Poet Laureate: Billy Fenton

Billy Fenton is the Poet Laureate for Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. A poet and short story writer, Billy was born in and grew up in the town.

“It is a great privilege to be appointed Poet Laureate for Carrick-on-Suir for the all-island Poetry Towns project, particularly when I reflect on the wealth of literary talent that the town and area holds, from Charles Kickham, to Michael Coady, and many others,” he says.

“The Old Bridge in Carrick was built in 1447 and is still in use, symbolising the history and continued vibrancy of the town, and I will aim to use this role to help strengthen connections across Carrick and its hinterland, and to celebrate that most ancient of forms, poetry.”

Billy’s bio

Billy Fenton was born and grew up in Carrick-on-Suir. He writes both poetry and short stories. His poetry has been published in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland ReviewIrish Independent, CrannógHonest UlstermanAbridged, Crossways, and many others.

He was shortlisted for a Hennessy Award in 2018, the Fish poetry prize in 2021, was chosen as a mentee for the Words Ireland National Mentoring Programme in 2019, and was a runner-up in the Waterford Poetry Prize 2020. He regularly reads at the Carrick-on-Suir Poetry+ Open Mic events.

Billy presented Carrick-on-Suir’s Town Poem at a special event on 10 September. You can find out the full text of the poem below.

The Salmon

Above the Old Bridge, beyond
the Salmon Weir, near the place

where sea meets river − a wall
paved with names: Power, Walsh,

Robinson, Callaghan, and other
river people. I can still see

their faces as I look up through
the shimmer of flow, their bodies

bent over cots, hands drawing in
the net after it snaps shut.

High above them the Town Clock,
crowned with a salmon of bronze –

its eyes drift over the spine of
Main Street, past The Bombay,

Hearn’s, Meany’s, Bourke’s,
The Carraig, down through

medieval lanes, along silent quays,
into flood and ebb

                                 ebb and flood…