Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Poetry and Science

Poetry and Science.

Surely no relation at all you might say but I was given a copy of Richard Dawkins's "The Blind Watchmaker" for Christmas and although I've yet to read the same or progress further than page seven, these books can be very interesting whether you agree with them or not. I often get the impression though that they are arguing about little more that the road to Galway. "It doesn't start from here at all!", and most people couldn't give a monkey's anyway. The argument one step removed at best. But I'd better read it first, and it does give me the opportunity to post a few poems. So more to come on the above at some later date.

The Fall

Perhaps some alchemist
Could weave this spell
The meaning of it all.
That measure of the Earth
Would reason tell
What law of harmony
Was lost
When Eden fell.

Frank Murphy,

Photto: From Google Images with thanks.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

Searching around for something to suit the ocassion I found this, and there are so many Christmas songs and takes on them that  it's not  easy. So enjoy, and to the person who posted it, many thanks!! The singer is Damien Rice. The song... well that's from John Lennon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Poem for Christmas

A Poem for Christmas.

I can't remember if I posted this one before, but something to keep you in the mood for the festive season in case you find yourself in the company of poets or writers on a really cold night and you're feeling just a little bit hungry. A happy Christmas!

Just Deserts.

A dash of venom
A drop of spice
Nine parts of those
Distilled from ice.

Washed down
With old preserves
From jars
Of hot minute

Bad type
A verse or two
Thin waffles
Pixelate your
Then chant!

A bottle of
Mulled wine

Then let it all
Slip down your
And feast on
Thespians and

Frank Murphy.

Photo: Parish Church Kilmessan Village and more snow!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Round Up!

Christmas Round Up

With the snow falling outside and everything looking very seasonal, the Arctic conditions look set to continue on into Christmas. Temperatures of -10 the norm. What of poetry you might ask? The Meath Writers' Circle is still going strong with Tommy Murray picking up awards in more than a few places that were difficult to get to, or back. The highlight of his year was probably the winning of the Bard of Fingal poetry prize for the third time, though there were others as well. Myself, I thought I had a good chance in two or three, with three being a certainty, but never heard from them again! Ah, there's no accounting for taste! Or in other words write something nice if you want to get noticed. But beyond me. Paul Martin has poetry on the writing4all website and so has James Linnane, both poetry and prose, with James also being a member of The Boyne Writers' Group, speaking of which Michael Farry picked up more than a few awards as well, as did other members of the group. Orla Fay's blogsite is always worth a look and very informative on any number of things. Their literary magazine "Boyne Berries" attracts submissions from all over the world, not forgetting the "Boyne Readings Open Mic" at The Knightsbridge Village Hall" which has introduced a number of writers to the Meath writing scene. The other writing group in the county (that I know of) "The Small Impact Creative Writers' Group" based in Navan Library have brought out a collection of poems and stories in the past few days and it should be available for purchase soon. "Hidden Depths". Michael Sheils and Sean Reilly who are members of The Meath Writers' Circle as well, have items included here so I'll have to get my hands on a copy. See what they're up to! A number of those mentioned above can be seen and heard reciting their poems on this website if you scroll back a bit! So that's about it, and if you're writing out there in a lonely garret, have a Happy Christmas as well!

Photo: Church Of Ireland Kilmessan on a snowy day Christmas Time 2010.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"A Drover" by Padraic Colum (poetry reading)

Meath Poems.
Searching around  for poems that relate to County Meath in some way I came across the above where it does get a mention, and where would Meath be without its drovers.  It was also included by Tom French in his recent book "A Meath Anthology" if my memory serves me well and I hope it does.  William Bulfin cycling through Meath around the turn of the last century encountered some of these self same gentlemen driving cattle between stations such as The Hill of Down and Enfield to the cattle farms around Trim and Kilmessan and suggested that discretion was the better part and that it was best to let them have the road. The herd instinct, no doubt. Days of the long acre!

 With thanks to youtube and Spoken Verse.
Note:  (Boyne Readings)The next Open Mic session at the Knightsbridge Hall Trim is on Thursday the 16th of December at 8pm. Chaired by Paddy Smith of The Boyne Writers, all are welcome and the admission charge is €5 euro which includes tea and biscuits.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

