The aftermath on the morning of October 10, 2015 at a halting site on Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines, Dublin 18 where a fire broke out killing Thomas Connors, 27, his wife Sylvia, 30, and their children Jim, five, Christy, three, and six-month-old Mary; Willie Lynch, 25, his partner 27-year-old Tara Gilbert, who was pregnant, and their daughters Jodie, aged nine, and Kelsey, four; and 39-year-old Jimmy Lynch, a brother of Willy.

Kevin Higgins writes:

Below is a poem I wrote at the time of the Carrickmines fire (and the resident’s protest against the surviving traveller’s being temporarily relocated) and published in 2016.  I thought, given the 5th anniversary, it might be suitable.

After the Barbecue

People like us,
always been here
and always will,
until we bequeath this land
to the bacteria.
We were fine with
the War of the Spanish Succession,
only thought it not quite long enough.
When the day gets here we’ll happily
bless our great-grand-children as they go guffawing
off to the next officially sanctioned
bloodbath of the nations. But have agreed,
by unanimous vote at tonight’s meeting,
we must
build a barricade against this.

Those people’s demise –
Thomas and Sylvia, their children Jim, aged 5;
Christy, aged 2 and Mary, five-months-old.
Willie Lynch and his partner Tara,
their Kelsey aged 4, Jodie aged 9.
And Jimmy Lynch, 39 –
in the Carrickmines
barbecue is a tragedy

made all the worse by how
it contented itself
with half-measures.
We won’t have the gypsy leftovers put
in the field across from us,
to mar our hard earned view
of the surrounding countryside.

We are not the Ku Klux Klan,
in fact are profoundly jealous
of their much better outfits
and all the great movies
they, without fail, get to turn up in.
We but dream of riding horses
sharp as theirs, as we make our stand
in defence of what we see out the window
when we alight of a morning
on our genetically superior
polished, wooden floors.

These people’s Kentucky Fried
relatives are not our issue to solve.
We have scribbled our names
in their book of condolences.
but you, me, and The Evening Herald know
we are what most of the country thinks
when it draws its floral curtains,
shuts its eyelids and tells itself
truths it will never utter in polite company,
or in front of nuns who do great work
in the third world and other parts
of Africa. We realise
we’ll be vilified by people
the majority of whom wouldn’t have them either.

We just don’t want them here,
or, if possible, anywhere else.

Kevin Higgins

Previously: Carrickmines Fire on Broadsheet


70 thoughts on “People Like Us

      1. curmudgeon

        People seem to forget the other victims here are the residents of Carrickmines who had to live with a halting site in their cul de sac. And then the media calling them racist (John Connors even called them Nazis) for not wanting immediate rehousing on their door step.

          1. Bodger

            Commenter #1, not wishing to be smart but would you consider going to The Journal? You are welcome here but all your comments slag us off in some manner. This can’t be good for you.

          2. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

            Since you’re here…have you anything to say about the general adverse reaction to the “poem” Bodger?

          3. Bodger

            The language is deliberately provocative and I understand what Kevin is doing, but I remain more disturbed by the incident itself than I am by any words in a poem.

          4. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

            I’m sorry Bodger, but that’s a cop out IMO.
            Any right thinking person was appalled by this awful tragedy but this poem is crass and helps nobody’s cause.

            Considering the negative response, I’m surprised that your only intervention on this thread was to ask Commenter #1 to move to the journal.
            Disappointing response to a ill judged, poor taste attempt at controversial poetry.

          5. Bodger

            I disagree with your view of the poem, Bertie, so I can’t tell you something because you would like to hear it, presumably an apology of some kind. My suggestion to Commenter #1 was based on his/her relentless loathing of the site which isn’t doing anyone any good.

          6. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

            I’ve no desire to receive an insincere apology from you Bodger.
            However, I was surprised that despite such negative response from numerous long standing contributors your only input was to ask someone to leave if they weren’t happy.

