In Johnny Hickey’s Grove

A long time ago and from here far away
In Johnny Hickey’s grove in Inchaleigh children’s games we did play
As primary school-goers long before our lives prime
This is going back the years more than six decades in time

Only memories of them with me now do stay
The friends of my childhood where are they today?
Since we all had to follow our lives destiny
Though i often do wonder where today they might be

continue reading the full article “In Johnny Hickey’s Grove”

Paddy O’Keeffe’s Bog

One fine Summer’s evening when passing by Togher
I stood, and enraptured, I gazed all around.
The peaceable scenes of my long vanished childhood
No more on the slopes of this mountain I found.
The sheep and the cattle that grazed on the hillside
Recalling to memory the plains of Royal Meath
Had now disappeared and their places were taken
By men who were digging for ‘gold’ underneath.

Those bogs which for centuries lay sorely neglected
Were now utilised by each true Irishman
To make his dear Motherland more independent
Of England’s support since this cruel war began.
From town and from city they rallied to Togher
Such scenes of industry I ne’er saw before
For hundreds and thousands in shirt-sleeves were digging
And when they had done, they went looking for more.

To make the acquaintance of all those young workmen
I walked right along till I met Paddy Keeffe.
Oh, Paddy was beaming and smiling all over
And graciously told me that I had his leave
To travel, if weather and time would permit me,
The turf-covered heights of his far-flung domain
And see for myself how each workman was faring,
Find out all about him and, of course, get his name.

continue reading the full article “Paddy O’Keeffe’s Bog”

Bernard didn’t win the T.S. Eliot Prize

We hoped he would, he didn’t expect it himself, but in the end Bernard O’Donoghue didn’t win the top poetry prize in this part of the world for his book The Seasons of Cullen Church. The T.S.Eliot prize for 2016 went to Jacob Polley for his book Jackself. But the T. S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings took place on the eve of the prize. It was an evening of poetry, dinner and music, and all nominated poets attended. The audio of Bernard’s introduction and reading from the night have been published online, and you can listen to it below:

At the awards ceremony itself, the Chair of the Judges, Ruth Padel, had this to say of Bernard’s book:

“Bernard O’Donoghue’s The Seasons of Cullen Church combines an elegantly wry tone, deceptively easy flow, intimacy with the reader which seems effortless but is actually very original, with scholarly love of poetry down the ages. Many poems think with Dante, Virgil, Old English; many lines give you one more beat than you’d expect and, when you re-read, disclose one more layer of meaning too: very suddenly – just as, he says, the swifts arrive in Cullen, like unexplained gifts on Christmas morning.” [from tseliot.com]

Alas, despite not winning, Bernard’s profile has
once again been elevated, and his nomination has seen him profiled in the Irish national newspapers, as well as continue reading the full article “Bernard didn’t win the T.S. Eliot Prize”

A January Night In Millstreet Town

Children walking home in a light drizzle in Millstreet an evening this January. Photo Aleksandra Cashman

Few cars on the quiet street do pass up and down
On a cold Winter night in old Millstreet Town
The pub doors are locked not a human in sight
On what is a typical January weekday night

On one of the moonlit trees in the Town Park nearby
The silence is pierced by a barn owl’s shrill cry
In the depths of Winter and Spring nowhere near
For it and it’s kind a hungry time of year

In the moonlit sky quite a beautiful sight
Myriads and myriads of stars twinkling bright
The cold chill of frost in the freshening breeze
In weather temperatures below zero degrees

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Bernard is nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize

The very best of luck to Bernard O’Donoghue who has been nominated for the 2016 T.S. Eliot poetry prize for his new collection of poems The Seasons of Cullen Church. “This collection of expert lyric poems movingly animates the characters of his childhood in County Cork; it confirm O’Donoghue’s place as one of the most approachable and agile voices in contemporary Irish and British poetry.”

