Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Beautiful Letter of Affection and Appreciation to Her Mother

“Almost all people love their mothers, but I have never met anybody in my life, I think, who loved his mother as much as I love you.”

By Maria Popova


Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892–October 19, 1950) is one of the most extraordinary creative icons of the twentieth century — beloved poet, eloquent lover of music, delinquent schoolgirl, writer of passionate love letters and playfully lewd self-portraits, literary gateway drug for children, the recipient of the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, only the third woman to win the award. But one of Millay’s most exceptional qualities is the rare relationship she shared with her mother, Cora B. Millay, whom Edna loved profoundly enough to make any daughter jealous of this deep bond and whom she frequently addressed with terms borrowed from the vocabulary of romance — “dear,” “dearest,” “sweetheart,” and even “my Best Beloved” — to imbue this great platonic union with the intensity, if not the nature, of romantic passion.



In a letter from June 15, 1921, found in the altogether wonderful The Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay (public library), 29-year-old Edna — who customarily signed her letters to her loved ones as “Vincent,” an oft-discussed preference in the context of her open bisexuality — writes to her mother and two sisters from Paris:


    I am always button-holing somebody and saying, “Someday you must meet my mother.” … I do love you very much, my mother.


    It is nearly six months since I saw you. A long time. Mother, do you know, almost all people love their mothers, but I have never met anybody in my life, I think, who loved his mother as much as I love you. I don’t believe there ever was anybody who did, quite so much, and quite in so many wonderful ways. I was telling somebody yesterday that the reason I am a poet is entirely because you wanted me to be and intended I should be, even from the very first. You brought me up in the tradition of poetry, and everything I did you encouraged. I can not remember once in my life when you were not interested in what I was working on, or even suggested that I should put it aside for something else. Some parents of children that are “different” have so much to reproach themselves with. But not you, Great Spirit.


    I hope you will write me as soon as you get this. If you only knew what it means to me to get letters from any of you three over there. Because no matter how interesting it all is, and how beautiful, and how happy I am, an dhow much work I get done, I am nevertheless away from home — home being somewhere near where you are, mother dear.


    If I didn’t keep calling you mother, anybody reading this would think I was writing to my sweetheart. And he would be quite right.


The following month, on July 23, Edna sends another loving letter to Cora:


    Dearest Mother, —


    You do write the sweetest and most wonderful letters! They are so lovely that very often I read parts of them aloud to people, just as literature. It was delicious what you told me about the turtle, — you are so gentle and kind to everything, dear — and all the things you write about birds and animals I love. Thanks for the little flower. I never saw one like it, either.



    And, sweetheart, how would you like, in place of the birthday present I did not send you from the 10th of June, sometime in the late fall or winter, depending on how much money I can make between now and then, to come over here, and play around with your eldest daughter a while in Europe? We could go to Italy and Switzerland and to England and Scotland, and, if there are not too many riots and street fights there at the time, — mavourneen, we would go to Ireland! … and then, my Best Beloved, you and I will just have ourselves a little honey-moon.


    With all the love of my heart,



Millay adds a charmingly self-aware postscript:


    P.S. — Do you suppose, when you & I are dead, dear, they will publish the Love Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay & her Mother?


As an aside, as fantastic as The Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay may be in its entirety, it is hard to decide what’s more tragic — that this magnificent volume is long out of print, or that it bears one of the most hideous covers ever designed, belying the spirit of such a beautiful woman and beautiful poet to a degree bordering on travesty. Please oh please, dear overlords of publishing, won’t you consider reprinting this gem and having someone like Chip Kidd, Jessica Hische, or Coralie Bickford-Smith design a fittingly glorious cover?



The Irish post image evokes feelings of nostalgia for an Ireland long gone.

Sometimes when one emigrates and sees Ireland in the rearview mirror it doesn’t look all that bad. Then the emigrant comes home and is reminded of how bad it was.


Stephen Twohig wrote this poem on a return visit to the farmyard home of his ancestors.


Farmyards.      (1997)

Black plastic covering

fermenting  fodder

The pot pourries of Eire

mixed with fuchsia

farm fumes and woodbine.

Discarded tyres

lying worn

catching rings

of time rusted water.

These the scattered

daily cycles

Holding down

the year to come.


On the back of a ditch

a rusting wheel,

black jalopy of a bike

with a little dynamo

that once flickered a faint light

on some dark passages.

Broken glass

blue delph from a table

things thrown out long ago.

Eyeless car

dismantled mower

left one time not knowing

it would be your last.

Each haggard a wealth of history

thrown out as leaves from


the back door.

Look behind your own and leaf

through the pages

piece together the future

of what was left behind.


Listowel Connection July 2022


Notes for a Poem

The following is a blog post from a photographer poet called Nigel Borrington from 2014

One day last summer while I was walking along the beach at Ballybunion, County Kerry, I was trying to think of words that gave a sense of this place , so I jotted down the following word list for a poem, but I feel it’s a poem as it is.


Ballybunion beach

cool air, sound of sea birds, fresh breeze,

people walking, dogs running, cold swimmers, children shouting,

Waves rolling, people eating, chatting, talking, cliffs casting shadows,


Old castle walls dominating, caves temping you to explore,

Posters offering family photographs, lunch time meals and places to shop,

Restful moments , capturing views,


Old people pottering, memories of traditions past,

Time dragging to a stop, mind slowing,


Families gathering, men managing, car doors shutting, keys locking, after parking,

deep breaths taken, locations chosen, bags unpacked,

People now sitting, grannies talking, best instructions, suggestions given,


Steps taken, shoes in hand,

Temperature falling, evening calling, holiday homes inviting,

Beach clearing, winds rising, cold setting in,

Sea birds return, dogs last walk of the day

Night fisher man setting lines, day over


Peace and nature returning, tide rising,

On Ballybunion beach.







