Tuesday, February 27, 2024

"An Apology for Our Survival" New Collection

My fourth poetry collection
For sale soon


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Boyne Writers - Trim Poetry Festival 2021

 A reading by members of Boyne Writers at this years virtual Trim Poetry Festival - poetry, prose, a letter and poetry videos.


More from the festival here: Trim Poetry Festival 2021

Friday, March 12, 2021

Matt & Michael's Lockdown. No 50

 This is the 50th of our weekly videos of poetry and song produced in the first instance for a Trim Nursing Home we were unable to visit during this pandemic but are enjoyed elsewhere as well. Most of the 50 are available on our YouTube channel: Matt & Michael Lockdown.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

New Poetry Book: Heart of Goodness by Carolyne Van Der Meer


This year marks the four hundredth anniversary of the birth of Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) the French-born nun who emigrated to Canada where she established a school to educate young girls, the poor, and children of First Nations. She founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, one of the first uncloistered religious communities in the Catholic Church. She was canonized in 1982, becoming Canada’s first female saint. 

To mark the anniversary Guernica Editions have just published HEART OF GOODNESS - The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems by Montreal poet Carolyne Van Der Meer. 

This bilingual book pays homage to this pioneering woman in a series of poems which explore Marguerite’s inner feelings at various stages in her life. The style is direct and contemporary, the short succinct lines giving a freshness and immediacy to the life and the thoughts of the pioneer as she faced the successes and the difficulties of her chosen mission. 

A lesser writer would get lost in the complexity of such an important life but Van Der Meer avoids this by focusing on important stages in the life and by the use of telling details and simple direct statements as, for instance, the first lines of the first poem:  

These trimmings and jewels

fine fabrics soft leather

leave me empty 

Very soon Marguerite has decided on her vocation, the furthering of women’s education, and again this is expressed in a few striking concise lines: 

in this man’s world

they are at a deficit

I will help them

become equals

God willing 

The perils and difficulties of Marguerite’s first voyage to Canada are likewise conveyed by the use of a few stark details: 

with no priest aboard

I found myself

ministering last rites eight times

bodies we left to sea graves

three months of God challenging us.


The poet shares not only the positive and hopeful moments of Marguerite’s life but also the uncertainties, the heartbreaks, the disappointments and her continual summoning of the courage to face all of these. All this is conveyed in simple language, pared to the essential as when her best friend and helper, Jeanne, dies Van Der Meer has Marguerite say: 

I feel

a deep

and blazing



and when she worries if her own weaknesses have contributed to the order’s difficulties:         

            have I been slipshod


has my desire to inspire

made me less a leader

less discerning

should I have been

a firmer guide


Carolyne Van Der Meer’s achievement in these poems is to capture the essence of this remarkable seventeenth century woman, humble but fiercely determined. She allows us a glimpse into Marguerite Bourgeoys’s soul, appreciate her deep spirituality and her practicality in thirty intricately crafted poems which, pared-down and polished, shine like their subject with sincerity, originality and fidelity to essential truths.

 A number of recent poetry collections have engaged with saints, Saint Francis of Assisi in the case of Francis: A Life in Songs by Ann Wroe  (Jonathan Cape, 2018) and the more obscure St Ethernan in the case of The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie (Picador, 2019) also a Canadian poet and this collection is a worthy companion to those. It is beautifully presented by the Canadian publisher Guernica Editions.

 Well done to the author, the publishers and all who helped in this important publication.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Friday, April 3, 2020

Poetry Ireland Day 2020 - Boyne Berries: The Covid Issue

Boyne Writers Group intends to mark Poetry Ireland Day 2020 in these remarkable times by compiling a special online issue of their magazine Boyne Berries. The magazine will be launched on 30 April 2020 and be available free, as a pdf download only.

Poets are invited to submit one poem only each to the editor, Orla Fay, who will choose in the region of 30 poems for the issue. Poems should adhere to the theme chosen by Poetry Ireland, “There will be time.” More information on their website. 

Poems should be no more than 40 lines long, use Times New Roman 12 and single spacing and be previously unpublished. Please include a short biographical note, which should be 50 words or less. If longer, all text after 50 words will be omitted. 

Submissions should be placed in the body of the email and attached as a word document. Submissions will be accepted until midnight on Sunday 19 April to orla.a.fay@gmail.com only.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Michael Farry Reads "Hairdo".

