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Poet Tony Walsh: "The Spirit Of Manchester Will Not Be Bombed Out Of Us"

Michael Minay

| Last updated 

Poet Tony Walsh: "The Spirit Of Manchester Will Not Be Bombed Out Of Us"

For those in the city of Manchester, the 22nd of May 2017 will never be forgotten. On that evening, around 18,000 went to watch Ariana Grande in concert.

Sadly, 22 never got to go home.

The selfish, cowardly acts of a suicide bomber ripped the city apart, but at the same time it brought it together.

Thousands united on Tuesday in the city centre to show solidarity. The pinnacle of the vigil in Albert Square was a poem by Tony Walsh, AKA 'Longfella'.


LADbible spoke to Tony at a graffiti monument at the heart of the city's Northern Quarter. On that monument was a tribute, a love heart made by hands, with worker bees all around it - the symbol of the city.

Tony told LADbible: "It's absolutely devastating, what happened, for us as a city and humans. And devastating doesn't even cover that for the families."

The poet said that the emotion of the event had only just hit him after a a 'whirlwind 24 hours'.


"It happened here because we are great," he added.

"Because we have a platform, and that reason makes Manchester great."

A proud Mancunian, Tony believes that, in Manchester's darkest hour, it's important to remain positive and remember what makes it great.


Credit: Shiela Blige

He continued: "It's our history, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the world's first train station, world's first computer calculation, the splitting of the atom. You go back to the Industrial Revolution and everything came from that.

"Social conditions hit here first so that means we had the world's great social movements first. Communism, socialism, trade-union movements, women's rights, the list goes on.

"We're stood in the Northern Quarter - an incredible contribution to the world of arts and culture, and music too. The Bee Gees, Davy Jones and the Monkees, 10cc, The Smith's, The Stone Roses, New Order, Happy Monday's Joy Division, Simply Red, Take That, The Courteeners, Oasis. That all adds up to an amazing place."


"And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands, set the whole planet shaking."

Credit: PA

Tony spoke of the Manchester Arena and how when we do go, we celebrate.


"We celebrate the best of who we are and what we are, we go with friends and families and we put our kids on our shoulders and have those moments with 20,000 strangers, and that's an amazing thing."

The poem itself wasn't written for Tuesday's vigil. It was written for a charity, Forever Manchester. Tony adapted some lines for the performance, but at the heart of it, was the same message.

He said: "The poem tried to sum up the spirit of Manchester and tried to give people a moment in the square there, it tried to remind us all why we are here, but it tried to look forward as well.

"The spirit of Manchester is one of unity, a co-operation, a solidarity, diversity, and the mood in the square the other night was we are going to keep that, and that's not going to be bombed out of us."

"And so this is the place to do business then dance, where go-getters and goal-setters know they've a chance."

The list of why Manchester is the best city in the world continued, with Tony showing immense passion for his hometown: "Inventions, science, the first test-tube baby, and now the latest is graphene."

Humour also was key: "There were smiles and laughs in Albert Square, even in the face of this. We are famous for our sense of humour."

Tony's important message was that Manchester has been here before, it has risen from the ashes on numerous occasions.

"Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.

"But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, northern wit, and Greater Manchester's lyrics."

Tony told LADbible: "Think of what we have been through, appalling poverty in Victorian times. This place was flattened during World War Two. Then, two or three economic recessions, and the IRA bomb. But we come back each time, and each time we come back stronger than ever."

'Longfella', his poet name, knows of the multi-cultural society the city demonstrates.

As the poem says: "Some are born here, some are drawn here, but we all call it home."

Credit: PA

Tony added that Manchester will fight through this, it may be difficult right now, but the city won't just stand still.

"There'll be people who find it hard to smile today, for the foreseeable future, but we stand with them," he reflected.

"But what makes us human is we find our bravery, and we try to smile, and I wish everyone involved many more smiles to come."

Tony, on Monday, was known to few, now he is the 'voice of Manchester' - a title he is very 'humbled, honoured and privileged' to have adopted.

His message to Manchester? Simple. "Keep on, keeping on.

"Let's keep being who we are, true to who we are, celebrating the voices that made us what we are.

"Let's grieve and mourn, and take that through. There a line in the poem which says: If you're looking for history, yes, we've a wealth, but the Manchester way is to make it yourself.

"We won't trade on our past, but let's make some more history."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Manchester

Michael Minay

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