John Boyle O' Reilly

John Boyle O' Reilly

John Boyle O' Reilly was born at Dowth in County Meath on the 28th of June in 1844 just before the great famine and he grew up along a stretch of the river Boyne that has seen more than a little bit of history. His father was a schoolmaster for orphans at the Netterville Institution and when he was eleven he began an apprenticeship with the Drogheda Argus moving on to the "Guardian" newspaper in Preston at fifteen. He enlisted in the Tenth Hussars and his meeting with John Devoy and involvement in the Fenian movement would lead to his imprisonment and transportation to Australia on the convict ship "Hougougont" .Within two years of his arrival he escaped on the American whaling ship "Gazelle" and joined the staff of the Boston Pilot newspaper in 1870, later becoming editor and owner. With John Devoy and others he helped to organise the escape of six of the remaining Fenians in Western Australia on the whaling ship "Catalpa" an incident that was televised not so long back on RTE. He married in 1872 to Mary Murphy and the couple had four daughters. After an exhausting tour of the west coast of America he died aged just 46 and his funeral was said to have  been one of the largest ever seen. No less than John F Kennedy held him in high regard and quoted him when speaking to a combined session of the Dail and Senate during his visit here in 1963. He was a poet, a political activist, a writer, and an adventurer, and someone who contributed in no small way to the setting up of this state. His poem "A White Rose" was included in the recent publication by Tom French "A Meath Anthology"  and is the only one of his I managed to find while searching through youtube. It gets a glowing tribute also from Brendan Kennelly on the back cover of "The Cry of The Dreamer", which was edited by Peggy O' Reilly and Brenda Tuite, and the source for much of the above, though not the poem I'd have gone for. On your next visit to the library or local bookshop check this man out.

A White Rose: click here

Fremantle Jail:click here

Photo: From Google images with thanks.

Sources "The Cry of The Dreamer and Youtube, editors and posters with thanks.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Big Freeze

The Big Freeze

In a land of abandoned horses, stray dogs and homeless people, the water taps frozen and the lights going out, the budget was today and we've been told we must go the extra mile. But I think I'll just bury my head in the sand and it'll all go away. If I were in charge of the snow I think I'd just request the farmers to get their tractors and front loaders out and clear the roads. But maybe that's using too much imagination. Not the done thing as they say. Just let it melt! If I were in charge of the budget well when you got up in the morning that problem would have melted as well. But back to the extra mile, I came across a stray or strayed collie pup when I was out walking about a week or so back and after I'd spotted him or her for the third time I decided to call a few SPCA numbers, it was a Saturday evening and all I was getting was answering machines, but on Sunday morning Drogheda called back, took the details and called someone from an animal rescue. That lady drove out some distance on a Sunday afternoon, on roads you wouldn't believe and took the dog home! That's the extra mile!

Photo: Kilmessan Village and what the roads look like!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (6) November 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle

Michael Sheils has been a member of The Meath Writers' Circle since about, oh maybe a long time. Anyway longer than me. His book "Short Trousers Days in Navan" sold that many copies that you don't ask and on this video he tries his hand at poetry. An anti-war poem about the conflict in Afghanistan, he gets his message across, and when you're writing from the heart....... Anyway have a listen and see what you think. A member also of The Small Impact Creative Writers' Group in Navan his book can be got from The Meath County Library, or just click on the link opposite (Sheriff) and leave a message.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (5) November 2010.

The Meath Writers' Circle

More information on this particular vintage if you click over on The Meath Books' Website. Link opposite! Meanwhile luxuriate as the heady aroma of a well chosen phrase, burnished as the golden sun, washes over you. Lord I'm losing the run of myself, now where's the key to the wine cellar? Fine poem!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (4) November 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle

James is a member of both The Meath Writers' Circle and The Boyne Writers' Group and has had a number of poems and other material published on the writing4all website. Worth checking out! Working on a second book at the moment, his first one had a title that went something like "Never argue with an Irishman when he's pointing a gun at you". James come back to me with that title?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Meath Anthology

A Meath Anthology

If you were to ask most people in this part of the county for a verse or two with some connection to Meath you'd probably get "When the Yeos were in Dunshaughlin..." and it makes it into this collection. A gathering of poems that, to borrow from the editor, allows high art to rub shoulders with both folk song and popular street ballad. Or something along those lines. Though you could remark on a number of ballads or songs that didn't make it in, Dick Farrelly's "The Isle of Innisfree" or "The Old House" of Josef locke or John McCormack fame to name but two. The latter has a connection to Oldcastle though I'll probably end up being told it has no connection to Meath at all. The good thing about this book, and not only on the poems collected, in that it includes notes and biographical ones, but that it was badly needed. Having said that there are a number of writers and writer groups around the county that didn't make it in, and some fine poems there as well.. Tommy Murray makes it in with "Shanlothe" and Eamon Cooke with "Headford Place in May". The focus seems to be though, of others looking in on some aspect or other and that is necessary given the names and reputations, but a further volume maybe? This is one for your collection. Edited by Tom French and with an introduction by Patrick Duffy it is priced at €20 euro and a must! Now if someone would write a history of this place.

