Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Christmas and Round Up.

Happy Christmas.
Round Up 2009.

The writing scene in Meath has probably never been better served than at the moment with different groups in both Navan and Trim for those who wish to put pen to paper. (And perhaps others I'm not aware of). The more senior of these, if I may use the expression, was set up by Tommy Murray and Deirdre McGivern back in the early nineties and since then many of its members have gone on to win awards and prizes in various competitions in Ireland. Tommy Murray launched his first collection of poems "Counting Stained Glass Windows" in the Trim Library during the year with Tom French doing the honours, published by Lapwing of Belfast it is available as they say in all good bookshops, or just click on the Meath Writers' Link opposite for more details.
William G. Hodgins, another member, launched his book of poems "Sunflower", in the Navan Library with Tom French again doing the honours. Tom French is a winner of the Forward Prize and is one of the most successful poets in the country. Check it out as they say. Hopefully other members of the group will publish in the coming year. Myself I managed to pick up a couple of awards during the year, so no complaining. Though its hard to keep going back to the inkwell!
The Boyne Writers' Group since it was set up has managed to sweep through the writing scene, picking up awards in just about every competition in the country and a few outside. Their literary magazine "Boyne Berries", was a gamble and one that seems to have paid off, pushing Trim firmly to the centre of the literary map. Also the introduction of open-mic sessions at the Knightbridge Village Hall with guest readers, both poetry and prose, managed to gather together those who would otherwise read only the reviews.
The Small Impact Writers' Group based in the Navan Library is the latest kid on the block and has a number of very interesting writers to boast of, some of whom drop into The Writers' Circle now and again, and hopefully the New Year will be successful for all of the above, not forgetting those who prefer their own company!
Finally the poetry broadsheet ~Riposte~ , which has published a good number of writers from Meath and comes through the letterbox every month without fail. A word of thanks!
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Photo: Musical Bears/Blanchardstown Shopping Centre.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Open Mic Readings/Knightsbridge.

Open Mic Knightsbridge.
Brendan Carey Kinane and Michael Clemenger
were the guest readers at the December open mic session at the Knightsbridge Village Hall in Trim. Chaired by Paddy Smith of The Boyne Writers' Group, and indeed organised by the same , these readings have provided both an outlet and a focus for many of the writers and poets in the Meath area. Not suggesting that they are not one and the same. You have to be careful with poets.
Brendan Carey Kinane was the outright winner of The Boyle literary Festival in 2007 (poetry) and has won any number of awards since. He provided everyone with a chapbook of the poems he was about to read as did Michael Farry on a previous occasion. A very good idea
too. Michael Clemenger's book "Holy Terrors" is not for the faint hearted though it comes with a happy ending, or so I've been told. Yet to read. Described by the Minister at the launch as a book that should be compulsory reading, it tells of his time in St Joseph's Industrial School and the abuse he suffered while there. Published by O'Brien Press it is available in all good bookshops.
Paddy Smith ended the night with his own version of "We Three Kings" and by far the most interesting I've heard, and wished everyone a Happy Christmas, and so say all of us!
Photo: Paddy Smith and guest reader Michael Clemenger.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Open Mic/Small Impact Creative Writers' Group.

The Small Impact Creative Writers' Group held their Open Mic Session and Christmas get- together at the Library in Navan on Thursday last.
Chaired by Jimmy Byrne this was a lively and humorous event with readings from himself and Sean Reilly, a number of children, and others whose names have escaped me. Edel Gillick whose excert from a short story proved interesting is one of the best readers you are likely to come across. A number of these stories were gift wrapped and ready for Christmas at €6.99 Euro. (CD Copies). Tea and refreshments were served with much buns and biscuits and cakes and the Meath Writers' Circle pitched in with a number of readings themselves. A lovely event!
Photos: Jimmy Byrne and crowd scene to the right.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Meath Writers' Circle.

Meath Writers' Circle.

