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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Archaic Torso of Apollo


Archaic Torso of Apollo

by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could 
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

It's been another wonderfully odd and normal day for me.  I've encountered votives, unicorns and Rilke. 
Happy New Year readers! May it be magical! 


Monday, December 30, 2013

Love is...

I'm not sure why I'm posting this but the words came into my head so I looked the quote up.  I like the first part but the second part becomes a bit archaic and fire-and-brimstone-like?  How would you rewrite the second part?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What happens to a dream deferred?

Hi blog.  What a day I've had.  I wrote a poem yesterday and went to finish it this morning only to discover that I hadn't saved it.  I was raging for a while but I took a poetry book out and fell on Langston Hughes' lines of this blog post title:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over -
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

So then today I went looking for poems.  It was touch and go but I've just written a villanelle that I am excited about.  It's good work.  Anyway the long and the short of it is that I had to work for it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HeadSpace Issue 2

HeadSpace Issue 2 will be launched on Friday, 17th January in Sweeneys on Dame Street. The launch will feature performances from HeadSpace contributors, and some musical acts. Line up TBA over the next few weeks. Towards the end of the night we'll have an open mic session - sign up on the night.

Doors 7 pm, show starts 8 pm. Free in.

HeadSpace is a creative magazine dedicated to mental health which is distributed for free in psychiatric wards and mental health support services around Ireland. This issue is generously supported by Rehab Ireland's Visual Arts fund.
I have a poem included in this issue. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

WOW Awards Fiction Longlist

I recently made the fiction longlist for the WOW (Wordsonthewaves) Awards.  I'd written a story over the summer past called 'The Boy with the Amber Eyes'.  Alas my story didn't make the shortlist of seven stories.  The judge for fiction is Elizabeth Reapy, the editor of Wordlegs magazine, which is currently being guest edited by Kate Dempsey.

The longlist and shortlist can be viewed here:

Well done to those shortlisted and good luck! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Villanelle

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 2 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 4 (a)
Line 5 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 7 (a)
Line 8 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 10 (a)
Line 11 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 13 (a)
Line 14 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 16 (a)
Line 17 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Refrain 2 (A2)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tom Dredge Launch

What is the Path of Progress? If you want to know maybe you should read Tom Dredge's chapbook. It's the fourth chapbook in the Boyne Writer's Group chapbook series.  I intend to read it from front to back later. Well done Tom and The Boyne Writers. I never say it really but I'm honoured to be part of such a progressive, industrious and supportive group. 

Tom is pictured below (middle) with Michael Farry (left) & Paddy Smith. I've also included a picture of myself & James  Lawless who attended and read a chapter from one of his books in the open mic. There's a lot more to see on The Boyne Writers Facebook page. I'm sure Michael Farry & Frank Murphy will blog about the night too. It was great to see Brendan Carey Kinnane back. He read in the open mic too. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I think this photo was taken on November, 6th, but it's very like what I saw leaving work this evening except the moon had waxed.  Venus sat just above the horizon beneath the constellation of Sagittarius in the Milky Way Galaxy.  The older I get the more important this dark time of the year becomes, I think.

I've written two new poems.  One is about a child, a bird and berries.  The second is about the typhoon that hit the Philippines.  I'm working on an essay about the impact of social policy, legislation and agencies on early childhood care and education in Ireland.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Boyne Writers' Group Chapbook 4 - "The Path of Progess" by Tom Dredge

Tom reading at a Boyne Readings & Open Mic

Thanks to the Boyne Writers Group website for the information below:

On Thursday 21 November Boyne Writers Group will launch Chapbook 4, The Path of Progess by Tom Dredge, in its series of Boyne Chapbooks.

Tom Dredge is a member of Boyne Writers Group since 2008. His poetry has featured in Boyne Berries, Revival and in the WOW! Anthology. In 2012 he was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Competition and in 2013 he came third in the English section of the Frances Browne Multilingual Poetry Competition.

Tom is also a member of Bealtaine writers group based in the Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin and is pictured below reading with that group in the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin as part of the Bealtaine Festival 2013.

He is a native of Dublin but has lived in Leixlip, Co. Kildare since 1982.

The launch takes place in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim at 8pm on Thursday 21 November and Tom will read from his chapbook. This will be followed by an Open Mic open to all.

Boyne Writers' Group has published three chapbooks to date: Ashes and Snow by Michael Farry, Racket in the Air by Brendan Carey Kinnane and Drawn to the Light by Orla Fay. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards Night 2013

I had a very interesting night at the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards.  I'd only just about found Saggart Heritage and Arts Centre, which is well disguised, (it's located below the church in a yellow building) when who pulled up but Frank Murphy of The Meath Writers' Circle and The Tara Poetry Blog.
So on to business.  Maria Wallace was the jugde and she was aided by Mervyn Ennis in MC duties.  The commended short stories were Boats by Des McInerney, Hayseeds by Patrick A. Gavin, A Sense of Duty by Stewart Devitt, Block Party by Joe McKiernan and Alice by John Martin. 3rd prize went to Tightly Knit by Doreen Duffy, 2nd place went to Vivienne Kearns for her story Escape and the overall winner was Andrew McLaughlin for his story A Found Object.  The stories I heard read were very classy and I was struck by some beautiful descriptive passages.
Commended in the poetry section were Noel King's 20 Park Lane Mews, Orla Donoghue's Twenty Minutes on a Luas, Kenneth Nolan's A Brown Pigeon, Susan Flynn's The Amoeba, Aine Lyons' Nora Barnacle's Wedding, AM Cousins' First Exit After Finglas, Clare O'Reilly's First Friday, Denise Ryan's Inside the Charity Shop and my own After M.C. Escher's Hands Drawing Hands.  In joint 3rd place were Elizabeth O'Carroll's  After Child in the Yard - Luis le Broquey and Frank Murphy's The Deep.  Second place went to Journey by John Power.  The over all winner was Clare O'Reilly, who also had a poem commneded, for her poem Salvation. 