Photo: Book Cover.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (3) November 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle

Willie has been a member of The Meath Writers' Circle since about 2000 and this is his second video to be uploaded here. "What Matters Most" is further back. He has published one book of poems to date, "Sunflower" and hopefully, is working on the next!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Boyne Readings/Grainne Toher

Boyne Readings/Grainne Toher

Grainne Toher was the featured reader at the "Boyne Writers' Open Mic Session" at the Knightsbridge Village Hall in Trim tonight. A native of Galway she read through a number of chapters from her novel "Comings and Goings" something she started to write while waiting for the signals to change while stuck on a train in Maynooth. A girl with a very pleasant reading voice, and style, the book deals with the relationships between a group of pals and as the title says their comings and goings. This would make very easy listening  if available in audio form or on the radio and something to consider. There is a huge market out there for novels like this. Other readers on the night proved to be very interesting also, with Caroline Finn taking us to a corner of the wild and woolly west, and one that Huckleberry never made it to. Is there a connection here? Michael Farry read his poem that was published in the Shop Magazine and maybe he'd put up some info about it on the site. James Linnane read a poem about his stay in hospital, and I hadn't heard it before, but he has a talent for recalling detail and putting it into verse while Paddy Smith finished off proceedings by informing us that he did not do poetry and then did just that. Good poem too! And that was just some of them!

Photos: Grainne Toher with copy of book, also some of the
other readers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (2) November 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle

Paul has fun with this one. More poems over at writing4all. Video of "No Redemption Here" further back.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (1) November 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (1)

The Meath Writers' Circle held their monthly meeting in The Castle Hotel in Trim last night and I took the opportunity to record some videos. A number of others to follow. Sean here sings "My Lagan Love" and unaccompanied at that. Some good poems to come.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chivalry (3)

When the celtic tiger and others were on the prowl dragging their assurance behind them, I wrote a few poems on their progress, or the absence of anything of value, or should that be values! Anyway this was one of them.

A Knight's Tale

With chaptered verse
To course his veins
He quarried out his own demesne
Set off to find the Holy Grail
Then crept along the paper trails
And naked in his stirrup cups
He'd fleece you from the bottom up
And tilt upon the dotted lines
He lived in interesting times
And tiring of such daring deeds
Drew sustenance in other creeds
Such prospects as would tilt your hat
Noblesse oblige no less than that
Allowed such little licence pleased
Himself to charge
Professional fees.

Frank Murphy.

Photo: From Google Images.

Note: Graine Toher is the guest reader at The Knightsbridge Village Hall
in Trim (Boyne Readings) on Thursday the 18th of November.
Her latest novel is "Comings and Goings".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chivalry (2)

I can only remember one instance where someone I knew made a decision  that might have cost him a lot, but was the right thing to do at the time, something that seems to be peculiar to the individual, but alien to most other regards, maybe not all! There are some fine bodies out there, though  few and far between. Where expediency creeps in virtue creeps out! But I suspect most of us  would be found wanting in some sense and there are some choices you wouldn't want to make. Presented with an impossible choice, what would you do? The cinema has thrown up many examples of the chivalrous deed, or doing the right thing, some funny, some true, some very sad, some  refusing the offer, and you could probably make up your own list. Oskar backing the train out is a favourite. But to end on a lighter note, Mattie finding a drunken Marshal whose son didn't like him and whose wife had left him because he couldn't abide by the laws of decency so he took to robbing banks is as good as you'll get. Or maybe that's just the way I remember it. Chivalry yes!

Photo: Harvest fields near Tara.


Prompted by an article on Orla Fay's website (link opposite) on the above topic, and a video posted on Michael Shiels "Sheriff from Navan" about a father and son; the question as to whether chivalry is dead would appear to be answered. At least in the broadest sense, "Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intelluctual and moral world". The above definition is not mine but from Wikipedia (The Broadstone-Stone of Honour~Kenelm Henelm Gigby) or I wish I'd said that! The page books of history though leave a lot to be desired, and there is little evidence of chivalry, though a code of honour or Esprit de corps , are in no short supply, hardly the same thing! The problem today is that any of the above would appear to be notable only by their absence. The keepers of the common good have reduced everything to the bottom line, but back to this at a later hour! 

Photo: Old Watchtower? lismullen/Skryne.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paper Trails

Paper Trails.
The Meath Junior Writers' Group has just published a book of poems and in time for Christmas as well, for anyone who might be interested in getting something a little different for their Christmas Stocking. Especially of use if you have any children in the house who might be thinking of writing a verse or two. This is the fourth in a series of books produced by the Junior Writers and as Tommy Murray remarks in the intro the quality of work is getting better with each passing year. There is a nice little piece here as well by Tom French of The Meath County Library, but I'll let you find that out for yourselves. The poems touch on every subject imaginable and are not all as upbeat as you might think, some with a little, or a "fair" old bit of humour thrown in. Deep Waters you might say! Copies of the book can be got from Tommy Murray, just click over on the "Meath Books" website (Link opposite) and leave a message. More details there as well!

Pictures courtesy of the "Meath Books" website.

Note: The Meath Writers' Circle are holding their monthly meeting in The Castle Hotel in Trim
on Tuesday the 16th of November. All welcome!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Launch/Summer Solstice

Book Launch/Summer Solstice.

