Tim Cunningham – Two Poems

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim Cunningham was born in Limerick and educated at C.B.S., Limerick and Birkbeck College, London. He has worked with a brewery, local government, the National Coal Board and in education. His first two poetry collections were brought out by Peterloo Poets: Don Marcelino’s Daughter (2001) and Unequal Thirds (2006); and the next three by Revival Press: Kyrie (2008), Siege (2012) and Almost Memories (2014). Website: www.timcunninghampoetry.co.uk


What pirate queen sails through the mist
Of legend and of history?

When women were ‘the devil’s ballast’
What woman commandeered the mast?

Who named plunder and piracy
As ‘maintenance by land and sea’?

Who else but Grace.


Who split with Burke by Brehon law,
Divorcing him from castle walls?

Who seized the castle of Ballycroy,
Revenge for killing her toyboy?

Who else but Grace,
Amazing Grace.


Who fought both Sidney and Red Hugh
With blazing sword and loyal crew?

Who stripped the castle roof of lead
And poured it on the invaders’ heads?
Who gave the foreign galleons hell,
The ‘nurse of all rebellions’?

Who refused to bend the knee
Before Perfidious Albion’s queen?

Who else but Grace,
Amazing Grace,
The pride of her race.


Who strutted Lady Gregory’s stage
And tongued a voice in ‘Finnegan’s Wake’?

Who draws the wild notes of the pipes,
The mystical of the harp?

Who inspired the pen of Pearse,
The metric waves of Ferguson?

Who still fires beacons along the coast
Of women’s lives? Who claims that boast?

Who else but Grace,
Amazing Grace,
The pride of her race,
Amazing Grace O’Malley.


(for Eamon Casey)

Twice a father: priest
And father of a child.

They did not wall you up
Like mediaeval nuns.
Enough to hide you, move you
Between parish and monastery squares,
A chesspiece sacrificed for the game.

Now, cared for in a convent,
Your own endgame approaching,
Do you even know
Of the paedophile Barabbases
The player let go?

About the walling up, I see
Every act of kindness as another brick.

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