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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Crow of Minerva


Joos de Momper (II) - Helicon or Minerva's Visit to the Muses c. 1600

Huge thanks to Crow of Minerva editor Roisin Ní Neactain for including a poem poet Maeve McKenna and I collaborated on. The piece has been through several drafts and was initially formed over a year ago. Auto-da-fé can be read here

On the subject of Minerva (associated with the Greek Athena), the story goes that when Perseus beheaded Medusa, Pegasus grew from some spilt blood. Minerva tamed the winged horse and gave him to the Muses. It was a kick from Pegasus' hoof that created the spring of Hippocrene. It was said that if one drank from this fountain poetic inspiration would follow.

Ovid recounts in the Metamorphoses Minerva speaking:

“Fame has given to me

the knowledge of a new-made fountain—gift

of Pegasus, that fleet steed, from the blood

of dread Medusa sprung—it opened when

his hard hoof struck the ground.—It is the cause

that brought me.—For my longing to have seen

this fount, miraculous and wonderful,

grows not the less in that myself did see

the swift steed, nascent from maternal blood.”

Diwali Festival of Lights


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Meath Writers' Circle 7th Annual Magazine


Congratulations to Meath Writers' Circle for once again coming up with the goods, and after a tough year. I'd like to express my gratitude to editor Frank Murphy for including my poem. One of the themes of the magazine is WW1. Other areas covered are the American Civil War, the Meath War Dead, and COVID. The magazine is really interesting as a book of local knowledge and history. There are lots of fine Meath writers included. The magazine can be bought in some local shops, or by contacting Frank Murphy and William Hodgins of the Circle. Be sure to pick up a copy.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Drawn to the Light Press Issue 4


Issue 4 of Drawn to the Light Press is now live and can be viewed as a flipbook or as a word document download here

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Until the Harvest Comes, Dunderry Park


I'm very happy to be doing a bonfire reading this Saturday night in Dunderry Park as part of Until the Harvest Comes, and to celebrate the autumn equinox, with thanks to Sofft Productions. I was Queen of the Bonfires as a child (and camp fires).

A few years ago I was passing the house on the Dunderry to Robinstown Road when I had a vision of a warrior with streaming hair and his hound racing past the poplar trees that grow there. I wrote this poem in response, which I will read on Saturday night.

The Park


Poplars stand poker straight

and silver as the light would have been

bouncing off spears


two millennia ago.  Those carriers

were Fianna, warriors who ran

the length of the coast


to defend territories from invaders.

I see them with their hounds,

shadows flickering


through the trees.  Blonde, ragged, long

hair flows and brown, matted rat ends

dart past.


Preternatural, it is only for an instant.

The oak stands alone when once

it was lost in the woods


and cattle are foddered by a red feeder,

freshly painted,

withstanding rust and frost.


When I pause by the big black gates

opening up the road inside

I dare not enter,


not in deference to the private property sign

but from foreboding of entrance

to another realm


where my ancestors call me

to renunciate my worldly goods

and to commune with a universal soul.


With broken vision I move forward

from calling these figments out

into the light of day. In such clear skies


a plane leaves a wispy trail.


Orla Fay


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Dunshaughlin, Now and Again

Dunshaughlin, Now and Again


On Main Street, wide and welcoming, we walk,

engaged in daily routine, the buying of groceries,

a coffee-shop-stop, a commute to work on the 109,

M3 connecting once sleeping satellite to Dublin’s star.


These are the fine school days of Indian Summer

of the child’s treasure-trove leaves and blackberries,

of the teenager returned to uniform, a gangly swan

barely plumed learning to fly above shedding earth.


Queen Maeve of Tara arrives at harvest,

her skirt a moon-gown, from Kilmessan to Ratoath wide,

bodice cut of Slane, Navan and Trim,

a seasoned silk, a matrimony of now and then.


Peggy Murphy writes here of Derrickstown Hill,

while Tom Englishby crosses the Irish Sea in ballad,

the passage a lamentation for his Dunshaughlin,

a rowing back of black waters, a honeyed vision.


The bell of Patrick and Seachnall rings the Angelus,

day ending with clanging heard on the breeze

by Kings of Lagore tending crannóg stone, and wood

of home, Domhnach Seachlainn, a settled and holy place.


Foley’s Forge relays this din of heartbeats, anvil struck,

shoed horse clip-clopping from faded farms to mart,

and colourful years, green and gold banners,

Sam Maguire a boat on the crest of a wave.


Time ebbs and flows, ripples veined in villages and lore,

exhumed in the shadow of the famine land,

footstones raised like shields across the Boyne Valley

past Norman castles, Celtic Tiger, lingering pandemic.


Orla Fay

It's wonderful to share my poem written under commission by Poetry Ireland for Poetry Town 2021. A recording of the poem and other pieces performed for Poetry Town and Culture Night can be found on Meath County Council's Youtube Channel here

Congratulations to all the other artists and thanks again to Poetry Ireland, Meath County Council Arts Office and Meath Library Service for the opportunity. Thanks to Margaret McCann, local co-ordinator for Dunshaughlin Poetry Town, for her time and support. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Dunshaughlin Poetry Town Events 10th - 18th September


September 16: Dunshaughlin Poetry Town Laureate Orla Fay will facilitate a fun and open workshop on poetry exploration and critique (7-9pm).

September 17: Aloud: Voices from Dunshaughlin & Beyond: Join Orla Fay, Dunshaughlin’s Poet Laureate, and a selection of other performers in a special online event, where Orla will unveil her commissioned Town Poem for the first time.

10 – 18 September

Poetry Underfoot: Around the town.

Café & Chemist Poems: Around the town.

Words that Move Me: Imelda Breen of IB Health and Fitness brings her Pilates in the Park to a new level of wellbeing. Teaming up with Kieran Rushe.

Dunshaughlin Brownies: The group create more sparkle by bringing us their very own poems and sharing a photographic account of their twinkling adventures with words and the world around them.

Addictedtodance: Aisling Toher and her energetic and talented young dancers collaborate with Dunshaughlin Poet Laureate Orla Fay in performing a contemporary and stylish dance interpretation of one of Orla’s poems 'A Thaw in Time’; wonderfully captured on video in the grounds of the Civic Offices.

Literary Pickings: Dunshaughlin Players and guests bring their huge talent and energy to verse and the village; fitting poems have been chosen and performed at well-known sites in the neighbourhood where the Players and Dunshaughlin Tidy Towns have collaborated to showcase familiar spots in a way never previously seen.

Decades of Devotion: The Dunshaughlin Friday Club, in the company of friends, brings us the Rosary from St Patrick and St Seachnall’s Church; a video recording of this almost lost tradition of religious contemplation which celebrates the beauty and poise of its centuries-old words and rhythm.

Schools’ Competition: Check out