The Pen Behind the Wire Prison Poems 1982-1991 Eoghan Mac Cormaic


Signed By Eoghan

Thousands of republicans were imprisoned over a thirty-year period and served lengthy sentences beginning in 1970 as a result of the struggle to end British rule in Ireland. Their experiences generated huge body of prison literature, comparable to earlier periods in the independence struggle. Former POWs, as well as writing their memoirs, have written short stories, novels, plays and screenplays and, of course, poetry. The writings of Bobby Sands, for example, have never been out of print over the past forty-two years and have been translated into many languages.

Eoghan 'Gino' Mac Cormaic from Derry served fifteen years in jail and was on the blanket protest for five years at a time when ten of his comrades died on hunger strike. Eoghan began writing poems on toilet paper and cigarette papers and smuggled them out to his family who kept them safe from British Army raids and seizures. Some of the poems were published in Republican News.

A selection of these early 'blanket' poems, and other prison poems written after the protest, give us an insight into Eoghan and his comrades' lives - which even the prison couldn't contain - and allows us to look with them from their cell windows out into the world where hopes and dreams would be realised someday.

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