The Workhouse Gate – poem

By Imelda Hughes

I am cold and so afraid

as I stand at the workhouse gate

amongst ragged wretched strangers,

what is to be my fate?

why did the stalks have to wither?

why did my parents die?

when tons of grain were exported?

can anyone tell me why?

Father fought so hard to live,

kept saying, we’ll survive,

help will come, we must hold on,

last words as he lay dying;

but Hunger knows no mercy,

His shadow lingered at our door

till mother too was in his clutches

and I was left alone.

I laid her beneath the hawthorn tree,

facing the rising sun,

wrapped her frayed shawl around her

and cried till it was dawn;

no songs for me now, no dreams to dream,

no stars in an ink-black sky,

do I want to gain admittance?

on a workhouse floor to die?

Outside a Workhouse gate hoping for entry.


Course: Remembering our Heritage – Ballinrobe Workhouse

Course instructors

No instructors available.