Kieran (Kiery) Murray of the Small Impact Creative Writers' Group in Navan launched his new poetry book, "Summer Solstice" on the Hill Of Tara on Saturday last, selling more than a few by all accounts. I picked up a copy a number weeks ago, but dropped in anyway, or that was the idea, and only a day late it was nevertheless an interesting visit. (I thought it was on both Saturday and Sunday night!). Kiery was an active member of the campaign against the routing of the M3 through the Tara/Skryne valley and many of the poems in this collection and his first book,"Vigil" reflect on these type of concerns. There are a number of poems here about individuals who have made a difference in one way or the other, and often at great cost, anyway the marque was still there and people were enjoying themselves and refreshments could be had in the form of hot soup. The girl outside on the guitar (Morag?) was doing a fine version of Richard Thompson's classic, "Beeswing" which as coincidence would have it was the last song I was listening to on youtube the night before. I first heard Christy Moore singing this and there are a fair old number of versions out there! The girl recommended Pixi on Myspace, said he puts his heart into it. Myself, I don't know, depends on the mood you're in. Have a listen, see what you think. All beautiful.

Richard Thompson
click here

Christy Mooreclick here

Photos: Kiery and friends and girl with guitar(Morag?)

Thanks to artists and the people who loaded up the songs.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Hallowe'en has become something of a commercial event as of late in that almost every business interest with a bone to pick or crow to pluck would seek to profit from it in some way. Not that it wasn't ever thus, except that in more distant times it was left to individual enterprise or endeavour and the futures market for turnips was such that it wouldn't be any use looking for one in your Christmas stocking. Our American cousins and the advent of television not to mention the proportions of some "starlet" wandering around in the upstairs with only a torch on while the telephone is ringing downstairs put an end to that! Though it has its good side, I can put up with a fire on a hillside if it prevents that hillside from being turned into a quarry or an open cast mine, which has happened to quite a few hills around County Meath and other places, and their storied past and heritage didn't save them. Now where's that broomstick!

A few diversions.

Oh, the night that was in it
Berries, crab apples
And the bull's wool tied
You could lose
The thread.

And coming home from Devotions
A man might want his gates removed
A sobering thought.

The talk of the harvest
Oh, there was no day in it!

A few figures close to the verge
And the curtains twitching.

You could spend a day
Scooping out
The turnip! 
Frank Murphy: from Excursions.

Photo: The Hill of Ward Athboy County Meath.
          Where it all began!
          With thanks to Google Images!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Francis Ledwidge.

Francis Ledwidge.

I drove out to Slane a number of years back taking the old road that comes down from Skryne, which is the way I usually go to avoid the traffic of Navan, or other places. Anyway picking it up at the crossroads beyond Lismullen School it runs pretty true all the way to the Yellow Furze and I wonder is this one of the roads Ledwidge had in mind when he wrote the poem "Skreen Cross Roads" . If he was travelling from Slane to Dunsany then I suspect that this might have been one of the more tempting routes. Ledwidge was another old schoolbook favourite in that his" Lament for Thomas McDonagh " was pretty much a standard at one time. The cottage at Janeville where he was born on the 19th of August 1887 is today a museum and anyone who takes the trouble to drop in will find it more than a rewarding experience. He enlisted in the Enniskillen Fusiliers on the 24th of October 1914 and was killed at Ypres on the 31st of July 1917. Of the reasons given for his enlisting; the "Lost Love" ,Ellie Vaughie was the one I was told on the day I visited. Ellie Vaughie died a year later in Manchester giving birth to a daughter and he was given leave to attend her funeral. Francis Ledwidge served on some of the most bloodiest battlefields of the war and was killed while at roadworks in the enemy bombardment that preceded the third battle of Ypres. A story is told of his friend Mattie McGoona locking up after working late back in Navan, and turning to see Francis coming in through the gate, hurried to greet him, but he was no longer there! The information for some of the above detail was taken from "Francis Ledwidge, Poet of The Blackbird", available from the museum.

The Blackbird of Slane:
click here

With thanks to Google Images, Youtube, The artist, and the man who posted it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boyne Readings/Emer Davis.

Boyne Readings/Emer Davis

Emer Davis of the Viaduct Bards in Drogheda was the guest reader at last night's open mic session at the Knightsbridge Village Hall in Trim, though this time in the more intimate surroundings of the library rather than  the hall itself. Introduced by Paddy Smith she read from her recently published book of poems, "Kill Your Television" a title that owes its origin to the time she spent in the "Flatlands" of London. If that's not a contradiction in terms. I think she mentioned that her poems draw their influence in some way from the times she spent in Achill Island, though they touch on many subjects. She also read a good number on the experiences of women in the second world war and there seemed to be a constant thread of movement, or journeying throughout. It was one of the most interesting of the readings and more to be heard from this poet

Photos: Emer Davis and Emer Davis and Paddy Smith.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Boyne Berries (8) Autumn 2010.