Close to home, though. My great great grandfather wrote a poem that begins with this stanza:




Pale moon, which from the Eastern sky


Shines serenely bright o’er Shannon’s wave




Hast thou not shone on Lisloghten’s tower




Where sleep my grandsire’s kindred brave?


From Russ in USA







Irish People 4 Feb 1989.




MARY OF THE NATION ELLEN MARY PATRICK DOWLING, the first and most celebrated of the poets who modelled the style of their poetry on that of Thomas Davis and contributed to the Nation under the pseudonym, Mary, was born in Cork in March 1828. In the spring of 1845, at the age of seventeen, she began reading the Nation, the newspaper of the Young Irelanders, and immediately came under the spell of the new ideals which the paper was preaching. It was in the pages of the Nation that she first read the poetry of Davis, which had a profound effect on her. She found his writings so simple, natural and patriotic that she resolved to submit one of her poems to the paper. Her first poem Forget our Wrongs? was received by Charles Gavan Duffy, editor of the Nation, who later recalled the impression it made on him. "Her first contribution came in a scrawl such as boys write in their teens, and girls only penned to be seen by their writing master — crooked, blurred and totally without punctuation. I would probably have looked no further, if experience had not taught me to distrust appearances in such cases. When it was deciphered, I found a natural and touching little poem enclosed in a note so spontaneous and unstudied that to read it was like listening to the carol of a lark." FIRST OF MANY This poem, the first of many, was published in the Nation, on May 10th 1845. A long correspondence followed between herself and Duffy who encouraged her to continue to write and sent her Davis' Essays and The Ballad Poetry of Ireland. She continued to write for the Nation until 1848, contributing over forty poems and songs during these years. Initially she signed her poems with the initials EMPD, but believing that these letters "looked very official as a signature," she adopted the pseudonym, Mary which became Mary of the Nation. Mary had thrown herself into the Young Ireland movement, with its patriotic ideals, and when the leaders were arrested and transported following the collapse of the 1848 Rising, she assisted many of the men on the run. During 1848 she also contributed poerty to John Mitchel's paper, the United Irishman. Later that year she joined a religious order, the Redemption congregation, and became Sister Mary Alphonsus. Her health deteriorat ed during the following decade and in 1880, after the death of her mother, she was appointed to succeed her as matron of the Cork Fever Hospital. She continued, however, to write poetry and contributed regularly to the Fenian paper, the Irish People, during the early 1860s. Aged 41, Mary of the Nation, died on January 27th 1969, 120 years ago this week.





Rhyming History: The War of Independence & the ballads of atrocity in The Valley of Knockanure


122 views  16 May 2021  “If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation”: Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1653-1716), Scottish patriot.


In this lecture poet and author Gabriel Fitzmaurice will draw together the threads of traditional lore and balladry with the steel-wire of factual evidence to explain the origins of the ballad ‘The Valley of Knockanure’ by the internationally acclaimed writer, Bryan MacMahon, who had been commissioned to do so in 1946 by Pádraig Ó Ceallacháin, a noteworthy activist in the cause for Irish Independence.


This is the fifth in a series of lectures organised by Kerry Writers' Museum as part of it's North Kerry War of Independence Centenary Commemoration Programme.  The lecture is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Art, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries Programme.












Bernard Healy 1y


National Library of Ireland on The Commons




Would you believe that I think I've found the lyrics to the ballad - or something very close to them on the website of Clare County Library? They were recorded from a folk-singer called Jamesie McCarthy in 1976, the year before he died.








There is naught in my travels that scenery so sweet,


As the hills in her bosom where the bright waters meet,


And the clear running brogue through the graveyard can tell,


Of the grand waters falling near St Brigid’s Well.




When you visit this well if are inclined,


You can see a grand monument of Cornelius O’Brien.


He was a High Sheriff, and an MP,


And he fought to gain Erin her bright liberty.


The hills they’re most beautiful sincerely you’ll see.


Ennistymon, Lahinch and Miltown Malbay.


And the clear Cliffs of Moher, the travelers can tell,


Of the grand sulphur spa, and St Brigid’s Well.




On St Brigid’s Eve just as the night fell,


My mother and I went to St Brigid’s Well.


Many candles did burn, bright lights did shine,


O’er the grave of the dead and the vault of O’Brien.




The graveyard is most beautiful as you walk along,


You can see a grand walk with a door quite strong.


And right through the door a coffin does shine


Where there lies the remains of Cornelius O’Brien.




Lisdoonvarna’s grand scenery is most beautiful to see,


And the hill’s lovely rivers flowing onto the sea.


And the tourists of Ireland, many can tell,


Of the grand sulphur spa and St Brigid’s Well.




In sweet County Clare there is scenery most grand,


Should you travel Kilrush and Kilkee’s lovely strand.


For yet in my travels there is none can compel,


With the beautifully scenery round St Brigid’s Well.






Listowel where everyone is a poet.




For a bus to Duagh




A plane to New York




A slow boat to China




Or a train to Cork




Consult Michael Kennelly




I presume the Fountain Café was Roly Chute’s with “the finest chips to pass your lips”.










A day in the bog




Today I took my grandson to the bog;




the same bog in which my ancestors spent




their lives scraping a living; backs broken




from bending over stooks of heavy turf.




I showed this toddler how to build a “foot”




He watched and then he placed two upon two




“Is it like this?” he asked with eager eyes




And I could almost hear my father say




“Good man you are; you can’t bate the breedin”.




I stood to arch my back against the strain




And smiled as another generation




Left his mark on the soft brown mountain soil.




For in my heart I knew to him ‘twas fun




And for him the drudgery would be gone.


By Peg Prendeville





Primary School teachers


Would you like to invite a writer or storyteller to your school before the summer break?


If so, financial support is still available through Poetry Ireland's Writers in Schools Scheme, so get your application in soon

More details (https://kerrycoco.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b3755ab5575cb711eac9566f8&id=84b33377c3&e=57e387efec









A poem by Martin O’Hara




Ah god be with the




Good auld days.