          7. Bodger

            Bertie, the difference is you are being genuine (Commenter 1 simply uses any thread to have a swipe). I’ll ask Kevin if he’ll reply to the criticism here. You’re right. I should have addressed it earlier.

          8. Tony

            In fairness Bodge I think it might be your post/s C#1 has a problem with rather than BS.

            Also +1 Bertie – this is a clumsy poem that uses banter disrespectful to the bereaved families.

          9. Commenter #1

            It says a lot that Bodger can dish it out to “maskzis” all day every day, portraying people following public health advice as fearful, mindless sheep in the thrall of the WHO and whoever else, but gets fierce rattled at some push-back.

            Good to hear that I’m welcome here though. That’s nice.

          10. Bodger

            Commenter #1, everyone is welcome here with very few exceptions. Your hatred of us and trolling of me is your own business, but seldom have I seen such a constant lack of respect toward us from someone using this site regularly.

          11. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

            I don’t usually engage with you Charger but I’ll make an exception this once… the reason I said “long standing contributors” was purely because I think a number of those taking offence at this would be, on BS at least, generally regarded as usually fairly easy going.

          12. Charger Salmons

            You thought longevity somehow affords you Gold Lounge status.
            The utter pomposity of thinking a newbie couldn’t be as ” easy-going ” as a wise old bird like yourself.
            Everyone is entitled to express any opinion provided it’s not offensive through the admittedly fluid guidelines sometimes in operation here.
            But pile-ons really are the ugliest side of social media.

          13. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

            I’m unsure if you’re deliberately misinterpreting my meaning or you’re trolling so once more with feeling…
            The reason I said “long standing” is because most people on here would be familiar with their general outlook and beliefs.
            The way most people think you’re a bit of a sap.

          14. Charger Salmons

            ” general adverse reaction “.
            Meaning it makes you feel uncomfortable.
            Because Travellers make people feel uncomfortable.
            That’s the whole point of the poem.
            If you want to feel comfortable watch The Late Late Toy Show.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          Yes the real victims of this fire were the nimbys forced to have travellers living near them, lowering the property prices.

          1. curmudgeon

            “Documents into the State’s cross-department response to the fire, released under Freedom of Information, reveal that Government was informed of anti-social behaviour, drinking, and criminality at the site in the days before the fire.”

            “residents have been subjected to intimidation and break-ins from that Traveller group for the past few years” – Letter to Alan Kelly from Carrickmines resident.


      2. broadbag

        @DC, all points which can be raised without using the terms ‘barbecue’ or ‘kentucky fried relatives’, how anyone could defend such ill-judged and offensive descriptions is beyond me, there’s being edgy and there’s completely over shooting the runway.

    1. The rock

      We really are an apartheid country
      We preach so well about justice but our history is full of horrific treatment of the weakest from Tuam to Letterfrack to the Soweto ghettos of halting sites

      We still have no traveller in parliament but we still condemn others for what we do

      We are a nation of hypocrats

      1. V AKA Frilly Keane

        We are
        We really are
        We soften the edges around it with expressions like
        Double Standards or Two Faced
        Jobs for the boys, Patronage
        or the Establishment blah blah etc blah
        But it is Apartheid
        And we’re riddled with it

        I’ve even gone as far as calling out the Central Bank on their own Regulatory Apartheid

      2. Cian

        Not quite.
        Senator Eileen Flynn is a Traveller
        Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD (and ex Senator), comes from a Traveller background

  1. broadbag

    As someone who has consistently derided Kevin’s poetry in the past I stand vindicated, this is a new low, far beyond bad poetry, just stop FFS!

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Ah how enlightening. Alexander, Alexandria, Tessie Lonika and now Ithaca. You just love pictures of Greece. Nothing like imagining you’re 3000km away from your bedsit.

      1. The rock

        And did he not also provide a recipe as well
        And was it not read out in parliament as an attempt to highlight the great famine and England’s response

    1. bisted

      …I like Kevin…he has written and spoken truth about the Tuam babies and their terrible fate at the hands of the evil sisters…I’ve read his poem several times, and Janet is right, he’s no Swift…but then, this is no modest proposal…he has used words that have no place here but I know where he is coming from…Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is peppered with words in Cant and Shelta…a nod to an ancient people and culture that has been demonised and marginalised…sh*te poem Kevin but we know where you were coming from…

  2. GiggidyGoo

    God-awful attempt at something. I don’t know what. That ‘poem’ is not suitable – ever!