Among the theses in the book are: “a schoolboy beaten so hard by his teacher that his bare feet jiggle on the floorboards, a wife disinherited when her husband dies suddenly, and medieval tales which echo to how we live now.”

It is Bernard’s second time nominated for the T.S. Eliot prize. In 2011 he was nominated for Farmers Cross. The winner will be announced on January 16th. Here is one poem from the book called The Will:

When they discovered that my grandfather
was going, unexpectedly, to die young
of meningitis, they naturally set about
ensuring that his wife would not inherit
the farm. They assembled a group of solid men –
as they might have for the threshing: his brother
who lived south on the mountain;
a shrewd solicitor; and a man from Doon
with a good hand who often testified to wills.

continue reading the full article “Bernard is nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize”

It Hardly Matters To Me Now

It hardly matters to me now if i was dunce of the primary school
Far north of the coastal countryside by Warrnambool
Or if in my life’s twilight years i cannot boast of a uni degree
Since time it does seem it has caught up on me

Since the years have left me wrinkled looking, bare headed and gray
And clearly i have known of a far better day
And though i am not one who has known of life’s success
I am not going into old age in a state of unhappiness

Though some things in life we would rather forget
No point in growing older with feelings of regret
Of mistakes we made and opportunities lost
Some of our lessons in life come to us at a cost
continue reading the full article “It Hardly Matters To Me Now”

A Christmas Childhood

One side of the potato-pits was white with frost –
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.

The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven’s gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw –
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood’s. Again
continue reading the full article “A Christmas Childhood”

The Mushera Christmas Morning Climbers

Photo: Christmas Day 2002 on top of Mushera. This year’s Annual Christmas Morning Climb of Mushera takes place on Christmas Day Morning Sunday 25 December at 10.30 am.This year the proceeds go to Reach Out Cancer Support Group.

People from Aubane and other parts of Millstreet Parish on the morning of Christmas Day
Climb to the summit of Mushera Mountain quite a daunting task one has to say
For those who sponsor them for their favorite charity for this credit in heaps they are due
To climb Mushera in the depths of Winter to a cause one would have to be true

On Christmas morning no matter what the weather they scale the heights of Mushera hill
It may be frosty, raining or snowing or the gale force winds blowing a cold chill
The Mushera Christmas morning climbers some of them years ago were young
For their courage they are well worth admiring and their praises deserve to be sung
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Lovely Katie of Lackabawn

You gentle muses I pray excuse me
You kind infusion come grant once more
To praise a maiden, sweet and engaging
She’s lovely Katie that I adore

If you’ll not aid me my heart will fail me
A sketch unpleasing I must have drawn
For oh I am eager my heart to please her
She’s lovely Venus of Lackabawn

One frosty morning when passing northwards
By Millstreet’s Border I chanced to meet
My darling Venus I mean Young Katie
And she coming early up from the street

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Millstreet Did Not Go To The World Out There

Millstreet did not go to the World out there so the World out there came to Millstreet
In the Duhallow Town today people of many different nationalities you will meet
People of many cultures and creeds of Countries Worldwide and of skin colors black, white and brown
Live in view of old Clara Hill in and near to Millstreet Town

Millstreet did not go to the World out there it was a monocultural place
But change to it came from afar in latter years at a quick pace
And change for the better one might say as it brought with it people of the World out there
And change happening in view of Clara Hill as has been happening everywhere

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It Has Been A While Since I Walked By Finnow

It has been a while since i walked by Finnow
And in a rushy field heard the soft lowing of a cow
After sundown in the twilight of the day
In the prime of the Spring on an evening in May

It has been a while near the Town of Millstreet
That i walked in the field where the waterways meet
And heard dark brown water bird dipper with breast white as snow
Singing his scratchy song where the river rapids did flow

continue reading the full article “It Has Been A While Since I Walked By Finnow”