And the times, of long ago.




For to get the peat,




for our household heat,




To the bog, we had to go.




No modern ways, back




In those days.




All in life, you would require.




Was a fine turf spade,




That the blacksmith made.




To secure, yourself a fire.




With Patrick’s day,




out of the way.




It was time, to make a start.




With the bike and dog,




Off to the bog.




And some, by ass and cart.




From countrywide, to




The mountainside.




The journeys, would begin.




To replace once more, the




Old turf store.




For the wintertime again.




Now the cutting of a




Bank of turf,




This job was done, with pride.




The cleaning first, was




Taken off,




And placed down at the side.




The peat exposed for




Cutting now,




Was cut out, with the spade.




And the sods of turf




Upon the bank,




In rows, were neatly laid.




With the turf now dry,




 As time went by.




The footing, would begin.




From countrywide, to




The mountainside.




The people came again.




With pains, and aches,




And many breaks.




We stood them, row by row.




And to season then, they




Would begin.




Where the mountain breezes








In harvest time, with




Weather fine,




Once more, we would return.




The turf by now, in perfect shape.




Was good enough to burn.




With the ass and cart, we




Made a start.




To take them to the road.




And a stack did rise,




Before our eyes.




Growing bigger, with each load.




Now to take them home,




For wintertime.




To the bog, we came




Once more.




With a fine big stack, built




Out the back.




We renewed, our winter store.




That was our way, and




Still today.




This tradition, carries on,




but In time they say.




It will pass away, and




Forever will be gone.




No bog, no more, for




The winter store.




Only memories, that




Live on.




Of our working ways, back




In the days.




That are now, long past and gone.




Martin O’Hara   3 /3/2020. ©




POETRY and art classes for children aged five to twelve years will be held in the Thatched House at the cross Finuge, during the month of April to mark Poetry Day Ireland which takes place on April 28th, contact 086 8883217.


POETRY: Two recent collections of poems published by Matt Mooney, 'Steering by the Stars' (Revival Press) and 'Éalú' (Coiscéim) were launched by Gabriel Fitzmaurice in St. John's Listowel on Saturday April 2nd 2022. 50% of book sales on the day go to Ukraine.








                New York NY Irish American Advocate 1911 - 0817.pdf


9 Dec 1911






Ball Saturday, Dec. 1—To Be Held at Gannon's Hall, Sixty-fifth Street and Third Avenue.


While strolling round old Gotham town


On the sixteenth night, you know,


Don't forget there is one famed spot


 Where frolic reigns galore.


With the charming boys from Newtown Side,


Where flows the Anamoy,


"And sweet Gale bridge, Kilmorna fair,


Will grace the ball that night.




 Ah, me, Gurtdromosilihy, with blue-eyed maidens rare,


And old Glin road of long ago,


Will send its colleens there,


And Listowel maids will greet you there,


With brothers one and all,


To lend one other charm


To that great Newtownsandes ball.




And captivating Rosaleen,


Who hails from loved Duagh,


Is wondering why those Kerry boys


So soon got up a ball.


We all might guess the reason,


For leap year it is nigh,


 And Rosaleen, just coaxed to life.


Some Kerry boys who died.


Well, the boys from Ballylongford


and from that to Tarbert Town,


 All around to Glenalappa,


 And Dereen of such renown,


in true Kerry style will greet you.


 Cupid is the guest for all,


And one night of mirth and gladness


 At the Newtown Social ball.










Bardic Festival 2022


The Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival seeks to honour the memory of Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair, who was born in Lisselton in 1745 and died around 1820.  He was a Hedge Schoolmaster, Poet and renowned Academic who established The Lisselton Bardic Court, known as ‘Cúirt na Súagh’, The Court of the Wise.


A Brief History of the Ballydonoghue Bard


There are lots of famous people from Lisselton, writers, footballers, ambassadors, soldiers, teachers, priests, nuns and many others. In this last group are the poets. It’s not often we hear about the poets from this area but they’re here now, and at one time Lisselton was famed for the standard of its poetry and of the schools of poetry around here. At that time there was great respect for poets and poetry, for alongside of poetry, they were well versed in literature, science and Latin.


Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair was born in 1745 and died around 1820. He was married to Eibhlín Ní hArtnain. Pádraig was highly intelligent and well-read, an outstandingly skilled teacher and leader of a group of master teachers of similar skills and disposition. He was also a native Irish speaker.


Pádraig instituted an annual Court for poets in Lisselton. Famous people from far and near attended these assemblies, people like Micheál Óg Ó Longáin. The Court was known as ‘Cúirt na Súagh’, The Court of the Wise. In 1803, the title Príomh-Ghiúistís, Cumann na mBard, (Chief Magistrate, Bardic Association) was bestowed on Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair of Cúirt na Súagh in Lisselton. A great honour indeed!


When you think about people like this man and the history Lisselton has in poetry, isn’t it a pity we don’t have a statue in his memory and as an influence on young people today. I use the term ‘influence’ because specialists in this field assure us that Pádraig and the schools he founded had a huge influence on the famous writers that have come out of North Kerry over the years. As I’ve said, Pádraig was a man of learning who used his native language in his poetry and in educating the people.


What then brought that era to an end in Lisselton, you ask? The introduction of The National School System in 1833 is probably one answer. The Great Famine of 1845 to 1849 contributed also.


But courage springs eternal in Kerry and in the years that followed, poets began to write again, in no small way due to the seed that was planted by Pádraig two hundred years ago, the same seed that still flourishes in Lisselton today.










The most important thing about each of us


is the capacity for goodness.


We can be a source of light.


We have hands that can care,


eyes that can see,


ears that can hear,


tongues that can speak,


feet that can walk


and above all hearts that can love.


Unfortunately, through laziness, selfishness


and cowardice, our light can be dimmed,


so that we become shadows of the people we could be.


Lord, help us to believe in our own goodness


and let the light of that goodness shine.


On seeing this light others find their way


and you will be glorified.




CNA Staff




By CNA Staff




Ravenna, Italy, Nov 11, 2021 / 04:20 am




The poet Dante famously traveled through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise in his masterpiece the “Divine Comedy.” Now, Catholics have a chance to follow in his footsteps — his earthly ones, that is.




Dante’s Walk is a 235-mile route that takes pilgrims from the Byzantine splendor of the city of Ravenna, northern Italy, to the Renaissance magnificence of Florence — and back again.




The pilgrim path’s 20 stages are set out in detail in a new Italian guidebook, written by Marcello Bezzi, Silvia Rossetti, and Massimiliano Venturelli, coinciding with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.




“Ravenna and Florence are, in fact, the two symbolic cities of Dante, of his youth, his formation, his political life, and his death,” Venturelli told ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.










Subject: Is ‘God Save The Queen’ based on an 18th century Irish air? Concubhar O Liathain --- The Irish Independent, 4 November 2021.






Is ‘God Save The Queen’ actually based on an 18th century Irish air?




Recent RTÉ ‘Nationwide’ documentary on Seán ó Riada has rekindled interest in ‘Mise Éire’ composer - son.




THE intriguing question whether Britain’s national anthem, God Save The Queen, is actually based on an Irish tune from the 17th century was among the many fascinating insights offered at a symposium organised as part of the annual Oireachtas na Gaeilge festival, part of which was held in the Músraí Gaeltacht at the weekend.




This was a theory held by the composer of ‘Mise Éire’ Seán Ó Riada, his son Peadar told the Oireachtas na Gaeilge symposium in the Mills Inn Museum as part of a series of events aimed at honouring the composer on the fiftieth anniversary of his death in 1971.




Speaking at the event, Peadar recalled a time when his father was trying to establish himself as a European composer by living in Paris where he eked out a living as a jazz pianist.




“I remember my mother telling me that he had composed a number of sonatines for Radio Paris but that this station appeared to vanish and all trace was lost of the compositions.




“I always maintained that this station did exist and that sonatines were out there.




“Fifteen years ago my cousin Luke Verling went to Paris and searched for the station and found that such a station as Rea was actually there, that it had been taken over by another company and he searched and searched and he found the tapes.”




Peadar told the audience that he believes he has a good memory and offered the experience with the sonatines as a ‘kind of proof’.




He spoke of the time nine years later when the family were living in Cúil Aodha and the Second Vatican Council had taken place.




“Seán had a number of friends in Maynooth University, the Professor of History, Fr. Tomás Ó Fiaich (later Cardinal Ó Fiaich) and the Professor of Irish, Fr. Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, who were classmates of the local curate in Baile Mhúirne, Fr. Donncha Ó Conchúir.




“They would send him, Fr. Ó Conchúir, translations of the Mass to Irish on long yellow pages and the priest and Seán would spend hours poring over these translations as Seán was an ardent classical scholar and loved ancient Greek and Latin.”




He said that it was important to realise that the ancient Greek texts provided a far more accurate version of the Gospels and other spiritual texts and, for that reason, the Irish version of the Mass was probably the more accurate.




He also recalled the first time the Ó Riada Mass was heard in public, it was in Maynooth University in 1967.




“There was a young lad with the choir, Diarmuid Ó Buachalla, and he was actually asleep on top of the organ in the church.




“I remember the church being full to the brim with student priests.




“When the Mass was over, the students threw their leaflets in the air and it was a wonderful experience altogether.”




He also recalls Tomás Ó Fiaich dancing out of the sacristy afterwards with a bottle of whiskey to celebrate the momentous event of a Mass in Irish being celebrated in Maynooth.




Whereas a dominant narrative of the later documentaries about Seán Ó Riada and the time he spent in Cúil Aodha was a narrative that the composer had a ‘creative block’ and was depressed and drinking, the picture presented by Peadar at the symposium was of a driven man who was busier than ever.




During the ten years or so of Ceoltóíirí Chualann 1959 to 1970, he had made around 700 different arragnements of Irish tunes and songs, for instance, as well as at least two Mases and many other works.




He said that Seán believed that all Irish traditional airs flowed from twelve different tunes with few exceptions.




“Ever air we have in the country is related to one of those.




“One of the exceptions he said, while speaking on his Radio Éireann programme Our Musical Heritate was ‘Cath Chéim an Fhia,” said Peadar.




“Take for example, the English national anthem, it’s part of an old Irish tune from 300 years ago.”




According to Peadar, the Dublin based elite didn’t take this into account when assessing Seán and their view of the composer was hat he had abandoned Dublin and classical music rather than he had devoted himself to work more in tune with what the people wanted to hear.




A documentary, the Blue Note by Seán Ó Mórdha was the first documentary after his death and set the tone which most of the others followed.




“Remarkably no body from the family was interviewed for that documentary,” Peadar told The Corkman.




“There’s been a huge upsurge in interest in Seán since the RTÉ Nationwide documentary - it has really rekindled interest in his work.”




Seán Ó Sé, who was the singer with Ceoltóirí Chualann, spoke about his first encounter with Seán Ó Riada and how he had auditioned to be part of Ceoltóirí Chualann at the composer’s then home in Galloping Green in Dublin.




“I remember afterwards going to a studio on Stephen’s Green to make a recording of An Poc Ar Buile and a few other songs.




“There was a piano there and, to make it sound more like a traditional instrument, we put thumbtacks into the hammers.”




Also speaking at the event was Dr. John O’Keeffe, the Sacred Music Director of Maynooth and director of the choir which sang at the Phoenix Park Mass for Pope Francis in 2018, and he described the work of Seán Ó Riada as an immense contribution as he recounted how a parish in south Kerry had expressed their gratitude to a departing parish priest who had not alone spearheaded the building of a new church but had also taught them how to sing the ‘Ár nAthair/Our Father’ as composed by Seán Ó Riada.




