Poet Laureate: Kate Newmann

Kate Newmann is the Poet Laureate for Ballycastle, Co Antrim. Kate, who has published five collections of poetry, has a special connection to the coastal town.

“My mother, Joan Newmann, and I lived in Ballycastle for seven years, and she established the Ballycastle Writers, which is still in existence, “ she says. “We were actively engaged in ‘Let Me Take You to the Island’ festival on Rathlin, instigated by Heather Newcombe and the Ballycastle Writers.

“For the Arts Council, I held a writing residency, working with all the schools, with community groups and the general public in the production of a book, Lir’s Feathered Children, with a public performance in Sheskburn Recreation Centre. This Poetry Town Laureateship is an innovatory and important project, especially directed by Maria McManus.”

Kate’s bio

Kate Newmann worked in the Ethnological Museum of Crete before studying English at King’s College Cambridge. As Junior Fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast, she compiled the Dictionary of Ulster Biography and became editor of the Publications Department. She attained an MA from the University of Ulster.

After moving to live in Donegal, she facilitated creative writing in various venues, including residencies at the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry; Down Lisburn Health Trust and in Ballycastle. During this period, she held workshops, on behalf of Pushkin Trust, Education and Library Boards, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Councils, in 584 schools in Ireland. She also held workshops with adult groups and teacher training colleges.

She is co-founder of the Summer Palace Press.  She has published five collections of poetry, and has given readings in India, Colombia, Greece, Mexico and Turkey. Her new collection is due in Spring 2022.

Kate presented Ballycastle’s Town Poem at a special event in Ballycastle on 11 September. You can read the full text of her poem below.


That turn off the main road when the lighthouse beam
from Rathlin tells you where and who you are.

All-Day Breakfast and a bottle of Pinot Noir.

Great hugs from people who can greet you right.

Mist on Fairhead, out-of-season café,
a chip paper flapping like gull’s wing.

Armando’s ice cream and Armando’s ice cream.
A small child under a huge sky.
Sand, pebbles, tides teaching their own unstoppable.

The long-dead feeling our footfall on self-heal, sphagnum.
Solstice light aligning, shining into the deepest chamber of the heart.

Falling asleep outside to the soporific breath
of monkshood and old-fashioned roses.

Easter lilies rising up above all the flowers in Miss Thompson’s garden.

Two boys finding the flight and the fall and the flight
in the Lammas Fair swingboat. Long before
one was swallowed by his own Slough na Mora.

The boat to Rathlin – out of this world.