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Live poets’ society

County View
Live poets’ society

John Healy

If, for nothing else - and there is plenty else - Mayo’s community of poets is to be credited with imagination, initiative and a lot of generosity.
‘A Disturbance of Poets’ is an unique CD of the works of 13 Mayo poets, each piece read by its author, launched two weeks ago, and with the entire proceeds going to Hospice Uganda.
A heart-warming collaboration of the input of many., ‘A Disturbance of Poets’ has been supported along the way by various talents, but, most importantly, by the O’Connor Super Valu Group which sponsored the CD production costs, so ensuring that every cent raised by way of sales of the CD will go directly to Hospice Uganda.
The project was co-ordinated by Bríd Quinn, Edith Geraghty and Iarla Mongey, three of the poets who read their work on the CD, which runs in all to some 32 pieces. If you like words, if you like the power of imagery which can be created with that economy of words which is the essence of poetry, then this CD is for you. If you are one of that great number with a blind spot when it comes to poetry, I urge you to still go out and invest in a Christmas purchase of ‘A Disturbance of Poets’. At the very least, you will be giving much-needed help to a project and a cause which deserves your support. Who knows, you may be opening the door into that world of discovery where emotions and words share common space, and where poet and listener re-learn how much we are all part of each other.
What makes ‘A Disturbance of Poets’ so relevant is that good poetry is the voice of every man. Every phrase and every stanza may have its layered meanings, but the true poet strikes a responsive chord in the listener which makes us smile with recognition and say yes, I know exactly what that means.
Rosalind Davies’ ‘I Do not Come from Here’, is a song for the rootless. Edith Geraghty’s ‘Waiting Rooms’ is an all too familiar evocation of the intimate conversations which total strangers engage in while awaiting the doctor’s summons; and Paul McGuire’s ‘There is no Finish Line’, where celibate buggers reign over the Connemara Alcatraz, is as bleak a reminder as there is of the dark evils of what was euphemistically referred to as ‘industrial schools’.
The remorse of the ‘errant daughter who failed her’ gives Bríd Quinn’s ‘Céide Fields’ a poignant last line, mirroring that of Lizann Gorman’s ‘My Father Stood Sighing’. Micheline Egan draws on a treasure of family memories for ‘Passing Through’; we follow every step of Peter Jordan’s ‘The Reek Climber’ and smile at the ironic humour of Ger Reidy’s ‘Greetings from Galway’.
There is Iarla Mongey’s tribute to the children of Beslan, Caitríona Hastings, Sharon Irwin and Terry McDonagh, but the Mayo-ness of the CD is best summed up in Paul Durcan’s ‘Rosie Joyce’. In an aside from his ode to the birth of Rosie, he recalls how even 50 years earlier, he had travelled in his father’s Ford Anglia over the shuddering Bailey Bridge at Tarmonbarry. And as they crossed the Shannon, both father and son knew that, whatever the necessities of living in Dublin, home was in Turlough far to the west, and always would be.
The final piece on the CD is written by Edith Geraghty and read by herself, Bríd Quinn and Iarla Mongey. In it, she touches on the collegiality of poetry and the common thread - ‘the hidden torment of seeking out words’ - which has brought them together.
“For in our words, we hold the world precious”.
‘A Disturbance of Poets’ was recorded at the Museum of Country Life; the objectives of Hospice Uganda are to provide Palliative Care to patients and their families with HIV/AIDS; and it costs €9 a week to care for a patient.
More information - and details of where you can buy the CD - can be found on www.adisturbance of poets.com.

Launch of a labour of love
The final chapter in what must be the most detailed work of research ever undertaken in the county will be written over the coming two weeks.
This Saturday, ‘Mayo Comrades of the Great War’, the magnum opus of PJ Clarke and Michael Feeney, will be officially launched by County Librarian, Austin Vaughan, at Ballina Library.
Then on the following Friday night, the Castlebar launch at the Castlebar Library will be performed by Cllr Brendan Henaghan, first citizen of the county town.
For the two men behind the book, ‘Mayo Comrades of the Great War’ is the culmination of over ten years of research, checking, interviewing, visiting and double-checking the forgotten details of over a thousand men who were killed in action in the cause of world peace. Interestingly, PJ Clarke of Ballina and Michael Feeney of Castlebar, had, unknown to each other, been grappling with the same subject for a number of years. The chance meeting of minds between the two meant that two fairly small and separate research projects suddenly became a comprehensive, time-consuming, patience-testing, definitive, widely-drawn search for every possible scrap of information about Mayo involvement in the Great War.
PJ Clarke is justly proud of the finished product; the long days and nights of research were, after all, worth it. “With a thousand Mayo soldiers, countless personal stories, poetry written by soldiers on the front line and their families, letters home and details of Mayo troops in Canadian and Australian armies, it was a huge assignment,” he says.
“In addition, we trawled through the details of every soldier mentioned in the four newspapers, the Western People, Ballina Herald, The Mayo News and the Connaught Telegraph, to give a comprehensive military record of Mayo’s connection with the Great War,” he said.
His co-author, Michael Feeney, says that the book has been written to commemorate the memory of over a thousand Mayo men who died in action with the Allied Armies. It is, he says, a book full of articles and stories and personal accounts of our real history.
And, says Feeney, it remembers too all those who survived, including the many Mayo women who served as nurses and in other essential services.
The Ballina launch of ‘Mayo Comrades of the Great War’ will be preceded by a special Remembrance Mass celebrated by Fr Brendan Hoban at St Muredach’s Cathedral (7.30pm) in memory of those who fell in the two world wars, The Congo, Lebanan, Civil War, Korea and Vietnam.
A full choir will be directed by Regina Deacy, the Order of Malta will provide the honours and the Last Post will sound out to solemnly remember all who lost their lives.

A crib for Christmas
It will be interesting to see what response, if any, there will be to a motion tabled at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis at the weekend.
The Denis Lacey Cumann of South Tipperary called for agreement ‘to recommend that the Christmas emblems and insignia will continue to be displayed in Irish schools, hospitals and public buildings’.
Given the unseemly skirmish which ensued following the removal of the Christmas crib from the foyer of Mayo General Hospital last year, this one is of timely significance around the country.
Minister Mary Hanafin (widely dubbed “the woman most likely ….”) has already indicated her disapproval of a hospital removing the Christmas crib.
A return to old values?

Granuaile on Broadway
Celebrated author and Murrisk resident, Anne Chambers, will be scrutinising the American arts magazines over the next month or so.
The former Central Bank official has been engaged as consultant for ‘The Pirate Queen’, the lavish, multi-million musical and the life of Granuaile which opened in Chicago last month. And her credentials are impeccable. Author of the definitive biography of the Pirate Queen 20 years ago, Anne Chambers is the acknowledged expert on the life of the Clew Bay woman who, all going well, is set to wow America in the years ahead.
Reputed to have cost €20m to stage, ‘The Pirate Queen’ is a collaboration between Riverdance creators, John McColgan and Moya Doherty, and the Les Miserables producers, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg.
The idea of its month-long run in Chicago is a warm-up for the real test, the opening on Broadway next April. The run in Chicago will offer the producers a chance to gauge audience reaction and make any changes which they think necessary before facing the acid critical test of a Broadway run.
While the Chicago reviews agreed that ‘The Pirate Queen’ has all the ingredients of a smash hit, it needs a fair amount of restructuring before it opens in New York. Great songs, brilliant choreography, magnificent costumes and breathtaking settings get the thumbs up. But critics say that poor plotting and wafer-thin characterisations lack powerful impact.
All of which means that Anne Chambers is going to be a busy woman over the next few months.

When the pieces won’t fit
Sometimes, it’s better just to keep things simple. The salutary lesson of the new A380 airbus fiasco proves the point that too many cooks not only spoil the broth, they also cut into inventor confidence of when the meal will ever be ready.
The A380 passenger jet is not only the world’s largest, it is also meant to reflect and epitomise the new unity and cohesion of Europe. The plane is assembled in Toulouse in France, where the huge factory fits together the pieces of the aircraft which have been manufactured in various locations all over Europe, in France and Germany, Britain and Spain.
Smiling Prime Ministers and heads of state were in Toulouse to claim credit for a European triumph when the first plans were announced in 2005. But then trouble struck. Airbus announced it would not be able to meet its production targets. Heads rolled as potential buyers cancelled their orders or else demanded huge compensation for late delivery. Airbus conceded that, instead of the 25 aircraft it had promised to supply in 2007, it would only be able to deliver nine. All going well. And the reason?
It all came down to a question of communication. The rear fuselages made in Hamburg were supposed to arrive in Toulouse with all their wiring ready to plug snugly into the forward section coming in from factories in the west of France.
But the 500km of wiring in the two halves did not match up. The lightweight aluminium wire for one half just didn’t fit with the copper material used in the other.
Frantically told to sort out the problem, the engineering teams on the ground did what they could, but each in slightly different ways. The result is that each of the early planes will have its own one-of-a-kind wiring system. And it will take all of a year to settle on a standardised process.
Naturally, there has been much running for cover down Toulouse way. As these airlines which had ordered the A380 now want to be reimbursed for the delays, jobs are on the line.
Two French executives and the German boss of Airbus have lost their jobs. They say that’s only the start.