Skip to content

A Stony Thursday

October 17, 2014

Ready to launch

Ready to launch

A storm broke as I set off yesterday evening from my parents’ house in Ennis, heading for the launch of The Stony Thursday Book at the Cuisle Poetry Festival. By the time I reached the edge of Limerick, a monsoon was pelting itself at the windscreen. I skirted around the back of the North Circular Road, along a roadway cut between its back gardens and the banks of the Shannon. In the downpour , afraid to take my eyes off the road, I flung a thought in the direction of  the first home I had known. Further on, before I headed for the bridge, I did the same to the last house on the left : my mother’s old home; where my Great-Grannie Fitzell had died.

IMG_1176 (2)

You submit. You hope. You get rejections. And – in the words of dear Samuel Beckett – you go on. Sometimes the email brings good news. In August, Peter Sirr – guest editor of this year’s Stony Thursday – emailed to say he was accepting two of my poems. He doesn’t know it, but his email couldn’t have arrived on a better day.

Knute Skinner, Jo Slade, Peter Sirr

Knute Skinner, Jo Slade, Peter Sirr

The book is a thing of beauty, thanks in no small part to the artwork by John Shinnors – one of my favourite artists. Among the many contributors are Sara Berkeley, Moya Cannon, Gerard Smyth, Mary O’Donnell, Fred Johnston, Thomas Lynch, Harry Clifton … I could go on and on.

It was great to meet Peter at last and there were a few familiar faces around. Eiléan NI Chuilleanáin and Macdara Woods will be reading later in the weekend. Both gave us a preview last night, reading their contributions to the anthology.  Also reading were John Sexton, Jo Slade, Noel King, Knute Skinner, Paddy Bushe … and your humble correspondent!

Later in the evening Paddy, Slovenian poet Veronika Dintinjana, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill gave marvellous readings of their work. The variety one encounters at poetry readings never ceases to amaze me. It was a hugely enjoyable evening. And while Paddy and Nuala may be familiar to some of you, return to them. Veronika’s work – she read in Slovenian and English – is like a precision bombing. A quiet comfortableness created, then a line comes in for the kill before you see it coming.

It was a special moment for me. The last time I had been in the Belltable (as it then was), I was acting with Island Theatre Company. Then, my Grannie was alive. Now, reading Limerick in Spring, 1918 I could bring her, her siblings, and my great-grandmother back – if only for a few moments. The poem is an attempt to funnel the Great War into an Irish domestic setting, and to acknowledge a part of Irish life that was almost written out the history books:  something as simple as giving soldiers a Sunday tea.

Fitzells and visitors

Fitzells and visitors

As the readings finished, Nuala Ní Dhomnaill, who was sitting across from me, said that she thought my poem was beautifully ‘achieved’. Well, dear Reader,  it was just as well I was sitting down, or I’d have fallen out of my standing. A compliment is always a lovely thing – but a compliment from Nuala was hug-yourself-good! Better still was the mini discussion about the context of the poem; about getting historical facts right; about the joys and frustration of research. Those few minutes, snatched before Nuala’s reading, were moments I’ll treasure.

That, and bringing my womenfolk home again.

Limerick in Spring, 1918

Limerick in Spring, 1918


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Michelines Three Conditions

micheline sheehy skeffington three conditions gender discrimination nui galway

Elliptical Movements

A blog by Billy Mills

Thoor Ballylee

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society

Buachaill Busan: Busan Boy

An Irishman's guide to life in big-city Busan, South Korea.

O' Canada

Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border

History at Galway

From fadó to not-so-fadó

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Comments on: About Móna and Ron

'Two loves I have, of Comfort and Despair' - Reading and Writing

Over The Edge

'Two loves I have, of Comfort and Despair' - Reading and Writing

The Stinging Fly

'Two loves I have, of Comfort and Despair' - Reading and Writing


'Two loves I have, of Comfort and Despair' - Reading and Writing

Medea999's Blog

Occasional writings

Celeste Augé

'Two loves I have, of Comfort and Despair' - Reading and Writing

Parlay-Voo Frawnsay?

The ramblings of an Irish girl in France


Writer and Journalist

%d bloggers like this: