Friday, June 26, 2015

Country Childhood

I was blessed to have a country childhood. The freedom to come and go without the constant monitoring for safety. We had the run of the town and surrounding countryside. I would like to think that it's still that way now, but probably not.

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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Notice to children

The Aos Sí (Sídhe), the fairy folk of Ireland are alive and well and are living beneath the sídhe, fairy mounds dotted all around Ireland. They are reputed to be the Tuatha Dé Danann who retreated underground after defeat in battle by the Milesians.Though sometimes referred to as a beautiful race, and always ready to dance, they are also associated with carrying out a range of dastardly deeds,  particularly the stealing of babies, and sometimes people not so young.

Children’s Song 
                                     from Above Ground Below Ground

The piper’s notes come whistling clear,

as in the days of yore;
they leap and prance to the piper’s tune
as wildly as before. 
For still they dance, the fallen ones,
beneath earth’s prison door;
for still they dance, the fallen ones,
enraptured by the score. 
A child that plays among the stones
might tempt them from their lair
to substitute a grey-haired imp
for a boy with golden hair. 
For still they dance, the fallen ones,
in the heat of the molten core,
for still they dance, the fallen ones,
beneath our earthen floor. 
Now children who must pass the mound,
respect this ancient lore;
and when at last you curl to sleep
be sure you’ve locked the  door. 
For still they dance, the fallen ones,
to this endless encore;
for still they dance, the fallen ones,
and will for ever more.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Literary Competition for Writers with Roscommon Connection

New Roscommon Writing Award 2015 First Prize €500
Competition Rules
·        Entries, in English, on any theme, in any literary form, will be accepted.
·        The competition is open to anyone over 18. All entrants must have a connection with the county of Roscommon (born in, living in, currently working in, went to school in, etc).
·        Typed entries (handwritten entries cannot be accepted) must be no more than 500 words. Mark the number of words in your entry on the bottom of the page. Entries over the 500 word limit will be automatically disqualified.
·        Include your name, address and contact details, plus your connection to the county. Include these on a separate page, not on your entry.
·        There is no entry fee. All entries must be received by 30 August, 2015.
·        The competition will be adjudicated by Jessamine O Connor. The judge’s decision is final.
·        Post your entry to: NEW ROSCOMMON WRITING AWARD 2015, Roscommon Arts Office, Roscommon West Business Park, Circular Road, Roscommon. You may also email your entry to: Title your email NEW ROSCOMMON WRITING AWARD 2015.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Alternative view

Globalisation has what it takes to destroy all but middle of the road. And, as wildlife becomes tamelife to be found only in zoos, imagination will shrivel to the shifting fads of fashion cheaply available on the high street. Increasingly the customs of the past appear eccentric and remote; disappearing with them are the minor chords of imagination.
Images from St Joseph's well near Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.


Bird of Paradise

One of my abiding memories from a visit to the Skelligs, too many years ago now, is of gannets moving to and fro in the air between us and the islands. Of all the scenes I’ve ever witnessed, this was the most magical; it seemed we were approaching an enchanted place, a rock fallen from Paradise. Apart from the spectacular beauty of the spire-like Skellig Michael rearing heavenward out of the ocean, the gannets,  white scarves drifting on thermals, gleaming in sunlight, looked like mythical creatures freed from gilt cages to mesmerise any would be invaders.
To soar, shining, across the heavens is an image of divinity. To waft effortlessly is an attribute of a creature whose divinity is so ingrained that it is taken for granted.
I came across a gannet, its head disappearing into the sand, its wings broken like a wrecked ship, yet its beak still pristine like a perfectly forged dagger, and got a strong urge to write a poem about it. Not a very original idea: the pointlessness of vanity when all too soon our beautiful heads disappear into the soil.   

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Wake


When Katy Tyrell’s eyelids were closed,
they stopped the clock,
covered the mirror,
and she was waked. 

Entwined in her hands, a rosary beads,
‘Je suis L’imaculée conception’
was embroidered on her shroud;
everyone said she looked every inch a Cherokee.

After she was laid out, with the ticking stopped
and a sheet blocking the devil’s door, 

he said, “ Let’s sit down to a game.”
“Shuffle the cards, dale herself in.”  

“Lay’ve the window open
and mind, don’t step in her way”

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jane Clarke's collection 'The River'

I am delighted to hear that Jane Clarke's collection The River, published by Bloodaxe Books is now available and will be launched at four different locations around Ireland in the coming weeks.
Anne Enright will do the honours in Dublin, in Hodges Figgis on 24th June at 6.30 pm. Marie Heaney will launch the collection on the 26th June in Bridge Street Books, Wicklow; it will be launched on the 1st of August as part of the Boyle Arts Festival and in Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway on Friday 14th August.
                      You can learn more about Jane Clarke at her website: 

Friday, June 5, 2015

A tree is screaming,
the rocks have clapped hands over their ears;
a stream is stealing the silver
and a cave, aghast, has swallowed the moon.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Whipped Warrior


Those flowers with their nicotine fingers, 

blown curls and the past,    

are pointing over the ocean. 

See, their breath is short;  

they waved in their glory eye 

but shouted too loud.

The wind soiled your body;                 

 you were standing too high   

whipped warrior.