“They described it as a new way to pray,” he said.




“It was an immense feat of composition, possibly more significant than the work he did with Ceoltóirí Chualainn because he drew fresh water from the well of tradition.




“The Masses composed by Seán Ó Riada are a touch stone for other composers who are following down that path.”




Dr. O’Keeffe paid tribute to Peadar’s own contribution in terms of compositions to ecclesiastical music.




“Peadar has spent half a century ploughing that furrow and his work deserves another day to discuss its wealth and to assess its implications.




“It’s a continuation and development which is organic of the liturgy according to Irish tradition which he has provided,” he said, pointing for instance to the Mass for St John of the Cross Peadar composed.




The full recording of the symposium is available on the Oireachtas na Gaeilge Facebook page.along with recordings of the Ó Riada Mass celebrated in the church in Cúil Aodha on Sunday and a concert in the same venue featuring several winners of Corn Uí Riada which took place on Saturday night.












Remembering Michael Hartnett (1941 – 1999) on the 80th Anniversary of his Birth




Poet Michael Hartnett would have been 80 years old on September 18th this year.




He was born in Croom, Co. Limerick in 1941. In fact, he was a young 58 when he died in 1999.




By Peter Browne




Many people who knew him and admired his work felt the loss deeply and his creativity lives on richly after him.




An old cassette tape which I came across by chance in a cardboard box at home during lockdown brought back particular memories of just one brief period in which I could say I knew him.




This tape contained about 40 minutes of disjointed, poor-quality bits and pieces recordings from a 1985 musical and literary trip to Scotland which we both were on, and it brought back strong and fond thoughts of him even for such a short acquaintance when we were fellow performers touring the Highlands and Western Isles.




The occasion was the annual Turas na bhFilí which was a week-long tour of nightly performances in Gaelic-speaking Scotland organised by Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge. It was a two-way annual process and each year there were return visits to Ireland by a similar group of Scottish writers and artists.




This particular year the Irish travelling group comprised two poets, Áine Ní Ghlinn and Michael Hartnett, a fine singer Cliona Ní Fhlannagáín and myself as uilleann piper.




Also travelling as leader, organiser and fear a’tí was Colonel Eoghan Ó Néill, a distinguished Army officer who was by this time Director of An Chomhdháil.




There was a minibus driver whose name is long gone from me and we were a happy group on the road for that week. Sadly, as well as Michael Hartnett, Colonel Ó Néill and Cliona have also left us.




For the fairly obvious reason – if there weren’t separate B & B bedrooms on offer – Michael and myself were usually put sharing a room together and we had good conversations – usually on everyday life or the incidental happenings of the tour.




I do recall that he was enthusiastic about folklore and traditions in his own area of West Limerick like dancing and the wrenboys and he also mentioned his respect for Seán Ó Riada.




A printed programme had been prepared in advance of the tour and distributed to the audience at each night’s performance. It contained explanations, translations etc… meaning that the material, including the poetry, would be the same each night.




I used to look forward at each performance to hearing the same poems, the same songs – they grew on me.




Cliona sang Úna Bhán, Dónal Óg, Bean Pháidín. Áine had a beautiful poem about a young boy who was lost to cystic fibrosis and of Michael’s poems, I remember two – one for his daughter “Dán do Lara” with the line “…even the bees in the field think you are a flower” and another especially sad, moving one in which he addressed his father, trying to persuade him not to die but to remain on this earth.




I can clearly remember the soft richness of his words and speaking vioce. I used to play ‘Amhrán na Leabhar’ on the pipes nightly out of deference to the literary nature of the occasion.




Michael’s skills and agility in his use of words meant that his humour and wit were a bright feature during the trip – prompted by random events along the way.




When we flew out from Dublin, we had an excellent welcoming night in Glasgow and the following morning went to the airport to fly to Stornaway. And there, as we waited for the flight, Michael bought a bottle of Scotch whisky with the bracing brand name of ‘Sheep Dip.’




This unusual drink became something of a recurring conversational theme for the remainder of the tour. He seemed to use the same mug all week for drinking it. I partook a couple of times as well and it tasted ok – I notice that it’s still for sale on the market.




Later that same first day of the tour when we were travelling in the minibus on the dual island of Lewis and Harris, there was some incident with the minibus and a loose goat which I just can’t recall, and then we were brought to an interpretive centre and souvenir shop with a large selection of teddy bears on sale – they occupied all the shelves of one entire wall.




At that evening’s performance Michael began by telling the audience: ”…I’ve had a very trying day, first of all I started off by discovering a drink called Sheep Dip, then I met a goat on a bus and then I narrowly escaped being introduced to 25,000 teddy bears all wearing Harris tweed!”




In another town called Roybridge we were led by a kilted piper into the room and up to the top table in a ceremonial procession.




Michael had already said to Áine Ní Ghlinn that his own father had once described the sound of the pipes as like being in a submarine with a flock of sheep, so…this wasn’t a good portent.




As we sat down, the piper stepped onto the small stage, which was a concave, parabolic inset into one of the walls of the room.




The sound of the píob mhór was therefore propelled with some force outwards towards us. I watched Michael and I could clearly see his discomfort. He took a beermat, wrote on it and passed it around. Each person smiled as they read it and when it came to me, I saw that he had written: “I’m glad my new false teeth are made of plastic, not china.”




But there was seriousness in all this as well; there could be lengthy silences in the minibus as we travelled along narrow roads, and later that evening in Roybridge as he was reading the poem about his father, there was guffawing from a group of people on barstools at the counter who clearly weren’t there to hear the performance.




The local MC on the night asked them to stop talking or move to another establishment in the town where there would be, as he put it, “…a welcome for all sorts of inane conversation”. They were momentarily silenced but when Michael started again, so did the noise. He simply closed his book, said “is cuma liom…” and left the stage.




