Monday, November 30, 2009

More Kavanagh

One of the talks at the Kavanagh weekend on the Saturday was My days with Patrick Kavanagh by Godfrey Graham. Godfrey was a cameraman with RTE for many years and also played cricket for Ireland. He talked about filming the 1966 documentary with Patrick Kavanagh in Dublin and Inniskeen. Frank McNally had said the previous night that Kavanagh had been a constant critic of RTE but was delighted to accept their offer to make a documentary with him.

Godfrey told us how when they were having a picnic lunch in Monaghan during the filming a cameraman from Ringsend spotted a kingfisher at the river and caught it. It had an injured wing. Kavanagh held it in his large hands and said I can feel its heart beating. Godfrey, like any good cameraman, grabbed his camera and filmed the hands with the injured bird and Kavanagh's face. His eyes were full of tears, Godfrey said. The clip was used in the film and is available on the RTE archives on this page.

Kavanagh took the injured bird back to his sisters' house where it was cared for.

Godfrey Graham joined RTÉ Television shortly after it was launched as one of its first lighting cameramen. For the next 40 years, he worked on some of the station's most significant programmes, including Discovery and the visit to Ireland of US President John F. Kennedy. In 1981, Graham won a Jacob's Award for his role as lighting cameraman on the RTÉ television production of Eugene McCabe's play Winter Music. He has written a book about his experiences Forty Years behind the Lens at RTE (2005)

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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Results of Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition

Just back from a very enjoyable evening and day at the Patrick Kavanagh Weekend in Inniskeen, Co Monaghan. The results of the Poetry Competition were announced last evening. First place went to Martin Dyer, a native of Swinford, Co Mayo. Joint second were Shirley McLure, Dublin and Teresa Lally, Mayo. Joint third were Justin McCarthy, Sligo and Michael Farry, Trim (me!). Above the winner with Kavanagh Committee chairman Peter Murphy.

I was delighted to be mentioned, having entered for the past four or five years without any success. Judge, poet Brian Lynch said that my entry, as well as being full of strange and interesting information, was extremely well written and, in the Kavanagh sense, comic. This year instead of putting a collection of twenty poems together I entered two longer sequences of poems which together amounted to twenty.

The main one describes a walk from Ballsbridge to Dublin centre and back while waiting for someone who was having dental treatment in Ballsbridge. It's a wandering freeflowing meander through the city with thought, comments and memories triggered by the sights and sounds and has quotations from songs, novels etc. It's punctuated by factual information on the history of dentistry and especially false teeth. This makes it a bit odd or quirky and I presume this was what caught the judge's attention.

More tomorrow on Kavanagh weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Patrick Kavanagh Weekend

I hope to attend at least some of this weekend's annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend in Inniskeen, Monaghan, a celebration of the life and work of one of Ireland’s best loved poets. It takes place from Friday to Sunday. Friday evening will see the announcement of the results of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award which is now in its 39th year. This is a competition for a poetry collection and past winners include many who have become well known names in the Irish poetry world including Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Paul Durcan, Conor O'Callaghan, Pat Boran and Peter Sirr. Last year's winner was Geraldine Mitchell from Co. Mayo.

Poet, playwright, novelist Brian Lynch is the Judge for this year’s competition.

Also on Friday evening the Keynote Address entitled A Stake in the Country will be delivered by Irish Times columnist, Frank McNally. He was born close by in Carrickmacross. Later at 9pm award winning poet and flute player Ciaran Carson, one of Ireland's most celebrated and prolific poets, will read from his own works and will be joined by local singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, accompanied by internationally acclaimed harpist Helen Davies in a concert of words and music: From Amergin to Kavanagh.

The full programme, including poet John F. Deane reading from his recent collection A Little Book of Hours, is available at the link above.

Kavanagh painting above by William Mulhall from the Apollo Gallery website. Check out his portrait of Dylan!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Awards

Just got the results of this competition. Winner this year is Ray Mullen, Dublin 24; second place goes to Mary Turley McGrath, Letterkenny and third to Boyne Writers Group member Evan Costigan. Well done!

Six are Highly Commended including David Mohan, a member of Lucan Creative Writers Group and Louth native Adrienne Leavy, at present studying in Phoenix, Arizona. She was a visitor at one of our meeting during the summer and has been published in Boyne Berries.

There were ten Commended entries including Orla Fay of the Boyne Writers Group and myself. Also in this group is Sinead MacDevitt from Navan who has been published in Boyne Berries a number of times. I was also commended in this competition two years ago.

