From the pen of Turlough Ó Maoláin ...

The Chronicles of Bulgaria

Mother Bulgaria


As Lenin looks down from his sombre pedestal

Concrete erupts from a bleak landscape like

The broken teeth of windswept peasants

Drinking homemade vodka in a windswept square

Constantly looking over a shoulder for the secret police

Writing secret notes in a secret file

With a secret pencil, Russian style,

About what you said to the man on the rusty old tram

About Pyotr, Pavel and Yuri from the KGB

About how long you must wait for your new TV

About what you might be having tonight for your tea

If there's food to be found in the shops at all.


Such thoughts will swirl and wash our brains.

A vision of Europe’s darker side 

Where those we know would never go.

We’ve seen the films, read the books,

Been drip fed all the propaganda, cruel slander.

Believing all that we are told, like sheep in the fold.


‘Why the hell would you want to live over there?’

Shock and horror as I broke the news

To scores of people who couldn’t see

Why I would leave Britain where we are free

To do any old thing that we choose

Except think of what might lie elsewhere.


Now from my doorstep I see only colour

As seasons freeze and thaw, scorch and tint

The forest beyond my garden wall.

From distant mountains topped with snow,

Rivers rush and legends flow from mouths of folks

Keen to show where Orpheus emerged from the dark below.


We’ve the finest yoghurt and the oldest gold

Ever found in all the world

We have roses, vineyards and monasteries,

Choirs and storks and bees and cheese.

With an alphabet of our own, a tongue that’s spoken as if sung.


In quiet streets, shopping malls, busy squares or market halls

Just a single note or two from bagpipe, dumbek, flute or lute

Joins total strangers hand in hand

In a sporadic outbreak of national dance.

Emotional shivers shoot up my spine; immobilised with pride.


Mother Bulgaria on a lovely evening in Veliko Tarnovo.

Mother Bulgaria on a lovely evening in Veliko Tarnovo.

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