Saturday, January 31, 2009

Did you know?

Lady Jane Francesca "Speranza" Wilde, writer, translator, poet and mother of Oscar died in 1896. She was buried in a paupers grave which until recently was unmarked.

Edgar Allen Poe died in 1849 "of congestion of the brain" according to the local newspapers. In 1875, a group of local school children donated a grave stone for him.

George Bernard Shaw's grave is not straight forward; after his death in 1950 his ashes were mixed with those of his wife (d. 1943) and scattered in the garden of his home, Shaws Corner in Hertfordshire.

Francis Ledwidge was killed in action during WW1 and is buried in Artillery Wood CWGC Cemetery north of Ypres, Plot II Row B Grave 5.

These details are from Find A Grave, it's full of interesting details on a host of well known people. See

My Mother

God made my mother on an April day,
From sorrow and the mist along the sea,
Lost birds' and wanderers' songs and ocean spray,
And the moon loved her wandering jealously.

Beside the ocean's din she combed her hair,
Singing the nocturne of the passing ships,
Before her earthly lover found her there
And kissed away the music from her lips.

She came unto the hills and saw the change
That brings the swallow and the geese in turns.
But there was not a grief she deeméd strange,
For there is that in her which always mourns.

Kind heart she has for all on hill or wave
Whose hopes grew wings like ants to fly away.
I bless the God Who such a mother gave
This poor bird-hearted singer of a day.

Francis Ledwidge

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bioenergy for Health

I have to admit I am intrigued by bioenergy healing. In recent times Catherine has brought relief to people suffering from neuralgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, psoriasis, stress-related conditions and a range of others.

The simplicity of the treatment is striking. Basically, by hand gestures around a person, she corrects his/her energy field, thereby freeing up energy transmission through the body. The effect is to be so painless as to suggest that nothing has happened; but by the third session in the four consecutive day treatment, clients are remarking on the improvement.

In many cases it has achieved what conventional medicine hasn’t. It has its origins in chinese medicine but it has been developed by Zdenko Domancic over the last thirty years. People from all over Europe flock to his healing sessions in Slovenia. See a film on Domancic at

Catherine’s website is at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

De Brakke Hond, No. 76, 2002

De Brakke Hond is a literary magazine published in the Netherlands featuring works in Dutch and Flemish. No.76 was a special bilingual Irish Number published in 2002. Nessa O'Mahony was the irish editor.The number is now online in the archive section. See

The "Beginning of Science" was a poem that took me a long time to write. I like the atmosphere in it;I don't think I could catch it again.

The Beginning of Science

Long before Saint Patrick,
leather-footed musicians
would keyhole dawn
to catch the sun in ice candles.

They played those flames on strings,
their spikes of sound,
for children's whistling eyes and lunatics
who, in their distance, danced.

Fire caged in ice, ice in their hands;
music lit from within.
Ambition began;
separation became a beauty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hard Times

The removal of Arts Council funding from the Writers Centre is likely to be just the first in a series of cut-backs to this sector over the coming years. What’s in store for Irish poetry?

I don’t want to give the government reasons for cutting back further but I do believe that agencies, publishers etc, involved in poetry will have to be more aggressive in getting their product into the public eye. I used to run Rathmines Festival which always featured some writers; only once in five years did an established writer approach us with a proposal to be included in the programme.

In stringent times, I think more approaches of this nature should be made by or on behalf of poets. I think more performance opportunities could be found for poets in their local communities (local celebrations, festivals etc); certainly the support for writers in their home towns can be considerable and is often not tapped.

I believe greater efforts could be made in building a public profile e.g. a poetry book-stall on Stephen’s Green, a Speakers’ Corner; an appropriate addition to a city that uses writers so prominently in its tourism pitch. A full-time position could be put in place by a coalition of interested bodies: a person with a background in event management/arts management/marketing/PR/entertainment management etc. A co-ordinator of individuals with talents in different areas of the arts might find new niches for poetry in performances or installations.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Emigration, Racism and the Irish

Anti-Irish Propaganda from Punch
It’s not so long ago since the “No Irish” signs came down. It seemed that we were seeing the end of endless years of anti-Irish racism. I came across a certain amount of anti-Irish sentiment in London in the seventies. Then came the EEC, later EU; increasing affluence, eventually the tiger; notable successes in sports, entertainment and various areas in the arts. Our day had arrived.U2 was the biggest band in the world, Riverdance was sending our dancing into orbit, Irish companies were going multi-national and we were chanting Óle Óle in Italia.We were no longer an underclass.

A pity to see “No Irish Need Apply” beginning to appear again. This time on building sites in Poland, apparently in revenge for poor treatment meted out to Polish workers here during the boom; unpaid work, unpaid holiday money.

There are few Irish families that have not directly or indirectly experienced the hardships of emigration in the last century. So many, in the not so distant past, have suffered from anti-irish taunts, discrimination or even violence. One would assume there’d be an affinity here with people who emigrate to earn an honest living. You sometimes hear the proud claim “we built America”; it would do good to remember who has been rebuilding Ireland.

Riverdance, first appearance on RTE, 1994 Eurovision Song Contest

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sea-Wash by Carl Sandburg

THE SEA-WASH never ends.
The sea-wash repeats, repeats.
Only old songs? Is that all the sea knows?
Only the old strong songs?
Is that all?
The sea-wash repeats, repeats.

The sea at Murvagh outside Donegal sings its songs very gently. The beach is beautiful, sandy and mostly empty. So it is a good choice for sulky racing. The skyscapes in the west are stunning probably because of the changeability of the Irish weather. Kay took this in december.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spectacular Ireland

Spectacular Ireland is down the west coast and most spectacular of all is Skellig Michael. As the boat travels towards it, the gannets drifting to and fro in the foreground give it an air of enchantment. By the time you get there you are prepared for the magic and it doesn’t disappoint. See it in July before the puffins leave. Thanks to harniq for posting this on YouTube.

I was taking a trawl through movies about the islands off the west thinking it’s high time I went back when this caught my eye. There is some disagreement as to whether the Aran Mór island cliffs or those at Slieve League in Donegal are the highest in North West Europe. Either way the nerve needed to do this is mind-boggling.