The awards ceremony will take place in McDowells, Emmet Road, Inchicore, Dublin on Tuesday 8 December at 7.30pm. all welcome.

Poet, John F Deane, will read in Blanchardstown Library tomorrow night (Thursday 26 November) at 7pm. His latest collection is A Little Book of Hours.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My New Matisse

Went to Blanchardstown branch library last week, brought back my Rothko print and borrowed a Matisse - The Blue Window 1913 . The original is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Quite a contrast to the Rothko though still very much based on the eccentric (is that the correct word?) use and appreciation of colour.

When I was in Nice, France recently I visited The Matisse Museum on the hill of Cimiez further up from the Chagall Museum. Matisse lived in Nice from 1918 until 1954 and the Museum has a collection of works left by the artist (and his heirs) to the city.

Well worth a visit especially for the models and preliminary sketches for the chapel at Vence which he designed. Vence is a city close to Nice and the chapel designed by Matisse is famous.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Markree Castle

Just back after a busy few days. A family get together in Markree Castle Hotel, Collooney, Co Sligo at the week-end. We drove through rain and wind and some flooding to get there on Friday and returned Sunday morning. One of the historic landlord's houses of County Sligo, still owned by the same family who got the estate in Cromwell's time. The house has been renovated and is a most interesting place. Certainly not destroyed by renovation it retains much of it character. Lots of information and pictures on the website. Short history of the Coopers and Markree Castle here. A most enjoyable stay there though surely the Full Irish Breakfast does not include beans. That's the full English Breakfast!

Picture above: the impressive wooden stairs with animal head and some artwork from an exhibition Shifting Fields by the North West Artists Group which is on at the Hotel at the moment. The North West Artists Group was founded in May 2009 and includes artists from all over the North West of Ireland.

Picture below: More mounted animal heads at the front entrance hall, presumably brought back from African safaris.

One of the most famous of the Cooper family was Bryan Cooper, politician. He was one of the few Unionist MPs who became TDs in the new Dáil after the War of Independence. He sat as an independent and later as a Cumann na nGael TD for the constituency of South Dublin until he died in 1930.

Then there was the Cup Final on Sunday afternoon. More rain, wind, cold, elation followed by disappointment. Supporters of Sligo sports teams are used to disappointment.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Come On The Bit O' Red!

Sport, you can't beat it for the unexpected. Who would have forecast the happenings in Paris on Wednesday night? Certainly not Eamon Dunphy and company.

One of the reasons following sport and watching live sport is so enjoyable is that it is impossible to predict the outcome and that at any moment during the event the unexpected may happen. It happened towards the end of the Ireland Australia rugby match last Saturday and again on Wednesday night.

I have given up watching or listening to pundits before, at half time or after matches. Listening to the commentator and his "helper" is unavoidable if you want the atmosphere of the event.

Now all eyes (well quite a few) turn to Tallaght for next Sunday's Cup Final between Sligo Rovers and Sporting Fingal. After a difficult season Rovers have avaoided relegation and reached the cup final. Normally they would be underdogs in such a match but their opponents were a first division club so Sligo will be uncomfortable favourites. We all know what can happen to favourites.

Sligo Rovers first won the cup in 1983 and won it again in 1994

Friday, November 20, 2009

Boyne Readings

Bad weather and the resultant small attendance did not spoil what turned out to be a very enjoyable Reading and Open Mic session last night in Trim. The two featured readers gave very good performances. Tom French read some poems from his first book but most of his material came from his recent publication Touching the Bones. Tom recently read with Michael Longley at the Manchester Literature Festival. Among the poems he read was Srahnamanragh which has appeared in the Manchester Review online.

The other featured reader James Lawless, read from his two novels, Peeling Oranges (2007) and For Love of Anna (2009). He has had a book of criticism Clearing the Tangled Wood: Poetry As a Way of Seeing the World published in America and his latest novel had been accepted by Words on the Street, Galway. It's not easy to read extracts from a novel and give a real flavour of the book but James succeeded by judicious mixing of explanations and extracts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chagall Museum

Back to Nice, France again. I took the opportunity to visit the Musee Marc Chagall. This celebrated Russian-born artist (1887-1985) spent the last years of his life near Nice and the museum contains a large collection of his work particularly the series based on Bible stories.

I must admit I was not very familiar with his work and the paintings made a great impression. The fantastic (in its real meaning) use of colour and composition to create images which are both dreamlike and realistic. You can see the influence of cubism, surrealism and fauvism but his paintings never seem to fit into any of those categories.