Boyne Berries (8)

Noel French of The Meath Heritage Centre launched this, the latest edition of The Boyne Writers' Group literary magazine at The Castle Arch Hotel in Trim on the 30th of September last. A beautifully produced book with a cover illustration by Greg Hastings of an early medieval monastic site or graveyard at Glendalough Co. Wicklow it contains contributions from as far away as the USA and China. Not forgetting India of course. A mixture of poetry and prose with the Boyne Writers themselves having more than one or two interesting pieces there is sure to be something here to suit every ones taste. Cherry picking though, Simon Leyland's "Oh, Happy Days" might just capture the mood of the thing, or the times we live in, and James Linnane has an interesting poem here as well. "Rome Burning"! Though if you haven't paid your mortgage...say no more. Caroline Finn compounds it, and sort of trips over into the surreal, bad day down in Ballinbrackey sort of stuff, the title best omitted, give peace a chance. A contributor to "Sunday Miscellany" on RTE Radio 1, far too early for me, but "sounds" interesting indeed. Maybe the Boyne Writers could load some of them up on the site? Boyne Berries (8) available at or details on how to purchase. Priced at €7 euro a copy. I picked mine up at Antonia's in Trim.

*Note: The Guest Reader at the next open mic session at the Knightsbridge Village Hall in Trim is Emer Davis of the Viaduct Bards Writers group. Her poem "Requiem" is included in the above collection on page 11. Organised by the Boyne Writers the poetry readings begin at 8pm on Thursday the 21st. Five euro entry with tea and biscuits!

Photo: Book cover by Greg Hastings. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

James Clarence Mangan.

James Clarence Mangan.

Of all the poets that could be named as having some connection to Meath, James Clarence Mangan is perhaps the most widely and best known. A standard of the old english "readers" his poem "Dark Rosaleen" is probably known to everyone who went to school in Ireland. Born in 1803 his mother Catherine Smith came from the parish of Kiltale in South Meath. She married James Mangan a hedge-school teacher in 1803 and set up in a business in Fishamble Street in Dublin, inherited from her aunt Mary Farrell who had moved from Kiltale to Dublin. The source for this material is "A History of Kiltale" and for anyone interested in the above it is probably required reading. Published in 2000 and edited by Pat McKenna, I would think a copy could be had  from the County Library. What is interesting about the article is the first hand accounts, both from a letter written by the poet at the height of the famine in 1847 (Kiltale Summerhill Meath 21st July 1847) when he visited his mother's old home, and a piece or short article from the Irish Press dated 21st of June 1949. (Mrs Mary Madden /Culmullen)  There is too much material to be reproduced here but I would imagine the woodlands and countryside around Dunsany where he is said to have dined every Sunday with a Fr. Jones, the parish priest, has not changed all that much. The article goes on to say that after a love affair had gone wrong " Mangan used still come to Kiltale but after that he went more often to   Kilmessan. The tavern was there.... No less that W.B. Yeats said of Mangan "To the soul of Clarence Mangan was tied the burning ribbon of Genius". A number of years ago I attended a reading in his honour at the Trim Library arranged by Tommy Murray of the Meath Writers' Circle and if I remember right, some of his relations were there. James Clarence Mangan died in 1849 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetry. The video clips below are from Youtube so thanks to those who loaded them and the artists performing on them, Worth a look!

Dark here

Dark Rosaleen
click here

With Thanks to "A History of Kiltale" and Youtube. More information if you click under videos on youtube. Also thanks to Wikipedia.

Photo: Memorial Bust of James Clarence Mangan/ St Stephen's Green. (Google Images)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Poetry Ireland Day Meath 2010.

St Patrick's Cathedral Trim.

Poetry Ireland Day in Meath got off to an early enough start with a reading in St Patrick's Cathedral in Trim at 12 Noon organised by the Boyne Writers' Group. This is the second year they've had a reading at this venue and a beautiful one it is. A fair enough gathering of about ten or twelve arrived, to read, or listen to a favourite poem. Though I think most people read something. Michael Farry read "Father and Son" by F. R. Higgins and Mat Gilsenan read a poem written by his grandfather in the late eighteen hundreds if I'm not mistaken. Sounded good! Kyrie Murray read about a monument to be set in stone to the Celtic Tiger or was that a bull, and a few seemed to drift in at the end. The Boyne Writers had another reading later in the day in Kells while we were off to the library in Navan.  

Meath County Library.

Tom French of The Meath County Library was the host for this event and he laid down strict guidelines as to what you could read, in that it had to be a favourite poem and not one of your own which caught a number of people out including myself, but there were prizes to be had such as Ruth Padel's "52 Ways of looking at a poem" and "The Meath Anthology". This is the one I didn't get, but musn't complain. This turned out to be a very interesting evening in that people tendered everything from recitations to popular ballads. The one I remember best is Paul Martin doing Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat". Now I looked this up for both Nick and Johnny Cash, not bad Paul! Tommy Murray read a poem about swallows, might be a bit late in the year! Sounded good though Tommy.

Photos: St Patrick's Cathedral. Michael Farry and Mat Gilsenan
                                             Michael Shiels.
Photos: Meath County Library. Tom French and Paul Martin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Great Speeches.

Great Speeches.

