Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SiarScéal Festival 2009

Strokestown, Co Roscommon, will host two literary festivals in 2009. The annual Strokestown International Poetry Festival will take place from 1st to 3rd May 2009 while the SiarScéal festival will happen from April 3rd to the 5th. Irish Bilingual Poet Collette Nic Aodha and myself will read on the Saturday night.

It will be nice to be back in Strokestown. I read there in 2006 when Seamus Heaney headed up the list of guest poets, but more especially because I used to go there on Sunday afternoons as a child to visit my uncle and aunt. On fine afternoons that often involved a boating trip on the Kilglass lakes. Rounded off with a drink in their beautiful old pub, Gearty’s, and home with a pike for the pan. Beautiful.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Hi Sabne, Geantrai is an Irish translation of a very early and very undercooked poem by myself. It went more or less like this.

River Dusk

When the evening light
Was a soft touch on the water,
The trees stood kneedeep
watching us go by.

A swan was streaking his area
With a scowl;
Ahead the cranes flapped
their carpet wings.

Then night arrived to claim all.

Nuala's translation makes some notable alterations eg the swan is kneedeep and is protecting his area nobly.Hope you’re good. M

Monday, December 15, 2008


Chuir Nuala N Gallachóir as na Doire Beaga an gaeilge ar an dán seo agus 's é mo thuairim go bhfuil sé i bhfad nios fearr sa gaeilge.Tá brón orm go bhfuil na fadai as lathair sa piosa seo.


Solas min nona
Ag cimilt an uisce;
Mise agus tusa
Ag imeacht thar bhraid
Faoi scathlan na gcrann
Ar phreamhaigh cois abhann,
Go h-uaisneach
Ag cosaint a criche:
Eiti mall triallach na gcorrghlas
Ar leathadh na speir;
Noin bheag agus deire lae -
Cach anachta faoi choim na h-oiche.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sky, Bog, Mountain

I think Irish skies are stunning. The combination of bogland, mountain, lake and sky in our part of Donegal is frequently breathtaking. These were taken just north of Barnesmore Gap, Kay took the third near Lough Mourne.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let’s hope God’s not a hen.

Here are 2 scenes from Baraka. Made in 1992, directed by Ron Fricke, it traces a downward spiral from a spectacular planet set in a wondrous universe to man living in harmony with the planet to the current, appalling, (and escalating), abuse by man of everything around him.

If you haven’t seen it, you have missed a masterpiece. If you have, it’s probably time to be reminded again of the damage we’re doing.

Balinese Monkey Chant

Mass Production of Chickens

Can't wait for the future!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Poetry Choice for Christmas

Top of my wish-list this year is Filíocht Ghrá na Gaeilge/Love Poems in Irish edited by Ciaran Mac Murchaidh with artwork by Anna Nielsen and published by Cois Life in October 2008. It is an anthology of Irish love poems and songs (with English translations) spanning more than 1000 years. An Arts Programme interview with MacMurchaidh, aired on the 29th of October, can be downloaded from the RTE website.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Give You

I wrote "I Give You" a number of years ago.It is part a series of love poems I had plans to dramatize under the title "Under an Apple Blue Sky".

When things don't go for me at first they tend to get buried under subsequent initiatives. Later I find them and warm to the idea again. I have a number of long-time items sitting in the 'out tray' but this one does deserve a bit of consideration.

I Give You

This tree's dripping fruit
to place in your mouth
to ripen your tongue.

The water guttering down
these green leaves to be a trellis
of fingers about you.

This soft drizzle of sunlight
to fall gentle as the petals
of meadowsweet on your cheeks.

This bindweed and all tendrils
to hook and bind
our desires together.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rathmines Writers Book Launch

The Rathmines Writers group celebrate the launching a new book in Rathmines Town Hall (Rathmines College)on 27th Nov approx 7.30pm.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sydney Bernard Smith

I was sorry to hear that Sydney Bernard Smith died a fortnight ago, he did me a great service.

He published some very early poems of mine in a broadsheet published in association with Sligo Arts Festival and later took some time to criticise my poetry. I think he was disappointed with what he saw.

We met up in the International Bar where he took a red biro to my efforts. By the time he finished there were red lines through most of it. Initially discouraging, (he said that my only saving grace was that I was so new to writing), it turned out to be the most valuable few hours tuition I ever got.

His criticisms were crisp, accurate and flawlessly observed; he left me with a clear understanding of the need to be concise and efficient, to avoid waffle and pointless adornment. He left me with an insight into the value of ruthless editing. He did this with authority but without superiority.

You can download 2 of his books from the Irish Literary Revival website http://www.irishliteraryrevival.com/

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How We Fell

Glen Colquhoun’s most recent collection, How we fell: A Love Story (Steele Roberts, 2006),is the beautiful and evocative telling of how the relationship with his former wife was and went.

The poems go beyond what words can describe like garlic on the breath. Understanding might depend on recognizing the territory; it’s like feeling for solidity in cloud, but you will feel; and there is a universe to feel. Their relationship, as he describes it, was passionate and spiritual; consumate. The title is interesting: there’s clearly the fall, and there’s the fall in love; but the second (phrase) is unfinished.

Is it possible that after love has crashed through like a meteorite, we remain, carried forever (our atoms just) suspended in its brilliant tail.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Panda Sneeze

Not poetry in the usual sense but I got a great laugh when I was shown this today. So thanks to jimvwmoss for posting this on YouTube

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rain and Phone Scams

Today is WET. The world is full of running water and stiffling greyness; as Leo Sayer says it’s raining in my heart. It started with a nightmare last night. Sleeping past the alarm this morning. And now a cloud stuck over the city like an elastoplast. It reminded me of one of the first poems I had published, but without the slightly romantic note:

Damp and Drizzle.

Damp wet, wet, wet.
Grim drizzle
Leaning against the wall
All day.

If I could hum the mood
In your ear
You'd know what I mean;
You'd remember.

The mood may be connected to my annoyance yesterday at discovering I been done out of maybe €4 a week (or more) for over a year. Having registered for a quiz last year I kept receiving questions by text on my mobile. I never replied to them, but still was charged €2 for receiving each of them.

