When the men came a-knocking

the die was cast,

plans in tatters behind the door;

then mothers wrung their hands in grief

clinging to tragic hope and belief. 


On their final visiting list

were sons of Derry

who had drank and talked

sealing their fate

without a trial. 


When the man came a-knocking

to take them away

those dreamers of freedom

espousers of causes

who sought and served

faced an end they never deserved:


McKee, McVay, Seamus Ruddy

were but a few, who never lived

to enjoy the view of peace in their time

then disappeared

with their heads in hoods,

cursed in death,

young blood now spilt on a dying breath. 


Whispers of sadness came in on the wind

with tales of bogs and shifted sands

while mothers grew old remembering sons

in photo frames

smiling with pride, before the flames. 




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Sun 23rd Sep 2018 16:07

Thank you Hannah. If it has strength it is in the feeling, rather than necessarily the detail. Glad it worked for you.

Well Big Sal, there is always a bigger picture, and thanks for touching on that. Of course there must also be hostage taking in some societies, reminding us of security loopholes to be exploited. I suppose somewhere in a poem you might write would be the word Brigands, it seems to fit the picture. I m very pleased this has hit a spot. As a side issue, burial can be deeply respectful or just a place to hide evidence - a thought there perhaps.

Thanks for the likes, Col. Darren and Anya.

Big Sal

Sat 22nd Sep 2018 14:23

There is an entire generation in Argentina called 'Asociacion Madres de Plaza de Mayo' in which they are all mothers with children lost to state terrorism (generously backed up by US doctrine and war dollars), and the same is being replayed in other South American countries, and even in Mexico today. Entire generations left looking for loved ones most likely dissolved in acid or buried in shallow graves. The unanswered questions remain in the shadows of these organizations and histories, and I think you may have inspired a new poem from my way Ray.

Excellent piece by the way. Truly transcending in power.👍

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Hannah Collins

Sat 22nd Sep 2018 14:08

Extraordinary writing.
Through the grief stricken mothers we see the human cost, the tragedy.
The causes, misguided or worthy, this poem gives us an inner glimpse.


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Thu 20th Sep 2018 22:49

Well thanks David, I respect you with your broad mind and ability to get things in perspective as well as allowing my own. It always is good to have true insight into life however unpleasant that may be. Simplicity of aim can be good, but often leads to a blind resolve.

HI Mark, I think you have covered most aspects of a very complex and seemingly insoluble issue. Without some kind of deal there would have been endless chaos I suppose. I am not a historian in any sense, so I just say thanks for the story, obviously very close to you . At least I have triggered a deal of comment!

Thanks for coming on board Anya and Col.


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M.C. Newberry

Thu 20th Sep 2018 22:11

The theme is certainly likely to produce strong feelings of
various origins. The history of that land is so convoluted
as to be almost incomprehensible to those beyond its shores
- from the days when Irish nobility invited the Normans
over ->and thereafter hangs the "English" connection and
all the succeeding years of who & what decided the future
of the country and what is meant to be "Irish".
My late father survived the original "Troubles" as a district
inspector in the RIC but his 1st cousin with whom he was
close was a military lawyer who was among the victims of
the 1920 Bloody Sunday shootings of British personnel by
Michael Collins "Squad" at breakfast time on Sunday 21st
November of that year. The venue still stands as a small
hotel in Dublin. Succeeding generations have sadly
witnessed and been victims of the rending of social and
religious fabrics whilst the criminal element have seized
the guise afforded them by the aims and deeds of those
promoting religious or political ascendancy. And, of
course, there will always be the mercenary factor...those
willing to serve and be paid by the cause they favour for
whatever reason. The past, if it to teach anything, should
show us that nothing is simple or defined in such a
context and it is a tragedy that the innocent are often
victims of circumstances and events beyond their own
control or influence.

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Wolfgar Miere

Thu 20th Sep 2018 11:38


you have not strayed over any line my friend, we write what we feel and what you write is as valid as what I or anyone else might write or think.

