The turning of the year is always a time for decisions. Breughel’s painting Hunters in the Snow (which examined more closely in this article) is part of that tradition, and the upper part of it seems to echo a common theme: the city or the mountain?
Together or Alone?
Continue reading “Together or Alone?”
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.
Continue reading “Kindred Spirits”
‘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.
Continue reading “Dad, 1930”
Three hunters trudge wearily homewards through the snow: it is by far the most popular non-religious Christmas card image scene, and with good reason. Pieter Breugel the Elder painted it in 1565, yet we feel it is a world we can understand. Not long ago, men very like these hunted on Boxing Day, and wood was gathered for the fire, and the winter was cold enough to safely play on frozen ponds. You could easily imagine a local artist fifty or so years ago, painting such a scene from life or memory.
Continue reading “Hunters in the Snow – A Perspective”
We ran the hazel byways he and I
And chased the morning glory down the lanes
And tumbled through the meadows on the way
To lay our tousled locks in secret glades. Continue reading “Remembrance”
Seventeen writers each take a theme: a middle-aged woman, two kids, is packing her bags in the supermarket. Seventeen stories emerge, each different. Those who know the writers can tell – this is John’s story, this is Bob’s; no one else would have taken the same approach. Yet our stories are not always simply our own, nor are they merely commonplace. The best stories take their life from the twilight zone between the individual and the universal. They bring with them the sense of something both unexpected and inevitable. Continue reading “The Healing Story”
The original idea for this book came from a short story I wrote as far back as 2008 about two boys growing up in the Sperrin Mountains at the turn of the 20th Century. Later that year I was given the opportunity to visit WW1 Graves in Belgium and France, and it sparked the question, why did so many young men go so readily to a war-torn country and how did their decisions impact on the families they left behind.
Continue reading “The Blossom or the Bole”