The Suitcase

By Emma Phair, 2nd year.

Object No. 95 Emigrant's suitcase, 1950s
National Museum of Ireland - Country Life

Alone, quite scared and clueless,

No choice, no chance, so ruthless,

a world all on his own

So confused and lost, losing hope.


He never wanted to leave,

did not want to go.

Although I’m sure I’ll never know

How hard it was for him to sow

seeds ridden with disease, and despair

In soil so robbed of worth, so dry and bare.

He had no choice, no say in the matter,

far too depressing was the latter.


Now here he stands, amidst a sea of faces

All so foreign, alien to him.

Again he stumbles, this is too much

He just wants to go home, a child again.

No worries, no stress, just his brother’s beating heart

Tapping a rhythm so calm, so sad, so peaceful.

Gone now, such luxury lost to him forever.

What he wouldn’t give to have his brother here now.


He hears a thump, his suitcase falls,

A tear rolls down his cheek.

His only friend, his sole companion

On a journey that is never-ending

A journey that is bleak.


Rough, cracked, brown leather,

Devoid of life, a meaningless thin.

Yet now, what else is left to him?

Family, but a far away dream.


He grips the thick, black handle, 

And heaves the suitcase upright

To a wealthy man, nought but scrap,

A worthless thing,

Yet the contents of this case,

Shabby and few in number

are treasures to him.


A change of clothes, hand me downs

An old, torn photograph,

Of the family he will never see again.

His grandfather’s pipe,

He turns his thoughts to now.


He remembers the day,

Bleary-eyed and helpless,

His grandfather took his hand in his,

As he lay upon his death bed,

And gripped his hand with such strength,

a testament of his love for him.

Now, in his weakest hour,

He pressed into his hands, a pipe,

His one true treasure,

His last words to him, “Keep it safe.”


Entrusted now, within the case,

So old, so frail, yet not defeated

Each crack or wrinkle in the leather,

A mark of the places it has been.

Each one like another road to add

To the map that is the suitcase.

It gaurds his treasures, as his only companion,

His only comfort in the journey,

The journey of his life.

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