The Meath Writers' Circle pre - Christmas meeting took place last Thursday in the Castle Hotel in Trim with a good number attending. A mixture of poetry and prose, natural banter, and good wishes for the season that's in it, or until we meet again in the new year. Favourite lines from poets long gone and personal reflections tinged with whatever! You had to be there! Next meeting first Thursday in January.
Photo: Swans feeding at Waterville Park Blanchardstown.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A poem for Saturday

A poem for Saturday.


Postponing tomorrow
Shooting the breeze.
Rustling down
Long acres
Top booted
Like soldier boys
Watching the road.
The last stand
At a crossroads
Signalling the end.
The milk churns
Sounding out
Hollow notes.
Stopping for the Angelus
Three Fifteens.
Dog-eared turnings
Round a game
On Sundays
Or the Dance.

The Hirschmanns
Pointing north.
And the night time
like a soft wind
In meadow grass.

Frank Murphy.
Photo: Shrine in Tobertynan Woods Rathmoylan Co. Meath.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Open Mic Readings/Knightsbridge.


Boyne Readings.

The Boyne Readings at the Knightsbridge Village drew a small but attentive crowd with guest readers being Tom French for poetry and James Lawless for prose. Tom French read from his collections "Touching the Bones" and "The Fire Step", while James Lawless read extracts from "Peeling Oranges", and "For Love Of Anna". If the turn out was small the readings more than made up for it. The weather on the night was not good. Anyone looking for something for the Christmas Stocking for those who enjoy poetry or prose could do worse than dipping into one of the above.
Photos: Brendan Carey Kinnane, Tom Dredge and guest reader Tom French. Right: James Lawless and Paddy Smith.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Small Impact Creative Writers' Group.

Open Mic Night.

The Small Impact Creative Writers' Group are holding an open mic night and Christmas Gathering in the County Library Navan on Thursday the 10th of December at 7pm. All are welcome and refreshments will be served. So bring your best poetry and prose. Good luck with the readings!
Photos: The Ramparts Navan.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boyne Readings and Open Mic.

Boyne Readings and Open Mic.

The next open mic session by the Boyne Writers' Group takes place in the Village Hall Knightsbridge in Trim on Thursday the 19th of November at 8pm. Guest Readers are Tom French for poetry and James Lawless for prose. More details on the Boyne Writers' Site opposite. Just click on the link. All are welcome. Admission at €5 euro.
Photo: Ruins of old church and cemetery at Knockmark Drumree Co. Meath

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Meath Writers' Circle

The Meath Writers' Circle.

The Meath Writers'Circle had its monthly meeting at the Castle Hotel in Trim on Thursday the 5th of November with a good number attending. The readings covered a variety of styles and themes both traditional and modern with the odd short story thrown in. Well it was about shopping and heavy bags and things. The quality of the poems read, and the variety as noted above has to be commended. Next meeting on the first Thursday in December at the same venue. All are welcome. Contact Tommy Murray of the Meath Writers'Circle for details. Or click on the link opposite.

Photo: Some members of the above after the readings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Fourth Estate

A little poem for Saturday.

The Fourth Estate.

Embedded in such legalise
As please M'Lords
A little wheeze
Could show good cause
To such respect
When body politic

That every class
Of hound or hack
Was safely muzzled
Round the back.

Or carcass nailed
In some debate
That prowled about
The Fourth Estate.

Frank Murphy.

Photo: The River Tolka/Blanchardstown.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Open Mic Readings/Knightsbridge.

Open Mic Readings Knightsbridge.
Paddy Smith of The Boyne Writers' Group chaired the open mic readings which recommenced at The Knightsbridge Village Hall on Thursday the 15th of October. The guest readers were Marie MacSweeney who read some of her beautiful poetry and Michael Regan who kept everyone entertained with tales from his recent autobiography "Ten in a Bed".
Much ado about bell ringing, ringers, tight groupings, and those who were said to have fled. The curious absence of! Though the tea was fine!
Photos: Tommy Murray, Paddy Smith, and Paul Kerr.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boyne Berries (6)

Boyne Berries

"Boyne Berries 6" the latest edition of the literary magazine published by the Boyne Writers' Group was launched in the Castle Arch Hotel in Trim a number of weeks ago by the well known local author and solicitor Michael Regan. A mixture of poetry and prose it includes contributions from Ireland and much further afield. It opens with a poem by Marie MacSweeney which catches the eye. I watched a program on television a while back about the battle, and it was a good day for horses. Enough mystery! Another poem I found interesting was "Truth" and "Nine Lines" , to shorten the title, and "Masks" by Quincy R. Lehr is a fine poem.