A Stranger In Ballydaly

Since from there I have been quite a long time away
I would be a stranger to many in Ballydaly today
By the Boggeragh Ranges far inland from Hibernia’s shore
In the Parish of Millstreet on the road to Rathmore

At the end of the Autumn with Winter quite near
It is cool and wet in Ballydaly in November of the year
Clara, Gortavehy and Caherbarnagh half cloaked in the gray fogs of rain
And brown storm water flowing in every roadside and field drain

The people of Ballydaly as I recall have a charm of their own
Where today I would be a stranger to many where I once was well known
But this is going back some three decades ago
And time as we know becomes everyone’s foe

continue reading the full article “A Stranger In Ballydaly”

“Millstreet” by Julia A.Sullivan

millstreet-a-general-view-1909
A General View of Millstreet – from the Lawrence Collection (approx 1910)

Millstreet, quaint and quiet village
Nestling mid your emerald hills
Though I see you but in memory
How my heart with rapture thrills.

Gentle stream & busy mill-wheel
Smile beneath the summer sky
Church & convent calm & peaceful
Welcome still the passer by

Friends the nearest, friends the dearest
I can see them now at will
And the sunshine of their kindness
So abiding with me still

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John Kelleher Better Known As Jack The Mule

He worked for farmers and for town people shlauned peat for winter fuel
The mighty man John Kelleher better known as Jack The Mule
One of Duhallow’s best workmen on his day
Though his working efforts seldom matched by pay

A tall broad shouldered man he was as strong as two
Without much effort the hardest work he could do
Yet to himself he was not a good friend
Most of his hard earned wages on alcohol he did spend

That he was not one to mess with was obviously quite clear
The mighty Jack he was a man to fear
He never once was beaten in a brawl
And he left many a big Duhallow bully feeling small
continue reading the full article “John Kelleher Better Known As Jack The Mule”

The Clock Tower

Stone upon stone the bell tower rises outside my window,
a protestant ruin of the village church. You belonged
to Drishane Castle. You belonged to the people.
The ringer gently bowed to the lintel, climbed
narrow stone steps spiraling, to call worshipers to holy communion.
Years later, Tidy Towns filled your belfry with a white-faced clock.
I raise the linen shade, wake to your dial, Black Roman numerals
go round and round. You move through my tea and egg.
I notice the time as I am off to the shop for the Guardian
and lamb. You are my companion as I play with poems
and read Passing Through. I stroll in the deep grass,
rubbing old tombstones, no longer legible.
You move through my days until you wane in the light
of the evening and fade at the unfairness of fate.

“The Clock Tower” is by Sandra Ann Winters


Bio: Sandra Ann Winters is the winner of the 2011 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition, and a Pushcart nominee, having won numerous poetry awards and commendations in the United States. She is the author of a full-length poetry collection The Place Where I Left You (Salmon Poetry 2014), and continue reading the full article “The Clock Tower”

Denis O’Mahony

toclarDenis O’Mahony the Inchaleigh mountain climber the man who has climbed to the summit of many a hill
In his early to his mid sixties as is said time does not stand still
He has a passion for hill climbing the steep heights he does not fear
He has been climbing mountains for many a year

One of the O’Mahonys of Clara he first climbed Clara mountain as a young boy
He has climbed many higher peaks since then the challenge of the climb he enjoy
The man who does love climbing mountains though his best days in the forever gone
But age does not weary brave Denis the man who does keep climbing on

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I Left Duhallow, but Duhallow Followed

I left Duhallow but Duhallow followed
And the Boggeragh hills are never far away
In Finnow pools the trout for flies are jumping
And I see the cross on Clara every day.

The stream from the mountain lake of Gortavehy
Down through the bracken splashes on it’s way
Joined by small rills it swells into a river
Before it reach the flat fields of Liscreagh.

Of the fields of Claraghatlea North where I came from
I once said were a memory in decay
But of them I’ve found a new mental picture
Resplendent in their wildflowers of the May.

