, right enough ... I believe in the freedom of Ireland, an' that England has no right to be here, but I draw the line when I hear the gunmen blowin' about dyin' for the people, when it's the people that are dyin' for the gunmen." (Act. II; p.111); (from 'The Shadow of a Gunman', Sean O'Casey)

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