I spoke to one member of the Virginia House Creative Writers' Group who told me that the group is named after Virginia Woolf.  They meet every Friday.  You can find out more about the literary scene in Saggart and Tallaght here

It's Sylvia Plath's birthday today.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Stony Thursday Book Launch 2013

It was well worth the drive to Limerick and back again for the launch of the wonderful Stony Thursday Book, edited this year by Paddy Bushe.
I received two contributor's copies of the book and I read my poem Into the Night in the Belltable Arts Centre.  Thanks to Limerick City and County Council Arts Office and to Lizanne Jackman, co-ordinator and to everyone involved in the book's production. The cover art is by Catriona O'Connor.
Brian Kirk was there and he read his sestina The Poet's Work.  Honor Duff read her poem The Lure. I also met Susan Kelly who read her poem Skinny Jeans. She has been short listed for this year's Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition.  Carmel Cummins read her poem Deargadaol.  It was a thrill to see Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin there and she read her poem I Used to Think... Louis Mulcahy entertained all with The Night She Made Me Eat Her Words. 
The Editor spoke of his difficulty in choosing poems for the journal, over five hundred poets submitted work this year.  It was fantastic to hear the poets, who travelled from all over the country, reading their work.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards 2013

I was delighted to come home yesterday and find some good news in the post.  My poem After M.C. Escher's Hands Drawing Hands has been short listed in the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards 2013. 

The winners will be announced this Saturday, 26th October.  It feels wonderful to get some validation in a competition and being short listed has given me a boost. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sleeping Spring

"Sleeping Beauty", by Henry Meynell Rheam

I've been moderately busy editing some short stories and a couple of poems.  I wrote a new sonnet last week which was deeply satisfying.  I took out my old laptop which is in poor condition but it still works and I was able to access documents on it and read some older poems.  A lot of these older poems made me cringe.  So I guess I have grown in my writing but then everything looks different when you have perspective. 
I've lots of images in my mind and I feel like I want to create but I will have to wait until tomorrow maybe to put them on paper. 
Isn't life so beautiful?  It's so amazing sometimes that it's hard to comprehend it.  Sometimes I wish I could paint pictures instead of writing.  The fact remains that nothing gets done without work and application and nothing willl grow unless it is nourished and brought forward.  I think I'm finally getting back on track. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cuisle International Poetry Festival, Limerick, 24th - 26th October

Pictured above is The Stony Thursday Book from 2011 which included my poem Glove.  It was edited by Mary Coll.  This year my poem Into the Night is included in the anthology.  Brian Kirk's poem The Poet's Work is also included this year and I'm looking forward to seeing all the work included. 

This year the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival will feature evening performances by Anthony Cronin, Biddy Jenkinson, Macdara Woods, Hugh Maxton, David Wheatley, Adam Wyeth, and Jo Slade.
We especially welcome poets from our partner festivals, which this year is extended to Italy. Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), John Davies (UK), and Marco Viscomi (Italy) will be bringing their talents to Limerick.
The lunchtime readings at the Hunt Museum feature Ron Carey (Thursday) and Kerrie O'Brien (Friday). Other events include screenings of poetry films, an open mic session, a varied programme for schools, and the Young Poet of the Year Award. In addition, the yearly poetry anthology The Stony Thursday Book, edited this year by Paddy Bushe, will be launched at the festival.


23 October
24 October
25 October
26 October
11 amYoung Poet Awards
1 pmDon Carey
@ The Hunt Museum
Kerrie O'Brien
@ The Hunt Museum
Tribute to Departed Poets
7 pmThe Stony Thursday Book
launch and reading
8 pmFestival Launch
@ Jerry Flannery's Bar
Jo Slade
Marco Viscomi
Adam Wyeth
Biddy Jenkinson
David Wheatley
Macdara Woods
Anthony Cronin
Hugh Maxton
9:30 pmOpen Mic
@ The White House Bar
a selection of poetry film


The Belltable: Main venue for evening events -- and more! 69 O'Connell St.
The Hunt Museum: Venue for the lunchtime readings. Rutland Street.
The White House Bar: Venue for the open mic. 52 O'Connell St.
Jerry Flannery's Bar: Venue for the festival launch. 19/20 Catherine St.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Don't look, don't look, don't look!!!  Okay you've looked and it's too late to hide behind the couch. 
Remember this guy?  He's Calibos from The Clash of the Titans.  He's actually heavily involved in my latest poem which is an older one that I am editing.  I am also editing two newer ones which are proving tricky to resolve.  

I really want to write tonight but after a long day in work it's hard to summon energy.  I'm also back to college so my energies are being pulled in different directions. 

I'm going to need a winged horse, a magic shield, a powerful sword, a helmet that renders me invisible and a wise owl upon my shoulder.

A dictionary and a good night's sleep will also help.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


The Boyne Berries 14 launch was a great night.  The magazine looks good and reads well.  Well done once again to all involved. 

My latest poem revolves around a hazel nut.  I found a hazel tree nearby at the weekend.  Did you know that Fionn MacCool was called after the hazel?  Cuill means hazel as Gaeilge so he was the son of the hazel.
The first of October today.  It was a wet grey day and the leaves are really beginning to carpet the ground.  I've had a poem accepted for this year's Stony Thursday Book which I'm delighted about.  Thanks to Limerick Arts office and to Paddy Bushe, Editor.  The launch will take place on Thursday, 24th October as part of the Cuisle Poetry Festival. 
Thursday is national poetry day and The Boyne Writers' Group are doing a series of readings in various places around Meath titled 'Our Most Lovely Meath.'  Details of which can be found here:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Boyne Berries 14 Launch Night

Boyne Berries is the literary magazine of the Boyne Writers' Group.  It is published bi-annually, in the spring and in the autumn.  It was first published on the first of March 2007.  I am very proud to be associated with the group and its magazine and to have served on the editorial board in the past with Paddy Smith, chairman of the group and Michael Farry, secretary and editor. 
Kate Demspey, of The Poetry Divas and the Emerging Writer blog, is the guest editor for this issue of Boyne Berries.  She won the Plough Prize in 2010 for the short poem Amsterdam Otto Recommends which you can listen to her reading here
The Launch takes place in The Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath this coming Thursday, 26th September, at 8pm.  Kate Demspey will speak about the magazine and many of the contributors will attend and read.  Entry is free and all are welcome.  Copies of Boyne Berries 14, and past issues of Boyne Berries will be available to purchase on the night.  Alternatively you can purchase Boyne Berries here:
I have a poem included in the magazine which I intend to practice reading prior to the event.  It should be a great night.
I've thirty one lines of my new swan poem written but I'm leaving it to settle for now and I will return to it tomorrow. 

Monday, September 23, 2013


My hands poem is done and I enjoyed writing it, it filled some alone time over the weekend and I've started a new notebook, it's gold and very autumnal looking, hardback of course.  Tonight I've been editing some fiction, quite frustrating at the point where I thought, 'Rarrr I can't write,' but I need to persevere. 

My new topic for a poem is swans.  This is because I saw two families of swans on the Boyne in Trim over the weekend.  I've lots of lines and imagery that need out.  I'm trying to get a photo from my phone for this post.  Next up must surely be a post about Boyne Berries 14. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013


The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo 

Today I have been a bit fascinated by hands so I might try and write a poem about them.  I've looked for some famous poems about creation (following on from the painting above) but if you look for poems about creation you are lead to poems about God.  I found the poem beneath interesting enough:
Love Poem
Yours is the face that the earth turns to me,
Continuous beyond its human features lie
The mountain forms that rest against the sky.
With your eyes, the reflecting rainbow, the sun's light
Sees me; forest and flower, bird and beast
Know and hold me forever in the world's thought,
Creation's deep untroubled retrospect.

When your hand touches mine it is the earth
That takes me--the green grass,
And rocks and rivers; the green graves,
And children still unborn, and ancestors,
In love passed down from hand to hand from God.
Your love comes from the creation of the world,
From those paternal fingers, streaming through the clouds
That break with light the surface of the sea.

Here, where I trace your body with my hand,
Love's presence has no end;
For these, your arms that hold me, are the world's.
In us, the continents, clouds and oceans meet
Our arbitrary selves, extensive with the night,
Lost, in the heart's worship, and the body's sleep
Kathleen Raine 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Marc Chagall

Flayed Ox, Marc Chagall

Okay blog before I go and type up my latest poem I am here to mention an article I read today about the painter Marc Chagall.  I suppose it's the haunted, dreamlike scenes he painted that I like, and the colours he used.

Anyway there's an article in The Economic Times about him and his granddaughters, and it was only published a few days ago:

It's interesting to think that he was in love with his work.  I'm also interested in Chagall being a Jewish painter who lived during the Holocaust. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Abridged In Blue and Mara Submission Calls

Lovers in Moonlight, Marc Chagall

Abridged are looking for submissions for two issues of their super magazine. 

Abridged 0 – 13: Mara Submission Call
0 – 13: Mara sees Abridged explore our home city’s forgotten spaces, the excluded places lost and alone that impinge on our consciousness like an aching tooth, the covered up and boarded, the hidden and hurt, the Derry and Londonderry lurking in Derry/Londonderry. Mara in Buddhist mythology is apparently the embodiment of all unskilled emotions and a metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence. We have no interest per se in religious mythologies but note that the similarity of the ‘conditioned existence’ of Buddhism, and the ‘terms and conditions applied’ of Abridged. This is not a project about the beauty of contemporary ‘ruins’ though in some cases there is an undeniably poetic appeal to decay and neglect. It focuses on the forgotten architecture and social places, the places that whilst seemingly unimportant were vital cogs in the engine of a place or a person. Nostalgia is not an aim of this work; rather it is a reflection on where we are now and how we have arrived here. We are looking for poetry only for this issue. It DOES NOT have to be about Derry. Architectural abandonment and decay can be seen as a metaphor for a million other things…This issue will be in association with artist Mara Cavalli whose photographic work will be featured in the issue and whose film-work will be available on the Abridged website initially exclusively for the Abridged readership. The issue will contain a password which gives access to the work. There will also be an exhibition.
A maximum of 3 poems may be submitted of any length. Submissions can be (preferably) emailed to or posted to: Abridged c/o The Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU. Closing date for submission is 30th September 2013.
Abridged 0 – 34: In Blue Submission Call
This issue encourages the consideration of the vital connotations of the concept of ‘blue’ to the human condition and the individual’s contemplation of place, purpose, self and essence. The strong association of the colour blue with the natural (the sea and sky), the broken (melancholy) and the forbidden (pornography) have led to said colour concurrently evoking ideas of apparent wholesomeness, failure and seedy delinquency. Blue runs underneath us and domes above us; it is what bore us and what we aspire through imagination to return to: another dimension, another means of perceiving, breathing, moving, experiencing… It is the colour of the most subtle moods of pain, not burning with the disarming immediacy of horror or despair but throbbing in mellow multiplicity and tonal diversity, slowly moving through the depths of reflection. Blue dances with dappled light, altering perception and renewing reflection. In creative discourses we take it from outside us and hold it as our own, making our subtle moods of humanity material by weaving them through its soft, swelling diversity. Blue was our home, to blue we long to return. We wish to wallow in its mellow discontent hoping for a return to the good old days. Days that never did or could have existed: days that define us.
Abridged, the poetry/art magazine is looking for submissions for its In Blue issue. A maximum of 3 poems may be submitted of any length. Art can be up to A4 size and can be in any media. It should be at least 300 dpi. Submissions can (preferably) be emailed to or posted to: Abridged c/o The Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU. Closing date for submission is 30th September 2013.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When a hush descends

That other new poem is done and surprisingly so because I thought it was too much of a mish mash of ideas earlier in the day but this afternoon it somehow came together and pieces slotted into coherence when I worked them out.  Now it's almost ready and I really like it.  My next job is to try and find somewhere to publish it. 
It was pitch dark when I looked outside at 8.30.  It's that time of the year again when a hush descends.  I saw it this morning looking out the window in work on trees enveloped in a misty drizzle.  It reminded me of a few winters past and the big freeze.  It's all ahead of us now and I cherish the thought of it.
I heard this song on the way to work, it's rocking.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Hi blog.  I love coming back and finding you here tonight.  It's been a long but good day in work and now I'm doing one of my favourite things, writing.  I wrote a new poem last night with 'Wasps' in the title.  For the first time in a long while I felt my emotions vibrate through the poem and that made me feel alive and happy.  I'm going to start typing up another new poem after this post is written.
Over the summer I wrote a moderate amount of fiction, which I intend to pursue.  It's been a learning curve too. 
I also found myself chuckling over Emily Dickinson poems and quotes I was reading last night.  What a fascinating person she must have been.
She wrote this in a letter to Samuel Bowles:
That Bareheaded life - under the grass - worries one like a Wasp. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I was doing some writing this morning and suddenly I felt like one of the children looking into the wardrobe to Narnia.  Of course I had a look around the books at home and I found The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  I never read this one but I did read Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle a long time ago.  Am I too old now to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?  Wasn't it a great title for a book?  It was published in 1950. 
It's - it's a magic wardrobe.  There's a wood inside it, and it's snowing, and there's a Faun and a Witch and it's called Narnia; come and see.  (Lucy says to the other children)
On the subject of fantasy, I finished reading Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff.  It's her interpretation of the legend of King Arthur.  In this book Arthur is called Artos the Bear who tried to unite Britain to drive the Saxons, the Sea Wolves and the Picts out.  He succeeded in doing this for a while and became a Caesar, Emperor of Britain.  Guinevere appears in the book as a daughter of a chieftain who Artos marries for her dowry of one hundred horses and to protect her honour.  Lancelot could be Artos' captain and minstrel Bedwyr with whom Guenhumara falls in love.  Of course that his wife and captain should betray him so almost breaks Artos.  Artos' son Medraut (Mordred) is the bane of his father's life.  In the end Artos kills Medraut in battle but he has mortally wounded his father. 
It wasn't the easiest book to get into but when I did get into it I really enjoyed and I'm glad I've read it now.
What to read next?  I also read a couple of Emma Donoghue's books. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Artistic Atlas of Galway


Maureen Gallagher, Fred Johnston, Liam Duffy, Orla Fay

I'm just revisiting this topic to tell you about the finished article which I was very happy to have in my hands I'm pleased to say.  It's a lovely production bursting with creativity and colour and it does justice to Galway city.  Well done to Liam Duffy for pulling the whole thing off, and to everyone involved.  When I went down to Galway to pick it up at the Fringe Festival I met the elegant Maureen Gallagher and Fred Johnston.  I'd met them both before, Maureen at a Crannog launch and Fred when he facilitated a workshop for the Eist poetry competition in Navan Library.
For more info check out the facebook page