Above is his painting of the Creation of Adam and below his painting of Abraham and the Angels

More about Marc Chagall here and here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Carlingford - Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Carlingford, Co Louth, was the birthplace of Thomas D'Arcy McGee (1825-1868) who was a well known politician, poet and journalist. He lived in Wexford and America before returning to Ireland where he became involved in the Young Ireland movement and the rebellion of 1848. When that collapsed he went to Canada. In his later life he became a vehement opponent of the Fenians and he was assassinated in 1868. It was widely believed that the Fenians were responsible. More on McGee here and here.

Above: former ICT Advisors pay their homage including one McGee!

The monument, a small head of McGee, is very well presented at a prominent position near the shore in Carlingford. There doesn't seem to be any mention of the sculptor's name on the monument which is a pity.

McGee was a poet and his collected poems can be seen online at many sites including here.
His Salutations to the Kelts was often included in older Irish text books and school poetry books. This is the first stanza.


Hail to our Keltic brethren! Wherever they may be,
In the far woods of Oregon or o’er the Atlantic sea;
Whether they guard the banner of St George in Indian Vales,
Or spread beneath the nightless North experimental sails –
One in name and in fame
Are the sea-divided Gaels.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reunion in Carlingford

Great to attend a reunion of colleagues who were train blazers as regards ICT in Education - the ICT Advisors who were attached to Education Centres in Ireland until summer 2008 when the service was suddenly cut.

Carlingford, Co Louth was the location for the reunion and on Saturday we walked the one and half hour walk from Glenmore over the Golyin Pass down into Carlingford. The weather was clear and it was an enjoyable walk with magnificent views over Carlingford Lough from the top.

Picture above the group at the start of the walk. In the picture below Carlingford is behind the group and the port of Greenore to the right.

The Golyin Pass is an old traders' short cut pass across the mountain. There is a well-built causeway most of the way up the mountain which helps.

This is part of the Táin Way and to our right as we walked was the mountain called Barnavave or Maeve's Gap. To the left was Slieve Foye. The Táin Bó Cualgne is a well known ancient Irish saga. The translation by Thomas Kinsella (1969) with illustration by Louis le Brocquy is a well known version. More recently Ciaran Carson has published a well received translation (2008).

Of course it all began, The Táin that is, with some pillow talk in Connacht, in Rathcroghan in modern Roscommon where Maeve and her husband Ailill lived.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Boyne Readings: Tom French and James Lawless

The Co Meath based poet, Tom French, will be one of the featured readers at the Boyne Readings and Open Mic in Trim next week.

Tom lives in Laytown and works in Navan in the Local Studies Division of the Meath County Library Service.

The Trim readings, which are organised by the Boyne Writers Group, will take place on Thursday, 19th November, in The Village Hall of the Knightsbridge Retirement Village, Longwood Road, starting at 8pm. Visitors are very welcome.

The other featured reader will be James Lawless, a novelist/poet/playwright who lives in Co Kildare.

Tom French is a popular figure in Meath literary circles. A native of Co Kilkenny, he came to public attention in 1999 when he received a Bursary in Literature from The Arts Council, and his work was awarded the inaugural Ted McNulty Prize. His first collection of poetry, Touching the Bones, was published in 2001 by the prestigious Gallery Press, Oldcastle, and won the Forward Prize for First Collection, 2002. His second collection, The Fire Step, was published last month, also by Gallery Press.

James Lawless is a Dubliner living in Co Kildare. His first novel was Peeling Oranges, published in 2007 by Killynon House Books, Mullingar. He has had numerous award-winning short stories and poems published and broadcast in Ireland and the UK. His story Jolt was shortlisted for the Willenden Prize. His other awards include the Scintilla Welsh Open Poetry competition in 2002 and the Cecil Day Lewis Play Award 2005 for What Are Neighbours For? James has had two books published this year: Clearing The Tangled Wood: Poetry as a way of seeing the world, and a novel, For Love of Anna.

The Boyne Readings and Open Mic sessions are held on the third Thursday of the month. Anyone who would like to read their own material at any of the sessions is very welcome.

“And where would we be without listeners?” asked Boyne Writers Group chairman Paddy Smith. “Whether you wish to read or not, you are very welcome at our sessions. We are the only regular Open Mic session in Co Meath.”

