Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Invisible Borders/Remember Armagh/The Hill of Tara

Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Invisible Borders/Remember Armagh/The Hill of Tara

Article excerpt

We drove north from Dublin

between stone walls and hedges

bound for Bailieborough,

down through Greaghnadarragh

listening to the Irish language

radio station, not understanding

a word but loving the sounds.

The softrain glistened on stones

and dripped from branches,

threatening to turn to ice.

On the main street of the village

my ancestors called home,

half the shops had my name

written above the door

and half the pubs were closed.

We ate lunch in the Bailie Hotel,

served massive platefuls

and pints by a distant relation.

Late in the afternoon, long past

Kingscourt, Carrickmacross,

and Kavanagh country,

you sat in the passenger seat

as we crossed the invisible border,

cradling a bottle of Aussie red

picked up at a petrol station

on the outskirts of Dundalk.

We drove through the shadows

of the mountains of Mourne

down to Warrenpoint, searching

for your grandfather's summer

home in the gloaming as darkness

descended on Carlingford Lough.

After dark, we drove deeper

into the north, through

Newtownhamilton, Lisnadill

and Armagh to Loughall,

where an old friend waited

with a warm meal and whiskey

to guide us safely across borders

we could not see, navigating

cartography only visible to a local.

Remember Armagh

Remember that night in Armagh?

When the locals in the pub

Asked where we'd come from?

Remember the sneer

In the voice of the sloshed

Middle-aged regular at the bar -

Why would anyone want to go

To Dublin? - she slurred, her face

Turning uglier as she dragged

Out the final syllables,

The silence hanging loudly

At the end of the question

Implying there was absolutely

Nothing possibly worth seeing

Or doing south of the border

In the Republic. …

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