Archives for posts with tag: Ireland

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Lost
by Rona Fitzgerald

Summer days she’d set out with four of us on the bus,
bag laden with cosies, sandwiches, spare clothes.

Infinite blue, sea and sky merging, no frontiers.
Bird beat, waders, oystercatchers, zen-like herons.

We stood on one leg until we fell, splashed about
ate our sand-filled lunch as mother’s nose twitched.

Trudged home across the long bridge trailing
wet wool togs and towels. Back to order.

My heart’s in those grainy dunes
keening sea birds summon me home.

PHOTO: Bull Island Sanctuary, Dublin 1960. The author is the child front left, crossed legs and shading her eye.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote the poem from memory — starting with the infinity idea and the zen-like herons. Part of the prompt for me is living away from Dublin and the sea which was part of my life as a place to swim and walk. I miss the light. Normally my Dad would not be with us, my mother would haul the bags and shepherd us smaller kids to the beach.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rona Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and has been living in Glasgow for 20 years. She is the second youngest of seven children. Her work has been included in a number of magazines and anthologies, including the Dublin-based Stinging Fly, New Voices Press anthologies and The Wait poetry anthology edited by George Sandifer-Smith. Her poem “Nocturne’” was published in Scottish Book Trust publication Journeys. “Solstice” was published as part of the Mid-Winter Special on Three Drops from Cauldron webzine, and “Quest’” was published on the webzine I am not a Silent Poet. Rona is a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).

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It’s with O’Leary in the Grave
by Hal O’Leary

With my grandfather having been born in County Cork, Ireland, I suppose it’s only natural that I would use an opportunity like this to express my pride in being Irish. Although I am well aware that not all Irishmen are admirable, I take my pride from such great ones as John O’Leary, the great Irish Separatist. He, as I would like to think of myself, was a staunch fighter against injustice in whatever form and wherever it might exist.

At the tender age of 19, in an attempt to rescue fellow separatist from jail, O’Leary was imprisoned for a week. In 1865, and then at the age of 35, he was arrested and later tried on charges of high treason. The charge was later reduced to “treason felony” and he was sentenced to 20 years penal servitude of which five years were spent in English prisons. In 1871 he was released in exile. In his exile, he lived mainly in Paris, but he remained active in the, IRB. (Irish Republic Brotherhood). With the termination of his exile he returned to Ireland, where he and his sister Ellen O’Leary both became Important within Dublin cultural and national circles, which included the likes of W. B. Yeats.

In addition to fighting injustice, John O’Leary, like myself, attended college but never obtained a degree, and like myself he was a lover of the arts, poetry in particular. It was his great friend Yeats who immortalized him in the poem, “September 1913” with each verse ending with the line,

“Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, it’s with O’Leary in the grave.”

IMAGE:John O’Leary” by John Butler Yeats (1904).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hal O’Leary, now at age 90, has been published in 18 different countries He lives by a quote from his son’s play Wine To Blood, “I don’t know if there is a Utopia, but I am certain that we must act as though there can be.” Hal, a Pushcart nominee, is a recent recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University, the same institution from which he became a college dropout some 60 years earlier. He currently resides in Wheeling, West Virginia.

September 1913
by William Butler Yeats

What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone;
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry, ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
William Butler Yeats
 (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,  the first Irishman so honored, for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after receiving the Nobel Prize. (SOURCE: wikipedia.org.)

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Fishamble Street.
Dublin.
by Stephen McGuinness

I work
my way along
Fishamble Street.
where Handel
first aired
his Messiah.
It takes me
from the heights
and glories
of Christchurch Cathedral
down, to see
the wretched pagan river
at Wood Quay.
From arched red brick
on the Blind Boys’ School
past the restoration theatre
on Smock Alley.
The oldest surviving
street in Dublin
meanders from
the ancient
Black Pool
from which the city
takes its name
to the place
where the norse
longships came in
to raid
and to winter.
Later, where they walked
their ox carts
up the hill
to market
winding between
mud huts and cesspits.
I follow that
same path
still going against
the flow.
Descending from
the high ground
and the High Church
to the lost
and the low
life of the Liffey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Fishamble Street still follows the same path, in the centre of Dublin, as when it was laid out by the Viking founders of the city in the 10th century.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Oldest continuously inhabited house in Dublin” (Fishamble Street), found at this website.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen McGuinness, 46, works as a chef in Dublin City, Ireland. His poems have been published online on Eat Sleep Write and by Silver Birch Press in the I AM WAITING Poetry Series.

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ST. PATRICK’S DAY
by Jean McKishnie Blewett

There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
Here’s to the Saint that blessed it!
And here’s to the billows wild and free
That for centuries have caressed it!

Here’s to the day when the men that roam
Send longing eyes o’er the water!
Here’s to the land that still spells home
To each loyal son and daughter!

Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween,
With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here’s to her shamrock warm and green,
And here’s to the hearts that love her!

ILLUSTRATION: “Ireland Watercolor Map” by Michael Tompsett. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

BACKGROUND: When Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a child, his father read to him from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. While a teenager, Yeats wished to imitate Thoreau by living on Innisfree, an uninhabited island in Lough Gill [County Sligo, Ireland]. Yeats would visit the land at Lough Gill at night — the trips taking him from the streets of Sligo to the remote areas around the lake, offering the contrasting images of the city and nature that appear in the poem’s text. While living in London, Yeats would walk down Fleet Street and long for the seclusion of a pastoral setting such as the isle. The sound of water coming from a fountain in a shop window reminded Yeats of the lake, and it is this inspiration that Yeats credits for the creation of the poem, written in 1888, when he was 23. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, Country Sligo, Ireland” by the Irish Image Collection. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,  the first Irishman so honored, for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after receiving the Nobel Prize. (SOURCE: wikipedia.org.)