No doubt I missed some very fine print at the outset and I wasn’t keeping an eye on my costs, but surely this type of scam, though legal, is obviously an unfair lure to take your money. Is it not time the legal loop-holes that allow these sort of practices were closed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Favourite Poems and Poets Online

What a wonderful thing the internet is. My favourite poem is Fern Hill; I search and find

Thanks to CSteierNKU for posting this on YouTube.

Among my favourite Irish poems are Patrick Kavanagh’s; hear his voice at Poetry Archive: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=7871
And find a generous selection of his works at poemhunter.com: http://www.poemhunter.com/patrick-kavanagh

And Walt Whitman’s voice, ( believed to be), at The Walt Whitman Archive:

I love the upbeat mood and rhythm in Whitman’s ‘songs’ and other poetry; it would be difficult to avoid being infected with the celebration that starts with ( shout it if you can)

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lucky Thirteen

One of the best pieces of news for Irish poetry this year is the return of Force 10; Issue 13 is out now.

In the past I always enjoyed its mix of the written and the visual, local and national, its non-pretentiousness and liveliness, its generous size (the new issue has 160 pages).

So thanks to those that have made it possible and good luck to Dermot Healy and all involved, I hope the force remains with us for a long time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

All -Ireland Poetry Day

How do I know I need to mix more? When just about every poet I’ve ever heard of has a gig but myself.

And that’s close enough the case on the Poetry Ireland supported all-Ireland poetry day on Oct 2nd. They are supporting a reading in every county in Ireland. It’s very impressive. A huge number of poets are involved and that’s great to see.

I especially like the poetry of John F Deane (reading in Dublin), Ger Reidy (Mayo), Gabriel Rosenstock (Roscommon), but there are numerous poets worth hearing all around the country and looking at the list I see that I am out of touch with some of the newcomers to the scene. Co Donegal is hosting an Oíche fhílíochta as is Leabharlann na Ceathrún Ruaidh, agus beidh fílí Chiarraí ag léamh san Daingean. The big Galway event includes mayors of city and county reading personal favourites and a particularly strong musical component with Judith Mock and John Feeley performing.

All in all it’s a tremendous effort. Lets hope the events are well advertised and the suppport they deserve arrives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Needing Something Different

I look along my poetry collection needing something I can’t quite define in the same way one sometimes has a desire for a taste: something different, something exotic; a drink? And then I find “The Stinking Rose”, a beautiful, exotic and highly original collection of poems by multi-award winning poet Sujata Bhatt. It was published in 1995, (can it be that long ago?), and is one of six collections published so far by Carcanet.

Now it’s on its way to my bedside table and will take up residence there for about three months. Here, for an example of that difference, are the opening few lines from the title poem:

The Stinking Rose

Everything I want to say is
in that name
for these cloves of garlic-they shine
like pearls still warm from a woman’s neck.

My fingernail nudges and nicks
the smell open, a round smell
that spirals up. Are you hungry?

Friday, September 5, 2008


Recently I’ve been thinking of the love poems I won’t be writing. But I do find my ‘would be’ words in the writings of others. When it comes to love, it’s hard to beat Kahlil Gibran.

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation”

“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were”

“Love and doubt have never been on speaking terms”

“And think not you can guide the course of love. For love, if it finds you worthy, shall guide your course.”

On the other hand there’s the love guru, Woody Allen, who came up with this,

“I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or I had smallpox”

For poignancy: “I miss you a little, I guess you could say, a little too much, a little to often, and a little more each day.”

I don’t know who said that, but I know.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dublin to Dysert O'Dea

I was looking through the O’Dea Clan guestbook and came across an entry asking for tips on how to maximise the experience of a trip to Dublin and including Dysert O’Dea ( Clare) over four days in Nov. I like this sort of question. So here’s my list for those who are into culture, history, heritage etc.

1. Get to a trad session in a Dublin pub, maybe The Merchant or Hughes.
2. A play in the Abbey, Gate, Project or wherever.
3. A hurling match in Croke Park (weekends), you won’t see anything like it elsewhere.
4. Nicest walks in Dublin area are Bray to Greystones or path around Howth Head
5 Kilmainham Gaol for 1916 era history museum.
6. Going to Dysert, get the Burren Map ( Tim Robinson’s 2 inch map), and the "Book of the Burren" ( o'Connell and... v readable) and see some best archaeological sites (eg Caherconnell Fort) in Ireland, walk the green road, take time to enjoy Black Head round to Doolin ( get out of the car for this), enjoy a good meal in Corofin.
7.Take boat from Doolin to Inis Oirr ( if weather permits in Nov)
8. See Cliffs of Moher and St Brighid’s well on road to liscannor.
9.Have a pint in Liscannor.
10. Or skip 6-10, see Yeats Tower , Coole Park and Kilmacduagh monastic ruins outside Gort and onto Galway for a day/night around town.
11. Returning to Dublin detour to Strokestown for Famine Museum. If time permits detour later to take in Fore Monastery ruins near Castlepollard in Co Longford.

I forgot days were short in Nov.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fish Stone Water

Holy wells have an atmosphere about them that is unique. They are portals into another place: ancient, otherworldly, magical, serene. They and the practices associated with them are at odds with a world becoming increasingly homogenised and functional.

I’m just after finding the website of Sláine, Guardians of the Wells. This may turn out to be a great find as I’ve been thinking of taking a tour of holy wells around Ireland for years. You can find it at http://slaine.ie/about.php

If you’re not into the well thing, take a look at Fish Stone Water: The Holy Wells of Ireland by Anna Rackard. Publisher: Attic Pres. A beautiful book published some years back. After that, visit St Brighids Well, Liscannor, Co Clare. And that’s my ‘starter pack’ for potential wellies.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

“Rachel Giese The Donegal Pictures”

Rachel Brown (formerly Rachel Giese) published “Rachel Giese The Donegal Pictures” in 1987. I got the ideas for some for some of my poems browsing through this beautiful book.
Since then she has had a number of solo exhibitions in Ireland. She has also published Solstice, a collection of photographs from the Connemara-Mayo area, as well as Sweeney’s Flight, a book which features her photographs with Heaney’s poetry. It is no surprise to find her sharing a book with Heaney: her work is poetic, evocative and very beautiful.
To view a selection of her images, follow the books link at her website: http://www.rachelbrownphoto.com/index.html I guarantee you’ll want to buy the books.

