Two poems in memory of Liam Ó Muirthile

Tombstone by Greg Delanty and A Gentleman Caller by Alannah Hopkin

The late Liam Ó Muirthile in Dún Laoghaire, 2007. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The late Liam Ó Muirthile in Dún Laoghaire, 2007. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill



How we love a laugh. Excuse me, past tense.
Loved. We were always pulling the leg
of any day. You and I never had much sense,
nor wanted any. You weren’t Liam, nor I, Greg,
but Billy the Kid and Stoney Burke, whatever peg

we could hang a laugh off of, riding the bronco
of staying up. When all is laughed and done:
humor’s the safety catch released, our live ammo.
My Winchester’s out of caps and me cork gun
has lost its cork, the string snapped, the silver one

I picked out, like yourself, in McCarthy’s toyshop
on Douglas Street. What’ll I do, Billy,
without you. Confound it. I can’t even hop
on the blower. There’s sure no possibility
of getting through to you. No one to help me

back on the high donkey of poetry. Liam, Kid, Bill,
remember riding into Tombstone, nine shooters ready,
covering one another’s back. Now who will
pick off the gringo, gunslinger, villain, vigilante
on the saloon roof? Just a matter of time, Delanty.


Greg Delanty’s latest books are The Greek Anthology, Books XV11 and Selected Delanty (Carcanet). His next book, No More Time, is due next year



You ran up the Stoney Steps
on a sunny Saturday afternoon
with a bunch of wild flowers
from the English market
and knocked hard on my door
apologising that you couldn’t stay,
you had to leave for Killarney at five.

We sat in the sun and drank tea.
I would rather have been in bed, naked,
and said so. You took off your shirt
and said, ‘The grass needs cutting.
Show me the lawnmower.’
So I did, and you mowed the lawn,
forty minutes uphill and down.

‘Now I’d like to go to bed,’ you said,
making an obscene gesture,
‘But I have to leave for Killarney.’
Then the loud corner-boy laugh
at your sweaty self, off to Killarney,
a man who’d rather cut the grass
than go to bed in daylight and leave.

‘Have you no sense at all?’ you asked yourself
heading down the Stoney Steps at five,
shouting back as you realised, mortified,
‘You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?’

Kinsale, Co Cork, May, 2017


Alannah Hopkin’s latest book The Dogs of Inishere, a story collection, was published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2017. In 2016 she edited the anthology On the Banks: Cork City in Poems and Songs for the Collins Press. She was recently awarded a fellowship by the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, to study the papers of her late husband, the writer Aidan Higgins, for a memoir she is writing