Another poem from the new collection, "Troubles". This is "Hairdo" based on the fact that some women had their hair cut short, "bobbed" during the war of independence, for "crimes" such as being friendly with the enemy. These cutting were inflicted by both sides in the conflict.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

"Troubles" launch postponed.

Please note that due to the current health crisis the launch of "Troubles" has been postponed as has Trim Poetry Festival.

You can purchase a copy by using the PayPal button on the right.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Troubles Cover

This is the cover of my forthcoming poetry collection, designed by Lotte Bender for Revival Press, Limerick. The photo is used with the permission of The National Library, Dublin.
The soldiers are Provisional Government of Ireland troops in Sligo on Easter Sunday 1922 for the election meeting addressed by Arthur Griffith.
The collection will be launched by poet, Anne Tannam, as part of Trim Poetry Festival, on 14 March 2020.

All invited!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Trim Poetry Competition Shortlist 2020

Thanks to the 138 poets who entered 345 poems in the 2020 Trim Poetry Competition. Entries came from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Wales, UK and USA.

The standard was very high and judging difficult. Finally the two judges, Orla Fay and Michael Farry, have announced the shortlist.

These poems will be included in Boyne Berries 27 to be launched on 13 March 2020 at Trim Poetry Festival and the winner and two runners-up will be announced the following evening.

SHORTLIST (in alphabetical order)

Bearing the Weight of Light by Matt Hohner, USA.
Bird's Eye View by Catherine Conlon, Kildare.
In the Darkroom by John D Kelly, Fermanagh.
Light Rail by David Butler, Wicklow.
Little Snowdrops by Martin Sykes, Mayo.
Mizpah Ring, Man's, circa 1902 by Maria Isakova Bennett, UK.
Nature Lesson by Marian Brannigan, Louth.
Postcard from Symi by Patrick Lodge, UK.
Talking in Pictures by Karen O'Connor, Kerry.
Tree Felling at Lissadell by Maeve McKenna, Sligo.

Friday, February 14, 2020


Cathal Buí Hedge School – Belcoo, Co Fermanagh

PRIZES:  1st £100: 2nd £60: 3rd £40. Plus a trophy

Winners announced at Cathalbui Hedge  School, Healthy Living Centre (beside the petrol station) Belcoo at 8pm on 12 July 2020

Entry is free – Closing date:  17 March  2020

Send entry to: belcoopoet@gmail.com

1 Include a name and a land address or country.
2 Place the poem in the body of the email – not an attachment.
3 The judges’ decision is final
4 Winners must be present on 12 July or nominate a delegate to receive the prize
5 State if you don’t want your entry published in the annual anthology.

Timetable for 12 July Hedge school

3pm: Joyce symposium: Featuring - The Dead, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.

8pm:   Competition prizes, judges’ comments and readings.

Poetry readings with Noel Monahan, Michael Farry and other poets.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Molly Courage

This is the figure of Courage from the monument to Daniel O’Connell at the southern end of O’Connell St, Dublin. The monument was designed and sculpted by John Henry Foley and unveiled in 1882. 

The four winged figures at the base, Patriotism, Courage, Eloquence and Fidelity, represent qualities attributed to O’Connell. The bullet hole in Courage’s right breast is said to have been inflicted during the 1916 Rising. 

I imagine her response in a prose poem, in the style of Joyce’s Molly Bloom. Called “Molly Courage”, it was first published in Limerick Writers Centre’s 1916-2016: An Anthology of Reactions

This poem will be included in my next collection, Troubles, to be published by Revival Press, Limerick in March 2020.

Irish poet, Paula Meehan, has written a poem in the voice of the figure of Fidelity from the same O’Connell monument.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Pat Gallagher

Pat Gallagher (1865-1959) of Creevane, Coolaney, Co Sligo makes an appearance in my new poetry collection which is to be published by Revival Press, Limerick in March.

Pat, my maternal great grandfather, was secretary of Killoran parish United Irish League (UIL) club from 1901 until the club faded away because of the Great War and the postponement of Home Rule around late 1914 or early 1915.

Pat later supported Sinn Féin and spent a short period in Sligo Jail in 1920 having been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a raid for arms on Cultibar House, Coolaney. He hadn’t been involved in the raid but his son, Martin Dan, who was also arrested, had taken part. Pat was a small farmer and a farm labourer and had his hand cut off in an accident with a mowing machine in the early 20s.

I found all his reports on Killoran UIL meetings published in the local newspaper, the Sligo Champion, and used extracts to form a “found poem” arranged roughly in the style of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”. I even found a “silence” quote to match Wittgenstein’s famous last line in the book “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”