The following is a poem from “Sunfire”,it is based based on one of those images, a boy in a farmyard in Donegal.

The Country Child.

The country child
runs in and out of rain showers
like rooms;

sees the snake-patterns in trains,
the sun's sword-play in the hedges
and the confetti in falling elder blossoms;

knows the humming in the telegraph poles
as the hedgerow's voice
when tar bubbles are ripe for bursting;

watches bees emerge
from the caverns at the centres of buttercups,
feels no end to a daisy chain,
feels no end to an afternoon;
walks on ice though it creaks;
sees fish among ripples and names them;

is conversant with berries
and hides behind thorns,
slips down leaves, behind stones;

fills his hands with the stream
and his hair with the smell of hay;
recognizes the chalkiness

of the weathered bones of sheep,
the humour in a rusted fence,
the feel of the white beards that hang there.

The country child
sees a mountain range where blue clouds
are heaped above the horizon,

sees a garden of diamonds
through a hole scraped
in the frost patterns of his bedroom window

and sees yet another world
when tints of cerise and ochre
streak the evening sky.

He knows no end, at night
he sneaks glimpses of Heaven
through the moth-eaten carpet of the sky.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Yeats Exhibition

If you’ve not been to the Yeats Exhibition in the National Library, put it into the diary; it’s excellent.

But isn’t it time the capital offered a large scale exhibition that honoured all the literary figures of Ireland from the bards of old up to Roddy Doyle today. I mean a major, permanent exhibition bringing us on a tour through the literary history of the country.

What a pantheon: Dean Swift, Synge, Sean O’Casey, Beckett, Goldsmith, Brian Friel, Yeats, Joyce, McGahern, George Bernard Shaw, Mangan, Heaney, O’Cadhain, Bram Stoker, Kavanagh, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Maeve Binchy, Wilde, Flann O’Brien, Ó Direáin, Brendan Behan etc. If you also include writers who had significant links with Ireland, or, for example, those whose ancestors were Irish the list becomes nothing short of incredible.

With a cast like that it could change from month to month, changing emphasis, theme whatever. It could incorporate films, filmed dramas in various languages, weird and wonderful adaptions of plays etc. The possibilities are myriad; it could hardly fail to be a success.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jean-Philippe Goude

I went searching for Jean-Philippe Goude who is credited with the music on the Bosch animation below. It was worth it, check out his website at http://jphgoude.free.fr/indexgb.html

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bosch Animation

If you are a Bosch fan there are some nice compilations of his work on Youtube. You might also search for Bosch animations while you're there; there are two or three worth seeing. This is one of two posted by "visualartslab" which I like, I particularly enjoyed the soundtrack.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Increasing Poetry Readership

When I passed up Manchester United on television to give a poetry reading in the back room, the barman commented, as he pulled his chair closer to the screen, that it was easy to see that I was a poet. I bit my lip; there’s not many things I enjoy more than settling down in front of a good game of football.

But this view of poets, (and similarly for practitioners of other art forms), is extremely common and one that will have to be addressed if we are not to witness the continued shrinkage of the poetry sections in bookshops, readings on radio, indeed its perceived relevance to society in general.

It’s not that there isn’t a fondness for poetry; there is, maybe even more than previously but it’s losing out to other forms of entertainment in the media and no one is going to come to the rescue if those involved don’t.

Elsewhere on this blog I suggested that Poetry Ireland, (since it will take such a central organisation), organise a Poets Corner in Dublin (maybe the first of many throughout the country) where everyone/anyone can stop for 15 minutes to listen and buy poetry. I would suggest that a meeting of interested parties be set up to discuss the initiative and organise as big a kick-start as can be mustered.

Secondly. I was for a time involved in the organisation of poetry competitions for students. I discovered that the prospect of publication in a well-distributed book had greater appeal than prizes and drew in greater numbers of entries. I firmly believe that it is in the student years that readers can be won over to poetry. Is there a possibility that Gallery Press, Dedalus Press, Salmon Press and all the other poetry presses in Ireland, with or without Poetry Ireland, could pool their resources to produce such a publication? It would be very saleable in schools and colleges, seriously crank up their visibility and would be an investment in their own futures.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Bit about Mee

A recent RTE "Arts Show" featured the American playwright and author Charles Mee.

It was an absorbing interview. I found myself in agreement with his views and will, when I get time, look deeper into his work.I also admired his approach to his own work. He described his borrowing from Greek drama and welcomed all comers to do likewise with his material.He welcomed writers to pilfer from his website (see http://www.charlesmee.org/html/about.html) where he has posted the scripts of his plays.

So if you're looking for ideas for a play where better to start.Wonder would similar work for poets?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hidden Irish Treasures

Fore, Co Westmeath came to the fore,(couldn’t resist), on radio last week. The conversation widened out to unknown treasures (destinations worth visiting) around Ireland.

Certainly Fore is beautiful and, like Dysert O’Dea, unexploited. To my mind Clonmacnoise has lost its charm, thanks to the powers plonking a visitor centre on top of it. Same at Mellifont Abbey. How nice it was to be able to walk casually and unaccosted into these wonderful places without having to pay. It gave me a sense of pride my country's heritage. Now I feel cordoned off from it, and the admission charges are an imposition on what was, to me, part of the landscape's grandeur like Ben Bulben's escarpment.

No, I’m not against visitor centres, let’s have more of them, but not barring the way into what used to be ours.

So here are a few alternatives which to the best of my knowledge don't charge at the door: Kilmacduagh Abbey near Gort, Monasterboice in Louth, Inis Murray in Sligo, Holy Island on Lough Derg, Jerpoint Abbey in Co Kilkenny, Ballintubber Abbey in Mayo, Abbeyknockmoy in Galway and Duiske Abbey in Graiguenamanagh.

