Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Francis Ledwidge Awards

Sorry Sir, We don't actually serve many coffees here, the barman told me in McDowell's bar, Inchicore, last evening when I asked him if they had any biscuits or bars to go with my coffee. I was there for the annual Francis Ledwidge Poetry Awards and he probably served more coffee last night than he did the whole rest of the year.

A most enjoyable event, a very friendly atmosphere with great poetry some serious and some not at all serious. Inchicore Ledwidge Society chairman Liam O'Meara and secretary Michael O'Flanagan made everyone feel at home, remarking on the mix of old friends of the competition and new names present.

Liam has done extensive work on Ledwidge and has published a biography of the poet. He explained why there is an Inchicore Ledwidge society - the poet spent some time in the nearby Richmond Barracks. Liam is working on a history of the barracks.

Most of those mentioned in the awards were present to read their offerings and receive their awards. Third prize winner, our group member Evan Costigan was represented by his parents and his poem was read by a friend. Second prize winner, Mary Turley McGrath, travelled from Donegal to read her poem Transitions.

This year's winner Ray Mullen (pictured above with Liam O'Meara) had only to come from Tallaght. His poem Lucia was short, abrupt even with a wonderful ending. A worthy winner! He paid tribute to the Virginia House Writers Group in Tallaght of which he is a member.

Ledwidge would have been proud of the poetic representation from his native Meath. As well as myself- a blow-in of forty years standing - Orla Fay and Sinead McDevitt read their commended poems. Orla's got special mention being on the theme of Ledwidge himself. Sean Ross, also from Meath, was unable to be present.

I was asked to read the highly commended poet by Adrienne Leavy a Dundalk native now living and studying in Arizona. A daunting pleasure to read someone else's work in public, not full aware of all the nuances of its language but determined to do it as well as possible.

After the awards there were readings from society members, former winners and Liam and Michael read from their work to great acclaim. Kilkenny poet, Willie Joe Meally, who was also at the Kavanagh weekend, was present and recited one of his poems about Kilkenny coalminers by heart and also gave us a song.

All in all a great night. Tonight Ballyjamesduff for poetry, prose, songs and Christmas Cheer!

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