The book dips almost into the surreal through the centre pages, or maybe completely into it, ending with Rory O' Sullivan's " The Siren Lake". As fine a piece of traditional writing as you are likely to come across. But there's mystery here too, and "Sinking" and " The Secret Past of the House" leave you wondering, but I'm not sure I like wondering too much. A book well worth having. Click on the link opposite for details. Price €7 euro.
Photo: Book Cover.
Note: Open Mic sessions will resume at the Knightsbridge Village Hall in Trim on Thursday the 15th of October.
Guest readers are Marie MacSweeney and Michael Regan.

Friday, October 2, 2009

All-Ireland Poetry Day

All-Ireland Poetry Day.

St Patrick's Cathedral Trim was the venue for the first ever National Poetry Day event in Meath. Organised by the Boyne Writers and facilitated by the Rev. Robert Jones the Cathedral was and is a beautiful setting for this type of occasion, and the above are to be congratulated for the effort involved. Although a small crowd attended, the readings were always interesting and perhaps more so than at a usual event, in that the Cathedral itself, dare I say, lends something. On to bigger and better things next year.
Photo: Paddy Smith; Chairman of Boyne Writers' Group reading Dangerous Dan McGrew.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All Ireland Poetry Day.

All Ireland Poetry Day.

The Boyne Writers' Group are hosting an event at St Patrick's Cathedral Loman Street Trim on Thursday the 1st of October at 11am to mark the above and all are welcome. Details to come on their site. Click on the link opposite.

Photo: Memorial Cross on Hill of Tara. Erected I believe in 1948 to mark battle of 1798.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Readers and Writers.

Readers and Writers.
For those who are interested in such, Meath County Library are
holding their annual "Readers and Writers' day" in Navan Library
on Wednesday the 23rd September starting at 9.30am and ending
at 4.30pm. Local writers include, Tom French, KT McCaffrey, and
and OisĂ­n McGann. So if you should be free on the day! Details from the Library.
Boyne writers launch the latest edition of their magazine "Boyne Berries" at the Castle Arch in Trim on the following night with Michael Regan doing the honours this time. And finally The Sunday Times has announced "The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award". The world's largest award for a short story with a grand prize of £25,ooo. Grand indeed! Details at www.timesonline.co.uk/shortstoryaward. So get writing.
Photo: Blanchardstown village.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heritage/Short Story.

Heritage/Short Story Competition

In keeping with the events on Tara for Heritage Sunday, congratulations must go to Mark Doyle of The Meath Writers' Circle whose short story "Requiem for a Gentleman", won second prize in the Duleek Heritage Group's short story competition. Mark's story concerned the events leading up to, and the outcome of the battle of Tara in 1798. The area surrounding this site contains many graves of the Croppies who took part and little today serves as any reminder to this. The inscriptions on a cross, erected I believe in 1948, have long since faded. If I get any more info on the winner I will post. Marie McSweeney was third in the same competition.
Photo: Tricolour flying over Blanchardstown Centre.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heritage Sunday/Tara.