I left Duhallow but Duhallow followed
And the green fields and the woodlands I still see
I drive up the high hill through Cullen village
And take the road that leads to Knocknagree. continue reading the full article “I Left Duhallow, but Duhallow Followed”

The Blackthorn Hare

A-Fox-Chasing-A-Rabbit2On a cold and wild December morn
In a field down under old Blackthorn
In a rushy patch the brown hare slept
As through the field a dog fox crept.

The big red fox’s cunning mate
A vixen waited by the gate
There by the gate she quietly lay
She knew the hare would come this way.

Upwind the fox was drawing near
He did not wish the hare to hear
For him it was a hungry night
And badly did he need a bite.

But the hare awoke and pricked one ear
He sensed danger was somewhere near
Then bolted from his cushy seat
This hare would not be easy meat.

Out of the rushes he did race
The angry fox was quick to chase
He ran the field up to the gate
Where the hidden vixen lay in wait. continue reading the full article “The Blackthorn Hare”

The Hokey Pokey In Claraghatlea

A Dance in MillstreetIn life there is laughter and sorrow and tears
But good memories do last through the decades of years
The good memories are ours a lifetime to enjoy
And i have good memories of Claraghatlea as a boy

Back in the late fifties a long time ago
The Murphy cousins musicians Jackie and Neily Joe
Had a dancing timber platform in Claraghatlea on a quarter of ground owned by Matty Owen
The old memories in me by time have not been outgrown

On Summer evenings at the timber platform a kilometer west of Millstreet Town
Neily Joe and Jackie Murphy played music until after sundown
To their hearts delight for three hours or more
The men and women of Millstreet west danced around the platform floor continue reading the full article “The Hokey Pokey In Claraghatlea”

March By The Finnow

RobbirtreeOn a budding birch tree the male robin on song
Near where old Finnow river goes babbling along
Though the wind from the high country by Clara Hill
Does blow with a touch of a wintry chill
In mid March in the earlier days of the Spring
When the early nesting birds are commencing to sing
The swallows not yet back on their breeding ground
And the chill of the Winter it is still around
And the old Finnow River in flood waters of brown
Babbles through the fields and bogs by Millstreet Town
Though in shady places by ditch and hedgerow
The wildflowers of Nature in the blustery winds blow
Where Finnow from the high country the Cails does meet
Just west of the Duhallow Town of Millstreet.

continue reading the full article “March By The Finnow”

Happy Childhood Memories

Happy childhood memories the best memories of all
And my younger years in Millstreet I will always recall
On evenings in Summer up to the mid Fall
In the Townpark at the West End we played gaelic football
My friends of my youth where might they be today
Like me have the years left them balder and gray
Though some of them in the home Parish did stay
In life one might say we just went our own way
Since those days so many years have come and gone
And time does not wait it just ticks on and on
Many of the friends of my youth I may not see again
Though good memories of them with me does remain
And in fancy I chase the football up and down
With my happy young friends in the Park of the Town.
continue reading the full article “Happy Childhood Memories”

Pat Duggan

On looking back the Seasons that time does go quickly happens to be so
Pat Duggan left Claraghatlea five decades ago
He went off to New York for a new start in life
Where he married Lisheen born and raised Kathy Looney his soul mate and wife

A religious man to his beliefs quite true
He lived as a good person for to give him his due
He never harmed anyone in any way
In him what was a loss to Millstreet was a gain to the U S of A

One of the eldest of my siblings Pat as i recall
As a young man never played Hurling or Gaelic Football
In a sporting mad Parish where his was a known and well liked face
He was one of those who did seem out of place
continue reading the full article “Pat Duggan”

Ballydaly’s Last Blacksmith Farrier

2015-11 Brendan Murphy, BallydalyWhen Brendan Murphy was in his physical prime of time one must go back a span
Ballydaly’s last blacksmith farrier he was quite a man
He shod his last working horse in his forge in his brother Eddy’s backyard
For his livelihood he is one who did work quite hard

