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Celebrating Seamus Heaney

On Wednesday 23rd April, Poetry Ireland and Dublin City Council hosted a magnificent event in the National Concert Hall to commemorate and celebrate our recently lost great poet and great spirit, Seamus Heaney. I had come in from New York that morning, where the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was being mourned by many. Another great writer who took his world responsibilities seriously had left us, and Seamus Heaney’s name was mentioned in the same breath. These are rare people, who can stir the human imagination in the places they come from and much farther afield. They preside over the real world of human need, longing, joy, sadness and ingenuity. We need them.

The night consisted of Seamus’s poetry, read by an array of distinguished poets, and music, played and sung by some of our finest musicians. There were no speeches, just short introductions from John Kelly, an exemplary host; only the pure exposure of the range of Heaney’s extraordinary body of work, presented to us by his fellow poets in a beautifully chosen selection. The choices gave us the breadth of Heaney’s many concerns – love, family relationships, landscape, the conflict in the North, the human spirit under pressures both good and bad, above all, detail, his eye for the look or the phrase or the gesture which defined someone, or his precise knowledge of spaces and their contents, of fields and their mysteries, of customs and practices which give meaning to ordinary life.

To hear these poems read by Michael Longley, Tomas Venclova, the prodigy Niall O’hAnnagáin, Colette Bryce, Theo Dorgan, Medbh McGuckian, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Ciaran Carson, John McAuliffe, Peter Fallon, Paula Meehan, Paul Muldoon, President Michael D. Higgins and Seamus himself, each with their own unique inflections, accents, styles and grip on the poems, was to witness the power and modesty which characterised the man and his work. He knew he had power, and wielded it modestly, helpfully, responsibly and beautifully. And because all of these poets behaved and read so impeccably and humbly, we were able to hear the work in all of its pure intention, skill and intelligence. For this alone, the night was priceless.

It is invidious to single out any of them, but Michael Longley’s The Harvest Bow (“The end of art is peace”), Theo Dorgan’s A Kite for Michael and Christopher (“Stand in here in front of me / And take the strain.”) Peter Fallon’s and Lisa Hannigan’s Their Dialogue: A Villanelle for Marie (“Love is longing too”), John McAuliffe’s Casualty (“He was blown to bits / Out drinking in a curfew”), Paula Meehan’s In Time (for Siofra) (“Energy, balance, outbreak”) and Paul Muldoon’s Keeping Going (“Do you hear me talking to you?”) stay in the mind. No-one could have served Seamus so well, except of course himself, and it was lovely, and sad, to hear him read The Given Note, The Blackbird of Glanmore and Postscript.

We also had the pleasure of hearing some wonderful music, from Liam O’Flynn, Paul Brady, Dónal Lunny, Zoë Conway, Neil Martin, Micheál Ó’Súilleabháin, Lisa Hannigan, John McIntyre, the RTE Concert Orchestra, and the legendary Paul Simon, who composed a perfect Paul Simon song from a mashup of some of the poems in Seeing Things, with some help from Paul Muldoon on the plane over from the US, and then added the master fiddler Martin Hayes into the mix to create something new and sublime:

“Dangerous pavements.

But this year I face the ice

With my father’s stick.”

Lisa Hannigan, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre delivered a celestial three-part harmony a capella version of Anahorish:

“Anahorish, soft gradient

of consonant, vowel-meadow”.

And Paul Brady sang Arthur McBride, about which nothing need be said but thanks, again. Liam O’Flynn played his pipes with his customary precision and beauty, and that presiding genius of Irish music, Dónal Lunny, cast his magic over a splendid tribute to Peadar O’Donnell.

A flawless evening like this does not happen without meticulous planning and execution, and Maureen Kennelly, Peter Fallon, Alan Gilsenan and Jane Alger deserve our thanks for the energy, intelligence and judiciousness they applied to the task. I hope and expect that the evening proved as consolatory, uplifting and fondly affectionate to Marie and her family as it did to the wider audience, who will be talking about it for a very long time. The family is still only eight months into that strange territory we inhabit when a beloved person is taken from us suddenly. The mixture of pride, love and extreme loss that they probably feel on these nights must be both consoling and heartbreaking. Paula Meehan says great poets never die; Seamus’s last message, so generously shared with us by Marie, was “noli timere”. The fearless beauty of his poetry shone out of every aspect of last Wednesday, and that will always remain.