Heritage Sunday.
Arriving late in Tara last Sunday I caught the end of what must have been an interesting afternoon. But Meath were playing in Croke Park!
Anyway it was all free and as of yet I've seen no report of it in any of the local papers.
I arrived just in time to catch Laoise Kelly playing what I believe was "Planxty Wilkinson" on the harp. (Michael Farry's site for info) followed by Michael Longley reciting some of his poems ending with "CeaseFire". But what was most enjoyable was the duet between Susan McKeown and daughter supported by Aidan Brennan on guitar and Laoise Kelly on harp. Gold is where you find it! Hope I got my facts right.
Photo: Susan Mckeown, daughter, Laoise Kelly, and Aidan Brennan.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Launch/Trim Library

Counting Stained Glass Windows

Meath poet Tom French launched Tommy Murray's "Counting Stained Glass Windows" at Trim Library on thursday night to a large and appreciative audience with master of ceremonies Michael Regan calling for order on a number of occasions. Such as is common when poets gather.
Those in attendance included members of the Meath Writers, Boyne Writers, and Navan Writers' Group and a few pilgrims as well. Michael Sherrif Shiels treated everyone to a stirring rendition of "The Red Flag" while Sean Reilly sang of "Robbie Burns" and Willie Hodgins recited a few verses about a love lost or a lucky escape, while Marie MacSweeney recited an excert from a short story with a poem thrown in as well. Pat Duffy remembered days in Strokestown and there were calls for revolution. What more could you ask for?
"Counting Stained Glass Windows" by Lapwing Publishing. €8 Euro!

Photographs: Left to Right. Sean Reilly, Michael Shiels and Tommy Murray. Michael Regan behind the desk.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Launch/Trim Library

Book Launch.

Well known Trim author and solicitor Michael Regan will be
master of ceremonies at the launch of Tommy Murray's book
of poems "Counting Stained Glass Windows" at Trim Library
on the 20th of August. Michael's own book "Ten In A Bed" was perhaps one of the best selling memoirs published in Ireland
in the last few years.

Tom French of the Meath County Library, an award winning
poet (Forward Prize 2002) will launch the book on the night.
In what promises to be a lively event with wine for the ladies
and the odd verse or two, the event kicks off at 7pm, so don't
be late.

"Counting Stained Glass Windows" Lapwing Press at €8 Euro.

Photo: Michael Regan at the Boyne Readings.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Counting Stained Glass Windows.

Book Launch.

"Counting Stained Glass Windows" A collection of poems by Tommy Murray will be launched in Trim library on the 20th of August at 7 pm by Tom French a poet and member of The Meath County Library. Published by Lapwing of Belfast this volume contains a number of prize wining poems and retails at €8 euro. Tommy has published many books over the years, details of which can be found on his" Meath Books" website. A winner of awards too numerous to mention, both for short stories and poetry, Tommy has been chairman of the Meath Writers' Circle since 1992 and is a founder member. More information about this launch can be found by clicking on the link opposite for "Meath Writers".
Photo: Tommy reading at the open mic sessions.
Knightsbridge Village.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meath Writers' Circle.

A few members of the Meath Writers' Circle who were in attendance at the open mic sessions at the Knightsbridge Village.
Willie Hodgins, Mark Doyle and Michael (Sheriff) Shiels. All read from their works, either poems or short stories. More to come!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

These Days

A very serious poem for a saturday when I could be listening to late night radio.

These Days.

Who marked it out this way
That fear crept in.

Let instinct have these days
That have their edge on you
Press play begin.

Who marked it out this way
These days,
What prey....

On reason laid
This game you cannot win
Let instinct have these days
The castaways of form
And sin.

Who marked it out this way
These days.

Who marked it out
This way.
Frank Murphy.
Photo: Trim Poet Tommy Murray
at the Knightsbridge open mic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Battle of the Books.

The Battle of the Books has come and gone, and the Boyne Writers have gone, off with the spoils. I picked up this account up from one of the combatants fleeing the scene, though I'm claiming credit for it myself, of course. One does.

The Battle of the Books.

Much to contend with.
Weather bad,
and the loss of
the high moral ground
an early factor.

Loose talk,
of the purge.
And the flag of
thrown in.
The electoral rolls.

Revisionists everywhere!
A war about a horse
And some girl
shopping in Printemps.
Having platonic relationships
in Paris.
While swapping recipes
over a cocktail sausage
that was best served
Old scores!

