The Best-Loved Irish Poem of the Last 100 Years
What is your most-loved Irish poem of the last century? RTÉ A Poem for Ireland is a major new RTÉ campaign which aims to get the public talking about the poems they feel are the most-loved Irish poems of the past 100 years.
In this era of centenaries, RTÉ looks back at the Irish poems and poets of the past 100 years and asks the public to help us identify the Irish poems of the past century that we love the most. Whether it’s a poem you studied at school and loved; one that stood out for you at a wedding or funeral, a poem you came across at an important moment in your life, or one your father or mother used to recite; whether it’s a love poem, a political poem, a poem about nature, life, loss, emigration, and whether it’s in Irish or in English, it doesn’t matter. As long as it’s an Irish poem, published in the last century, and you love it, then tell us, and tell us why you love it.
The campaign will be spearheaded by The Works, RTÉ One’s flagship arts show, and RTÉ Radio 1’s The John Murray Show in partnership with Poetry Ireland and An Post. RTÉ’s A Poem for Ireland will roll out over the course of six months, from its launch on The John Murray Show and The Works on September 26th to the unveiling of the Irish public’s final choice in March 2015. It will be accompanied by a major digital site where the public can nominate, read and vote for poems. The digital site will build in scale and content as the campaign progresses.
Phase 1: Nominations (26 September– 14 November 2014)
During the first phase of the campaign (September – November 2014) the public will be asked to nominate the Irish poem(s) of the past century they feel the Poem For Ireland Jury should include on a list of ten poems that will go forward for public debate and discussion in January 2015. The poems can be in Irish or in English and can cover any topic: life, politics, relationships, history, nature, emigration, loss, social issues, love. As long as the poem is an Irish poem, published between January 1914 and December 2014, and it stands out for you in some way, then it’s eligible for consideration.
A dedicated website on RTÉ.ie will allow people at home and abroad to suggest poems for inclusion on the final list of ten poems. An Post is supporting RTÉ A Poem for Ireland with a Freepost address, to enable as many people as possible to take part, free-of-charge, in this national effort.
Once the nominations close, a jury of poetry experts and lovers will be tasked with compiling a list of ten Irish poems that tell the story of Ireland over the past 100 years in the words of its great poets. Their choices will reflect the most popular choices from the public nomination process; but their task is also to include the widest possible range of poets, subjects and eras, in order to enable the liveliest possible national conversation about Irish poetry of the past 100 years once the list is announced.
Poetry Ireland has also partnered with RTÉ for RTÉ A Poem For Ireland. Poetry Ireland and The National Library of Ireland’s Poetry Aloud project is a nationwide poetry reciting competition involving over 1,600 schools. The competition fosters a love of poetry among secondary school students throughout the island of Ireland. The students taking part in this year’s Poetry Aloud competition will be encouraged to choose Irish poems from the past 100 years to recite. And the 2014 Poetry Aloud winners and runners-up will be filmed reciting one of the ten poems from the final list. Their performances of the shortlisted poems will be broadcast on RTÉ One during the six-week final stage of the campaign.
Phase 2: Voting (30 Jan – 8 March 2015)
A brand-new landmark RTÉ One documentary telling the story of Irish poetry from the bards to the present day will launch the 6-week voting campaign in January 2015. The shortlisted ten poems will be announced on 30th January 2015 and over the next six weeks, the public will have the chance to engage with all ten shortlisted poems, across television, radio, online and mobile, and vote for their RTÉ A Poem For Ireland.
The RTÉ A Poem for Ireland winning poem will be announced live on RTÉ One on 13th March 2015 and published by An Post on a free postcard.
Special Advisor to the Campaign
Niall MacMonagle is a writer, lecturer, critic and broadcaster. He taught English at Wesley College Dublin and writes a weekly art column for the Sunday Independent. He has edited several anthologies including Lifelines, Real Cool, Outside In, Slow Time, Off the Wall, The Open Door Book of Poetry and the textbooks TEXT: A Transition Year English Reader and the Poetry Now anthologies for Leaving Cert. He has served on the Board of the National Library of Ireland. Niall also founded the Poetry Aloud competition twenty-one years ago, a national competition which encourages secondary school students to recite poetry, and which last year saw students from over 1,600 schools participating.
John Kelly (Chair)
Writer and broadcaster John Kelly presents RTÉ Television’s flagship arts show, The Works. He also presents The John Kelly Ensemble on RTÉ lyric fm and Radio Clash on RTÉ 2XM. Over the years, John has interviewed many leading figures in the music and arts world and has written several books including From Out of the City, published in April 2014 by Dalkey Archive Press.
Damien Dempsey is often described as an urban poet. He has been an avid fan of poetry from a young age and his lyrics draw on the works of a wide range of poets and writers, both from Ireland and beyond.
Catriona Crowe is Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland. She is also a member of the Royal Irish Academy and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Limerick. She contributes regularly to the broadcast and print media on cultural and historic matters.
Maria Johnston received her Doctorate in English Literature in 2007 and has since worked as a Lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, the Mater Dei Institute (DCU) and Oxford University. She is a well-known poetry critic and is currently working on a book on contemporary Irish poetry.
Anne Doyle has a BA English and History and a postgraduate diploma in Education from UCD. Her love of books and literature led her to take up a job as a librarian. After a stint at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Anne joined the RTÉ Newsroom, retiring in 2011. She says: “I read poetry for pleasure. I’m not academically knowledgeable about poetry, but love it. It’s in the heart.”
John FitzGerald is a graduate of UCC (BA in English and Philosophy, 1983), University College Dublin and the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. He is the University Librarian at UCC. In his professional roles John has consistently fostered and promoted literary activities – around poetry in particular– most recently in acquiring for UCC The Great Book of Ireland.