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Galway Review

The Galway Review is an online literary magazine which can be found at

I'm delighted to have 5 poems included in the zine this week which can be found at

You will also find many quality poems and literary pieces by other writers here too.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Herbalist

One of the biggest events in literary Ireland over the past two years has been the publication of The Herbalist by Penguin Ireland.  It is written by Niamh Boyce who was the Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the year in 2012. 
If you see Niamh Boyce's debut novel in the shop then you should buy it and read it. Now I know Niamh from her poetry mostly and the odd short story in magazines and journals that I've seen and I've always admired her work. I was completely impressed reading this novel which is set in 1930's Ireland where censorship of books is rife and morality in society is to a large extent dictated by the Catholic Church.  Isn't it wonderful to have a new voice in Irish literature that has the perspective of all that has gone down the river (the river is important in this book) since the '30s and especially in most recent years; the downfall of the church, the Magdalen laundries etc.?
I loved that there was an element of magic and fantasy included in the book that is blended with religious faith which is a uniquely Irish thing and Boyce is a real Irish storyteller.  I loved the imagery of birds and wings manifest in the blackbirds in Sarah's bedroom and where Carmel greets fate.  (If you believe in fate).  I also loved the easy intimacy with which the story of the book is told, again this is the sign of a fine writer.  The characters in the book are very engaging.  Emily, the young girl who befriends the Herbalist is a real knave, as is the Herbalist himself.  This is a book about women, their relationships, their dreams, their search for independence.  And poor Rose, indeed poor Rose.
My favourite part of the book is when Aggie and Emily rescue Sarah from the Herbalist's cottage and escape upstream in Biddy the boat.  To say anymore would be to give too much away. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Artistic Atlas of Galway

The Artistic Atlas of Galway is seeking financial backing and you can sponsor it here:

The Artistic Atlas of Galway aims to highlight the artistic capital of Galway City and County, the people that live in it and those that pass through it.
Over 70 full colour pages of short-stories, poetry, photography and art-work with 7 A3 Posters.

In the summer of 2011 canvassing began for poetry, short stories, artwork and photography. With Galway as the common theme.

Since then the work submitted has be compiled into themes based on certain aspects of Galway. From these themes conceptual maps have been drawn up, influenced by the texts and images submitted.
These maps, drawn by artists and designers, will allow people to visit places and read the landscape in different ways. You will be able to walk the land and see its stories, poetry and art in the same way you see its contours, rivers and streets.

The Artistic Atlas of Galway presents the work of over 40 artists, writers and photographers in a truly unique way!

Keep in touch on Facebook:

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Battle of the Books 2013

The Boyne Writers' Group took on The Meath Writers' Circle last night in the Battle of the Books in the Trim Castle Hotel as part of the Swift Satire Festival.  Satire, oh no not again, when I think of writing satire I feel perplexed because it is not the easiest thing to define.  However, according to the judges last night, both teams made a fair stab at satire and Michael Farry especially seems to have nailed the concept.  His scores of 9 and 9.5 topped the night. One judge said Swift himself would have been proud of Farry's piece. Another judge christened him the 'Susan Boyle' of the competition. Caroline Finn and Paul Kerr performed their writing admirably for The Boyne Writers.  Of Caroline's work a judge said that it was like "a thin man trying to get out of a fat man's body!"

Fore in the mind of The Meath Writers' Circle was their deceased compatriot Tommy Murray. He was well remembered on the night by Michael Sheils and Frank Murphy. It was a lovely and entertaining night. Well done to the participants who really shone in a competitive climate.

Well done too, to Paddy Smith, MC, whose clever puns evoked many a titter and helped to disperse the charged atmosphere.

I will add photos later.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, excerpt

Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

by William Wordsworth

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, 
The earth, and every common sight
                 To me did seem
            Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
             Turn wheresoe'er I may,
              By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

            The rainbow comes and goes, 
            And lovely is the rose; 
            The moon doth with delight
     Look round her when the heavens are bare;
            Waters on a starry night
            Are beautiful and fair;
     The sunshine is a glorious birth;
     But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Monday, June 24, 2013

"The human being is a possibility" - Merab Mamardashvili

Now I'm really getting into the swing of my last assignment and it's really exciting when one begins to understand deeply and put ideas together.  It's just the same as pieces of a jigsaw falling into place and it's almost as exciting as when a poem comes together or a short story (I must try and get that feeling back soon).

Now there was this theorist called Lev Vygotsky and he had some thrilling ideas.  He said that thought is internalised language.  Children often provide a running commentary on what they are doing.  This is called an external monologue and as time passes and the child develops this monologue becomes internalised.  (Next time you are talking out loud to yourself remember this) So if a child's thought is dependent on language then it is of great importance to facilitate a rich linguistic environment.  This is awesome stuff.  Oh and he also said we have cultural tools, symbolic systems we use to analyse reality and they are signs, symbols, maps, plans, numbers, musical notation, charts, pictures and language. (Dolya, 2010) I think I'm floating in space.   
But not to get carried away.  I must stick to the question and ensure that I'm answering what I'm asked, what is my own philosophy and key influences to practice?
And then I still have to write about how constructions of childhood have changed through time.  Did you kow that in Medieval times children were considered small adults?  There's the industrial revolution and child labour, are children inherently evil (Judaeo-Christian Adam and Eve, and Wesley) or inherently good? (Rousseau and the Enlightenment, 18th c.)  These are two discourses of childhood. 
And in the end our attitudes to childhood are socially constructed.  That is, we construct things that we try to make meaning of.  (Roche & Tucker, 2001)  I think that's maybe enough for tonight.  I'll be up early in the morning and nearly there then, I hope!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


the bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s still singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

Charles Bukowski

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beach Birth

During the week I heard on the radio about the whales who became stranded on Laytown Beach and Mornington Beach:
I always think that being beached is so incredibly tragic for these creatures.  It reminded me of a poem I wrote about dolphins.  I've looked for the poem and it was published in The Meath Chronicle in May 2002.  So yes, here's one of mine from the archives...