Might have been different
if our cromwellian allies
had come
But, C'est La Guerre!
Sour Grapes.

Photo: A Place of Learning.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Battle of the Books.

Battle of the Books.

Inebriated by the exuberance of their own verbosity,and late of the King's Library, and even later of Trim, the Royal and Ancient Order of Scribes, will gather one week hence at the said Castle to debate on whether contemporary learning has surpassed anything at all! May the best team win. Tickets are €25 Euro each and available from The Trim Swift Committee. I borrowed the opener from Benjamin Disraeli who had a lot to say on such things. More info at http://www.boynewriters.com/ and follow the links. Such is the seriousness of this, I had difficulty in finding an image suitable and had to settle for less.

Before I go I have to mention a competition worth keeping an eye out for next year. The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards in Saggart Co Dublin, (where I had some little success) is worth a look in. The standard of the short stories was something else. Signing off.

Photo: Clouds over Meath.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Opem Mic Knightsbridge.

Open Mic.

The readers at the third open mic at the Knightsbridge Village hall were Trim Poet Tommy Murray and country gentleman George Briscoe. Tommy read many of his prize winning poems including " Tobertynan Wood" and "The Famine Trilogy" touching lightly on the republic of greed and a little humour thrown in for good measure. George Briscoe is a natural born storyteller and read extracts from his memoirs, "The Best of Times" and " Running On". Bought a bridge over the river Boyne for sixty pounds. I daresay for another five he could have bought the railway off them. The plan going forward you might say.

Photos: Tommy Murray at Jack Quin's (High Nellies 2008)
Cover: Running On/ George Briscoe.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Golden Wonders!

Before I get back to posting a few poems, there's one other book I have to mention. "Golden Wonders" by Colum Cromwell. In his own words this is a book about life in his native parish Skryne in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, working in the public service and activities within the GAA. Where he became chairman of the Meath County Board as well as a delegate to the Leinster Council and other bodies within the organisation. But it is more than that, it is a collection of stories and characters the like of which you will not see again and an age that is gone. I don't know whether you can get a copy in the bookstores, but take it out of Meath County library and enjoy. Recommended!

Photo: Book cover. The Hill of Skryne.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

To Cut a Long Story Short.

"To Cut a Long Story Short" by Paddy Maguire, is a collection of stories and poems that span over ninety years. Launched in Fergie's of Kilmessan on the 16th of May by his nephew Adrian, the book sold out almost on the first day. Paddy was a noted athlete in his day, playing hurling for Kilmessan and a member of the Garristown Athletic Club in the forties. Indeed his father won a Meath senior championship medal in 1907 and his grandchildren play for Kilmessan today. His nephew Adrian, already mentioned, was one of the best national hunt jockeys ever to come out of Ireland. So a sporting family!

But there are other stories here. From the Eucharistic Congress to trips around Kerry in his Renault 4L, to village life and farming. Distances travelled that people need sat-navs for today. If you want a copy you may have to wait. Sold out on the first run! But check around Kilmessan?
Photo: Book Cover.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Open Mic Readings/Knightsbridge.

Paddy Meegan and Michael Farry were the guest readers at the second open mic session at the Knightsbridge Village Hall in Trim Co. Meath. Paddy Meegan read from his book "From The Life Around Me", while Michael Farry read some of his favourite poems and further to that provided everyone with a chapbook containing some of the poems he's had published. One for everyone in the audience as he said himself and not a bad idea.

Paddy Meegan's book contains some of the best traditional verse and prose introductions you will find and is a beautifully crafted book that would look well on any bookshelf, or coffee table. Well worth getting a copy of. Hardback at €25 Euro.
Photos: (1) Ashes and Snow. Chapbook.
(2) From The Life Around Me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Open Mic Readings/Knightsbridge.

Open Mic Sessions.

The readers for the second open mic sessions by the Boyne Writers at the Knightsbridge Hall are Paddy Meegan from Lobinstown and Michael Farry from Trim.