Once upon a time I inherited a desk and drawer, or to be more accurate made use of, and nothing extraordinary about that you might think except that the drawer contained a copy of the oxford companion to something or other and it was nice to sit there in the afternoons and leaf through the pages. Rank has its privileges and more than that since I was surrounded by english teachers who were of the opinion that bean counters and technocrats were best removed out the back, and hard to disagree with them on that even if they couldn't switch things on or off, or open a lock, they were good company, and it is easy to impress with Christopher Marlowe or Sheridan Le Fanu at your fingertips. Nothing remains if I can borrow from a poet except a few lines from Shakespeare or Milton or a word or two from Churchill, though given the times that we live in "In the name of God go" springs to mind. I can't remember many Irish quotes from the book though Oscar made it in and Daniel O' Connell featured if I remember right, and so he should, and when I left I put the book back in the drawer for the next incumbent, if that's the right word. It wasn't mine to begin with! I went looking for great Irish speeches and there are more than a few, but the one below, well take a look...

Click Here
Photo: Me and some Falcon, or was it an Owl? Tara/Heritage Sunday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Ireland Poetry Day Meath 2010.

All Ireland Poetry Day

There are a number of events on around the county to celebrate All Ireland Poetry Day this year, starting off at St Partrick's Cathedral in Trim at 12 Noon, an event organised by The Boyne Writers' Group followed on by another one at 5pm at the Resource Centre in Kells. I haven't been to Kells for a while but St Partrick's Cathedral in Trim is worth a visit any time. The evening finishes off at the County Library in Navan at 7pm where Tommy Murray of The Meath Writers' Circle and Tom French of The Meath Library Services host an event. So there's no excuse, bring your favourite poem, bring your own, or just come to enjoy! Rumour has it that LMFM will be in attendance!

* St Partrick's Cathedral Trim: Boyne Writers' Group 12 Noon.

* The Resource Centre Kells: Boyne Writers' Group 5pm.

* The Meath County Library: The Meath Writers Circle 7pm.

* All Ireland Events:
* Note: Boyne Berries 8, the literary magazine of the Boyne Writers' Group will be launched at The Castle Arch Hotel in Trim this thursday night (30th September) at 8pm by Noel French. Priced at €7 Euro and available from their site or local bookshops. This is one for your collection!

Photo: Colm Toibin reading at Tara on Heritage Sunday.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

F. R. Higgins.

F. R. Higgins.

Went out to Laracor churchyard a number of years ago with Tommy Murray and other members of The Meath Writers' Circle to do a poetry reading at the grave of F. R. Higgins. Another of Meath's almost forgotten writers, though maybe being rescued a little bit by the internet these days. Held in very high regard by his peers if his obituary in the Irish Times was anything to go by, he was born in Foxford Co. Mayo in April 1896 and died on the 8th of January in 1941 in Jervis Street Hospital in Dublin. He was the eldest son of Joseph Higgins and Mrs. Annie Higgins of Higginsbrook Co. Meath, and Meath was said to be the place most dearest to his heart. Hunting around on the internet I came across three readings of his poems and I've added them below. With thanks to youtube! I notice from one of the comments that Ted Hughes suggested that "Song For The Clatter-Bones" is one that should be learned off by heart. So there!

(1) Song For The Clatter-Bones: by Spoken Verse.

(2) Father and Son: by Pierce Brosnan.
click here

(3) Father and Son: by irelandpoetess.
Click Here

Photo: Headstone/Laracor churchyard Co. Meath. Courtesy: Michael Farry.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Few Songs of War.

A few songs of war.

For those who have an interest in the everyday the above may hold little attraction, but some of the best poems ever written touch on the subject of war. They tend to stay in the memory long after the media reports have been consigned to the dustbin and indeed most people get their history or a version of such from this kind. This is especially true of the songs, they hang around for a long time. The anti-war movement of the sixties and the songs of Dylan and others are a case in point and just the most recent one, though you may well ask where are the ballad singers now? Nothing to aim for, perhaps, when the only lines are the ones you add and subtract! Poor enough! The songs that follow all have a certain quality, or seem to capture something, and for different reasons, some are great stories, some are very sad, some are good entertainment, some are dangerous, and all are worth a listen. And if I was to select another six, maybe I'd pick different ones, but I'm not so sure!
(1) Billy Joel: Goodnight Saigon.
Click Here

(2) Jamie O' Hara: 50,000 Names.
Click Here

(3) Steve Earle: Dixieland.
Click Here

(4) Marlene Dietrich: Lili Marleen.
Click Here

(5) Phil Coulter: Dear Sarah/Sullivan Ballou.
Click Here

(6) Phil Coulter: The Man From God Knows Where.
Click Here

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice.