His poem about his father was special – for the subject matter, the beauty of the language and the sound of his reading voice. There was a sensitivity, decency and dignity about him and, I think also, a vulnerability.




Although I only ever met him again on one other occasion by chance, it may be the case that a lasting impression and respect for someone can be created over a short time such as this as well as by a lengthy acquaintance.




“…and please, my father, wait a while, there is no singing after death, there is no human sighing – just worlds falling into suns. The universe will be a bride, a necklace of stars on her gown – dancing at every crossroads, tin-whistles spitting music. Father, take your time, hang on. But he didn’t.”




Peter Browne is a piper and a former RTÉ presenter and producer.










A Poem by John McGrath




from his anthology, Blue Sky Day




A Time For Dancing




Our lives proceed in rhythms of their own,




Sometimes in waves that dash from stone to stone,




Sometimes a soothing, softly murmuring flow,




A ride to cherish, be it quick or slow.




A river by a highway, river-paced,




Not rushing by as if by demons chased,




With time for wine and dancing in the night




Or fiddle fit to put the moon to flight –




But lest you perish in the deafening din,




Life trades her fiddle for a violin,




Soft lights, sweet music and a moon that lingers,




Eyes that are smiling just for you, and fingers




To soothe your soul just like the murmuring stream.




A time for dancing and a time to dream.




THE PUNTER: Tom Scanlon, better known as the Punter, also known as Tommy Bernard by his neighbours passed away on Wednesday, August 11 2021 after a short illness. Tom was born to Jack Scanlon and Han Walshe in 1943 in Leitrim Middle. He was an only child and lived in Leitrim Middle until about ten years ago when he moved to Woodgrove. He was a character in the true sense of the word, and indeed there are not many such people left any more. He loved all sports, player one choice and he loved going to Galway every year and the Curragh and of course the loced a bit of football when he was young and had friends all over the world. Racing was his numbal meetings in Listowel. He was well acquainted with trainers such as Tommy Stack, Jessica Harrington and many others. Tom wrote a bit of poetry and attended Writer’s Week in Listowel. This is one of his poems about the area where he lived called




As my mind rolls back o’er memories track


To the days when we were young


Not a care had we, only wild and free


And many a song was sung.


We’d fish along the riverbank


As the sun was blazing down


And gather round the old big stone


That stood there large and brown.




We’d rest a while and spend an hour


Beneath the Russian’s bridge.


The McGraths, the Moriartys, the Walshes from the hill


Would come down there in the warm air


To laugh and sport their fill.




To Molly Donovan’s we would retire


To pass away the night


With the old gramophone and a game of cards


And many a dacent fight


They are scattered now throughout the land


And some are in their graves


Others are gone far and wide


Across the Atlantic waves.




But where e’re they are gone


Or what e’re they’ve done


They will always remember back


To their boyhood days


And their happy ways


Around the Mail Road Cross.




I’m going out in the sun today

I ‘m going out in the sun today
And I don’t care if the cobwebs
Are doing a two hand reel on the fittings
Or if the wash up reaches so high
It make a hole in the ceiling
See if I care
There’s much to enjoy and lots to share
For I’m going out in the sun today.

I don’t want to meet glum faces
Or bad forecast expressions
Or weather-vaned people
Who always know what’s given down
Especially if it’s rain
Let me have folk around me
who just glow and show
That they live and laugh and love
For I’m going out in the sun today

I don’t care if my nose peels seven layers
Or my eyebrows fade into oblivion
to hell with the pollen counter
And his boring job
I’ll take my chances and so what
If I sneeze, I sneeze
Let me enjoy the warmth, the good feel
And let go my worries on the breeze
For I’m going out in the sun today. By Anne Nash
High hills bring hopeful thoughts
And happy hearts make helpful deeds
Now is the time to gather flowers
Where friendship plants the seeds.
The time for looking up old friends
And going on the spree
For a trip along the river
Or an outing to the sea.










The Blessed Well in Kilshenane




From Closing the Circle, an anthology of the poems of John McGrath








I met a hare along the road today,




Tall as a greyhound.




He hopped towards me,








hopped again,




stopped to listen




to my freewheel click,




then turned and loped away.




I gazed in grateful awe




as with each simple spring




the distance grew between us,




marvelled how his quiet grace




belied his hidden power.






Then with one bound




he cleared a ditch




and disappeared from view




leaving me to wonder.






The Green Field by The Quarry




The big ship sailed out for Australia


‘Twas a cold winter’s day long ago


On board was a young Irish Colleen,


The grief on her features did show;


A priest offered deep consolation,


He spoke of the bright days ahead,


She woke from her sad meditation


And those are the words that she said.




I love the green field by the quarry,


The field where the red clovers grow,


The waterfall sounding above it


And the heather clad mountain below;


That lovely green field by the quarry


Every step of my childhood has known,


The clear crystal spring in the corner


And the little thatched dwelling-my home.




The big ship has sailed o’er the waters,


She is now on Australia’s broad plains,


She thinks of the brave Irish patriots


Who labored as convicts as chains;


She sees the green field by the quarry


In her vision old Ireland appears


And she prays for our gallant forefathers


Who held it through torture and tears.




The years they roll onward forever,


She’s a wife and a mother-what more?


She sings to the child on her bosom


The songs of old Ireland’s green shore.


Her brother has left the old homestead


Setting fears and affections afloat,


She pleads in the letter she’s writing


And those are the words that she wrote:




Don’t sell the green field by the quarry,


It’s the scene of each childhood delight,


‘Twas the vision that haunted my dreaming


On my tear moistened pillow at night.


Don’t sell the green field by the quarry,


No matter where ever I roam


While you own that green field by the quarry


I’ll feel that my heart has a home.




The home of her heart is still calling,


Again she re-visits the scene;


The laughter of children is lovely


And the field by the quarry is green.