Catriona Crowe

27 April 2014


New Planet Cabaret

New Planet Cabaret, edited by Dave Lordan,  is the first anthology to showcase the diversity and vitality of the post-2000 live arts scene in Ireland and features poets, spoken word artists, storytellers, playwrights, rappers, musicians, a fair few whose work crosses over some or all of these ancient categories and others who will fit into none.

The anthology also features 17 writers who submitted to the 6 month long on-air creative writing course  designed and led by Dave Lordan for RTE Arena, the majority of whom are being published at a national level for the first time.

As a public education project, the on-air creative writing course was a massive success, followed and enjoyed by thousands of radio listeners all over Ireland and beyond.

All proceeds from the Anthology will go to the Poetry Ireland Writer’s in Schools scheme, which funds encounters between writers and young people all over Ireland.

New Planet Cabaret is available online and from all good bookstores.

Further info:

New Island

Writers in Schools


‘Something Beginning with P’ Poetry Reading

Alan Clarke’s Illustration from Pictiúr, ‘The giraffe who lived in a shoe’, is featured in the O’Brien Press anthology, Something Beginning with P, edited by Seamus Cashman. To celebrate Pictiúr at IMMA, poets Tony Curtis and Larry O’Loughlin, two of the poets featured in Something Beginning with P, engage children and families in a poetry experience, with readings from the anthology and banter about the poetic arts. Children will be invited to do their own illustrations of poems from the anthology, with help from the Poetry-team.


ETAI Encountering the Arts Ireland Launch

ETAI launched by both the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan and the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, on the 27th November, in the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street, at 2.30 pm.

Ministers Jimmy Deenihan and Ruairí Quinn today marked an historic moment with the launch of ETAI (Encountering the Arts Ireland), which sees the coming together of many of the organisations and individuals, throughout the island of Ireland, who work to provide children and young people with quality arts and education experiences.

Speaking at the event Minister Deenihan said, “The promotion of Arts, particularly in an educational environment, has long been a passion of mine. Being a former teacher, I can say that I have first-hand knowledge of the importance in promotion of Arts, Music and Culture within the educational sphere. I believe that the collaboration of so many organisations under ETAI will be a landmark for a new era for the arts in education.”

Currently including more than thirty organisations and institutions, ETAI includes representatives from arts, education, culture and heritage (see attached list of members and websites), catering for the more than 800,000 children and young people currently in school in Ireland. This launch recognizes the need for collaboration, bringing together the existing wealth of knowledge, skills and expertise across the arts and education sectors.

During his speech Minister Ruairí Quinn said, “The arts have a key role to play in the education system, in providing for sensory, emotional, intellectual and creative enrichment and contributing to our children’s overall development. This alliance of over 30 organisations and institutions that we are launching today will be a powerful voice for the arts in education and we will be listening to that voice as we implement the Arts in Education Charter.”

The recently launched Arts in Education Charter (January 2013), acknowledges that arts-in- education does more than just give children and young people a creative outlet – it is an integral part of a vibrant and creative society, making a substantial contribution to innovation and the economy.

Ministers Quinn and Deenihan also acknowledged that “Arts provision for children and young people in and out of school is a challenge in our cultural landscape. This is recognised by practitioners, policy makers, educators and the public alike. However, this is a priority action area for our Departments. The Arts in Education Charter sets out a number of commitments, agreed by both Departments, so that arts education and arts-in-education complement each other.”

The launch included children and young people creating, performing and showcasing their own work across a variety of disciplines including a Monster Doodle with award winning illustrator Steve Simpson, performance poetry with Temper Mental Miss Elayneous (Elayne Harrington),, who performed a specially commissioned poem to mark the event; live animation of the introductory talk by Mica Warren, the choir from St. Brigids Girls National School Killester, and Music Generation’s traditional music ensemble from Mayo, Gealóga


Poetry Introductions

Congratulations to 2013 Poetry Ireland Introductions readers Madeleine Barnes and Caoilinn Hughes, whose poetry books will be published in the coming months.

Madeleine Barnes’s chapbook ‘The Mark My Body Draws In Light’ is available now from Finishing Line Press(, while Carcanet ( will publish Caoilinn Hughes’s ‘Gathering Evidence’ in February next year.