Kieran (Kiery) Murray, a native of Kilmessan and member of "The Small Impact Creative Group" in Navan, has a second book of poems out following on from his first (Vigil) which dealt mainly with the issues concerning the routing of the M3 motorway through the Tara Skryne valley. This one though spreads its wings much further afield and focuses in on issues as diverse as religious belief to stories of political intrigue and civil rights. Not afraid to put a tooth in it, and as it says on the cover" He writes with a passion for justice, equality and rights for all". Published by it is available in Easons for €10 euro.

Photo: Kiery reading from his book "Summer Solstice" on Tara/Heritage Sunday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (4) september 2010.

Tommy Murray.

Tommy reading "Lottery" winning poem "Poet of Fingal" 2010. Again sorry about quality of video. Will get right!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (3) September 2010.

Paul Martin.

A walk on the wild side! More of these poems by Paul Martin over on the Writing4All website. Check it out!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle (2) September 2010.

Mark Doyle.

Again folks sorry about the video quality but the sound is good. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Meath Writers' Circle September 2010.

The Meath Writers' Circle.

The Meath Writers' Circle held their monthly meeting at the Castle Hotel in Trim tonight with about twelve in attendance. The above is a video of Willie reading "What Matters Most" and is hopefully the first in a series of poems on video. Favourite poems as it were! Sorry about the picture quality!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Poet of Fingal Award.

Poet of Fingal Award.

Tommy Murray of The Meath Writers' Circle was the winner of The Poet of Fingal Award for the third time last night at The Carnegie Court in Swords North Dublin. An event I almost made it to and would have done but for a sign that said "Road Closed: Local Access Only" and that was true, and another one that said "Detour" whose meaning could only be found in the dictionary, and with my only compass the Sun and a bewildering mix of back roads and bad drivers and the same Sun setting in an orange glow in the western sky, I went home and walked the dog. Maybe next year! Check out at Meath Books, link opposite.

Photo: Tommy Murray with The McDonagh Perpetual Trophy. Photo by Michael Farry.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Feis Teamhra: A Turn at Tara.

A Turn at Tara.

On a windswept but sunny day a large crowd turned out for a celebration of poetry and song at Tara today, though given that some of Ireland's best known poets were in attendance it was only to be expected. Or if you're coming next year, come early if you want to get parking! I think the event was sponsored by "Poetry Ireland" and organised by the singer songwriter Susan McKeown, who was able to hold the crowd without the aid of a microphone or sound system but then she has a great voice! Having said that a mic would have been more than a bit useful for those at the back whose hearing wasn't all that it should be or once was. The order I caught them in was Michael Longley, Susan McKeown and Aidan Brennan who provided the musical entertainment, Laoise Kelly who played the harp, Colm Toibin, Paul Muldoon, and Seamus Heaney. Susan McKeown and Aidan Brennan and Laoise Kelly then finished off with a couple of numbers, and if you can get all of the above together in the one place at the same time there's hope for us yet. Another gentleman gave a talk about the proposed bypass at Slane and I noticed one or two local writers there as well. Also there was a falconry display outside the church grounds. What more could you ask for.
Photos: Some of those in attendance. From the top: Susan McKeown and daughter and Aidan Brennan, Colm Toibin, The Crowd, Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, and Laoise Kelly playing the harp.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Heritage Week!

Heritage Week.

There seems to be an impressive number of events on around the county that celebrate different aspects of our local heritage and all to the good, and not forgetting certain poets listed for Tara on Sunday, but you could well argue that much of what lies around us that is of historical interest has fallen into ruin or was never commemorated in the first place. Almost every parish or town brought out a local history a number of years ago, to celebrate the Millennium, and many of these were excellent in that they highlighted events, or people, that would otherwise be forgotten. I remember walking through a bookstore once, in a far and distant place, and picking up book about William Johnson and although I'd grown up and gone to school in this area he was never mentioned. Likewise for many other events. You can drive past a crossroads and see the remains of some monument falling into rubble or a famous hill quarried away. Much of the preservation seems to depend on local interest. Towns like Dunshaughlin and Summerhill to mention just two, do not have information boards listing places of what are in some cases of national importance. On the Hill of Tara for instance, tourists stand and gaze off into the distance and there is nothing to tell them what they are looking at. There is a good argument to be made for teaching local history in primary schools in that it would be valued more and there would be a more immediate reference, and perhaps some of the destruction we have witnessed over the past decades would be less likely to take place in the future.
Photo: Ringlestown Rath Kilmessan Co. Meath.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Liverpool Lennon Poetry Competition.

Liverpool Lennon Poetry Competition.

For those who were fans of the Beatles or in this case John Lennon. "The Beatles Story" in conjunction with Roger Cliffe-Thompson of "Events Poets" are having themselves a competition as part of the John Lennon tribute season which will mark 70 years since his birth and 30 years since his death. Poets from across the world are encouraged to enter unpublished verses in three categories, better make that two at this date in time! Category One, you enter as a performance poet and Category Two as a paper poet, and the closing date for both is 5pm Friday 10th of September 2010. and entry is by e-mail only at, and another important point is that it is Free! Information for the above was got from and the "Emerging Writer" website also had some information up a while back. It is listed on the "ask about writing competition page" So no excuses get writing.
Photo Image is from an old cassette so I hope they don't mind me using it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tommy Murray. Whitehouse Guest Poet Aug 4 2010

Tommy Murray at The White House Limerick Aug 4 2010.