Tall and lean and dark haired and physically quite strong
Ballydaly’s last blacksmith farrier to a rare breed belong
The hooves of the last working horse, mule, jennet and donkey he did pare
Since the demise of the last working equines blacksmith farriers have become rare
continue reading the full article “Ballydaly’s Last Blacksmith Farrier”

By The Mountain Of Clara Today

The cattle in the farmyard sheds bellowing for silage or hay
It is cold and wet by the Mountain of Clara today
The weather temperature a chilly minus three degrees
And the cold wind is soughing in bare deciduous trees

In the old rushy fields west of Millstreet Town
Every waterway bank high in flood waters of brown
Where grass growth is dormant not any wildflowers
And nothing does grow in cold January showers
continue reading the full article “By The Mountain Of Clara Today”

Tadghy Duggan

Tadghy Duggan of Millstreet was one of the first if not the first in Duhallow to sell the first make of Hotpoint washing machine
To the housewives of the nineteen fifties this was the best thing that they ever had seen
In his truck he brought machines to homes for to give a washing display
And it was known that he sold quite a few washing machines every day

Tadghy Duggan the first i knew of in Duhallow when not many in Ireland
Could speak in French and the words of different languages did understand
For the most part self educated he was one of a brilliant mind
And it could be truly said of him that he was one of a rare kind

Since he was one in thinking who did seem well ahead of his time
And it did seem a pity that he did leave Millstreet when he was in his life’s prime
For to travel and try out his luck in the big World out there
And what was a huge loss to Duhallow was surely a gain to elsewhere continue reading the full article “Tadghy Duggan”

Since The Last Time I Saw Clara

On the last time i saw Clara it wore a hat of snow
And Finnow bank high in the rushy fields with a loud babble did flow
On towards the great Blackwater on that bleak December day
And the hungry cattle in the farmyard sheds were bellowing for silage or hay
As i boarded the bus for Rosslare in the Square of Millstreet Town
From the gray sky of early evening the rain was drizzling down
I was just one of the many in Duhallow back then not rare
Who took the migrant ferry for Fishguard at the harbor of Rosslare
Unlike the migratory swallow i did not return in Spring
Though often in my continue reading the full article “Since The Last Time I Saw Clara”

Bernard O’Donoghue added to the Irish Poetry Reading Archive

This week Cullen native Bernard O’Donoghue was added to the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, which is part of a project to create a central repository for poetry readings by Irish poets and writers, which tries to capture and preserve the rich and diverse landscape of poetry in Ireland. The collection captures the voice of the poet reading a selection of their work, and giving a very brief overview of the context and circumstances that influenced the writing of the poem. Below are nine videos of Bernards poems, and also at the end, a long video in which he talks about the beauty of the work of Seamus Heaney:


Ter Conatus – on a brother and sister that live their lives on a farm together until one of them dies and the other is left alone
continue reading the full article “Bernard O’Donoghue added to the Irish Poetry Reading Archive”

Ann Cronin

Ann Cronin, Clara RdSo humble and gentle and free of conceit
She was one of the nicest people of Millstreet
So sad for to learn Ann Cronin has passed away
In the quietness of St Mary’s she is at peace today

A good mother to her children and to the late Kevin Cronin a good wife
Ann Corkery her maiden name she lived an honorable life
The youngest of three girls a sister to Margaret and Noreen
In the past in Millstreet’s West End out walking she often was seen

But this is going back many Seasons in time
When i was much younger and nearer to my life’s prime
And though Ann is one of many i have not seen for years
I feel sure her parting from life would not have gone without tears

For she was a beautiful person indeed
And of more of her kind the Human World is in need
She never sought the limelight or of anyone had a bad word to say
And about her she did have a beautiful way
continue reading the full article “Ann Cronin”