Finally, as a Roscommoner, I can also recommend a visit to Roscommon's 12th century abbey and castle and to the museum in the Square as a very nice way to fill in a day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

poetry on the wall

So, just as I’ve finally got round to pasting all the pictures and photographs that have inspired me over the years onto the walls of my work- room, guess what? The wallpaper’s beginning to fall.

But that aside, to look at the walls is to look at a history of my writing. So there’s Goya and Bacon, Kahlo, Monet, Reichter, Wyeth etc. There’s photographs of war victims next to O’Keeffe’s flowers, a baby being thrown from a burning house beside a holy well and the galician maskers that were the subject of a chapbook that was published some years ago in Galicia. The title of that small book is Felos aínda serra which was published by AMASTRA-N-GALLAR. It contains some wonderful mask illustrations by Charles Cullen and the translations into the galician were done by Sonia Vila Aragunde. There is a photograph elsewhere in this blog of the masks. I’ve yet to see the Felos in real life; it is an ambition.

Google the word peliqueiros in the images search to see what I’m talking about. If you can look at them in black and white they make a radically different impression than they do in colour; this is the way I saw them. And so the poems are dark, much in keeping with the most likely origins of the masks.

My head is an egg shell:
intact, hollow;

abandoned on the ground,
weather leaves its stains.

On the outside I smile that smile
which passers-by notice less and less;

and all I can do
is keep widening it;

wider and wilder,
eventually grotesque.

They flee;
I am left alone.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cloverhill Church

We had spent the day touring around Mayo and Galway and were now nearly back in Roscommon town when the driver slammed on the breaks and reversed. He took out his camera for the first time that day and took a photo of Cloverhill church at the end of a yew-lined road. I had passed it a hundred times over the years and missed the beauty. It was a useful lesson for a poet, it doesn’t have to be grand-scale to be stunning; Georgia O’Keeffe would have told me that.

I remembered that just as I was about to write about Skellig Michael. Nothing small-scale there, one of the most spectacular places on the planet and a world heritage site. Worth mentioning that this is a good month to go as the puffins will have left Skellig by August.

I was going to post a video from Youtube with this post but it can't be done so I recommend strongly that you check out the video, Georgia O'Keeffe's Flowers; it's worth it. Instead, for a badly needed bit of colour, I'm putting in the Laburnum filling my bedroom window in May; I think Georgia would approve.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Roscommon Anthology

Well, today marked the first day of real work on a Roscommon Literary Anthology. A number of meetings, some useful contacts made, and names to follow up on. A member of Roscommon Library for the first time in ** ( not tellen) years and the map ahead is becoming clear. Clearer too for having verbalised the whole plan to a number of people and got their initial and very positive reaction. The list of possible authors takes firmer shape in my head, and lists are materialising in my hands. It’s exciting.

A bit of good luck too: met by good chance an avid collector of Roscommon books, documents, ephemera etc. A lot of this material can be seen at http://www.roscommonhistory.ie/ It’s a very interesting website which I’m looking forward to exploring and at first glance can recommend strongly to anyone with a fondness for the county.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Window with a view

With June comes the most spectacular skyscapes. The sun vies with angry graphite clouds for show-time. For a moment a mushroom with a white heart like a nuclear explosion dominates the sky. The sun breaks through, as quickly disappears again. South Donegal, Donegal Bay, Sligo, even Mayo, (Nephin in the far distance), opens and closes. Wispy grey showers sweep along Ben Bulben’s shoulders.

There is a broad window on the west side of the house which is full of this ever-changing panorama from dawn till dusk. It is breath-taking.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dublin's Poets Corner

There used to be free outdoor poetry readings outside the Scottish Poetry Library just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh each afternoon during the Summer season. I think they were open readings, at least that’s how I remember them; its a few years ago now. Anyway they were, to my mind, a very attractive addition to the joys of Edinburgh summer afternoons.

I remember thinking, when Poetry Ireland was based in Dublin Castle, that similar readings could have been quite successful there or, since then, on the Grafton St corner of Stephen's Green.I know free summertime readings in themselves are nothing new, it’s the location that’s important. I also think that over the Summer season a number of poets might give their time to man/woman a stall of publications for sale while the readings were in progress. It could rotate between the different publishing presses or different bookshops.

Sponsorship from Dublin City Council(since Dublin's tourism is all about its writers), a colourful canopy over the books, a built up reputation as Poets Corner, etc etc.(Maybe it has been suggested and shot down already). It needs an organisation like Poetry Ireland to set up, then I would volunteer.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Johnson's Cabinet Still Full

“I believe that this War, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest…………………………………………………

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolonging those sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the military conduct of the War, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed………………...………”

Words written by Siegfried Sassoon in his “A Soldier’s Declaration”, a statement he penned as “an act of willful defiance of military authority”. How tired would he be by now of the “political errors and insincerities” that continuously stream through the media and which have cost the lives of millions since his death in 1967.

Mention of this reminds me of Robert Bly’s “Johnson’s Cabinet Watched by Ants”; it can be read at http://encarta.msn.com/sidebar_1741502525/johnson%E2%80%99s_cabinet_watched_by_ants_by_robert_bly.html

Friday, May 30, 2008


Looking forward to having a few pints in

Biddy’s in Barnesmore, and walking in

the Bluestacks, getting started on a Roscommon anthology and lots and lots of eeeeeeease.

Poetry Readership in Ireland

Apparently the Irish are the biggest poetry readers per capita in Europe. I am not surprised but I am a bit sceptical as to what the numbers reflect. A few years ago I read at Strokestown Poetry Festival (a very enjoyable weekend by the way). Anyway Seamus Heaney attracted a colossal audience, way beyond the numbers for any of the other events. This is to be expected, but I suspect this is reflected in book sales as well.

Secondly poetry publishers rely on Arts Council funding, this results in an unusually high number of poets being published in Ireland (per capita). A lot of readings then, and there is pressure to fill the rooms and sell the books. Thirdly, and back to festivals like Strokestown, there are a lot of poetry writers and often these are the ones attending the events and buying the books. Sydney Bernard Smith used to call it Ireland’s standing army of poets. But is there a great non-poet readership?

