Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inheriting the land

The sadness of emigration is particularly marked at this time of year. An air of  emptiness settles on old country farmhouses; they stand un-stirring in the becalmed, warm and dusty summer afternoons. I thought this aspect of life was in our past ten years ago. Driving through the countryside, I see  too many houses that should be lively with grandchildren playing.
Inheriting The Land.

Here the sea is no more than a sigh in a shell,

conversations speed past, pole high, Dublin to Galway

and music is the wind whistling beneath a door.

Slightness describes Summer's step,

stonework its skies; a little light drips

from its edges but it's falling from a miser's hand.

Across the fields the church, within its necklace

of dead congregations, is a rusty hinge;

a place filled with a century's stillness.

And the ivy-choked trees lean closer together

like old men guessing at each others' words.


If you were to fly over these patchwork hills,

along the hedgerows and through the lightless haggards,

you'd never meet a soul. The old farmers are sitting

in their twilight kitchens, their families standing

on the mantelpiece in the other room that's never used

with faces tanned beneath American skies.

Only the din of crows seeps into that silence;

crows more numerous than leaves on the sycamores,

always bickering, hogging the light,

building their cities, staking their inheritance.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What the artist wishes


At each beginning,
that same challenge: 

to crack perfection;
a kidney stone

that aches
in the pit of your brain. 


He hopes for an effervescence,
a sparkling quality; 

for the extra melody that plays
beneath an achieved harmony.
from Painting Women

Roscommon Writing Award


Gerry Boland has emailed me with news of The NEW ROSCOMMON WRITING AWARD 2014 which will be awarded for works in English, on any theme, in any literary form. The competition is open to people of all ages and nationalities,however all must have some connection with the county of Roscommon.They can be living or born there, have gone to school or be working in the county.
The winner will receive a monetary prize of €500, (four runners-up will receive €50 each),
and will have their winning entry printed in the Roscommon Herald, the Roscommon People, and be broadcast on Shannonside FM. There is no entry fee, and all entries must be received by 30 September, 2014. Jane Clarke is judging this year's entries.
Find more information at:


Monday, July 21, 2014

Poetry Workshop at the Boyle Arts Festival

I'm looking forward to giving a poetry workshop this Saturday at 2.30pm in the Boyle Enterprise Centre and admission is a paltry €5. It's just one of a number  of workshops  on the day. Also reading on Sunday evening at 7.30 in King House as part of  'An Evening of Poetry and Prose with the Moylurg Writers'. Admission again, a mere €5.

More information at

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Images from Clare

We were in Miltown Malbay for the Willie Clancy. In the afternoons, we went walking. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera, but I did have my mobile, so couldn't resist a few scenes.

The first is this view of the Cliffs of Moher looking south, but for all the world, it looks like a ledge hanging precariously high  above the ocean.

Not far from Miltown, there is the beautifully maintained holy  well in honour of St Joseph. As regular visitors here will know, I have a fascination for holy wells; places that have a special other-worldly atmosphere about  them. I hope more people come to visit them, so that they may survive.

Every time I come to Clare, I want to walk in the Burren. Bloody Cranes-bill filled the grykes.

But you have to marvel at nature's resilience, here's a small nest of plants surviving in spite of everything.

I was reminded yet again, something music-lovers have always known, Clare is a very special place.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In The Home

Sitting by her bed,
among those sobbing, groaning women,
in a room claustrophobic with impending death,
her spirit shrivelled inside her,
her mind fled to the fifties.

But later, given a bed near a window,
her mind cranked up.
It was the birds on the lawn;
the grubbing thrushes and blackbirds;
those birds kept her alive.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Messi Teleportation

It appears to be the case that Lionel Messi can teleport, but it's not quite instantaneous; in fact it takes 3 seconds.

This ability has obvious advantages in football: presented with an apparently impassable phalanx of the opposing forces, Messi flicks the switch and.................

with thanks to where this picture was originally published.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

for madmen

How enormous are we! How far our reach!  How endless our creativity! (Sometimes it comes as a surprise that the great are still only human.)
In war, the notion of humans being anymore than their puny physical selves is completely abandoned. So in war,we debase ourselves. And for the power trips of madmen,(western and eastern), we do it over and over.

Of course not;
of course no one that ever cracked open a head
has seen a symphony pour out.

No executioner has seen the flow of an amber fireside
with its intimate and tangling caresses
drain from the split skulls of lovers

nor have soldiers who shoot dark holes
seen rafts of memories spilling, carrying the children,
                  the birthdays, the orchards, the dances.

When they shot the poet Lorca,
the bullets sailed in a universe, yet when the blood spurted
it was only blood to them.