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The Papisher & The Prod
by John McKearney

ED. NOTE:The following poem came to us via an internet Irish forum; the person who passed it along found it in an old Ireland's Own. For a long time, no-one seemed to know who wrote it - that is until we received a message from Chris Peterson who located the author and received confirmation from Trinity College in Dublin that it was written by John McKearney. So, with many thanks to Chris, we are now able to give the author the byline he so richly deserves. But it does beg the question: what else has John McKearney written?

Enjoy the read - it's a rather lengthy piece so, we encourage you to do what the person who passed it along suggests: make yourself a nice cup of tea or pour yourself a pint (Maybe you should also have a box of tissues near by!)

I was born & reared on Sandy Row, a loyal Orange Prod;
I stood for good King William, that noble man of God!
My motto - No Surrender! My flag - The Union Jack!
And every Twelfth, I proudly march to Finaghy, and back.

A loyal son of Ulster, a true blue, that was me,
Prepared to fight, prepared to die for faith & liberty.
As well as that, a Linfield man as long as I could mind,
And I had no time for Catholics, or any of that kind.

And then one night in Bangor I met wee Rosie Green.
The minute I laid eyes on her, I knew she was my queen;
And when I saw she fancied me, my mind was all a-buzz,
And I clean forgot to ask her what her religion was.

Next time we met I told her, "I'm a Proddie, staunch & true!"
And she said, "I'm a Catholic, and just as staunch as you".
The words were harsh & bitter, but suddenly like this:
Centuries of conflict and hatred were forgotten with a kiss.

I knew our love would bring us only trouble & distress.
But nothing in this world would make me love wee Rosie less.
I saved a bit of money, as quickly as I could,
And asked her if she'd marry me - and dear God, she said she would.

Then the troubles REALLY started! Her folks went ravin' mad,
And then, when mine heard the news, they were twice as bad.
My father said from that day on, he'd hang his head in shame;
And by a strange coincidence, HER father said the same!

My mother cried her eyes out & said I'd rue the day
That I let a Papish hussy steal my loyal heart away.
And Rosie's mother said, when she'd recovered from the blow,
That she'd rather have the divil than a man from Sandy Row!

We were married in a Papish church, the other side of town,
That's how Rosie wanted it and I couldn't let her down.
But the priest was very nice to me & made me feel at home -
I think he pitied both of us - our families didn't come.

The rooms we went to live in had nothin' but the walls,
It was far away from Sandy Row & further from the Falls.
But that's the way we wanted it, for both of us knew well
That back among the crowd we knew our lives would be living hell.

But life out there for Rosie was so lonely, of this I so well knew,
And, of course, we also had our religious differences too:
At dinner time on Friday, when Rosie gave me fish,
I looked at it and then at her, and said, "Thon's not my dish."

I mind well what she said to me-- You've got to pay some price,
"And to eat no meat on Friday is a poor wee sacrifice
To make for Christ who died for us one Friday long ago,"
Anyway, I ate the fish-- and it wasn't bad, you know.

Then Sunday came and I lay on when she got up at eight.
But Rosie turned to me and said, "Get up or you'll be late.
You've got a church to go to and there's where you should be,
So up you get this minute - you'll be part o' the road with me."

We left the house together, but we parted down the line,
And she went off to her church and I went off to mine.
But all throughout the service, although we were apart,
I felt we prayed together, united heart to heart.

The weeks & months went quickly by and then there came the day
When Rosie upped & told me that a child was on the way.
We both went down on our knees that day and asked the Lord above
To give our child two special gifts alone-- tolerance & love.

We wrote and told our families--they never used to call -
And we thought the news might soften them, and so it did and all.
My mother, and then Rosie's, said they'd visit us in turn,
And we marvelled at the power of a wee child not yet born.

But we were quickly disillusioned when we found out why they came;
It wasn't to be friendly or to make up with us again.
Rosie's mother came to say the child must be R.C.
And mine said it would have to be a Protestant like me.

The rows before the wedding were surely meek & mild
Compared with all the rumpus that was raised about the child.
From both sides of the family, insults and threats were hurled -
Oh, what a way to welcome a wee angel to the world!

The child must be Catholic! The child must be a Prod!
But the last and loudest voice I heard was the mighty voice of God.
And to his awful wisdom I had to bow my head -
Just one hour after he was born, our poor wee child was dead.

That night I sat by Rosie's side and just before the dawn
I kissed her as she left me to join our angel son.
And my loyal heart was broken within thon lonely walls -
Where the hell's Shankhill! Where the hell's The Falls!

But that was many years ago, long years o' grief and pain
When I'd have given all I had to see Rosie's face again.
But my loneliness is waning now; I'll see her soon I know;
The doctor told me yesterday I haven't long to go.

And when I go up thonder they'll let me in, I hope,
But if they ask me who I'm for, King Billy or the Pope,
I'm goin' to take no chances - I'll tell them straight & fair,
I'm a Loyal Ulster Protestant - who loved a Papisher.

And one way or another, I know they'll let me through,
And Rosie will be waitin' there, and our little angel too.
Then the child will lead the two of us, the Papisher and the Prod,
Up the steps together - into the arms of Almighty God.

For more Poetry Click the Poetry Index.


Thu, Jul 9, 2015
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No matter who does the collecting, the works stand on their own but this is an excellent compilation and well worth adding to your library.
Click here for Yeats.

1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present
by Kathleen Hoagland

Interested in Irish Poetry?Here's the easy way to collect them all (well, almost all, anyway).
Malachy McCourt says in his introduction, "With the republication of this book, the Irish recover under their roof of stars all the great poets and writers who have been falsely claimed by the saxon crown and its minions - even our reprobates."
Amazon states this is out of stock. They still have used copies for almost nothing (except shipping - chuckle). If you would like a new edition, it was available at Powell's. We can't promise it's still there. Click here for Powell's 1000 Years.
Click here for used at Amazon.


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