I think there is a real interest in poetry among those in their teens, I have found it myself in my own work. Here is where it can be encouraged and where a cohort of wide-ranging poetry readers can be nurtured. It would be nice to see a strong and innovative campaign instigated to develop the interest. Unfortunately, except for those being taught by the scattered enthusiasts, I don’t see it happening.

And while Seamus Heaney is in my mind, I wonder is there many out there that would agree that Brian Friel among all Irish writers deserves the Nobel Prize.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sunlight on water

I’m convinced the play of sunlight on water triggers happiness. The scintillations seem to tickle the brain.

So for the complete package I’m suggesting you have a look at the following clip from Youtube while opening up another window and listening to The Dance 1, 2 and 3 from Ambient 3: Day of Radiance by Brian Eno and Laraaji at

See if you agree: I think this music is the aural equivalent of sunlight on water, and somehow it produces a similar response. And many thanks to the people (marcsilverdirector for the video on YouTube) who made both available.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Poetry/Literary Publications

PIR, Cyphers, The Salmon, Krino, Force 10, The Stinging Fly, The SHOp, Incognito………..poets in particular seem to want to publish as well as be published. I myself instigated a short-lived magazine called Slants back in the early nineties. An enjoyable experience, but it takes stamina so stick with it year after year. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, current editor of PIR, is also one of the co-editors of one of Ireland’s longest running poetry magazines, Cyphers. Great credit is due to her for her service to Irish poetry. It would be interesting to read the list of established poets whose first poems appeared in publications she edited.

The variation in design, content and editorial approach makes each publication worth a look. I liked the rotation of editors that used to be the policy of PIR publishing, I also like the inclusion of poetry-related quotations and its well-written reviews. Whereas I would probably be happier to see PIR as an organ solely for championing Irish poets, both in publishing, and reviewing everything that is worthwhile coming out of this country, I always liked the inclusion of translations of foreign poets in Cyphers. The style and content of the SHOp is admirable as is The Stinging Fly. There are too many to talk about, but referring to those that are gone I must mention Force 10. I enjoyed the mix. There was no pretentiousness, it had the ingredient poetry needs more than any other: accessibility.

The first poem I had published in Cyphers s tays in my mind. I had not been into writing that long. I forgot all about this particular poem and when I saw it in print didn’t recognize it as one of mine. Only later did it come back to me. It is called Beyond the Twelfth Lock and is a scene that would be known to those who walk the Grand Canal on the stretch beyond Newcastle.

Beyond The Twelfth Lock.

All the world was in a pool by the canal;

All the Autumn,

All the Summer turned peacock

Gazing at itself

Quietly, still, face to the water.

Where I had seen the swans

Flaming in Spring,

Today I came on Summer, gold and beautiful,

About to die.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


A few years after deciding I was finished writing a collection of poems called A Midland Town A Country Town which I undertook after seeing John Minihan’s photographs of Athy, I find I’m back in the middle of it again changing and fining and searching for more in those faces and more in my past. And my Roscommon past is turning out to be a rich source of untrampled poetry, but how much do I want to use it, or to be more precise how much do I want to use the people of the town.
The two towns being midland country towns would have had a lot in common; mind you the river and canal bring an extra layer of colour to Athy. Then again Roscommon’s county GAA pitch became an arena for rafting in the winter when the stand’s seats ( railway sleepers) would be arranged two along, two across and the boys from Ciaran’s Park became gondoliers.
Growing up in a town like Roscommon in that time (60’s/70’s) had huge advantages, it was safe, it had the benefits of a county town while being knee-deep in countryside, it had its fair share of historic buildings, (an impressive castle and abbey) which we had the run of, and was close enough to river and lake for sweltering July afternoons. On top of that my family came from there, or half of, and so it was home.
I have no doubt that it was those roots that are the roots of my writing too. And that brings me back to the collection A Midland Town A Country Town and how much I want to use it.

The Boy Who Watched For Apparitions.

Goodnight to the twin moons
stretched along the railway tracks
outside Roscommon.
My night-time window halved
with those trains rushing across the glass,
strips of film filled with their own lives:
adventurers and bon-vivants,
whose strings of lights recreated as they passed
the grassy slope, the elder bushes,
the buffer with the hole in the side;
strangers oblivious to such little worlds
and to the boy who watched for apparitions
from his bedroom window.
And in a moment they were gone,
leaving the darkness darker and the boy listening,
trying to gauge where the sounds
finally disappeared into the wind.

What lay beyond that window-world ?

The station to the right,
the white gates to the left,
and then..........

Now I remember those film strips
sailing through that pitch emptiness;
sometimes they were only ruffed impressions
when the window was full of pouring rain.
I remember how my imagination filled like a can
when all that was left was the headlight's beam
over the trees of Bully's Acre.
And there is often disappointment in these poems;
the disappointment of that place beyond
where the rhythms of trains were reclaimed by the wind.

from Sunfire (Dedalus Press)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Warren O'Connell

The Dublin Writers Workshop was, for a number of years, a regular stop for me. I met a lot of good writers, a lot of interesting people, and made a number of friends there.Among those that impressed most me was Warren O’Connell. He was a fine writer and an excellent critic. His criticism was delivered in a gentle, considerate way but was always perceptive,to the point,and bang on accurate.

It was with great regret that I learned that he died last week. I got the message from a member of the Rathmines Writers Workshop of which Warren was a member.It is a sad time for them,particularly some of the longer established members who were close to him.

Rathmines will be an emptier place for not bumping into him occasionally. Pearse Hutchinson has a poem in which he says (I’m paraphrasing him) universal courtesy would be revolutionary; in that revolution Warren would have been the rebel leader. He was a wonderful person; he will be missed.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ó Bhéal

Searching for Irish Poetry Festivals I found ó bhéal Poetry Blog. It contains a listing of the year’s poetry festivals and the upcoming Open-Mic nights in the Long Valley pub in Cork with the featured poets. It also contains an interesting selection of videos relating to poets and poetry. Well worth a visit to http://www.obheal.ie/blog/

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Raglan Road

I felt like hearing Luke Kelly singing Raglan Road, then decided anyone reading the blog should hear it too. But I had trouble choosing between two YouTube videos. The first has some excellent portraits of Patrick Kavanagh, the second includes a snippet of him singing before switching to footage of Luke singing. So for the price of one………..here’s

Sohrab Sepehri

But there are some things, some high moments
( I saw a woman poet, for example
so absorbed in space
that the sky laid eggs in her eyes;………)
Sohrab Sepehri

How can you overlook words like these taken from a translation of the Iranian poet’s “The Primal Call”. His poetry, even in translation, is so beautiful that when you read it you realize that beauty itself is what’s missing from so much contemporary poetry.

I have never come across two pines in fight,
And I have never seen a willow
selling its shielding arms to the earth.
And the elm-tree is setting free of charge
the cool space within its leaves for the crows.

These lines from Sepehri’s wonderful poem, The Footsteps of Water, translated by Maryam Dilmaghani demonstrate again his poetic genius: this strong political point is couched so gently in nature that the crass capitalism it derides is made to appear completely alien to all that is good. This quotation is to be found at http://www.sohrabsepehri.net/ which I strongly recommend if you want to read more works by the same poet beautifully translated by Maryam Dilmaghani. The former can be read at http://poems.lesdoigtsbleus.free.fr/id95.htm and while you’re there check out the poetry library.(Avoid the homepage for the moment, a threat was detected there by my anti-virus program)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yellow Hair

"NEVER shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair."

These lines from “For Anne Gregory “ by Yeats sometimes come into my head. How well he states the dilemma.
One afternoon, a number of years ago, I was staring absently out the window when I caught sight of the back of a girl passing. It was a particular combination of low sun and exceedingly long hair that produced the most breathtaking effect. Her hair shone. It gave me a poem which is included in Turn Your Head (Dedalus Press):

On days like this trees shine,
leaves spill light,
the garden is a flood,
rooftops are full-flowing weirs.
I am swept along.

You, who collects sunlight
on the spatulas of your fingers
- it clings to you like pollen -
curl a hand upward
to loosen out your hair.

Oh, I wish my eyes were barrels.

As it happens, I knew her and now when I remember her, I invariably remember her golden, gleaming hair.

Barack Hussein Obama: An Opportunity

I would love to see a female president of the USA. However it’s a pity the choice has arisen now.

The US has been held up for most of my lifetime as the champion of peoples’ freedom and defender of human rights. That standing is now, for many, a thing of the past. Its reputation is this area has been seriously damaged.

I don’t know much about the internal politics in the USA and certainly foreign policy is only one consideration for voters, but a life and death one for so many. On that basis I would have thought that the emergence of Obama as a candidate for presidency gave the voters a gilt-edge opportunity to reclaim some of that lost credibility.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Erne Estuary

I’m sitting beside a window full of the Erne Estuary. There’s not the slightest breeze. S-shaped, mirror-still, silvery grey. Shades of ivory, cream and seashell blend in curlicues out to the bar. Beyond there’s a stripe of charcoal and further out the narrow strip of brightness that marks the edge of the world.
By the side of the bay below the fields there is a rag tree before St Patrick’s grotto. On the algae-slimy rocks are small white crosses, the stations of the cross. On evenings like this when the smallest tick of nature can be heard in the briars and whitethorn bushes, it is an eerie but a wonderful place. You get that sense of being in your proper place within the flow of mankind that have lived along these banks since people first arrived into the west of Ireland; here at Ballyshannon, the oldest town in Ireland.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Magical Places

I was looking through old photos when I came to the stained glass windows of Sans Chappell(click on the picture above to see it at its best). I remember climbing the stairs from the lower chapel, not expecting much (shows my ignorance), having thought I'd more or less seen what was to be seen and then..............Explosion of light and colour. The effect was as thrilling as anything that might have thrilled a child's imagination. I have never been so surprised by wonder.

And so I set to thinking about other magical places, taking what first came to mind as being the measure and with magical being the important word: 1. Sir John Soane's Museum in London for it's difference and quirkiness, an unexpected delight. 2. Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast. On a fine Summer's day this place is one step from heaven. As you approach, the gannets wafting on currents of air give the spire of rock an atmosphere of enchantment.3. The Sistine Chapel. Okay this is not the most original choice in the world but it came to mind next and I was mesmerised it is all and more than I had wished for. Even with teeming millions I was lost in the art.

4. Brian Eno/Laraaji.Ambient 3:Day of Radiance. This album will take you somewhere that's a combination of the four choices above.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dysert O’Dea

My collection of maps has grown over the years. Hillwalkers use the 1:50000 Ordinance Survey maps. There are 89 in the series covering the 32 counties of Ireland. Number 57 has special significance for me, a photograph of a high cross above the caption High Cross, Dysert O’Dea graces the front cover.

It’s a few years ago now since Kay and I stopped there about 7.30pm on a stilly mid-summer’s evening. We were on the way to Corofin for a meal. It was idyllic; peaceful, green, gentle. Disert means an isolated place; it still has that air, and on that particular evening especially so.

How wonderful it is to find the church ruins, round tower, high cross un-exploited, unspoiled, still freely accessible as they have been for centuries. And how much more appealing they are than Clonmacnoise, the wonderful monastic settlement by the Shannon now subsumed by a tourism development that diminishes it’s grandeur and it’s magic.

A short walk on, through the field, past the high cross and you reach the castle. It is an example of tasteful restoration, not imposing itself on the landscape, but holding its own and adding as a backdrop to the other sites.

For the return of this jewel, now archaeological centre in the heart of Clare, thanks to the Wisconsin O’Deas and those who assisted greatly, Risteard Ua Cronin, the Dysert O'Dea Development Association and Bord Failte.

Dom Bernard O'Dea

Writing about Dysert brings Dom Bernard to mind. He was my father’s first cousin and, of course, chaplain to the O’Dea clan for many years. We always looked forward to Bernard’s all too rare visits. When he came, he brought his stories, his regard for children and his great bright smile.

