Love and heartbreak in Dublin city: A poem by Kerry O'Sullivan

Fighting Words 2019: Kerry O’Sullivan is 18 and a student at Dominican College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Kerry O’Sullivan (age 18), Dominican College, Drumcondra reads her poem and talks of the positive impact Fighting Words had on her life.


My first love

Was the winding cobbled streets

And shouts in the summer time

Proclaiming of pots filled with strawberries

Lined up for slaughter

With teeth stained by tea

Three for a fiver

My first love

Was the ornate black lampposts

Reflected in the rain-filled footpaths

And the splash of feet running fast

As their bus trundles past

And I look out the top window

And watch them with a hood up

Red cheeks blazing from the cold

My first love

Was the brown, ochre leaves

Lining the streets

And the walk through Stephen’s Green

Becoming nothing more than a symphony

Of death and nature and the old man

That sleeps on the bench

Naming the tamed pigeons

His family

My first heartbreak

Was the railing lined with

Petrol station flowers

And each news report filled

With blood

The curves and corners

They talk about

So different

From the ones that made me

My first heartbreak was

Watching the streets

Become more than home to me

But a house to someone else

And children with bare feet clutching

Paper cups dissolving in the rain

And under the weight of

This busy, bustling city.

My first heartbreak was

My discovery

That Dublin hasn’t been as kind to everyone

As it has been to me

This poem took shape at one of the workshops run by Fighting Words, which was founded by Roddy Doyle and Seán Love in 2009 to nurture young writers around Ireland. It is now in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Mayo, Wicklow, Galway, Donegal, Kerry, Wexford and Kildare