Ireland, 2002 by Paul Durcan

‘Ireland, 2002’ is one of several short, two-line poems written by Paul Durcan that speak simply, but poignantly on important topics. This particular poem engages with themes of change, progress, and Irish identity.

Ireland, 2002 by Paul Durcan



Ireland, 2002’ by Paul Durcan instigates a discussion of the changes that have occurred, or are occurring, in Ireland.

The first line of the poem asks a general question about holidaying, and if “you” ever go abroad. Durcan’s respondent answers, no, they don’t go abroad, they go to America. This suggests that America and Ireland are at this point, similar enough to be considered the same country. 

You can read the full poem here.


Structure and Poetic Techniques

Ireland, 2002’ by Paul Durcan is a two-line poem that does not conform to a rhyme scheme. The lines are conversational, using simple diction and syntax. A close reader will be able to find a few poetic techniques in this very short poem though. These include internal rhyme, assonance and enjambment. 

The first, internal rhyme, is a kind of rhyme that’s not constrained to the end of the lines but can appear anywhere. In ‘Ireland, 2002’ it can be seen in the second line with the words ‘No” and “go”. The same can be said, depending on the pronunciation, of “Do” and “you” in the first line. Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound within closely aligned words. For example, “a” and “holiday” in the first line. 

Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. The transition between the two lines of ‘Ireland, 2002’ is a perfect example.


Analysis of Ireland, 2002 

Lines 1

Do you ever take a holiday abroad?

In the first line of ‘Ireland, 2002’ the speaker poses a question. It is unclear to whom he is asking this, but it doesn’t seem like that it’s a specific person. The larger themes of this work, which deal with progress, change and Irish national identity, suggest that the intended respondent is anyone from Ireland. He asks if “you ever” travel to another country when vacationing. 


Line 2 

The simple question in the first line receives a simple answer. The respondent says “No” they don’t go abroad, they go to America. At first, this line feels quite amusing as if the listener misunderstood the question. But, with a second glance, and taking the title into consideration, it comes clear they are equating Ireland and America. Durcan encourages his Irish readers to consider the changes happening within the country and how Ireland has become more like America and is perhaps losing its own identity. 

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