For a commeration of his death, James O’Dea asked me to write something. I could have written a eulogy but decided instead to recall that childhood impression of his visits. This is the poem with some alterations

In Memory of Dom Bernard.

We were coming home at night,
children in the back, you out front,
the colored lights on the dashboard;
up hills, down valleys,
the whole car singing.

But there were neither hills nor valleys,
it was the wild careering over and around
your songs and stories.
Close my eyes, we’re skittering on still
snug in the warm blanket of your gentleness.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Artists with Poetry in their Hearts

I have been told more than once that I have a tendency towards melancholy. It shows in the writing and it shows in my choices when I go searching for inspiration. Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth are two american artists that never fail to stir that mood in me.If I allow myself to wallow in their art, invariably a poem will begin to form in my head.On this side of the water Martin Gale sometimes evokes similar moods and his work has echoes of both american artists.

Old Man

The tyre hanging in the garden
is proof that children used to play there;
but in the breeze it’s a shaking head.

Today snowflakes flying by
leave the sycamore white on its northern side.
The garden is still: no snowman, no footprints.

The tyre is an old man;
with an old voice he explains
“I cannot remember names, truth is

I hung too close to the trunk to be of use;
the sycamore branches bolted upwards,
to this day they’ve never spread out.”

from "Turn Your Head" published by Dedalus Press

Anyway it's nice to be able to include some examples of this art in the following presentations from Youtube; Wyeth on top, Hopper below.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rathmines Festival Information


THIS YEAR’S 6th RATHMINES FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE FROM 17th to 20th April. The festival boasts even more events than ever at venues dotted around Rathmines – most free of charge.

DANCE workshops with the Dance Theatre of Ireland, Siamsa Tire and Fluxusdance means this is your chance to experience and enjoy tango, hip hop and contemporary.

Emer McDonagh, world-renowned flautist, will enchant you. Nightly Festival Clubs in local pubs will offer a diverse feast of music that is sure to please everyone.

We are adding a touch of Bollywood spice to proceedings with film showings in D.I.T. The very popular guided tours of the historic Cathal Brugha Barracks will also feature this year. The enthusiastic Eanna Ni Lamhna will inform and entertain you with a lively canal bank nature walk.

DHARMA: Talks and workshops on mind body and spirit. Anne Sweeney will lift you to a higher plane with her Angel workshops and Mary Tuohy will relax you with the ancient Japanese art of Reiki. There is Tai Chi in the Park.

Younger participants will be able to enjoy free readings in some of the local bookshops from well-known authors as well as competitions, Batik art displays, street art and performers, musical storytellers and a Party at Portobello.

Tommy O’Neill of Fair City has written a one-man show. Shirley Temple Bar will deliver another custom-made show, Transition, sure to titillate. As gaeilge, the Fibin Theatre Company will perform An Trial.

For the Francophiles: “Pays Blanc Pays Noir” is a choir from St Nazaire made up of 12 singers and a pianist. The group dress in black and white and the choir conjures up images of la Brière, the Guérande and Saint-Nazaire.

Seamus Hosey chairs the Forum, Trial by Media, featuring John Cooney and other prominent journalists.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rathmines Festival 2008

Some of the events from the upcoming festival:
Fri 18th April

Performance by French Choir, “Pays Blanc, Pays Noir” from St Nazaire, France and music Youth Orchestral Pops Orchestra. 19.00 – 21.00 in Rathmines Parish Church (Free)

Festival Drama – World premier of the “The Mines Dublin 6” specially written and peformed by Tommy O’Neill of Fair City. 20.00 – 21.00 in St Mary’s Junior School Hall €10

Saturday 19th April

Guided Tour: Cathal Brugha Barracks. 14.00 – 16.00 Free

Anthony Cronin: reads from and talks about his work. 14.00 – 15.30 in Town Hall €5

Medieval Dublin interactive DVD and film. 14.00- 15.00 in Town Hall (Free)

Forum with Seamus Hosey and panellists: Trial By Media Town Hall 16.30 – 18.00 in Town Hall (Free)

Fete Mélange – with Master of Ceremonies Promises O’Ferfaille and the Bugle Babes and Shirley Temple Bar. 20.30 – 22.30 in Town Hall €10

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dublin Writers Workshop

Great credit is due to Nessa O’Mahony for her website “Dublin Writers Workshop Online” see < http://dublinwritersworkshop.wordpress.com/ >.

It all goes back to the well-known Dublin Writers Workshop that met for years in a range of venues around Dublin and attracted many writers that have since become familiar names e.g. Sheila O’Hagan, Jean O’Brien, Ted McNulty and many others. I was a regular in the early nineties but have often argued against the notion of workshops, mainly on account of the very mixed ability of writers that attended.Now I have to give credit to that workshop in particular; a disproportionate number of the members have gone on to be widely published and award winners.

Anyway Nessa O’Mahony who definitely falls into the category of successful past members, facilitates this website; she does writers, poets in particular, a great service and this is a great resource.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's in a Title

Occasionally a combination of words grabs you, opens up a new space in your mind, new possibilities. Mary O’Gorman’s title “I am Horses, I am Swallows” is a title that does just that. I came across it at Southward, newsletter of the Munster Literature Centre, Sullivans Quay, Cork; http://www.munsterlit.ie/Southword4/Poetry/poetry.html#still. On same page poems from Pearse Hutchinson, Paddy Bushe, Fred Johnston and others. Worth mentioning by the way Paddy Bushe, who I have a lot of time for; he has a new collection: To Ring in Silence: New and Selected Poems (The Dedalus Press, 2008).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ireland and Newfoundland

A wave of emigration from Ireland to Newfoundland, particularly from the south-east of Ireland, occurred in the early 1800’s even before the famine. Today a great number of the Newfoundland population have Irish roots.

The strength of poetry in Ireland is well known, but many here would have been unaware of the strength of poetry in Newfoundland and Labrador at least up to the publication of The Backyards of Heaven An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from Ireland and Newfoundland & Labrador (eds. Stephanie McKenzie and John Ennis Scop Productions, 2003). The book was a celebration of our common heritage. I was glad to be included.