If you click on the above you can hear Tommy reading some of his poems at The White House in Limerick where he was the guest reader on August the 4th last. The ones included on this video clip are Stella's Cottage and The Famine Trilogy and also not forgetting Whiskey. Tommy set up The Meath Writers' Circle back in the early nineties and has been writing short stories and poetry ever since and has gone on to win many prizes, and been published widely over the years. He has published a number of books on local history and if you click on the link for "Meath Books" you'll find more information on the above. Also on youtube there are other videos of Tommy reading posted by "sheriff from navan". Worth a look!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award.

12th Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award.

The Inchicore Ledwidge Society are now accepting entries for the above competition and details are available on The Poetry Ireland Site as well as some of the local ones. Orla Fay has plenty of information up and I think Michael Farry had some information up a while back. If not I'll have to come back into this and edit! There is a trophy and cash prizes as well as certificates of merit so well worth the effort. Michael O' Flannagan of The Inichicore Sosiety is also the editor of the monthly broadsheet "Riposte" and has published many local writers, and indeed many of those would have picked up prizes in the competition itself. I went down to visit the Ledwidge house and museum a couple of years back and the village (town) of Slane is not a bad place to spend an hour or two.

Before I go both Michael Shiels and Tommy Murray have videos up on youtube. Michael has more than a few, and if you go to his site I hope you'll find a link there. (Sheriff from Navan). Tommy Murray was the guest reader at the White House in Limerick and I believe the video features him reading some of his poems there. So check over at Meath Books. Click on the links opposite. Finally if you are in need of some entertainment take a look at The Emerging Writer site and check out "Poetry Chicks at The White House". Way to go!
Photos: Ledwidge Museum and Garden.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Heritage Sunday/Tara. 2010

Heritage Sunday.

Poetry Ireland in association with The Heritage Council of Ireland have an impressive list of poets lined up for the 29th of this month at the visitor centre on The Hill of Tara. Colm Toibin, Paul Muldoon, Michael longley, Seamus Heaney, Susan McKeown, Laoise Kelly and others are mentioned on their site, though The Meath Chronicle only mentions some of the above, but sure you'd be doing well if you only caught one of them. On the Poetry Ireland site there is also a list of audio and video files that might be worth checking out. Rainy day and in need of some entertainment, or good writing! I managed to catch some of the above last year, and the visitor centre, or the Hill of Tara itself are worth a visit anytime. Also before I finish, there's news of a poetry competition in Castlecomer, details of which can be found over on Michael Farry's site or go to "Ask About Writing". Just click on the links opposite!
Photo: Susan McKeown and daughter singing at last year's event.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

News Update

News Update.

Tommy Murray of The Meath Writers' Circle will be the guest reader at The White House Venue in Limerick this weekend, where he will read from his collection "Counting Stained Glass Windows". Published by Lapwing of Belfast it is now in it's second edition and is, as they say, available in all good bookshops or from the author himself. On the home front James Linnane had his second outing at The Steps Public House in Trim. Not just a writer, James is a dab hand at the old stand up routine and can sing a bit as well. I tried out a few poems, but as John Lennon used to say " You know it aint easy!" Speaking of John Lennon, if you go over to the "Emerging Writer" website ,there's information about a poetry contest in Liverpool, and it's Free! Just click on the link opposite. Michael Farry of The Boyne Writers' Group picked up a Highly Commended cert for himself in The iYeats Poetry competition in Sligo a few days back, which is actually his own neck of the woods, and if I'm not mistaken, no less a personage than the great Leonard Cohen will be playing at Lissadell House this weekend. Did I read somewhere that he's to visit a certain graveyard?

The light of evening, Lissadell

Great windows open to the south.

Two girls in silk kimonos

Both beautiful, one a gazelle.

W. B. Yeats.

Photo: Balloon landing outside Kilmessan Village Co. Meath late evening.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Night at The Steps!

A Night at The Steps.
Kieran Furey, one of Ireland's best known poets was the guest reader at an event organised by James Linnane at The Steps Public House in Trim on Friday last. A mix of Karioke (I hope I spelt that right) music, stand up row, comedy, poetry reading and whatever you're having yourself, it will be interesting to see how this will develop over the coming months. Others that featured included James Leech who sang "The Summer Wind" and Niall Doyle and Damien Reilly of Paddy Smith's Stand-Up Row fame, who know how to entertain! Charlie Bloomer used all his stage craft to wow the crowd while James Linnane himself proved he is a man of many talents who can not only write, but can sing and tell jokes with the best of them. A few teething problems out of the way and this might fly. Good luck with future events guys!
Photos: James Linnane, James Leech, Damien Reilly, Charlie Bloomer, Niall Doyle and Kieran Furey.