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In Good Company

April 25, 2013

Michael Longley. Portrait by Colin Davidson

Michael Longley. Portrait by Colin Davidson

Seamus Heany.Photo by Sean O Connor

Seamus Heaney.Photo by Sean O Connor

As the song goes – ‘Of all the money that ‘ere I had, I spent it in good company’
Never was a truer word sung than about last night at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway. Our student pennies were spent well, in good company.

Cúirt 2013 was opened by Two Gentlemen of Hibernia.
Gentle men, indeed. Michael Longley and Seamus Heaney graced a packed house with their favour and, despite a few coughs, the audience returned the favour with sharp listening. Marvellous it was to hear those wonderful voices reading years’ old lines – now poignant, now strengthened, with the resonance of age.

And it was a lovely to hear them read poems by President Michael D. Higgins, who was there for the evening. ‘Michael D. stories’ were also tossed into the auditorium. I’d say our Pres. really enjoyed himself.

For those of you not of Ireland – we have managed to achieve one positive thing in the last few years: despite the grey rainy days and bleak economy, we elected Michael D. President. Poet, human rights activist, university lecturer and politician…he’s just Michael D. to everyone. I suspect most people who meet him these days forget to address him by his present title!

So – hats off to Heaney and Longley. Their tribute to Michael D., while a personal compliment to the man, was an acknowledgment of everything Michael D. believes: That our culture is not for sale.
That it should be central to our lives and those of our children.
That we need it now, more than ever.
That government should be protecting it and funding it – especially in the dark IMF days.

So, an evening of poetry became more than vowels, or the twisted-hazel bend to a phrase. It was the beginning of a meditation on what we have, what we are, who represents us, and what roads we choose as a nation.

And, I was in good company.

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