The Blight on Mary’s Children

The Irish came to Wales.
They came, weary, worn, hungry,
Not knowing the welcome,
If any, they would receive.
They were worn to the bone,
Bare, thin, starving,
Seeking for work:

They could take the callous jibe,
The angry word, the chastisement,
Even the curse of those who knew not
The taste of rotten potatoes,
The sourness of dispossession,
The curse of uselessness,
The blight of indifference.
They came, not expecting a warm welcome,
Ready for maybe the cold shoulder,
Ready to notch the belt a hole nearer to death.

How could they have known
That the faith had long been on the wane,
That their fellow Celts had pawned their birthright,
That Mary's Children had sold themselves,
Not to the devil, but to any new frippery.

We failed to greet you,
We failed to feed you,
The locust of discontent
Had ate away our years of expectation,
Poor Irish, poor Welsh,
We both had lost our common ground,
That Holy Ground,
That bond of all our Celtic yesterdays.

: Father Ieuan Wyn Jones, Grangetown, Cardiff. A native Welsh speaker and a former Nonconformist minister, Father Jones is a convert to Catholicism.

Published in The Green Dragon No 5, Winter 1997