      1. Vanessanelle

        Who the eff do you think you are

        pulverising actual talent
        would ya get over yourself

        Even if the writer has loads of prestigious awards, and bursaries, sold out readings, and sold 00000’s of books
        That doesn’t exempt him or elevate him out of the reach of criticism for
        Barbeque Kentucky fried relatives

        I don’t care that much for poetry, and I’m not going to let on I have any artistic temperament that can evaluate it
        But I can tell when something is downright bloody tasteless, and uncalled for

        If the writer is that desperate for reaction and attention for his work
        then he should wrap a TriColour around himself and recite his poetry outside Leinster House or the Custom House
        Or wherever

      2. GiggidyGoo

        By the way, Ithaca, you’re a bit of a poet yourself. All of your posts seem to rhyme. I wonder why? Oh right….. copy and paste.

  3. Verbatim

    “Puritanism is never so offensive and destructive as when it deals with art matters.” – Oscar Wilde [June 27, 1890]

    1. Vanessanelle

      lets see how offensive and destructive this piece of art is so
      How does this second verse, if that’s what tis called
      read like like now

      Those people’s demise –
      Michael Barrett
      Richard Bennett
      Carol Bissett
      James Buckley
      Paula Byrne
      Caroline Carey
      John Colgan
      Jacqueline Croker
      Liam Dunne
      Michael Farrell.
      David Flood
      Thelma Frazer
      Michael French
      Josephine Glenn
      Michael Griffiths
      Robert Hillock
      Brian Hobbs
      Eugene Hogan
      Murtagh Kavanagh
      Martina Keegan
      Mary Keegan
      Robert Kelly
      Mary Kennedy.
      Mary Kenny
      Margaret Kiernan
      Sandra Lawless
      Francis Lawlor
      Maureen Lawlor
      Paula Lewis
      Eamon Loughman
      George McDermott
      Marcella McDermott
      William McDermott
      Julie McDonnell
      Teresa McDonnell
      Gerard McGrath
      Caroline McHugh
      Donna Mahon
      Helena Mangan
      James Millar
      Susan Morgan
      David Morton, Artane
      Kathleen Muldoon
      George O’Conner
      Brendan O’Meara
      John Stout
      Margaret Thornton
      Paul Wade
      in the Stardust
      barbecue is a tragedy

      Still want to call that Art?

      1. Darren

        I think that the reference to bbq is more leaning on the traditional Sunday good life as imagined of ppl who’ve made a success of themselves in our world and really around this the whole poem turns. This is however not a poem about the ppl named and for that it has not got the substance and in providing ppls names there loses as a result the true blindness of conduct and blame which the crime and negligence of life warrant. But beyond this is dignity and that above any should be preserved imo. Not bourgeois taste but humane and compassionate extentension of will. This is the force when identified which may guide those same successful ppl over a garden bbq to address issues that success entitles. The sharp contrasts are by design and that is an issue we all share a responsibility for.

  4. millie madonna

    What the ever-loving plop happened here?

    Also, Kevin, I have to say I agree with other commenters who find your poem in poor taste. There are other, less ham-fisted ways to make the point you’re trying to make.

    As my grandad says, you needn’t shout when a few well-chosen words speak louder.

    1. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

      You would have enjoyed it, you even got a name check amongst the carnage Mildred.

  5. Shadow Hound

    Never mind the begrudgers Kevin.

    It is a lovely poem, well-considered and of modern construct.

    The collective judgement and wisdom of generations is trusted to praise the worthy or wholesome characteristics of flora and fauna,
    we must respect where it disowns or disapproves of the opposites.

    All that matters is the Natural World & our symbiotic peace alongside it.

Comments are closed.