‘Why do you love us?’ the young girl said

‘The country people don’t love us’

She was a Traveller child

‘The others think they’re above us’


And why do we have internment camps

Processing our fears

Displaced persons locked away

Unseen their silent tears


Because we fear what we don’t know

Our ignorance is not bliss

Prison keeps people from our eyes

Forget that they exist


My father went into a ‘Paki’ shop

That’s what they called them then

‘Allah alaikum’ his greeting was

He smiled to welcome them


Words he had learned in India

British Empire time

Served him well to welcome folk

To his home patch and clime


Wherever you go the good Lord says

Let you first words be

Peace to this house every time

Then you wait and see


And if rebuttal comes your way

Gently take your leave

Shake the dust as a sign to them

But do not make them grieve


You must be tested in the fire

How genuine are you?

Can you sustain your peacefulness?

Or is it up with you?


Brian Fahy

5 February 2022


+ A Mercy Sister in Mayo remembers a Traveller child in awe that love was shown to her and not spite.


Letters in the Guardian tell stories about internment of foreigners during the war and how unfairly many were treated. Fearful times often cause us to forget basic decencies. Kindness becomes a luxury we cannot afford.


When Asian folk appeared in Tyldesley my father put his few words of Urdu to good use in a shop one day.

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