Paddy Meegan.

A member of what has been described as arguably the greatest Meath team of them all, Paddy Meegan will read from his book "From The Life Around Me". A winner of All Ireland Medals in 1949 and 1954 and also on the 1951 and 52 teams when Meath were runners up to both Mayo and Cavan and men were men.

Michael Farry.

A founder member of The Boyne Writers' Group and winner of numerous awards for his poetry, Michael Farry has a number of interesting websites that are worth a visit. His Blog Site is perhaps one of the best of its kind with regular updates. Edits "Boyne Berries" and came second in both Dromineer and the Goldsmith festivals in 2008.

Open mic sessions are at the Knightsbridge Village Hall on Thursday the 21st of May at 8pm.

Photograph: Dunshaughlin in the rare oul times.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


"Sunflower" A first book of poems by William G Hodgins was launched in Navan Library on Thursday the 23rd of April by Trim poet and writer Tommy Murray with guest readings from members of The Meath Writers' Circle and the Navan Writers. Tom French who made the arrangements also read a number of his poems, and a few others contributed as well if my memory serves.

Willie is a native of Bohermeen and has been a member of The Meath Writers' Circle for the past seven or eight years and these poems touch on everything from personal experience to observations of the surrounding countryside, especially the area where he grew up. Should be for sale in the local shops in the next few days. Some delightful poems inside and one to add to your collection. Price €10 euro.

Photograph: Cover of book.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Open Mic Launch/Boyne Readings.

The Village Hall Knightsbridge Trim was the venue for the first ever open mic session organised by the Boyne Writers' Group. Hosted by Paul Egan and with guest readings from Trim born novelist Pat Dunne and myself the night went off to some considerable success. Many of those in attendance read from their own work with pieces that touched on personal experience or had some interesting take on the world. Left Right on the night you might say. Overall very entertaining and more to come. Next session on the 21st of May. More info on that later, or click on http://www.boynewriters.com/ or the link opposite.

"Sunflowers" a first book of poems by Willie G Hodgins will be launched in the Navan library on Thursday the 23rd of April by Trim Poet Tommy Murray. Willie has been a member of the Meath Writers' Circle for a good few years now and writes poetry when others are in their beds. Good luck with the book Willie!

Photograph: The Village Hall Knightsbridge.

Thursday 16th April 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Open Mic Sessions.

The Boyne Writers' Group launch their open mic session or should that be season, at the Village Hall Knightbridge on the Longwood Road in Trim on the 16th of April. Pat Dunne and yours truly being the guest readers on the night. Hopefully it will be the first of many to come and give an opportunity to those in Meath and beyond who wish to read their work, or simply listen and enjoy good company! More details at http://www.boynewriters.com/ or just click on the link opposite. See you there.
Photograph: Church of Ireland/Killucan
Co. Westmeath Autumn 2008.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Boyne Berries (5)

"Boyne Berries 5 Spring 20009" , edition, was successfully launched at the Castle Arch hotel in Trim Co. Meath on Thursday the 19th of March by novelist Pat Dunne. It includes contributations from authors in many parts of the world as well as those more closer to home.

A mixture of poetry and prose, many of the names here will be familiar. On a once through there are some striking poems, "Entebbe", by Olutayo K Osunsan, "Dawn at Dolmen" by John Noonan, followed by "The Heron", by Tommy Murray. The prose makes for an interesting mix, but be careful of what newspapers you read. Michael Farry poses the question "What is a poem?" or does he? while Brendan Carey Kinnane's "The Broadmeadow" is a must read. Back to give it another once over, but for yourself, click on the link opposite for details on how to purchase. Recommended!

Photograph: Book cover/ Church of Ireland. Tara.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dark Rooms.

And continuing in the
same sombre tones...

Dark Rooms.

Well met these fellows
Shuffle through the pack
And ply their trade.

In deadly nightshades
Out the back
The bones of it
Entice invite.