The sessions have been attracting up to 35 people. Admission to the Boyne Readings and Open Mic is €5, which includes tea/coffee and biscuits. Enquiries to Paddy Smith 086 1577526 or Michael Farry 086 8283314.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Fuchsia

One of the highlights of my garden, still flowering, is this fuchsia. (Photograph taken two days ago). I planted this small fuchsia in the top of a bit of the trunk of a tree which my sister in law brought me quite a number of years ago and it grows there every year, dies back in the winter, flowers luxuriantly every summer and well into the autumn.

Fuchsias are, according to the British Fuchsia Society, characterized by entire, usually opposite leaves, pendent flowers, a funnel-shaped, brightly coloured, quadripartite, deciduous calyx, 4 petals, alternating with the calycine segments, 8, rarely 10, exserted stamens, a long filiform style, an inferior ovary, and fruit, a fleshy ovoid many-seeded berry. So now you know.

It was a suprise to me to learn that they are not native to Europe, but of North and South America and were only introduced to Britain in the early 1800s. In Ireland it is common especially in the West and South. I associate it especially with the seaside area of Sligo where my father came from - between Ballisodare and Ballina. I spent many summers on holidays there and remember the huge hedges of fuchsia.

It had been so named by the plant collector Charles Plumier in honour of the German botanist Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading Rooms in Cavan

A very enjoyable Reading Rooms event in the Radisson, Cavan last evening featuring English poet Hugo Williams (pictured right signing books).

The evening began with an open mic with ten readers. I read my Stamp Collecting poem and my Auschwitz poem. Both seemed to go down well especially the Stamp one - Hugo Williams even mentioned it in an introduction to one of his boyhood poems and wondered if we were more or less the same age.

A nice variety of material in this section with LitLab members prominent. Three singer/songwriters took part in the open mic including Michael O'Brien from Cavan who sang at the October Windows launch in The Writers' Centre, Dublin a while ago. He sang his City of Mirrors song based on the Gabriel García Márquez novel One Hundred Years of Solitude - a great song.

The first half concluded with Lisa O'Neill, a Cavan singer/songwriter with an Electric Picnic performance among her accomplishments. Her performances of her own songs and one cover went down very well. She even sang a song to Bob Dylan - impossible to get away from him these days.

The second half started with a reading by Ciarán O' Rourke, a young Dublin poet, who has won the Cúirt New Irish Writer Award and also won an award at the Listowel Writer's Festival. Again the audience responded well to his readings and his fine introductions.

Then we had Hugo Williams. He read for at least half an hour, many "greatest hits" plus a generous selection from the new volume West End Final shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. He started with the hilarious (or is it very sad) Breakfast in Bed from the new book. The hits included the four that can be listened to and read on the Poetry Archive. Some poems he introduced at length, other barely any introduction. He established a rapport with the audience straight away and they responded with great appreciation of the nuances and humour of his lines.

I envy his easy style, the effortless delivery, the wit and humour which often conceal great sadnesses and trauma. He read a number of poems about his mother including one about her cremation. One the Poetry Archive website he includes this saying by Fred Astaire - If it doesn't look easy, you aren't working hard enough - which seems to sum up his work very well.

All in all a great night with over fifty in attendance. Well done to the organiser Cavan native writer Rebecca O'Connor, who has taken part in the Caomhnú and Flat Lake arts and literary festivals. She hopes that this was the first of a series. The Reading Rooms events are funded by Cavan County Council's arts office.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hugo Williams in Cavan Tonight

Going to see English poet Hugo Williams tonight in Cavan. The first few paragraphs of his Wikipedia entry (presuming it's correct!) gives a flavour of who he is.

Hugo Williams (born 1942) is a British poet, journalist and travel writer. His full name is Hugh Mordaunt Vyner Williams He is the son of actor Hugh Williams and the model and actress Margaret Vyner, who co-wrote some upper-middle-class comedies in the late 1950s. His brother is the actor Simon Williams, and his sister Polly was married to the actor Nigel Havers until her death from cancer at the age of 54.

Williams attended Eton College. He is a regular contributor to the "Freelance" column in
theTimes Literary Supplement and is poetry editor for the Spectator. Williams has been poetry editor and TV critic for the New Statesman, theatre critic for the Sunday Correspondent, film critic for Harper's & Queen and a writer on popular music for Punch magazine.

I have listened to his Poetry Archive CD and his reading style and content fit in exactly with what might be expected from his biography. His style is disarmingly off hand almost casual and it takes at least a second listen to appreciate the full significance, depth and sometimes terror of his material. You can listen to some of his poems at the Poetry Archive. Her News is one of my favourites.

