It was with great sadness that we in Poetry Ireland heard of the tragic death of Allihies poet John O’Leary on Tuesday. John has been a stalwart of the Writers in Schools Scheme and a good friend who will be greatly missed. As part of the Writers in Schools Scheme over the years John undertook a lot of innovative work with young people in west Cork, particularly in Beara Community School.
John was born in Boston in 1954 and studied at Trinity College Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin. He came to west Cork about 35 years ago and settled in Allihies, where he farmed and he was particularly well known for raising thoroughbred horses. Deeply involved in arts activities in west Cork and a keen sailor, his great love of the sea and of west Cork was reflected in his poetry and in the titles of his two poetry collections, Sea (2003) and Salt (2004) both published by Zenane Independent Media, Seattle. Visiting Professor and Writer-in-Residence at Illinois Wesleyan University, his work also appears in The Great Book of Ireland.
We in Poetry Ireland would like to extend our sympathies to his family and friends and to the whole community in west Cork.
XXVII. (from Sea, 2003 by John O’Leary)
To Do List:
1. find dragon and slay
2. exorcise cat
3. prove conclusively the identity
of Beauty and Truth.
4. watch, fast and pray
5. sail Atlantic single-handed
6. write name in water
7. return Teach Yourself Waltzing Tape
8. weep for Adonais and feel bad
9. write her a letter telling her
you love her
10. go out into the midnight
and check for new stars.