Poet Laureate: Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan is the Poet Laureate for Cootehill, Co Cavan. The poet and playwright has had many connections with the town over the years.

“I’m thrilled to hear of my appointment to Cootehill for Poetry Town 2021,” he says. “I have had many literary associations with the town over the years. One of my first literary awards was winning The Cootehill Arts Festival Poetry Award, adjudicated by Dermot Healy. Since then, I have given several readings at Cootehill Arts Festival. I very much look forward to the task.”

Noel’s bio

Noel Monahan has published seven collections of poetry with Salmon Poetry. An eight collection, Celui Qui Porte Un Veau, a selection of French translations of his work was published in France by Alidades, in 2014. A selection of Italian translations of his poetry was published in Milan by Guanda in November 2015: Tra Una Vita E L’Altra.

His poetry was prescribed text for the Leaving Certificate English, 2011- 2012. His play: ‘Broken Cups’ won the RTE P.J. O’Connor award in 2001 and Chalk Dust, a long poem of his, was adapted for stage and directed by Padraic McIntyre (Ramor Theatre, 2019). During the Covid-19 lockdown, Noel had to reinvent his poetry readings and he produced a selection of Short Films: ‘Isolation & Creativity’, ‘Still Life’, ‘Tolle Lege’ and A Poetry Day Ireland Reading for Cavan Library (2021).

You can watch Noel read Cootehill's Town Poem here. The full text of the poem can be found below.

Cootehill, Poetry Town 2021

Cootehill is theatrical and witty,
A love story that speaks its name.
Coote the groom and Hill the bride married,
Made history, gave the town its name and fame.
          Linen markets full of sleep
          Linen sheets and pillow slips
          Dreams of blue bloom on linen fields
         Of flax fun and flurry:
         Pulling, retting, scutching, hackling ...
Oh! The warp and weft of it all
Where Moravians, Presbyterians, Quakers settled
Spun, wove and praised God.

Now Shoppers with facemasks on
                                  Crowd super markets, mini markets ...
          Beer barrels line Maxwells Lane, nightfall on Chapel Lane,
          Feet shuffle, keys jingle in the dark,
          A lost soul looks up at the moon. The door closes,
          Someone coughs on Market Street.

Erica’s Fairy Forest is truly magical
Black Lake looks across at the White Lake,
Wood Lough is silver-grey,
Leaf language whispers from tree to tree
In Bellamont Park where the stately home still stands.                       

When the poet Dermot Healy
Enticed Footsbarn Theatre to Cootehill
The town fell under its spell : A Midsummer Night’s Dream
More talk about marriage, Theseus and Hippolyta this time.

Cootehill is theatrical, a love story that began
When Charles Coote wed Frances Hill.
Take to its streets, let its doors and windows open.