I do come at this from an emotional point of view, I lost friends in that conflict and nearly lost my own life. So it is difficult for me to view it without emotion creeping in. I have no particular political stance as there was so much bad behaviour on all sides. I certainly understand the Republican cause and the Loyalist viewpoint, I don't (didn't) agree with all their methods. That said neither did I agree with all British policy at that time or how we conducted ourselves, on occasion I refused to carry out some directions as expected. I am lucky to have been there and to have seen the truth of it.

But please know that I do not oppose your poem at all, it gets it out there and it might make people research the troubles themselves, which is not a bad thing. I mean the recently appointed Minister for NI knew bugger all about it.

I apologise if I went too far, the poem is yours Ray, your thoughts your ideas, how can I be against that.

Speak soon,


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Thu 20th Sep 2018 11:15

Thank you Kate - appreciated.

Hi David. I must admit I had serious reservations of putting this out, as my knowledge of the subject and the vast network involved is zilch, and so I do deserve to have it examined, and in consequence cannot really defend the detail. I respect your personal experience gives you much more authority than most would understand, or perhaps wish to. There is always bias involved when defaulting to such themes, whether from an emotional basis or from vested interest. You are right when you say there is a romanticism in the hearts of the Irish mentality, and I think that may set the stamp on how some view it; in this case myself included.

I'm rather sorry to have strayed over the line, but I am glad you give it some plaudits on a poetic basis, thanks. Regarding the crime element, I know bank raids were organised for fundraising. I did a tour of Ireland in 1994, and saw very little apart from flags and manned posts etc. (And to Bushmills !).

The clip you attached is a sorry tale,reminding me of the police shooting of the wrong guy on the underground.

Thank you for your time reading and honest appraisal, mate.


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Wolfgar Miere

Thu 20th Sep 2018 10:27

Interesting poem Ray, not many innocents in that conflict mate.

Five years of my life spent there and one son of my own born in Derry/Londonderry, whichever you want to call it. It's tedious to have to name that shit hole town twice because of peoples ridiculous sensitivity, Derry City is easier and I get called out for using it by some of my former associates. I no longer care.

The Irish conflict of old and recent history is often romanticised, (I've done it myself) it makes it easier to swallow. For those of us who were there no-matter how long, we know that romantic view is a perversion so people will put money in the can, or so we can wash the blood from our hands.

I have genuine sympathy for families of the disappeared, mostly killed by their fellow Irishmen for reasons of power grabs and creating fear. Seamus Ruddy was a member of the IRSP the political wing of the INLA, an organisation that even the IRA thought too extreme in their aggressive actions.

Seamus would have been absolutely aware of the practices of the INLA and the danger he put himself in, indeed he was no innocent having been arrested in Greece with a truck load of weapons on route to the INLA in Northern Ireland, that no doubt would have killed more Irishmen and British Soldiers, most likely killing innocent bystanders also, INLA were notoriously reckless in their operations and regard for life irrespective of what nationality or political persuasion the victims might be.

So I do have sympathy for the relatives and those murdered who were victims of mistaken identity, but mostly those who live by the gun recognise they are likely to stare down its barrel at some future point in time, that is a choice we make and we wouldn't expect sympathy should it ever happen.

For those who talk of freedom fighters etc here is a romantic news clipping from the old country, I was there when the Hanna family were wiped off the face of the earth, there was no glory, just desolation.

Many of those INLA and IRA thugs now control organised crime in NI, which still frequently murders and disappears people as common practice. The conflict is not over for everyone, just some.

Sorry to go on and on, but Ireland looms large in my history and I will not forget it, or let the death of innocents fade from my memory while people play pretty little folk songs in praise of murderers.

It is a good poem, and as ever very thoughtful.

With my apologies Ray,


As a footnote I would add, that at such time as the people of the Island of Ireland democratically elect to unite their nation once again it should happen, since becoming informed I have always thought this. Unfortunately the bloody history of that beautiful land makes it extremely difficult for many sections of the community.

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Kate G

Thu 20th Sep 2018 05:21

Hi Ray, this story is one that sticks with you. So many lives lost, and hearts broken. A poignant reminder of those who suffered.

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