Beach Birth

Across the television screen the young reporter tells me
That over a hundred dolphins were beached today
On the stony, grey shore of Brittany.
Men in waterproof clothing help the creatures to water,
Like Arion they remember the debt they must pay
To this silver-backed sea-daughter
Trembling and thrashing now against the hard earth.

There must be a curse on the ocean, an ill wind of some sort
To drive the beautiful to disaster,
To take its own pride in natural cull.
There is little hope for the school according to this report;
The inward current is stronger and faster
Than a dolphin's swimming urge and skill.
Bottle-nosed and floundering they lie.

Their streamlined skin is no addition now,
Glittering and silky in the murky sand,
Soon to become coarse and dry like the ear of a sow.
High pitched screams fall tragically on the deaf land,
Heard only by the devil and the deep blue sea.
This is not an image to comfort any soul;
A listless, bloody dolphin's eye.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kell's Hay Festival 28th-30th June

John Banville

If you can get to this festival then go!  Thanks to Eamon Cooke from The Boyne Writers' Group for passing on information about it.  I've booked a ticket to hear Jeanette Winterson on the Friday and I'd love to hear John Banville but I will be away on the Saturday.  The programme can be downloaded from the festival website



Our newest chapter is in Kells in County Meath, Ireland, 28–30 June 2013

Programme highlights include novelists John Boyne, DBC Pierre, John Banville, Tiffany Murray; poets Owen Sheers, Nerys Williams, Eurig Salisbury; memoirs from Jeanette Winterson; children's writers Jenny Valentine, Sarah Webb; playwright Frank McGuinness; actors Peter Sheridan, Lisa Dwan; a film animating The Secret of Kells; academics Germaine Greer on Shakespeare and Dr Bernard Meehan on the Book of Kells®; politician Jesse Norman on Burke; and musician Alex Valentine.
Kells & District Chamber, working with a number of partners, hope to develop an Irish 'town of books' as a national centre for all genres of literature. The Hay Festival will bring together the best Irish and international authors and thinkers to celebrate the sharing of stories and ideas.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ireland with Emily

After googling and reading many poems about childhood, I googled poems about June and found this!!

Ireland with Emily

by John Betjeman

Bells are booming down the bohreens,
White the mist along the grass,
Now the Julias, Maeves and Maureens
Move between the fields to Mass.
Twisted trees of small green apple
Guard the decent whitewashed chapel,
Gilded gates and doorway grained,
Pointed windows richly stained
With many-coloured Munich glass.

See the black-shawled congregations
On the broidered vestment gaze
Murmer past the painted stations
As Thy Sacred Heart displays
Lush Kildare of scented meadows,
Roscommon, thin in ash-tree shadows,
And Westmeath the lake-reflected,
Spreading Leix the hill-protected,
Kneeling all in silver haze?

In yews and woodbine, walls and guelder,
Nettle-deep the faithful rest,
Winding leagues of flowering elder,
Sycamore with ivy dressed,
Ruins in demesnes deserted,
Bog-surrounded bramble-skirted -
Townlands rich or townlands mean as
These, oh, counties of them screen us
In the Kingdom of the West.

Stony seaboard, far and foreign,
Stony hills poured over space,
Stony outcrop of the Burren,
Stones in every fertile place,
Little fields with boulders dotted,
Grey-stone shoulders saffron-spotted,
Stone-walled cabins thatched with reeds,
Where a Stone Age people breeds
The last of Europe's stone age race.

Has it held, the warm June weather?
Draining shallow sea-pools dry,
When we bicycled together
Down the bohreens fuchsia-high.
Till there rose, abrupt and lonely,
A ruined abbey, chancel only,
Lichen-crusted, time-befriended,
Soared the arches, splayed and splendid,
Romanesque against the sky.