In eye for eye
Through shuttered piers
To dark rooms
Do not enter here.
Imperfect forms
Unwind unreel
And silhouette
Down easy streets.

The wise men
Who brought

Frank Murphy.

Photograph: Evening at Ballivor Bog.
Autumn 2008.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Journey's End.

Journey's End
Sleeper towns
Old faded signs
Vapours trail
Cross rainbow skies.
Houses now
That watch the road
Peeping out
Through terraced
And valleys though
Steepled through
The hedgerows go.
Shadows traced
Across the glass.
Reflections and
The world go past.
The road sweeps round
Another bend
Down crooked miles
To journey's end.

Frank Murphy.

Photograph: Taken Scurlogstown Olympiad 2008.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Road to Tara

The Road to Tara.

William Bulfin cycling through Meath at the turn of the last century stopped on the railway bridge in Kilmessan to get his first view of Tara. He had come a long way. A native of Derrinlough in Co Offaly he returned to Ireland after seventeen years in the Argentine and set out on a journey that would take him to almost every corner of the Island. Plotting a course from CrĂșachain to Uisneach, he searched in vain for any reference to what he described as once one of the great capitals of the world and found none.

Battling through drovers herding cattle from the railway stations at Enfield and The Hill of Down he spent the night in Connell's Hotel in Trim before heading out for the Hill. On announcing that he was one of the first of an advance party of the Gael returning, they enquired of him if they would be all as wet and as hungry as he was. "Past the courthouse," they said, "Turn left, and out by Kilmessan across the Boyne." (William Bulfin: Rambles in Eirinn).

Looking back from the Hill he described Meath as a great forest, a tenantless expanse of grass from which man had banished himself and he lamented the absence of people. He held to a set of views that were not politically correct then and perhaps even less so now and if he failed to see the finer points of some or the shortcomings of others, he knew what he was standing on. His friend Arthur Griffith and others were instrumental in bringing to an end excavations by an evangelical group who believed The Ark of the Covenant was buried on the Hill. Who knows?

In the hundred years since Bulfin's been there Tara has hosted many visitors, the local volunteers assembled in 1916 , while there must be many in the surrounding parishes who remember the celebrations in '48 or '49, not forgetting the Pope's visit and waiting for helicopters that didn't come. Daniel O' Connell delivered a speech there before the famine which would make uncomfortable reading for the great and the good.

Approaching Tara today there is no shortage of signs, and if you read the small print some of them proclaim Meath to be the heritage capital of Ireland, and it is, but it is a heritage that is badly protected. Tara is perhaps the most important archaeological and historical site in Ireland and one of the most important in the world and to drive a motorway into that complex, when there are other alternatives, does not make sense.

Towns along the N3 should have been bypassed years ago, and for those caught in the gridlock of Navan or Dunshaughlin then I suspect that the motorway cannot come soon enough, but it is difficult to understand why the stretch between Skryne and Tara could not have been upgraded to accommodate everyone's interest. that the protest was left to academics or actors or what the media described as "tree huggers" is to nobody's credit.

The clamour though to move the road does not make sense either. Move it to where? Tara is a complex, and if you dig anywhere in its vicinity you are sure to unearth something. In truth the road should not have gone anywhere near Tara, not between the hills or around them. Too much of what identifies us as a people is tied up in those surroundings.

Note: Tara has been nominated for inclusion in UNESCO's tentative list of World Heritage Sites.

Photograph: Looking across the valley towards Skryne. February 2009.

Sunday, February 8, 2009



The sign on the doorway
Said refuge from pain
Step on into uncertainty
Escape from the rain.

The endless persuasion
Of what it all means
And the man playing soul
On the record machine.

And his voice reassures
As you stumble behind
Line following line
Blind leading the blind.

As you try to fit in
With the spirit of things
They cut to the chase
And the dealers move in.

And no matter how often
You figure the odds
When they cut to the chase
the profit was god.

Frank Murphy.

Photograph: The Yellow Steeple Trim Co. Meath
From across the Boyne.