Poet Laureate: Dairena Ní Chinnéide

Dairena Ní Chinnéide is the Poet Laureate for Listowel, Co Kerry. A bilingual poet living in West Kerry, Dairena has published eleven collections to date.

“Cúis áthais dom bheith páirteach sa tionscadal íontach seo,” a deir sí. “Braithim mórtas as mo chontae dúchais, Ciarraí, is an saibhreas atá romham.”

“I look forward to immersing myself in the richness and literary heritage of Listowel and its hinterlands to create a poem worthy of its subject,” she says. “As a West Kerry writer, I embrace the connections between the two places and hope to find the words to weave the cultural and literary threads the county in its broadest sense is famous for.”

“Tiocfaidh na focail chugham as Gaeilge is déanfad mo dhícheall leagan Béarla a sholáthar don bpobal i gcoitinne.”

Dairena’s bio

Dairena Ní Chinnéide is a bilingual poet. The most recent of her eleven published collections is Tairseach (Éabhlóid) 2016. deleted by Salmon Poetry (2019) is her first collection in English. Among her previous bilingual collections are Fé Gheasa : Spellbound, Arlen House, (2016), and An Trodaí & Dánta Eile / The Warrior & Other Poems, Cló Iar Chonnacht, (2006).

She has received numerous awards for her writing including Irish Language Literature Bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland, Ealaín na Gaeltachta and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. She has facilitated creative writing workshops with Poetry Ireland's Writers in Schools programme, the Unfinished Book Project and is currently Writer in Residence with the language and culture organisation Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne in partnership with Ealaín na Gaeltachta. Dairena is a former broadcaster, journalist, television producer and interpreter.

(Photo credit: Lisa Ní Laoire)

Dairena presented Listowel’s Town Poem at at various Culture Night events taking place on the evening of 17 September. You can find the full text of her poem below.

Lios Tuathail

Ó thuaidh i gCiarraí
bíonn sruth ag líonadh
fé threas abhann, ag rith leis na cianta
spleodar pinn á chur i scríbhinn
rith gach rás is rachairt daoine
ar chapaill is spórt 'san geall is déine
caid, comhrá is cuntais scríte
Lios Tuathail na laoch, na leabhar 's na laoithe
ón dTeampaillín Bán is ocras daoine
Fial bean Lughaidh mhic Íotha tréigthe
in uiscí na Féile tá draíocht is éigse
scéal ar gach sráid is margadh déanta
bainne bó bleacht ag ceiliúradh scéalta
stáitse do thug do dhrámaí oilte
an cuirtín ard is máistrí soilsithe
na scríbhneoirí snasta a mharc is a ghéill dúinn
luach a gcuid saothair, saibhreas tréanmhar
is foireann ná' géilleann an chaid go héasca
mórtas áite, treibhe, is briathra
Lios Tuathail, daingean na bpeannairí léannta.


Through the pavement cracks
of this market town
old tales flow like the river
you can tell the ghosts have stories
ordinary people going about their days
as swallows swoop above the Feale
Mc Mahon, Keane, Kennelly, Fitzmaurice, Walsh
names fall from lips at every turn
loose words letting phrases dance
around the square, literature
finds its happy home here
among the half empty pubs
the streets that sing of this solitary trade
words in a North Kerry window display
tell of those past and yet to come
on a quiet summer's day
the Three Sister rivers blend
the lofty thoughts, the plain-spoken words
of everyday life
loose amongst the ragged reeds
lying on a bed of soft syllables
longing to be spoken.