Don’t sell the green field by the quarry,


No matter where ever I roam,


While you own that green field by the quarry


I’ll feel that my heart has a home.




This song was composed by Dan Keane, Moyvane, Co Kerry in May 1993 and is based on a true event. The Irish Colleen was his sister Theresa who emigrated to Australia in December 1936 and didn’t return to Ireland again until 1978. The priest referred to was Fr Coughlan who was an uncle of Bryan MacMahon. That green field still belongs to the Keane family who are known as the ‘Keanes of the Quarry.’ It is sung to the melody of Eileen McMahon.






John Keats: Poetry, Life & Landscapes


By Suzie Grogan


Explore 19th-century poet John Keats’s life and world in a compelling trip through the places and landscapes that inspired his enduring work — from the London hospital where he studied to become a doctor to Winchester, where he composed one of his most famous odes.


Biographies and Memoirs


£1.99  £6.49




Miles To Go before I Sleep: Letters on Hope, Death and Learning to Live Hardcover – 18 Mar. 2021


by Claire Gilbert (Author)


'Claire's honest, raw, authentic diaries will be a source of comfort to many'- Miranda Hart


At the age of 54 Claire Gilbert was diagnosed with myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood. The prognoses ranged from surviving only a few months to living for several decades, with no guarantee of which outcome was to be hers. It was a shocking diagnosis into uncertainty, or rather, into only one certainty: death. But Claire discovered that facing her own mortality was liberating. Available on Kindle.




She discovered this through writing letters. Claire asked her siblings and a small group of friends if they would let her write to them with total honesty about what she was going through, as she was going through it. These letters turned out to be a great solace, and gradually her group of 'dear readers' has grown; what she had to say wasn't just of value to herself, but to others, too.




The letters chart Claire's journey through diagnosis, chemotherapy and a brutal round of stem cell treatment, and end with the rest of the UK joining her in her immuno-compromised isolation in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Unflinchingly honest and wide-ranging, Claire writes about the restorative role of nature, politics, poetry, humour - and a restless exploration of the spiritual dimension of death and dying.




This is an honest, luminous account of what Claire has gone through and what keeps her going, a deeply spiritual meditation on life and suffering, and an exploration of how faith is no simple solace but provides a whole new plane of meaning during these liminal moments.




'Claire Gilbert's account of the progress of her fatal illness, from diagnosis through various traumatic treatments, is in turn candid, painful, funny, tender, fierce and philosophical. But most of all it is a marvellously enjoyable read depicting the human spirit at its finest: defiant, exuberant, joyous. An example to us all that we can triumph over the cruellest adversity'- Salley Vickers





Letters of love, loss and longing




In our latest exhibition, love letters offer glimpses into private worlds – from a queen’s treasonous love letter, to the generous wish of a naval hero and the forlorn poetry of a prime minister. Expect secret stories of heartbreak, passion and disappointment as you explore 500 years of letters in this intimate exhibition.














 John Kiely is the manager


And some man is he


Without him Croke Park


We would not see




Many's the Quaid had


Number 1 on his back


With Nicky in goals


He launches the attack




Finn, Casey and English


Are young and they're bold


In the Full back line


They do untold




Richie the Rockie


Is powerful and strong


Throw him into full back


And he'll do no wrong




Declan Hannon is our


Tall centre back


He comes from Adare


He's the leader of the pack




So when distance is called for


Diarmuid Byrnes is your man


He'll throw them over the bar


Simply because he can




We've Tom and Dan


Brothers in arms


A great asset to the team


From the mighty Ahane




There's Cian and Darragh


In the centre of the park


Their work rate is immense


And their scoring is on the mark




With  Will and Dempsey


To come into the mix


That gives Kiely a headache


With the team that he picks




With Hegarty and Hayes


In the half forward line


They'll score when you need them


And their tackling is sublime




There's Gillane in the corner


A threat with ball in hand


He'll take the frees


And drive them into the Davin stand




Seamus Flanagan of Feohanagh


A club near my own


On the edge of the square


He's like a King on his Throne




Mulcahy from Killmallock


A man with some Gears


When he gets on the ball


The whole county cheers




For the Limerick Senior Hurlers


A journey it has been


Many achievements have been earned


By our Heroes in green!




By Naomi Ryan.  Tournafulla Gaa






John B Keane died on May 30, 2002


Written by Peg Prendeville




A Tribute to John B.




Walking along Bray Esplanade




Even the waves seem to whisper




The sad news that John B. has died.




But in their quiet sadness




They continue their even pace




Gently sloshing over the pebbles




Re-assuring me that “It’s OK,




Yes, that witty genius




Is gone from your sight




But his words will continue




To lap against the shores.




For the tide can never go out




On such wisdom and wit.




And on the stormy days




We will shout the words




He was not afraid to shout




As we blast the rocks




With our frothy anger.




The waters of his native river Feale




will carry his words




to the oceans of the world




and his hearty laugh




will always be heard




as long as the tides ebb and flow.










Day is hurtling toward us like a heart-shaped meteor. Yet you’re stuck in the same rut as far as what to get that special someone. Flowers. Candy. A John Legend CD. You’d love to pen a poem for your beloved — a document of true, heartfelt personal expression — but a full heart and a blank page is just too daunting for a beginning bard like you.


Well, we’re here to help! Here’s the truth: employing a set of guidelines or restrictions can actually help spur creativity by jump-starting the process and giving your ideas something to push against. The framework below will help you organize your own experiences and sentiments into a genuine, one-of -a-kind love poem. But first, let’s take a quick look at some big-picture “best practices” for poetry:


Avoid cliches such as “you’re my moon and stars” and “love conquers all.” Poems are meant to express your feelings in your words. They’re all about interesting surprises and new connections. Cliches are pre-existing, unsurprising word packages. They’re boring. So rely on your own, personal specifics to anchor the poem.


