Time Passing and to Come

This two-headed stone figure on Boa Island is often called a Janus, after the two-faced Roman god of doorways who gives his name to January – and janitors. There may be no connection, but each generation makes its own meaning, as can be seen by the coins that regularly appear next the figures.

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Room, Room, Room for Mummers’ Rhymes

The start button on the vintage cassette player makes a loud clunk. The tape hisses and crackles, then my father’s voice fills the room with with a tumbling run of words:

Room, Room, my gallant room, give me room to rhyme
I’II show you some activity about this Christmastime
The active youth, the active age
Our act was never acted on the stage….

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The Seventh Day

Between the years, with this year still unknown
There was, as when the Earth was made
A Seventh Day – a day to rest

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The Brick – a Prequel

In the summer of 2001 I decided to build a low red brick wall around the back garden of my house in Enniskillen. Being a money-canny Ulsterman I looked for the cheapest cheapest bargain bricks I could find.

Those are all the seconds, the yard-man at Acheson and Glovers brickworks informed me, Their colours vary too much so they don’t match our best bricks.

They are all rejects I pointed out, and haggled a deal. (more…)

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Free Your Voice! Free Your Writing!

Valerie Whitworth writes:

 Together One Voice are starting the New Year with a challenge to free your natural voice and increase your singing skills!

This term we will be focusing on releasing the voice,  vocal development, singing skills, confidence building with some small group work on pitch,  and harmony work.  Many people come to my classes with stories of how they were told not to sing by a parent or teacher, or not allowed to join the choir.
The truth is – if you can speak you can sing.
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The Vanburgh Quartet

The Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe, violins; Simon Aspell, viola; Christopher Marwood, cello) has enjoyed a successful international career throughout Europe, the Americas and the Far East. Based in Cork since 1986, it has brought string quartet music to audiences throughout Ireland and has given more than one thousand concerts in venues ranging from small country schools to the major city halls.

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When a Tree Falls in the Forest

A 2,000 year old Sequoia Tree falls over in the forest and dies. No one heard it fall. It was a famous tree – they even gave it a name, the Pioneer Cabin Tree and carved a tunnel through its great trunk. Yet now it lies in state on the floor of the forest. (more…)

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Old Arthur

I was four years old when I went to spend Halloween on the island with my Great Aunt Catherine. (more…)

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Older Than the Rocks

He has her still before his eyes,
the day she sat, fresh and alert.
It seemed so easy then to paint
her face. She was not proud:
though of old family, she’d married down.
But he was good to her, she said.
Three children then
(Six now, he’d heard).

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New Beginnings?

I have seen it all before. Wars and rumours of… but let me not be too cynical. As one who has lived through the 1960s and seen the fall of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain, the Trump/Brexit/Refugees thing seems quite mild by comparison.

2016 reminds me of the 1960’s, when all that had been certain seemed under attack from all directions. At first the sights and sounds were distant: Kennedy – the first Catholic President in the White House, Civil Rights in America, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, the Vietnam War. (more…)

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Annie Proulx in Leitrim

The inaugural Iron Mountain Literature Festival, based in Carrick-on-Shannon, was held on Friday evening October 7th and Saturday 8th, 2016, replacing the John McGahern Seminar which had run for eight years (2007 – 2014). The programme was loosely themed around ideas such as the language of landscape, place and memory in writings. An archaeologist, geographer and architect were part of the talks and discussions. (more…)

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Suiting Up

I had thought that the confirmation slap on the cheek was the only remaining ritual to mark the end of childhood. I was wrong. I have recently had the experience of being part of a new coming of age ritual which young men of about 17 years go through. It even has a name – Suiting Up – and it is, as you might guess, the buying of the first formal suit, usually to coincide with a school debs.

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The Red Gazelle

Standing in a sunny glade
Easy content for the day
I caught a movement by the fringe
When entered there
A beautiful red gazelle.
I watched her ballet stride
Cautious not to move
But still she saw me
And did not run away,
A steady gazing eye
Looked back at me

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My First Anthology

You should write a book!

How often is that said to people? Countless times, I suppose. In my case it has been said to me sincerely, by dear friends who have read and heard my poems and have been pressing me to put together a collection.

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A Galway Halloween

Halloween (or Ducking Night as we called it) was one of the best times for children 60 years ago in County Galway. A few days before, the older children would cycle out to Cnoc Ma (the Hill of Maeve) to collect hazelnuts in the woods. The old women, who spoke Irish among themselves and called that night Oiche Samhain, told us about how Maeve, the queen of the fairies, was buried standing so she could look out over her dominions. Everyone reminded them about taking salt with them, so their souls couldn’t be taken by the fairies. (more…)

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