The November-December issue of Poetry Ireland News, due out shortly, will contain information about applying for the 2014 Introductions Readings series.


Two Irish Poets shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize

Poetry Ireland would like to extend their congratulations to Sinéad Morrissey and Maurice Riordan for being shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry.

Sinéad Morrissey has been chosen for her collection Parallax the fourth time her work has been shortlisted, and Maurice Riordan for The Water Stealer.

Sinéad Morrissey’s Parallax, published by Carcanet, was also shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Parallax is in the same thematic vein as Through the Square Window, blending closely observed detail of family life with observations of more panoramic scenarios.

Maurice Riordan’s The Water Stealer is published by Faber. Reviewing the collection in The Irish Times, John McAuliffe said: “Riordan puzzles over the recurrence and significance of certain feelings and events, but he also does more than simply register what happened. [He] invents other possibilities in poems which bear his very particular stamp and poise, with archaic words and philosophical ruminations slipped into a more conversational idiom.”


Conference: ‘The Expanded Lyric’, Queens University Belfast, 3 & 4 April 2014

‘The Expanded Lyric’ is a two-day interdisciplinary conference which aims to explore the state of the lyric poem in the contemporary world by bringing together writers and researchers in English Literature and Creative writing, artists, performers, musicians, filmmakers, designers, independent scholars and others for whom lyric poetry is a core part of their practice.

While the conference aims to be inclusive of a wide range of ideas and perspectives, other topics of interest are:

  • How contemporary practice and lyric poetry’s historical position(s)might compete, overlap, intersect, contradict and/or complement the other?
  • In what ways has this poetic form evolved and expanded on the page?
  • The expansion of the lyric poem beyond the page into a transmedia context, including but not limited to the visual arts, film, sound,
  • animation, music, dance, video, installation, performance
  • The relation between the lyric as sung and as spoken: i.e., given that most lyric poems are not set to music, wherein does their musicality actually lie?

They are interested in innovation on the part of the participants and are open to presentations which take on non-traditional and alternative forms.

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words for papers, readings, performances or screenings of 18- 20 minutes to the by 18 October 2013. In addition to your abstract, please include your contact details, a title for the proposed presentation, your intended presentation format and whether or not your presentation will require additional technological support.

The Expanded Lyric is co-organized by PhD students at Queens University Belfast & Newcastle University


Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival

Thursday 24th to Saturday 26th October 2013

The Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival is dedicated to poetry in all its forms and varieties, featuring the best of local, national, and international poets.

This year’s festival will feature evening performances by Anthony Cronin, Biddy Jenkinson, Macdara Woods, Hugh Maxton, David Wheatley, Adam Wyeth, and Jo Slade. There will also be lunchtime readings at the Hunt Museum featuring Ron Carey (Thursday) and Kerrie O’Brien (Friday). Other events include screenings of poetry films, an open mic session, a varied programme for schools, and the Young Poet of the Year Award. In addition, the yearly poetry anthology The Stony Thursday Book, edited this year by Paddy Bushe, will be launched at the festival.

Further details can be found on the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival website.


All Ireland Poetry Day

A day-long live streaming of poetry by some of Ireland’s finest poets is at the centre of Poetry Ireland’s celebration of All Ireland Poetry Day, 3rd October 2013. Poetry Ireland will host a six hour live stream from the Irish Writers’ Centre in Parnell Square, Dublin, which will feature readings by Dermot Bolger, Peter Sirr, Theo Dorgan and Enda Wyley, among others, as well as a panel discussion involving the new Ireland Chair of Poetry, Paula Meehan.

Other organisations and groups around the country will be part of the live transmission as they upload their own films of events in their own areas. The live stream will also feature a special tribute to Seamus Heaney involving Dublin school children, as well as film of Brendan Kennelly reading his poetry. The live stream will be available on from 10am – 5pm on the 3rd October.

This is the sixth year of All Ireland Poetry Day and there are events taking place all over the country. These include readings in Lisburn, Dundalk, Armagh, Mayo, Meath, Donegal and Tipperary.

Full details of these events can be found at

Watch it:

Share it: On Facebook, Twitter, Via email, or good old word-of-mouth. Share it with your friends, family, colleagues, and beyond.

When sharing it on Twitter, use these hashtags: #AllIrelandPoetryDay #AIPD #PoetryDay

For further details, contact: