The Purple Shamrock, Boston

Rachael Hegarty

The manager, a Galway curlew,
tells me to swot up
on the menu
and make sure to letthe customers know
it’s me first day.
I get away
with that line for weeks.The most important thing—
feed them drink.
No one walks into an Irish pub
for the potato skins.The cook is first generation
and roars at her off the boat
if I don’t leg it
when his call bell ding-dings.I glean scraps of Spanish
and get in with the Columbian
dishwashers. They got all sorts
of fingersmithin’ moves.If the INS man
walks in,
just walk out.
Do not run.At the end of the shift
me feet are in bits.
The barman, from Cabra, hands me
a Cape Codder—cost price.

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Rachael  Hegarty

Rachael Hegarty was born seventh child of a seventh child in Dublin and reared on the Northside. She is widely published in national and international journals and broadcast on RTE Radio. Rachael was the winner of the Francis Ledwidge Prize and Over the Edge New Writer of the Year. She was also shortlisted for the Hennessey New Irish Writer and Ver Poetry Prizes and highly commended for the Forward Poetry Prizes. She is an educator for the Trinity Access Programme and CDETB but reckons she learns more from her students than she can ever teach. She now lives, back on the Northside, with her feminist husband and two beloved-bedlam boys.

“This powerful debut collection takes us back to ‘the hatchling, nestling, fledgling grounds’ of Finglas where Rachael Hegarty was born and reared. Portrait of a working class community, portrait of a dispossessed and politically betrayed community, portrait of a self-reliant, proud, and supportive community — ultimately it is a portrait made with love and gratitude, to family, to neighbours, to friends of her youth, feral and otherwise, to teachers and to her own students, by a sophisticated and knacky literary artist of the highest integrity. This is a joyous and clear eyed book that draws on and augments the song tradition of an artistically rich area of north Dublin, a lyric tradition that encompasses Bono and Dermot Bolger; it opens that tradition to the critique and edge of contemporary poetry practice, and to the winds of Japan, Boston, Walden Pond, Emily Dickinson’s Garden. Compassionate to the living and to the dead alike, this poet stakes her ground, as mother, as lover, as artist, as link in the eternal and marvellous chain of being.”
—Paula Meehan

“Rachel Hegarty’s debut collection of poems of Dublin life is richly steeped in the authenticity of earned experience. These poems superbly conjure her native city – its old streets, new housing estates and people – with astute observations and insight that immerse the reader in the breathing heart of a metropolis that is ancient and yet constantly changing; whose history, fault-lines and humanity are exposed in richly varied poems that memorably address the human condition with wit, panache and compassion.”
—Dermot Bolger

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