In a currach they row with their treasure trove
to the peace bridge that’s loved so well.
Summoned sun rays brighten the brand-new day.
At the church-dove’s prayer, here comes the summer.
Patron saint, Colmcille, was descended from kings,
one of Finnian’s twelve apostles of Ireland.
When he stepped out of line he was faced with exile
or a curse, so Iona he chose.
The return of the monk invites grand festive funk.
Costumes, props and trucks presage processions.
On the streets of Derry, from the old shirt factory,
girls and gymnasts join punks and monastics.
Dopey Dick, céilí players float past. Footballers
run with hounds, clowns and oversized babies.
Stewards, fitters and first-aid crews herd swelling crowds
pulled from far and wide, game to unite ̶
worlds away from cruel war, by which Colmcille marred
his record of unselfish wisdom.
After copying a book, he came back, when ‘twas took,
with rebellion that butchered battalions.
Over land rights and flags and religious tags,
the Ulster folk have too long suffered,
till civic and church leaders yielded, conceded,
and high-fived the Good Friday agreement.
As Nessie was charmed by kind outstretched arms,
so is malice and prejudice banished.
A model for peace on earth to make hate cease
incarnates at this hot mid-June féte.
To the serpent, the Dove bade, “go back with all speed!”
which his flock chants to foul-play and violence;
as one, across walls, oaks, the Foyle and town halls,
they sing, “now you are entering free Derry.”
© Caroline Hurley