Rióna Ní Fhrighil
Rióna Ní Fhrighil is a lecturer in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the National University of Ireland, Galway. She teaches contemporary Irish-language prose and poetry at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. She is editor of Filíocht Chomhaimseartha na Gaeilge (Cois Life, 2012), a collection of critical essays on contemporary Irish-language poetry. She has published numerous academic articles and book chapters on contemporary Irish-language poetry.
Twitter: @RTEPoetry #rtelovepoetry
For further information:
Sandra Byrne, RTÉ Radio Senior Press Officer, Tel: 01 208 2506/ 087 249 3048 email: email@example.com
Sinead Harrington, RTÉ TV Press Officer, Tel: 01 208 2667/ 087 666 9311 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
This year on Culture Night (Friday 19 September), Poetry Ireland is presenting readings, performances and open mic opportunities in atmospheric venues is around Dublin, in collaboration with Hodges Figgis, Children’s Books Ireland, Irish Georgian Society, Irish Writers’ Centre, the Arts Council and Wicklow County Council.
The events on the evening include storytelling for children and an open mic session hosted by Dermot Bolger at Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street, spoken word and music performances at the Irish Georgian Society with artists including Iarla Ó’Lionáird and Temper-Mental MissElayneous, screenings of two films directed by Alan Gilsenan and readings by winners and finalists from the Trócaire Poetry Ireland Competition at the Irish Writers’ Centre.
Poetry Ireland will also present special guests including Diarmaid Ferriter, Dónal Lunny, Paul Murray and Alan Gilsenan reading from the critically acclaimed anthology Poems that make Grown Men Cry at the Irish Georgian Society and at the Arts Council tent in Merrion Square.
Poetry Ireland @ Hodges Figgis, Dawson Street (Friday 19 September, 5-9pm)
Poetry Ireland and Hodges Figgis present storytelling for children with author Debbie Thomas (5pm) and storyteller Nuala Hayes (6.10pm), along with readings by young finalists from ‘It’s up to us’, the Trócaire Poetry Ireland poetry competition (5.30pm). Students from CBS James’s Street, St Paul’s CBS, Brunswick Street and St Aidan’s Community School, Tallaght will perform as part of WRaPParound, an initiative of the Junior Certificate Schools Programme Library Project and Poetry Ireland, which brings performance poetry and spoken word into the classroom (from 7pm). Aspiring poets are invited to participate in an open mic session hosted by Dermot Bolger (7-9pm), as well as readings by writer Paul Lenehan (7.30pm) and poet Colm Keegan (8.30pm). Culture Night at Hodges Figgis also includes a signing by author Derek Landy and a performance by the St Patrick’s Cathedral Boys’ Choir.
Poetry Ireland @ Irish Georgian Society, South William Street (Friday 19 September, 6-9pm)
Poetry Ireland and the Irish Georgian Society (IGS) present ‘A Moment in Time’, spoken word and music in the beautifully restored City Assembly House, an eighteenth-century building of historical, artistic and architectural importance, now home to the IGS. The line up for the evening includes poet Moya Cannon (6pm), poet and hiphop artist Temper-Mental MissElayneous, folk duo Twin Headed Wolf (7pm), singer songwriter Mick McAuley, sean nós singer Iarla Ó’Lionáird, actor Will O’Connell (8.30pm) and performance poet Erin Fornoff (8.50pm). Two films directed by Alan Gilsenan, Paul Durcan, The Dark School and The Green Fields of France will also be screened during the evening.
In the Irish Georgian Society (7.45pm) and in the Arts Council tent in Merrion Square (6-7pm) Poetry Ireland will also present readings from Poems that make Grown Men Cry (ed Anthony and Ben Holden) with special guest readers including historian Diarmaid Ferriter, musician Dónal Lunny, novelist Paul Murray and writer/film-maker Alan Gilsenan.
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry is an anthology in which one hundred men – distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theatre and human rights – confess to being moved to tears by poems that continue to haunt them. Their selections include classics by visionaries such as Walt Whitman, WH Auden, and Philip Larkin, as well as contemporary works by masters including Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and poets who span the globe from Pablo Neruda to Rabindranath Tagore.
Poetry Ireland @ Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Square North (Friday 19 September, 7.30-10.30pm)
This year Poetry Ireland, Irish Writers’ Centre and Children’s Books Ireland are delighted to collaborate to present readings for all ages on Culture Night. ‘Takin’ the Mic’, a special open mic event, welcomes writers and performers of all genres to participate on the night (7.30-10.30pm). The evening will also featureperformances by Shirley McClure and readings by winners and finalists from the Trócaire Poetry Ireland Competition with Trócaire Poetry Ambassador Geraldine Mitchell.
Poetry Ireland @ Bray Library (Friday 19 September, 6pm)
Join Booker winning novelist and short story writer Anne Enright at Bray Library as she reads from her recent work.
Poetry Ireland @ Blessington Library (Friday 19 September, 6.30pm)
Poetry Ireland and Blessington Library present ‘The Science of Flann O’Brien’ with Dermot Diamond and Fergus Cronin.
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:
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.
27 April 2014
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.
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 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 www.stevesimpson.com, performance poetry with Temper Mental Miss Elayneous (Elayne Harrington), www.facebook.com/Tempermentallyill, who performed a specially commissioned poem to mark the event; live animation of the introductory talk by Mica Warren www.micawarren.blogspot.ie, the choir from St. Brigids Girls National School Killester, and Music Generation’s traditional music ensemble from Mayo, Gealóga www.musicgeneration.ie
Congratulations to 2013 Poetry Ireland Introductions readers Madeleine Barnes and Caoilinn Hughes, whose poetry books will be published in the coming months.
The November-December issue of Poetry Ireland News, due out shortly, will contain information about applying for the 2014 Introductions Readings series.