Irish Poetry

On Sundays and Holydays, all resorted with the piper to the village green, where the young folk danced till the cows came home.
Joseph Plunkett 1887 - 1916
Grace Gifford 1888 - 1955

I am of Ireland,
And of the holy land
Of Ireland.

Good sir, pray I thee,
For of saint charity,

Come and dance with me
In Ireland.

Anon. (14th century)

I should like to give thanks to the thousands of writers, actors, technicians, teachers, students and prisoners, with whom I have worked and played over the years and who have made this website possible.

I should also like to give thanks to Ireland, the land of my ancestors, where some of the most beautiful English is spoken and written. A poem I love is by Joseph Plunkett, who was not only a prisoner, but who was executed for taking part in the Easter Rising. Shortly before he died he was married in prison to his childhood sweetheart, Grace Gifford. They were allowed fifteen minutes supervised married life together. She lived another 39 years and never remarried. I like to think he dedicated this poem to her.
I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice-and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.
We must each have a favourite poem by William Butler Yeats. This is mine.
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Yeats 1865 - 1939 by Augustus John
Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013
In a different way I love this poem by Nobel Prize Winner Seamus Heaney. “Out of this World”, is dedicated to the memory of the Polish American poet, Czeslaw Milosz
Like everybody else, I bowed my head
during the consecration of the bread and wine,
lifted my eyes to the raised host and raised chalice,
believed (whatever it means) that a change occurred.
I went to the altar rails and received the mystery
on my tongue, returned to my place, shut my eyes fast, made
an act of thanksgiving, opened my eyes and felt
time starting up again.
There was never a scene
when I had it out with myself or with an other.
The loss of faith occurred off stage. Yet I cannot
disrespect words like ‘thanksgiving’ or ‘host’
or even ‘communion wafer.’ They have an undying
pallor and draw, like well water far down.
John O’Donohue’s life cannot be encompassed within the one act of birth, life and death. He was not a finite act that existed and is now lost for evermore. He is just a story that is written, spoken and lives amongst us.

May you be blessed with good friends

And learn to be a good friend to yourself

Journeying to that place in your Soul where

There is love warmth and feeling

May this change you

May it transfigure what is negative, distant

Or cold within your heart

May you be brought into real passion, kindness

And belonging

May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them, be there for them

And receiving all the challenges, truth and light  you need

May you never be isolated but know the embrace

Of your Anam Cara

John O'Donohue 1956 - 2008