I can still hear her singing, my Grandmother baking bread, her wedding band nestled on the shelf above the table; her hair as white as the floured hands coaxing and kneading the dough. I watched in wonder through the eyes of a child and the first of the sweet warm bread was always mine. Continue reading “Still Singing”
A Moveable Feast, which was completed in 1960, tells of the time Ernest Hemingway lived in Paris with his first wife, Hadley, between 1921 and 1926. His memories of that period are captured in 20 short essays: each stands alone, and there is no overall storyline or theme, beyond that of the city itself, but this slender book conjures an image of Paris that is almost tangible. The smells, tastes, sights and sounds of Paris spring off the pages, and the people breathe again as they laugh and love and quarrel and drink and smoke and work and dream. All human life is here: raffish Bohemian artists, Avante Garde writers and poets, drunks, bartenders, fishermen, street cleaners, booksellers, waiters… Continue reading “A Movable Feast”
Once in the dead of night
I went alone to claim my right
To live life without fear
Of the nether world and queer. Continue reading “Fear”
When we were starting out and skint,
You skinned spuds,
While I chopped them into chips.
And eating them with egg, beans and bacon-bits,
We passed tea time and ketchup,
In constant conversation.
Recently, Unionist students at Queens have been protesting about bilingual signs. While claiming no disrespect for the Irish language as such, they view them as divisive sectarian symbols under the terms of the Flags and Emblems Act. They suspect that those who push the bi-lingual agenda are interested in only three words of Irish – Votáil Sinn Féin. Continue reading “Language and Mother Tongue”
Drew University’s fifth Transatlantic Connections Conference was held in Bundoran from January 10–13 to celebrate the many ties between the United States and Ireland. The cover image features the Choctaw Nation memorial that commemorates how they, though suffering greatly themselves following the Trail of Tears that drove them from their own land, sent money to buy food during the Great Famine.
In that same dark time, according to family tradition, Paula Meehan’s family left Leitrim for Liverpool, only to remain stuck in the Monto district of Dublin for the next century. These are a few notes from her final keynote speech which was, she said; just an excuse for giving out poetry.
‘They would have thrived on our necessities.’
– Eavan Boland, The Emigrant Irish
Whenever I’ve thought about the honour of writing this over the past while, the line from Boland won’t leave me alone. Poetry has that strange habit of hitting me when I’m wandering along minding my own business. Often, such as now, as a line removed from the context of its original poem. For a while, I wasn’t sure why I’d been possessed by Boland’s words. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that these are poems that thrive on our necessities. Kate has a wonderful gift to take moments and sculpt poetry from their essential self – a gift I’d likely be wildly jealous of if I didn’t feel so privileged to call her one of my closest personal friends. Continue reading “The Human Condition”
She lies, sad with loss and grief
blankets tucked under chin
Her. Knee. Aches.
Simply can’t face it, she decides
permits herself to say no, this once
No. Funeral. Today. Continue reading “Threads”
We don’t really know our parents until we look back and do the sums.
My mother was born in 1916.
She was Maureen O’Halloran. Her father was a sailor.
There was a war on. There were a lot of wars on. Continue reading “The Moving Finger – A Memoir”
Wears St. Patricks Academy
Striped tie, pen in pocket,
wool socks, strong leather boots.
Nordic good looks,
a confident gaze.