He writes a lot about his father and his latest book West End Final includes some dealing with that relationship. Guardian interview here. Picture above from Guardian article.

The reading is on at 7.30pm in the Radisson Hotel, Cavan. He will be accompanied by a young poet from Dublin by the name of Ciarán O’Rourke and Cavan’s very own musical star, Lisa O’Neill. The event is sponsored by Cavan County Council Arts Office.There’ll also be an open mic slot for singers and poets. Hmmm what will I read, somehow the Bob Dylan poem or the Fish and Chips poem don't seem to strike the right note. I'll think carefully about this one!

Tickets: 10 Euro.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Nice Public Sculpture

Another piece of public sculpture in Nice. Entitled Music Power it is by the Nice-born French artist who called himself Arman (1928-2005). His official site. At one stage in his career his speciality was sculptures which were accumulations of an object in this case musical instruments. He has created a number of similar sculptures.

In my opinion it's another of those sculptures where once you get the idea you lose interest - like the gun with the knotted barrel I saw in Luxembourg. Now this sculpture below which is in the same area is much more interesting to my mind. I don't know who it is by nor do I know what it is about or what it means but surely that's the point isn't it?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nice Public Sculpture

The city of Nice has an interesting array of public sculpture old and new. The new sculpture seems concentrated on the area along the tramway from the Place Massena near the Promenade Anglais to the Acropolis Convention Centre and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC).

The Place Massenas has these seven figures on pillars by Spanish
artist Jaume Plensa which are said to represent dialogue between the seven continents (Above). They are most striking at night when they are illuminated by interior changing lights. Nothing in the figures themselves suggest the continents which is a change from the racial stereotyping common in such monuments.

They reminded me of the Stylites of the early church, those early saints who lived, fasting and praying, on high pillars. In his recent book of poetry The Dark Age, Irish poet James Harpur includes a poem spoken by the Syrian pillar hermit, Symeon Stylites, which voices the struggle of the artist seeking seclusion.

Then beside MAMAC is La Tete au Carre which was created by French sculptor and artist Sacha Sosno. This was designed for the Central Library of Nice. It stands 26 metres high, and is I think the administration building for the public library system in Nice. A bit like the library in Navan except that one has no neck. In fact wouldn't it be good if all such "square office blocks" had to have some kind of neck.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yale University Online

I'm just back from a week in Nice, France. A good time of the year to visit if you don't like too much sun. Some reading - Mallarme in translation and a very little writing, rewriting actually. Lots of art galleries in Nice, I visited a few.

More on Nice later in the week. Among the emails when I returned was one from Yale University Online announcing the release of ten new offerings on Open Yale Courses. The audio and/or video can be easily downloaded.

I'm a great fan of these - I listened to all of the Milton course and the Modern Poetry course earlier and found then enjoyable and informative. You need the time of course. These older ones are still available here.

Among the new ones on the Open Yale Courses curriculum are:

EEB 122 - Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior with Professor Stephen C. Stearns

ENGL 300 - Introduction to Theory of Literature with Professor Paul H. Fry

HIST 202 - European Civilization, 1648-1945 with Professor John Merriman

ITAL 310 - Dante in Translation with Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta

RLST 152 - Introduction to New Testament History and Literature with Professor Dale B. Martin

I'm particularly interested in the Dante and the Theory of Literature courses. I'll download them on to the iPod and hope to listen when I get a chance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Michael Hargadon, Sligo Poet

One of the pleasures of the internet is the ease with which you can obtain second-hand copies of long out of print books. I enjoy reading novels, short stories and books of poetry especially those from Sligo published in the past. Someone once said to me "You can enjoy reading bad books too" and she was right.

I often search sites such as ABEBooks for old books of poetry by long dead Sligo authors. Recently I got a copy of A Lovely Home by Sligo-born Michael A Hargadon (1888-1968) published by Maunsel and Company in 1915. My copy was Withdrawn from Stock at Keele University Library Staffordshire.

Very much of the time, deservedly forgotten but still an enjoyable read. We don't write like this any more. Come to think of it some actually do!
Among the poems about his childhood, schooling, friends is this poem on Yeats:

William Butler Yeats

A Son of Sligo now careers sublime,
The truest, sweetest poet of our time,
Whose fame in every cultured nation rings,
In cots of peasants, palaces of kings,
Whose mystic calls allure us to explore
Enchanting fields we never saw before.
Immortal Yeats! long may thy course aspire;
Long may they adept fingers tune the lyre;
Long may the lustre of they mind aspire,
The brightest flame cast from the muse's fire.