Use concrete images. Concrete images are details perceived with the senses. They’re the things of the physical world: a scratchy old sofa, a waft of fresh basil, the huff of a grizzly bear. They convey experience and help a reader “enter” the poem. Abstractions like “love,” “pain,” or “truth” are too big and vague to write about directly. Instead, show your personal take on these big concepts through your singular choice of concrete details.


Don’t be afraid to be playful! You know what’s consistently listed as one of the top traits people look for in a romantic partner? Sense of humor! Poems don’t have to be moody dirges, especially where love is concerned. Feel free to get cheeky, flirty, or fun if your poem permits.


Alright, ready to get romantic? Read over the framework that follows. But don’t feel the need to start writing right away. You may need to step away and ponder.




Short and sweet! There’s an example below if you’d like to see one way this could turn out. Of course, feel free to tweak the recipe as your heart demands. Once you’ve got a first draft, put it aside and return to it a few more times. Fresh eyes will allow for new insights and word choices that will really make your poem sparkle like Cupid’s onesie. Happy Valentine’s Day!*Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things without using “like” or “as.” (Example: “You were the first crocus bursting through an endless winter.”)**Alliteration: Repetition of initial consonant sounds. (Example: “My mirthful matador.”)***Simile: Like metaphor, another form of figurative language that makes a comparison. A simile, though, compares using the words “like” or “as.


”EXAMPLE POEM: Jess My perfect mess


Beside a bubbling creek that crept to the sea


You sparked a cookfire from moss and flint


And the tinder inside me was lit


We are at the edge of a wondrous wood


Let us smash the compass


A clumsy adventure awaits


Line 1: Name — Write the name of your beloved. Hopefully this one is easy.


Line 2: A Beloved Subtitle — Describe the person in three words. It might be a list of adjectives, a short phrase, or even a metaphor*. Bonus points if you use alliteration** or rhyme the last word of this line with the name from line one.


Line 3:  First sight part 1 — Describe the setting where you first met the person (10 words or less)Line 4:  First sight part 2 — Describe what the person was doing (10 words or less)Line 5:  First sight part 3 — Describe what you felt using interesting and concrete images (10 words or less)Line 6: State of the union — Describe the current state of your relationship with a metaphor or simile***. Start this line with “We are...”




Short and sweet! There’s an example below if you’d like to see one way this could turn out. Of course, feel free to tweak the recipe as your heart demands. Once you’ve got a first draft, put it aside and return to it a few more times. Fresh eyes will allow for new insights and word choices that will really make your poem sparkle like Cupid’s onesie. Happy Valentine’s Day!*Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things without using “like” or “as.” (Example: “You were the first crocus bursting through an endless winter.”)**Alliteration: Repetition of initial consonant sounds. (Example: “My mirthful matador.”)***Simile: Like metaphor, another form of figurative language that makes a comparison. A simile, though, compares using the words “like” or “as.




Jess My perfect mess


Beside a bubbling creek that crept to the sea


You sparked a cookfire from moss and flint


And the tinder inside me was lit


We are at the edge of a wondrous wood


Let us smash the compass


A clumsy adventure awaits


Line 1: Name — Write the name of your beloved. Hopefully this one is easy.


Line 2: A Beloved Subtitle — Describe the person in three words. It might be a list of adjectives, a short phrase, or even a metaphor*. Bonus points if you use alliteration** or rhyme the last word of this line with the name from line one.


Line 3:  First sight part 1 — Describe the setting where you first met the person (10 words or less)


Line 4:  First sight part 2 — Describe what the person was doing (10 words or less)


Line 5:  First sight part 3 — Describe what you felt using interesting and concrete images (10 words or less)


Line 6: State of the union — Describe the current state of your relationship with a metaphor or simile***. Start this line with “We are..


.”Line 7: Dreaming ahead — Describe your wish/hope/vision for your future together — again, lean on concrete images and figurative language. Start this line with “Let us...


”Line 8: XO — End with “Happy Valentine’s Day” or something else that wraps things up in a flirty, cheeky, touching, etc., fashion.
















Tonight I ‘m reminiscing




I have turned back the years




Removed the locks from both the doors




And forgot about my fears.






Removed the TV from the shelf




And put it out of sight




Replaced it with a radio




Commentating on a fight.






Put the mobile phone on silent




Took the handset off the wall




Tonight-The only interruption




Neighbours foot steps in the hall.






Reached up to the fuse board




Reversed the on off handle




Got an empty bottle from the press




And placed in it a candle.






Replaced the coal and briquettes




With a seasoned wooden log




And a couple of sods of well dried turf




Harvested from the local bog.






The lid from off the oven




I will heat until just right




Wrap in a woollen sweater




Place in the bed tonight.






Stare out through the window




Watch the snowflakes as they fall




Pretend its Christmas Eve again




And Santa’s sure to call.






Will I read a passage from the book




Or pray the rosary instead?




Then go outside – melt a little snow




Before I go to bed.






Seamus Hora








Back Home




by Anon






If I had the power to turn back the clock,




Go back to that house at 4th end of the block-




The house that was HOME when I was a kid,




I know I would love it more now than I did.






If I could be back there at my mother’s knee,




And hear once again all the things she told me,




I’d listen as I never listened before




For she knew so well just what life had in store.






And all the advice my dad used to give




His voice I’ll remember as long as I live;




It didn’t seem really important then.




What I’d give just to live it all over again.






Oh, what I’d give for the chance I once had,




To do so much more for my mum and my dad,




To give them more joy and a little less pain,




A Little more sunshine, a little less rain.






But the years roll on and we cannot go back,




Whether we were born in a mansion our shack




But we can start right no in the hour that is here




To do something more for the ones we hold dear.






Since e Time in its flight is travelling fast,




Lets no spend it regretting that which is past.




Lats make tomorrow a happier day




By doing our “good to others’ TODAY