I mention it by way of introducing a video from Youtube.Can you believe this is not a video from Wexford?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Interest in Poetry

The new ESRI Report, In the Frame or Out of the Picture?, analyses current involvement in the Arts in Ireland in terms of participation in the arts, attendance at arts events and reading habits.
It comes up with some interesting statistics relating to poetry:

Women are more than twice as likely to read poetry than men

Age, gender, educational attainment are among other factors that impinge on the readership of poetry but not social class. Interestingly social class is a factor in other categories of reading choice.

Age is (surprise surprise) a major factor in readership of poetry with over 65’s over six times more likely to read it than 35 – 44 year olds

Poetry reading is strongly related to educational attainment; the post-grad holder figure is over 3 times the figure of those without third level qualifications.

It would be nice to see an analysis of interest in poetry in all its guises undertaken under the auspices of Poetry Ireland, an organization that would have the influence to implement a strategy to deal with the findings. In particular, I would be interested to learn how the colossal exposure of second level students in Ireland translates into such low levels of manifest interest and appreciation.

Surely there is an urgent need for a move to be made in this direction?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stop the Next War

I came across this on YouTube. It's a very poignant and striking statement against all war-making.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I normally don’t say anything about Kay’s business but recently she has had some spectacular results healing through Bio-energy. You can learn more about bio-energy at her website . Catherine O’Dea’s Bio-energy for Health is based like myself in Dublin and Donegal. There's a link to her site below.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rathmines Festival

My role with Rathmines Festival is peripheral this year; I’m no longer part of the organising committee. I'm enjoying the relaxation that comes with that but do miss the excitement and, to some extent, the anxiety. Good luck to my successor James Casey. The Festival will take place over the weekend April 18th - 20th. Over the years we’ve (surprise surprise) had a strong literary component. I hope it continues. Mention was made of an event involving Anthony Cronin, but I’m not sure if this is definite. I’ll post events as they become known.

Writing From Within

Notice of Writing From Within, Haiku and the Spiritual Dimension, comes from Maeve O’Sullivan. This is a workshop with Maeve O’Sullivan and Kim Richardson that will take place from Sat 12th to Sat 19th July 2008 in Anam Cara, Writers and Artists Retreat, in the Beara Peninsula. "This workshop is designed to help develope paths to our own inner inspiration." It combines " the haiku work with meditation, breath and light practices......... ". Further information can be got from Sue Booth Forbes at anamcararetreat@eircom.net.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Caccini's Ave Maria

This is exquisite. Don't bother about the pictures, turn it up, close your eyes and savor

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pádraig J Daly and RS Thomas

Pádraig J Daly is a poet I have great time for. I find his poetry thought-provoking and persuasive. He does not roar his presence, for many he had to be found but once found he leaves a lasting impression. Some of his poetry is reminiscent of the poems of another clergyman, RS Thomas. “Clinging to the Myth” (Dedalus Press, 2007) is his most recent collection and you can get a sampler of these poems by following the links on the Dedalus Press website. He can also be heard in the Dedalus Press Audio Room. A selection of poems by RS Thomas can be found at
< http://www.eliteskills.com/a/R.S.+Thomas>; his poem “The Bright Field” can be found in a number of places on the net, but I think you might enjoy it most at the following address < http://www.panhala.net/Archive/The_Bright_Field.html>

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tuol Sleng Still

In 1999 I wrote a series of poems called Tuol Sleng Still. They were inspired by the gut-wrenching photographs of the inmates of Tuol Sleng, S-21, a Khmer Rouge death-camp in Phnom Penh. Between 1975 and 1979, 14,000 were tortured and died there. 7 survived. Inmates were photographed with numbered tags, and they were photographed again after their deaths.

Anyone who has experienced such horrors would probably consider my poems from the comfort of 1999 Ireland wryly. I was horrified by my ignorance: during those years I was enjoying a carefree college life. But to see the fear in faces that are little different to those that fill my everyday; I immediately felt immense sadness and felt I should, at least, inform myself. And by researching, writing and publishing the poems I could at least make the experience more real to me and contribute in a minute way to the calls against the wars and barbarism that seem to me to exemplify the pitiful limitations of us humans.

I chose Tuol Sleng because the photographs that inspired me were from there. There is a danger that I will suggest that people from far-off lands with different features to ours are barbaric, however I consider the vacuum-pack cleanliness of American mass-murder by air-strike at least as obscene, if not more so. I consider the war in the Middle East carried out and supported by governments in our name to be abhorrent. That era in the seventies is and isn’t history: unfortunately, for too many around the world it is Tuol Sleng still.

I looked at him,
Cambodian like myself,
similar in height and age.
He was handing out the tags;
I was bare to the waist.

I held the tag in my hand,
holding it up to be seen;
feeling awkward, conspicuous.
“Pin it onto your chest”
he said and waited.

I pinned it into my skin;
the humiliation delighted him.
Before the camera I stood erect
like I was proud to wear it,
like it was made of gold.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gorumna Island, 360 degrees Connemara Landscape

I'd forgotten about this snippet of video from a walk in September 2006. Pass through the island of Lettermore over the bridge onto Gorumna Island. A stunning part of county Galway and away from the worst excesses of tourism. My dancing's rough, so is the terrain but isn't it beautiful. Kay on camera. Reminds me, it's about time for another visit.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Roscommon Writers

Now that the O’Dea house in Roscommon is no more - my mother died two years ago and the house has since been demolished – I feel quite eager to put together an event comprising Roscommon writers and musicians to take place in Dublin, Roscommon, and anywhere else that would stage it. The suggestion was put to me some years ago; lately it has been on my mind again. I launched my first collection Sunfire in Roscommon and it proved to be a marvellous occasion.

I am also weighing up an anthology of writings by Roscommon writers, eg Douglas Hyde, Percy French, John Waters or alternatively, writers with Roscommon connections. The two lists would make interesting reading. Writers belonging to either or would include John McGahern, Patrick Chapman, Jack Harte, Patsy McGarry, Kieran Furey and..... I must investigate.

If this question still interests me tomorrow morning; I’ll take the first step.