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“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, Irish Poet and Dramatist (1865-1939)

Painting: “Blue William Butler Yates,” acrylic on canvas by Frank Cullen. Find prints of the portrait at fineartamerica.com.

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A prolific reader, former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2003 released a list of his 21 favorite books. Clinton, who honors his Irish ancestry, has a special place in his heart for  Irish poet William Butler Yeats. To celebrate Bill’s love of poetry and Will’s poetic genius, we include below one of our favorite Yeat’s poems.

WHEN YOU ARE OLD
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

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THE RAINBOW’S END

by LeeAnne McIlroy Langton

Years from now
Your grandchildren will
See what you dream of
This last night of your hunger
During the passage from Belfast
Across a sea of storms and slave bones:
Food
In abundance—
Phosphorescent corn bursting from husks,
Blood-colored tomatoes bouncing out of crates
Like giant rubber balls,
Pistachios and almonds raining silently from leafy boughs,
Lettuce heads blossoming open like gardenias,
Grapefruits the size of cannonballs
And oranges as sweet as your grandmother’s final tears
Rolling out of the trees
Swimming into the mouth of the Delta
Washed down with the precious nectar of
The California Aqueduct.
Years from now your granddaughter will
Feel that enchanted sense of deja vu
And you will try to explain to her
(Through the whispers in the grass)
That she is living the vision of the dream you had
The last night on that ship
When you had
Nothing in your stomach
Except a moldy crust of bread
And nothing in your heart
Except the tiniest seeds
Of hope

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“The Rainbow’s End” and other poetry by LeeAnne McIlroy Langton will appear in the Green Anthology, a collection of poetry & prose by writers from the U.S., U.K., and Europe — available from Silver Birch Press on March 15, 2013.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LeeAnne McIlroy Langton is a Senior English Language Fellow for The U.S. Department of State and Georgetown University as well as a lecturer at California State University, Long Beach. A native Californian, she earned a BA in Linguistics from UCLA. and an MA in Linguistics from CSULB. In 2011, she was named “Most Valuable Professor” by the Honors Program at CSULB, where she also works as a faculty mentor for first-generation college students. She is the mother of two daughters.

Painting: “Girl with Four-Leaf Clover” by Winslow Homer

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Today, on my desk, I found a beautiful Canadian dime (like the one on the right — only mine was dated 2009). It probably fell out of my wallet sometime during the past week and I didn’t notice it until I started to dust (a never-ending job in L.A. — the dustiest place I’ve ever seen!).

And if L.A. is the dustiest place I’ve ever seen, I’ll use some superlatives when describing the Canadian dime — the shiniest, silveriest, most gorgeous work-of-art coin I’ve ever seen. On Wikipedia, I learned that the ship on the Canadian dime is called a Bluenose (“a fishing and racing schooner from Nova Scotia built in 1921…”). Wikipedia stated that the coin is “magnetic…[because] it has a high steel content.” (I couldn’t find a magnet to try it out.)

Kudos to coin designer Emanuel Hahn for his beautiful creation (FYI, Queen Elizabeth II is on the other side — she looks good, too).

There was something magical about the Canadian dime and its beautiful sailing ship appearing on my desk — and the discovery made me think of one of my favorite Van Morrison tunes “Into the Mystic.” Here is the first stanza:

We were born before the wind

Also younger than the sun

Ere the bonnie boat was won 

As we sailed into the mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sky

Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.

***

Listen to Van the Man sing “Into the Mystic” live here.

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Some years ago, I read statistics about the percentage of income that people in various countries spend on cultural activities — music, tickets to plays, visits to museums, and the like — and the Irish came out on top (if I remember correctly, by a wide margin). I don’t think the U.S. was even in the top five (I will keep looking for this chart — can’t locate at the moment).

I think we could promote greater participation in cultural offerings among the U.S. populace by making these activities affordable. For example, the City of Chicago offers free museum passes through its library system (During a visit last summer, I took full advantage of this  — with my mother’s library card — thank you, Mr. Mayor!). Some theaters offer free tickets to people who will serve as ushers. Most major cities host a variety of free outdoor events during the summer. I am always on the lookout for affordable activities to spark my imagination and uplift my soul.

Like most people today, I don’t have the disposable income to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets to major concerts and theatrical events — but I really, really, really wanted to see War Horse when it hit Los Angeles. Fortunately, I was able to purchase a ticket for $20 (plus a $6 service fee) through GoldStar.com. Yes, the seat was in the upper, upper, upper balcony in the top, top, top row — but that was just fine with me. The show was wonderful — moving and inspiring and life-affirming. If the War Horse tour swings your way, find a way to see this amazing show.

I first read about War Horse in the New York Times when the show was running in NYC — and don’t recall ever reading such a rave review. When I learned that the play was based on a book by Michael Morpurgo, I read the book as soon as I could get a copy from the library. (Find it here.) What a book! The horse (Joey) is the narrator — something that, I guess, didn’t translate to the play or eventual movie. I was in awe of how the author (Morpurgo) was able to pull off a horse narrator and make me completely buy it.

Kudos to you, Mr. Morpurgo — for bringing to life this wonderful creation that has seen so many successful incarnations (book, play, movie). You are truly inspired. Thank you!