The Secret of Fatima – A Poem for Dublin by Rachael Hegarty, Commissioned by Festival in a Van

Posted 12 months ago in Arts and Culture

BIMM jun-jul 22 – Desktop

The Secret of Fatima

Wildflowers bloom out of the gable walls  

in the now derelict Fatima Mansions. 

Laburnum plays havoc 

with the crumbling masonry.

Tuffs of dandelions sprout out 

from rust shuttered doors.

Some class of an ivy creeper

gawks out of the smashed windows.

Remember all them lovely people 

who partied here. Partied hard.

Remember how some fell here, fell

hard on these eleven acres by the canal.

We can only hope their souls

find a greener place in this renewed soil –

freshly turned and now cleared 

of all that builders’ rubble.

The new flats offer a sanctuary.  

Lads call for the ball and play 

kick-about on the tarmac.

Rope swings still whirl around 

the washing line poles and kids laugh.

Neighbours chat across balconies

and bear in mind the secret of Fatima:

life goes on and wildflowers bloom.

Rachael Hegarty

Rachael Hegarty is a Dubliner. She was educated by the Holy Faithers in Finglas, the U. Mass Bostonians, the Trinity M.Phillers in Dublin and the Ph.D. Magicians at Queens University, Belfast. Her debut collection, Flight Paths Over Finglas won the 2018 Shine Strong Award.

A child survivor of the Talbot Street bomb, her collection May Day 1974 (Salmon, 2019) has received critical acclaim for the 33 docu-sonnets and 33 ballads for the people who died on the single worst day The Troubles. Rachael has also edited a book of poems by community groups from hometown in Making Sense of Finglas (2019). Her third collection, Dancing with Memory (Salmon, 2021) is a dance hall of memory for her mother who lives with Alzheimer’s.

She teaches at the Trinity Access Programme because she wants more working-class students causing some havoc in academia. Rachael’s kids say she uses the 3 F-words too much: Finglas, feminism and feckin’ poetry.

The next location for Festival in a Van is in Dublin 15 via its partner Draíocht, Blanchardstown. It will visit Mulhuddart Community Centre, Coolmine Therapeutic Community and Huntstown Community Centre on Saturday July 24 where invited  community groups will come and join Maria Kelly and Beau Williams.

Poets Rachael Hegarty and Geoff Finan with Musician Farah Elle pictured before performing from a van to a audience on the grounds of IMMA Dublin as part of Words Move by Festival in a Van and Poetry Ireland. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland


To find out more about Festival in a Van, read our interview with producer Gemma Tipton.


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