Monday, December 24, 2012

Dylan Thomas Reads A Child's Christmas in Wales

A beautiful reading by Dylan Thomas; and then listen to him reading my favourite poem, Fern Hill; (follow the link below). 

A Child's Christmas in Wales:
Fern Hill:

Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Almost a year to the day since I visited Pearse Hutchinson in St James Hospital and found him in great form. He talked  about a nurse he met on his ward; I said he should write the poem; he said he was old and needed to rest that I should  write it.That was our last conversation.

A poem
you said I should write. 

An African nurse on your ward,
born the day after her  grandmother died,
called Yesterday. 

She was gone as soon,
nurses from the agency come and go;
good relationships are important
for the patients, you explained. 

And now you are gone;
is this that poem?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In Rathmines

A group of students from the Higher National Diploma in Media (Journalism)in Rathmines College are working on a new website to bring together all things Rathmines: businesses, services, clubs, societies, history, events, you name it...........

The website should be up and running by March, but in the meantime they have put in place a facebook page,, a twitter site,, and a blog,, which are already very active. If you have an interest in bringing people into Rathmines for business, leisure or otherwise, you would do well to support these sites.

On a parallel track, Rathmines Community Clubs n Soc's Day, 2013 will take place on 27th April; if you are interested, you know where I am.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paradise Lost in Trinity College Dublin

Reminding you of Paradise Lost read-a-thon, Friday 14th December 2012, starting at 10 a.m. in the GMB, Trinity College and re-locating to College Chapel from 2 p.m. Among the readers are Seamus Heaney (at 10am), Eilean Ní Chuilleanáin, Joseph Woods, Gerard Smyth, Macdara Woods, Leeanne Quinn, Peter Denman, David Norris, Iggy McGovern, Terence Brown, and many others. It will continue through the day till approx. 8.30pm. My halfpence-worth comes somewhere around 5.30pm. It’s all in a good cause, raising funds for the National Council for the Blind. So for a bit of devilment, why not call into Trinity on Friday.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mashed Up Yeats

I have no doubt that Yeats was the greatest poet writing in the twentieth century. He had the complete poet’s palette. I thought it might be interesting to mash up his lines and see what emerged. So with only his own lines recombined, a few changes to punctuation and the position of line endings, this is what I got, (apologies to the purists): 

from the mouths of old men:

I heard the old, old men say,
when you are old and grey
the world is full of magic things:
embroidered cloths
enwrought with golden and silver light,
silver apples of the moon,
golden apples of the sun,
faery vats,
full of berries
and of reddest stolen cherries.

All that's beautiful drifts away
like the waters,
for everything that's lovely is
but a brief, dreamy, kind delight.

On the stuff of dreams:

When sleepers wake and yet still dream,
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come.

All hatred driven hence,
The young in one another’s arms, birds in the trees
 —Those dying generations— at their song.

 O, but we dreamed to mend
Whatever mischief seemed to afflict mankind,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

If there’s no hatred in a mind,
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

On love:

I whispered, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.

Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars
Till the stars had run away.

We taste and feel and see the truth:
A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love:
Beauty passes like a dream,
All true love most die.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Start of It


This is the start of it:
the clay palm hitting the face,
bags packed, colours away;
all my flares quenching into the distance. 

It begins: the spectrum loses a stripe,
the red berries fall,
light leaves;
morning’s a corpse. 

This is the way of it: 
table set and unset, crossed knives and forks:
insignia of the tamed and helpless;
rain dribbling, failed  flames. 

This powder insistence:
stampede of padded hooves,
retreat to reverse;
the days worn thin with walking back and forth

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Digging Potatoes

This first year, the potato plants in the water-logged soil beneath the mountains made a bedraggled- looking crop. They went in late, so we dug them in late October.  

As we uncovered them, I kept thinking how they would have looked to famine-time diggers. Bright nuggets, valuable as gold; each a life-saving package of food. Each clod of earth yielding, or not, its life-saving load. Each decent-sized potato bringing a rush of relief, each marble a disaster. 

How carefully they must have dug with their children’s lives at stake; potatoes rolling away with the loosened soil, disappearing into the ground, fingers scrambling after them. How it must have bound families together in their struggle to survive; how strong must their kinship with the soil have been.
A different life now: my kitchen stocked with oranges from Spain, olive oil from Italy, wine from France; leisure filling the space that was filled with struggle and fertile soil disappearing under concrete.