You can download and read the whole book A Lovely Home here. It's not the same as having the book in your hands!

Hargadon is an interesting character. He was born in Calry near Sligo town. He became a journalist and in 1915 emigrated to Canada where he continued as a journalist with the Montreal Daily Star. Later he became publicity officer with the Canadian Pacific Railways.

Towards the end of 1915 a campaign was launched in Canada to aid the families of soldiers who had gone to fight in World War 1. The newly arrived Hargadon wrote a poem asking for the help of the public for this cause which was published in Montreal papers and later all over Canada.
A fund of a few million dollars was subscribed and Hargadon became well know all over the country. Part of the poem below;

(A Poem for the Patriotic Fund)

Your wives flit around about your homes,
And give you of their care;
Some of the boys who went left wives
As kind and just as fair;
Your wives have all the joys they need,
Their dresses warm and neat --
How could you see a soldier's wife
Ill clad upon the street?

. . .

The boys who went left these ones too
Appealing to your store;
You will not miss all that is asked,
So give a little more.
Thus giving and thus helping
You will be aiding on
The struggle that will have no end
Till victory has shone;
Each bill you give is a shell
Shot at the Kaiser's heart
Shoot, shoot and shoot until that hell
Is shot and rent apart.

Oh! drop those dollar bombs until
Our fiendish German foes
Are beaten back to the abyss
From which at first they rose
Give, give your brave assistance
Until the earth is free --
Upon the struggle rests the fate
Of you as well as me.

Hargadon continued to write poetry and published Irish and Canadian Poems in 1921 and Among the Mountains 1925. The latter was illustrated with paintings of Canadian mountain scenes.

Information on the poet comes from Worthies of Sligo by John C McTernan the former Sligo County Librarian who built up the local archives section of Sligo Co Library and has published a number of books on Sligo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hugo Williams to Read in Cavan

Wednesday 11 November will see local and international talents come together for a unique evening of poetry and song at the Radisson Hotel, Cavan, sponsored by Cavan County Council Arts Office and initiated by Cavan poet, Rebecca O'Connor, who has taken part in festivals including the Caomhnú Literary Festival and the Flat Lake Arts and Literary Festival.

The special guest of the evening is Hugo Williams, (left) one of the UK’s finest poets. His Collected Poems, which brings together work from eight books, was published in 2002. His poetry collection Dear Room (2006), was shortlisted for the 2006 Costa Poetry Award. His latest collection is West End Final (2009), shortlisted for the 2009 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize. You can hear Hugo read four poems at the Poetry Archive here. Review of West End Final here.

He will be accompanied by a young poet from Dublin by the name of Ciarán O’Rourke and Cavan’s very own musical star, Lisa O’Neill. To listen to Lisa O’Neill sing go here on YouTube.

There’ll also be an open mic slot for singers and poets (please contact Rebecca in advance if you fancy taking part), along with music from Ciaran O’Neill and Brouhaha in the cellar bar afterwards.

Venue: Radisson, Cavan. Time: 7.30 pm. Tickets: Euro 10. You can book in advance by contacting Rebecca O’Connor at or 087 2657251.

Press report here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Souls' Day

Today is All Souls' Day the day we traditionally visited churches and graveyards to pray for the dead and gain indulgences which shortened their time in Purgatory.

The poem that comes to my mind today is Yeats' All Souls’ Night - the first verse:

Midnight has come, and the great Christ Church Bell
And many a lesser bell sound through the room;

And it is All Souls’ Night,

And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel
Bubble upon the table. A ghost may come;

For it is a ghost’s right,

His element is so fine

Being sharpened by his death,

To drink from the wine-breath

While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.

Rowan Gillespie's statue (Is it a sculpture or a statue or both?) of Yeats in Sligo on the right.

Another poem, All Souls by Edith Wharton here and another, All Souls' Day by Hermann von Gilm here.

There is also the classic Irish play All Soul's Night by Joseph Tomelty.

But when exactly is All Soul's Night? Is it tonight or last night? I often have the same problem with Christmas Night, is it the night before or after Christmas Day. If the Day is 24 hrs then the night of each day starts at 12 midnight on that date. OK? So last night was All Soul's Night. But what about Hallowe'en? Isn't that regarded as All Soul's Night also in the sense of ghosts being abroad. Be careful out there, language is waiting to cause you trouble.