Sunday, November 29, 2009

More on the Patrick Kavanagh Weekend

The Patrick Kavanagh Centre (above) is the renovated disused Catholic Church in Inniskeen in the graveyard of which the poet himself is buried. It is a pleasant venue with artwork and mementoes of the poet here and there.

On Friday evening it was packed for a lively variety of entertainments. When I arrived after a being treated to a meal by the committee local Uilleann piper Patrick Martin was finished his set.

Then the results of the poetry competition were announced and prizes and certs presented. No sponsor this year. The judge spoke saying that there were in the region of 150 entries this year which is close to the normal. Of these he regared thirty as being serious contenders. These he narrowed down to 10 then to 5. These became the winner, Martin Dyer, the joint seconds, Shirley McLure and Teresa Lally and joint thirds, Justin McCarthy and myself.

Martin then read some of his prize-winning entry. His reading style was very confident and slow and he entranced the audience by his pauses and emphases. His material was based on everyday events, real and imagined.

I missed the start of Frank McNally's talk because photographs had to be taken but I enjoyed what I did hear. He talked of Kavanagh, the contrary man who went out of his way to make enemies especially among the writers and would-be writers of Dublin. A man who was neither at home in Monaghan or in Dublin. He especially talked of Kavanagh the newpaperman, the columnist for a number of papers and the publisher of the famous Kavanagh's Weekly. Nothing very new here but a well reasoned picture of a difficult man.

Then poet Ciaran Carson played the tin whistle and read some of his own poems including the well-known Belfast Confetti finishing with an emotional rendition of Kavanagh's poem Innocence.

Pádraigin Ní Uallacháin works with Carson at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Belfast and with harpist Helen Davies she sang songs in Irish and English from the whole history of Irish song. An entrancing set. She finished with Kavanagh's Raglan Road. This was terrific. I have heard this song murdered so many times by singers who seem to want it to last forever and drag it out that it is great to hear it done well - at a proper pace. Padraigin is the author of The Hidden Ulster - People, Songs and Traditions of Oriel.


Liz said...

Congratulations, Michael, that's great. I have met Shirley before too at the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series, I am delighted for her.

Michael Farry said...

Thanks Liz.