There in pinnacled protection,
One extinguished family waits
A Church of Ireland resurrection
By the broken, rusty gates.
Sheepswool, straw and droppings cover,
Graves of spinster, rake and lover,
Whose fantastic mausoleum,
Sings its own seablown Te Deum,
In and out the slipping slates.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Back to basics

I'm back and starting to write again.  I have only one more assignment to write of 1400 words which I may start after writing this blog.  It has been a tough year but it was necessary for me to go back to study.  This is especially evident in the aftermath of the Primetime, A Breach of Trust expose a few weeks ago.  Working in early years care and education is a bit like being caught up in a whirlwind lately. I've studied Aistear (The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework) a lot but my favourite assignments of the year were on the debate about Nature vs. Nurture, Genes vs. Environment and the role of gender in play.  On a positive note I've been complimented by tutors on how well I write. Yea thanks.  Next on the agenda is describing and analysing my own philosophy of ECCE and key influences to my practice and examining changing constructions of childhood that have evolved through time.  That should be interesting. 
I've been dipping in and out of John Banville's Ancient Light.  It's really good.  Niamh Boyce's The Herbalist is beckoning.  Kate Dempsey will be guest editor for Boyne Berries 14 so that will be intriguing! I'm also looking forward to reading a pdf. of Abridged Lockjaw. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Adeste Fideles

I'm having a read through of Crannog 32.  Fellow Boyne Writer Brendan Carey Kinnane has a poem included in this issue.  His poem is called Khayelitsha.  I haven't read anything of Brendan's in a while but this poem, like all his poems, is rich in language.  Kevin Graham, whom I admire has a poem included called The Snow Globe.   Clare Sawtell has a poem called When They Leave which I like too.  As I'm reading the journal I can't help smiling and thinking about how I want to write something new.  I love poetry.  Isn't it good that you can fall in love over and over again?  This bodes well for fidelity!  I don't even know where to start with Abridged Primal.  I suppose initially I'm drawn to Beth MacFarlane's Deep Shadows because it has a resonation with my poem Of the Crow.  I also like Vast, Illusive Sea by Jan Harris.  Kevin Graham has a poem in this too called Raw, as does Ann Egan who has a poem in Crannog 32 called Butterfly on a Rafter.  I also love Enda Coyle-Greene's Hedgehog.  There is so much to admire and think about in these magazines.  Needless to say I'm refreshed and inspired by the work. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Bicycle Diary

Photo: 2nd night back in the saddle & wishing for a long, hot summer!
Now while I should be finishing off my reflective practice journals for my course I've been making a new blog which can be found at This blog will be a diary of my trips cycling I intend.  I hope that it will motivate me too to get fit. 

I received copies of Crannog 32 and Abridged 0__29 Primal in the post in the past week and they are lovely.  I will retreat and read them over the weekend.

Until then!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Boyne Berries 13

Above is a photograph and a poem by Anne Crinion representing Knowth in Co. Meath.  It appears in Boyne Berries 13 alongside the print and poem Newgrange.  Boyne Berries 13 contains prose and poetry by members of The Boyne Writers' Group.  It also contains work by Tom French, Patrick Doherty, CP Stewart, Byron Beynon, Johanna C Leahy, Cliff Wedgbury, Barbara Leahy, Margaret Galvin, Kenneth Keating, Pearse Murray, Elaine Martin, Ana Maire Blackburn, Fiona Bolger, John Ennis, Liz Quirke, Gregoir O Duill, Armel Dagorn, Eileen Ni Shuilleabhain, Rachel Coventry, Alan McMonagle, Eithne Cavanagh, Mary Bradford, Tony Bailie, Paul McMahon, James Reid, Philip Quirke, Jane Blanchard, Maurice Devitt, Kevin Connelly, John Saunders, Marie Gethins, Chris Connolly, Louis Mulcahy, Teresa Sweeney, Dawn Lowe, Frank Joussen, Greg Bogaerts and Margaret Cahill. 
Boyne Berries 13 can be purchased from the following link:
Thanks to Frank Murphy for launching Boyne Berries 13.  He is pictured below at the launch in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim with vice-chairperson Caroline Carey Finn. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Abridged 0-29 Primal

Abridged 0 – 29: Primal: Edgar Martins, Lynda Tavakoli, Lynn Rothwell, Mark Goodwin, Sarah Usher, Stephen Murray, Cecilia Danell, Vivian Jones, Beth MacFarlane, Jan Harris, Stephanie Conn, Rebecca McGetrick, Dominic Connell, Kevin Graham, Aoife Mannix, Orla Fay, Mhairi Sutherland, Emma Must, Ruth Stacey, Eleanor Rees, Gail Mahon, Róisín Tierney, Martin Boyle, Ann Egan, Ian Clarke, David Andrew, Luke Prater, Belinda Loftus, Enda Coyle-Greene, Peter O’ Neill, Moyra Donaldson. Launch at the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Thurs 04th April.

I was of course delighted to get an email from Gregory McCartney of Abridged saying that they would like to take my poem Of the Crow for this issue.  I always admire their submission calls.  Primal's was:

The bodies of the naked on the low damp ground…In the violet hour to the violent sound

What first was humanity, in its primal condition, still smouldering with instinct and fear? We shift about in mind-forged manacles, the cold and viscous layer of the urban which closes us in with crusting edges. We are numbed and enveloped in the thick residue of industry and development. Lines of buildings, artificial languages and artificial lives, leave us unfeeling in unchallenged survival and a lost human heritage.
And we, low to the ground and overwhelmed in the sensurround, were marked with earth and the stench of other bodies. We were flooding inside, unlived and burning. All of our skin, naked to the air and to the movements of gravel under our pulsing palms and the balls of our feet; a charged weather encloses bare flesh, flailing bodies lit by a deep sun. We are locked and tangled in cyclical smoke movements around the flames and we are howling.
I've just submitted my latest two assignments through moodle.  They were 2000 words each on social and emotional well-being and gender in play.  Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ó Bhéal's 300th

I very much enjoyed reading on Monday past in The Hayloft Bar above The Long Valley on Winthrop St. I met fellow featured reader and poet Maurice Devitt and I was impressed by his poetry especially the poems The Joy of Sets and The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work. Also I was touched by the poignant Mexico 1970 and The Watch, which both remember Devitt's father.

I must thank Paul Casey, founder and director of  Ó Bhéal for making the night enjoyable and for his hospitality. Also thanks to everyone who attended and listened.

I read from my chapbook; the 13 poems of Drawn to the Light. The readings are recorded and you can listen to lots of wonderful writers on the O'Bheal website. Next Monday the poet Ann Joyce will read. The 15th of April will be the 304th event and the 6th anniversary of O'Bheal. Well done.

On Monay night I stayed in the Parkview B & B, a rare and lovely place. Thanks to Finbar for his hospitality. Finally here is a shot of Cork City at night from the bedroom window.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Haunted by the poetic voice of Christina Rossetti

Yes this is what just happened to me!  I'm in bed writing a poem, well I've closed the document now to come back to it at a later stage, and a line from one of Christina Rossetti's poems wrote itself onto the page.  Now obviously I don't want to pawn this line as my own (as if) but maybe I'll allow its presence in italic.  Anyway I feel quite chirpy, like the birds, probably because it is spring and because I've rinsed my mind in silence.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crannóg 32 Launch

Photo: For all you literature lovers, the cover of Crannóg 32, as promised.

Crannóg 32 will be launched in the Crane Bar, Sea Road, Galway at 6.30 pm tomorrow.  I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.  Isn't the cover cool?  It makes me think of the Queen song The Invisible Man. 

You can buy the magazine here


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boy with Kite

I took this photo of a statue in Bettystown at the weekend. It made me think of this quote:

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

Anais Nin

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shot Glass Journal Issue 9 now online

Shot Glass Journal issue 9 is now online.  My poem Towel is included and I am delighted that it has found such a nice home. 

You can read it by following this link:

I have to say that I really enjoy this journal and that there are some lovely gems of poetry within its confines.  It is also great that it reaches an international audience. 

Well done to all involved!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Boyne Writers' Group AGM

Boyne Writers' Group AGM took place last Thursday in the Castle Arch Hotel. The group looked back on a successful year.  Boyne Berries 11 & 12 were launched by Michael Slavin and Professor Gregory Castle. The Boyne Readings and open mic ran for three months in April, May & June. The late Tommy Murray read in May.  Michael Farry published his debut poetry collection Asking for Directions with Doghouse Books. I launched my poetry chapbook Drawn to the Light in June.  Evan Costigan took first prize in The Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Competition.  The Group took part in the Battle of the Books at the annual Swift festival losing to The Meath Writers' Circle despite a perfect score of 10 from Michael Farry. Caroline Carey Finn organised a writing workshop for group members with tutor Barbara Smith.

Paddy Smith was returned chairman at the 2013 AGM.  Caroline Carey Finn is elected vice chairperson, Michael Farry secretary and Barbara Flood treasurer. A committee was also elected composed of three members; Anne Crinion, Tom Dredge and myself.  It is hoped that the Boyne Readings will return later in the year.  Boyne Berries 13 will be launched by Tom French on Thursday, 21st March.  Other business discussed included finances, possible workshops, the Internet in publishing, social media, editing and The Swift Festival.  Paddy Smith delivered an interesting chairman's address.

The next Boyne Writers' Group meeting will take place on Thursday, 21st February.

arduus ad solem!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Shot Glass Journal 9

Shot Glass Journal 9 will be published soon.  I will have a poem included in this next issue.  Last year my poem The Healing Land appeared in issue 6. 

Shot Glass Journal is an on-line poetry journal devoted to short poetry. Where other poetry journals publish poems of various lengths and forms, Shot Glass focuses on both free verse and form poetry of 16 lines or less. Shot Glass Journal believes in fostering emerging talent as well as publishing well established poets.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ó Bhéal Guest Poet Line-up for February / March

Karl Parkinson – 4th February
Anne Fitzgerald – 11th February
James Lawless – 18th February
Niamh Boyce – 25th February
With earlier Wordshop from 7pm Cahal Dallat – 4th March
In association with Foras na Gaeilge Joe Steve Ó Neachtain – 11th March
Maurice Devitt and Orla Fay – 18th March
Ann Joyce – 25th March
The night begins with a Poetry Challenge starting around 9- 9.30pm. Guest poets begin about 10.00pm for between 30-45 minutes, after which there is the usual open-mic session. Be sure to come early to get good seats!
I've never been to Cork City so I am really looking forward to the journey, the reading and to meeting Maurice Devitt and lots of interesting people I'm sure.


Ó Bhéal is held every Monday in the Hayloft, upstairs at The Long Valley, Winthrop Street, Cork. See the map:

Monday, January 21, 2013

She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways


          SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways
            Beside the springs of Dove,
          A Maid whom there were none to praise
            And very few to love:

          A violet by a mossy stone
            Half hidden from the eye!
          --Fair as a star, when only one
            Is shining in the sky.

          She lived unknown, and few could know
            When Lucy ceased to be;                                   10
          But she is in her grave, and, oh,
            The difference to me!

William Wordsworth