AN ACCLAIMED poet has penned an eye-opening piece on Ireland's changed attitudes to American tourists.
Ireland usually opens its arms to thousands of visitors this time of year, and proudly welcomes back Irish-Americans looking to trace their roots or see the streets their ancestors once walked.
But the land of a hundred thousand welcomes has become wary of the open borders and passenger planes flying in from coronavirus-infected countries-- particularly the United States, where there have been over 3.5 million cases.
Galway-based poet Rye Aker, who was commissioned to record the festivities of Galway's time as the 2020 European Capital of Culture through poetry, has found himself writing on a fundamentally different subject since the coronavius pandemic hit Irish shores and put pause to our normal way of life.
Having previously put pen to paper to thank former CMO Tony Holohan for his work in leading the country through the pandemic while also caring for his ailing wife, Mr Aker has drawn a following for his poetic reflections on the mood of the country.
On Tuesday, Mr Aker unveiled his newest piece, titled 'A Welcome for the Yank'.
Writing on Twitter, he explained his thoughts behind the poem, saying "In a country that opens its arms to tourists, and mainly American ones, there is an understandable nervousness about open airports."
In a country that opens its arms to tourists, and mainly American ones, there is understandable nervousness about open airports. My poem this evening is A Welcome For The Yank@Pendemic_ie @galway2020 @CTribune @galwayad @TG4TV @aosdanaiona @rte @IrishTimes pic.twitter.com/GG1BkWDe4y
— Rye Aker (@RyeAker) July 14, 2020
The piece paints a picture of the traditional way American tourists are welcomed to the Emerald Isle, with citizens proudly sharing our culture and impressing the visitors, before illustrating how this has been turned on its head today.
The time will come again when we welcome our friends from across the pond, he writes, but not today.
You can read the poem in full below, and find more of Mr Aker's work on his Twitter page here.
A Welcome for the Yank
It's not long since
the blue willow cups
stopped gathering dust on
the dresser for a day
to sit proudly beside
their incestuous plates
ham, egg and scallions
the Yank in from
or Yonkers or Scituate
with an accent straight out
We didn't want him thinking
we used our soily hands
to clasp chipped mugs
banished to the back hall.
So we joined our fat fingers and
let our tongues lap tay
spilt on our Sunday best
on a Tuesday.
Who'd have thought that
now we'd be looking at him sideways
and wondered if he wiped his feet
and washed his hands and hoping
we wouldn't be the next dead relatves
whose graves he'd be clambering over
in the graveyard below.
That his story about ranches and
being just 100 miles from
Dallas or Disneyland
no longer really impressed us.
In time, there will be a renewing of
a thousand welcomes
And a hearty top of the morning.
Just not this morning...