A Flavour of the Locality as Poetry Ireland Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Clebrating Poetry Day with works from Janet Murphy, James Flynn, Jimmy Cullinane and Peter Howarth. ©Photographs: John Reidy

Poetry Ireland Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Poetry Ireland which celebrates Irish poets, dead and alive is also celebrating its own tenth anniversary today.

It dawned on me earlier today that I have access to the work of local practitioners in books and files within reach of my desk here. Then I thought it would be an idea to include a handful of them here to mark the day.

Janet Murphy 1999


May we join you Sheila, again, in your world set on pause

to mingle with the patrons of yesterday?

We can watch you pulling pints to the song of the train,

drawing in the outside world to Castleisland.

Or dance in your eyes to musical pages surrendered to history,

written on a score of darker times, of poverty,

when more was shared than nothing.

We can listen to the din of children at play,

feel the presence of horses in the street outside,

beneath a sky that is – still blue.

And we’ll call again tomorrow.

You’ll be flushed with the thrill of Fair Day,

sweeping the floor of sawdusted memories

when muddy boots, laughter and matchmaking

were the conduct of the day.

Another from Janet:

I carry my tales in my head in a bag.

I spread them around like the smoke of a fag.

I share then with tea or with coffee or wine,

And I swap and replenish this Gilt bag of mine.

James Flynn 2014

…and here’s one from Castleisland native James Flynn.

James, a stone mason by trade with a leaning towards epic poems, had this one published in the Poets and Dreamers anthology by Scríobhneóirí Sliabh Luachra in December 2014.

Over There in County Clare

Over There in County Clare there lives a jolly lass.

She’s Norma May and works each day by selling coal and gas.

She met a man for a black and tan one night in Brogan’s Bar,

She got home drunk and like a punk she even drove her car.

Her face was red she went to bed that evening after ten,

Sho got up late in quite a state and drank a glass of gin.

She went to town and like a clown, inside in Garvey’s shop,

She beat a man with a frying pan, and no one shouted stop.

She had a cat his name as Batt, She’d feed him nuts and pandy,

But being nice at half the price, she fed him milk with brandy.

Jimmy Cullinane – The Hillside Scribbler 26-12-2022

The sudden death of the lovable, roguish, brilliant West Kerry singer / musician Séamus Begley stunned the country into silence.

Cordal man, Jimmy Cullinane used that silence to fashion a poetic tribute to the man who charmed us on stage and in public houses over the many years of the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival.

Séamus Begley Remembered by the Hillside Scribbler

There are many entertainers in Ireland today,

But there was one that stood out from far Dingle Bay.

He could sing and play music as sweet as a bird,

He could also tell stories that were never heard.

This fine man Séamus Begley stood out on his own,

He had a great presence in company or alone.

His soft singing voice with each note so sweet,

His big smile and good humour a treasure to greet.

Reared into a family where culture was strong,

Milked cows by hand as they all sang along.

Kept tradition alive with their native tongue,

Have handed it down to their many young.

Played music and sang in the family dance hall,

Where locals with tourists were enjoying it all.

Big crowds in Summertime packed wall to wall,

Each cailín and buachaill were having a ball.

An Australian called Steve Cooney arrived in the West,

At playing a guitar he is surely the best.

He joined up with Séamus Begley a musical treat,

Meet them in a concert or a pub down the street.

They both have entertained us for many a year,

We have listened, laughted and clapped, have shed joyful tears.

They have lifted our spirits to relax, reminisce,

A dear gift from heaven their musical bliss.

Peter Howarth 2018

And now we have a poem of the unrequited love of a holiday maker for an engine driver of the Tralee to Blennerville train.

Peter’s poem was put to music and recorded by Johnny Barrett. He has published several volumes of poetry and has been featured on radio both local and national.

See how this poor girl’s heart was broken by the train driver who was completely oblivious to her feelings for him.

The Engineer of Blennerville

There was a lonely city girl, she was just twenty-three,

Who took a two-week holiday and came down to Tralee,

And after all the tourist sights in summer sun and rain,

She went to take a trip aboard the Blennerville steam train.

She bought her ticket at the desk and then to her surprise,

She saw her dream man standing there before her very eyes,

And as the fireman fed the fire with shovels full of coal

She only could admire the man who stood there in control.

In overalls and peaked blue cap he made the whistle blow

To tell the waiting passengers it’s nearly time to go;

The guard, he waved his big green flag, the train was on its way

Along two miles of narrow gauge on that hot summer’s day.

She sat down on the carriage seat as she began to dream

To throbbing of the pistons and the hisses of the steam;

This man had made her heart beat fast, was this the real thing?

Would she become the driver’s wife and wear his wedding ring?

She rode the train to Blennerville, she rode it back again

And every day for those two weeks her journeys were the same;

Her feelings for the engineer she was too shy to share

So no romance developed from this one-way love affair.

And now she’s back in Dublin Town and works from eight ’til four,

She is a sad and lonely girl who chases men no more;

She’s never met another man, no doubt she never will,

That can compare to the engineer on the train to Blennerville.

You can contact The Maine Valley Post on… Anyone in The Maine Valley Post catchment area who would like to send us news and captioned photographs for inclusion can send them to: jreidy@mainevalleypost.com Queries about advertising and any other matters regarding The Maine Valley Post can also be sent to that address or just ring: 087 23 59 467.