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Always dreaming of Mayo

Living

NEW COLLECTION Michael Murphy will be in Castlebar this week to launch his latest poetry collection.

Broadcaster, author and psychoanalyst Michael Murphy reflects on Mayo’s enduring mark

Anton McNulty

RTÉ broadcaster Michael Murphy has lived in Dublin for the majority of his adult life, but the lure of home is still strong for the Castlebar native. This week, he heads west for the launch of his new book of poetry, ‘The Ministry of Dreams’, which contains 83 poems.
Many of Murphy’s poems pertain to his native county, with the famine, Knock Shrine, Croagh Patrick and Mayo folklore among the themes explored.
Murphy readily admits that he did not realise the county of his birth has had that much of an affect on his life until he pulled the collection together.

Mayo’s impression
“I was surprised going through [the collection], seeing how much Mayo matters to me,” Murphy told The Mayo News ahead of the launch in Mayo County Library, Castlebar, this Thursday, November 7.
“I have spent a lot of my life in Dublin, the best part of my life. I didn’t think Mayo had affected me so much. There is an anthem there called ‘Home to Mayo’. One of the lines is: ‘Though I left the county years ago for work around the world / I could never settle or commit to life elsewhere … / In my mind I always lived at home in Mayo’.
“I talk about the Mayo accent and the warmth that is there when you meet people. I am talking about the childhood and my youth growing up in Castlebar, and it has really marked me.
“I was there at one of the Mayo/Dublin All-Ireland football finals, and there was absolutely no way I could say ‘Come on Dublin’. It would never cross my mind. Mayo is really important ... I was glad to read it back because you really don’t know what you think until you see it written down in front of you. You say ‘Oh that’s what I think’.”

Dream theme
‘The Ministry of Dreams’ will be launched by Seán Lyons of Listowel Writer’s Week, a native of Spencer Street in Castlebar. The evening will also include a reading of some of the poems by Murphy and fellow RTÉ broadcaster, Swinford native Ciana Campbell.
This is the third book of poetry that Murphy has written. It includes a selection of poems from his previous books, as well as new material. “It is the collected poems, all of them together, which were worthy of being published.”
He is particularly proud of the physical publication – all 360 pages of it – and the associated artwork, describing it as ‘a beautiful thing to behold’.
The title, ‘Ministry of Dreams’, is an homage to Murphy’s close friend, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone. The author explains: “When I was launching my book ‘Michael Murphy’s Book on Dreams’ about this time two years ago, I asked the Minister for Children Katerine Zappone to launch it. When I was introducing her, I said here is the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone.
“She said in her languid educated American tones, ‘Michael if I may be so bold as to correct a distinguished author, I am actually the Minister of Children Who Dream’. She got a great round of applause for that, and I wrote a poem for her. It is the final poem in the book and called ‘The Ministry of Dreams’, so I decided to call the book that.”

For love
Murphy largely completed the book during the summer while on holidays in Spain with his partner, Terry Sullivan, who he married in 2017 following the same-sex marriage referendum.
The poetry explores a number of diverse themes around birth, death, sex, politics and religion, but the underlying theme to which Murphy always returns is that of love.
“Practically every poem talks about love or how to work in a loving way with people. There
is a line at the front of the cover in very small print, ‘I choose to live a life for love, forgiveness’ so that really is the point of all of these poems if you read them through.
“It is really a way to survive with all the difficulties we face to get through life … it is a philosophy of life.”

Thrills ahead
While Murphy is best known as an RTÉ newsreader and now an accomplished writer, his day job is that of a psychoanalyst, a profession he still finds intriguing.
“You are dealing with human nature, and it is really fascinating really. At times it can be exciting and at other times it can be really sad because you are dealing with people’s difficulties and trying to help them come to a solution,” he says.
His working week is split with his practice as a psychoanalyst taking precedence at the start of the week while the weekend is devoted to his writing. He is currently working on his seventh book – a thriller, inspired by his own work as a psychoanalyst.
“It is called ‘The Analysis of a Murder’. I work as a psychoanalyst, so it is about a murderer who comes to seek help, at least I think that’s why he is coming, but he involves me in a web of intrigue and I have to extricate myself from that … It will be a good summer read,” he promises.

Michael Murphy launches ‘The Ministry of Dreams’ in Mayo County Library, John Moore Road, Castlebar, this Thursday, November 7, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. The evening will include poetry readings, a Q&A session and a signing. Admission free. ‘The Ministry of Dreams’ is available to order on michaelmurphyauthor.com.