Cupar Street


It was the first year of the new Queen’s reign.
The sacred isle was quiet.
Rationing had yet to end.
Belfast had no riots.

In the fourth week of the month of March,
On the fourth day of that week,
In the seventh hour of the evening
One more child did screak.

He was born in a house in Cupar Street,
Just off the Shankill Road.
Like every other house around,
It was a mean, mean abode.

Behind those humble homes flowed
Belfast’s second river.
The Farset ran like an open drain,
And flooded every winter.

There was nothing green in Cupar Street,
That dared to speak its name.
The weeds between the paving stones
Were raked out as they came.

No flower, no shrub, no fruiting tree
Relieved it drab estate.
A plant behind a window pane
Diced with precarious fate.

A borderland of terraced streets
‘Twixt Ireland’s two great isms,
The Shankill and the Falls:
Two great open prisons.