Tag Archives: Irish Poet

Mattie Lennon Irish Author- FINNEGAN’S WAKE, WITH AN APOSTROPHY.

FINNEGAN’S WAKE, WITH AN APOSTROPHY.

By Mattie Lennon.

Poet Paddy Finnegan passed away, unexpectedly, on 16th July.

Shortly after his death poet and writer Stephen James Smith wrote, “Paddy was a wonderful man who inspired me with his poetry and acted as a great supporter of other young poets too. He fought the good fight and was seen most days outside Belwey’s selling the Big Issue. I’d often stop and have a chat and buy him a cup of tea, he’d offer up a smile and a few words in Irish.

 “I’m sitting here now listening to his CD ‘Fion Ceol agus Filioct’, only a couple of months back he’d asked me to help him make more, I was awaiting his call to help make this happen, and as he speaks to me beyond the grave his verse is still unnerving me with his gravely pitted voice holding my ears and I can’t help but think he got that tone from much harshness, perhaps self-inflicted but also perhaps because society looked past him. “Paddy you’ll always live on in my memory, you’ll always be one of the first people who made poetry sing to me, you’ll always be a writers’ writer, a warrior with words. The Fionn mac Cumhaill of verse. “

Paddy was born “between two years” either in the dying moments of 1942 or just after midnight on New-year’s day 1942. Like everywhere else in rural Ireland clocks weren’t all that accurate in rural Ireland at the time.

He got a Scholarship to St Jarleths College in 1956 and continued his formal education in UCD..

Paddy had a fantastic knowledge of the English language, was fluent in all dialects of Gailge and had a good grasp of Greek and Latin. His versatility was increased in the year he spent in Wolverhampton  as one of “the men who built Britain”. He became an expert on how to fry steak on the head of a shovel.

He joined the Irish Civil Service in 1962 but office work wasn’t for Paddy. Apart from being on a higher mental plane than most of his colleagues he was an open- air man. During his stint there I’m sure  Sigersun Clifford’s line often went around in his head, “They chained my bones to an office stool and my soul to a clock’s cold hands. “ He later worked as a bus conductor with CIE for many years.

    When I got a job as a bus-conductor in 1974 I was sent to Donnybrook garage. I didn’t ask who was the most intelligent person in the garage but if I had the reply would have been concise, “Paddy Finnegan.” As a conductor he could reply to any criticism from an irate passenger; in several languages if necessary. During this period Paddy and a few of his fellow intellectual would assemble in a city centre flat which was known as Dail Oiche. It was a later edition of “The catacombs” as described by Anthony Cronin in Dead as Doornails. With such a collection of intelligentsia you can imagine (or can you?) the topics under discussion. He lived for many years in Lower Beechwood Avenue, Ranelagh. If ever a house deserved a Blue Plaque its Paddy’s former residence.

 He brought out a collection of his poetry, sadly now out of print, titled Dactyl Distillations. I know dear erudite reader that you know the meaning of dactyl but I had to look it up. It is, “a foot of poetic meter in quantitave verse.”

   He was inspired by everyday events. His Post from Parnassus  was inspired by the annual Saint Patrick’s Day commemoration of Patrick Kavanagh on the banks of the Grand Canal.

      Post From Parnassus 

(after Patrick Kavanagh)

by Paddy Finnegan

Here by my seat the old ghosts meet.

Here, the place where the old menagerie

Relentlessly soldiers on

Remembering the old  green dragon, me,

On the feast of the Apostle of Ireland.

Ye greeny, greying catechumens

Will cease to stage this ceremony

Only on the command of Sergeant Death.

Then break not the heart of poet past

Nor that of preening poet present:

But know, ye prodigies of prosody

That multitudes in times to be

Will listen to my lays

And look askance

While cods forever fake

Their own importance.

   More recently he recorded a, limited edition,  CD,  Fion Ceol  agus Filioct. I hope that somebody will now bring out an “unlimited” edition.  In his later years he was a familiar sight selling the Big Issue outside Trinity College and more recently at Bewleys on Grafton Street.

   Paddy always had a story, like the day he was chatting to his fellow poet Professor  Brendan Kennelly at the gate of Trinity as dark clouds hung overhead . “ . . . I asked the Ballylongford wizard for a meteorological prognostication. He replied in the immortal words: ‘ There’’ be no rain; it’ll be as dhry, as dhry as a witches tit.’  He wasn’t gone fifteen minutes when amazingly the cloud dispersed and as our old friend Pythagoras used to say: ‘ Phoebus played a blinder for the rest of the  day.” That was Paddy.

  I asked his brother James if there were poets in their ancestry. He said no, that their father was a farmer but, in the words of Seamus Heaney, “By God, the old man could handle a spade.”

The soil of Kilkerrin will lie lightly on Paddy; didn’t his friends drop it gently on his coffin. Such a scene was described by his friend Dermot Healy who pre-deceased him by a couple of weeks, “ . . . shovels work like oars, rowing the dead man from this world”

 The soil of Kilkerrin will lie lightly on Paddy; didn’t his friends drop it gently on his coffin. Suck a scene was described by his friend Dermot Healy who pre-deceased him by a couple of weeks, “ . . . shovels work like oars, rowing the dead man from this world”

P.S. Head shot courtesy of Irish Times.

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Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- THE HIDEOUT ON THE ROCK

THE HIDEOUT ON THE ROCK

                           By Mattie Lennon

 (Air: The Oul Alarm Clock)

 It happened up in Blessington,

In November sixty-nine.

Justice wasn’t evident

And the day was far from fine.

The Gardai got contrary

And they gave to me the knock

In their effort for to camouflage

The Hideout On The Rock.

 

I was told, “We’re going to charge you

With the burning of a rick”,

By Nash and Tighe and Sullivan

And Paddy Browne, the prick.

If the facts had been before me

I’d have got an awful shock;

Had I known ’twas all a cover-up

For The Hideout On The Rock.

 

Then on a day in early Spring

(But Winter mists hung down)

A daring raid was carried out

In Rathdrum’s lonely town.

The Gardai combed the district

And kept vigil round the clock.

To ensure the culprits’ safe return

To the Hideout On The Rock.

 

The next landmark in the story

Is Dublin’s Arran Quay;

A zealous guard was there shot dead

On a sunny April day.

To search West-Wicklow homesteads

The Gardai soon did flock,

But somehow or other chanced to miss

The Hideout On The Rock.

 

When the boys from Dublin Castle came

They saw it was too late,

But still a mounted “sub-Machine”

Stood focused on the gate.

They ‘spied the dump of weapons

When they forced the master lock.

Maurice Sullivan needed brown corduroys

At The Hideout On The Rock.

 

 

 

The Blessington patrol-car

Brought out spades to delve the lands.

There was talk of hidden money

And of Gardai’s blistered hands.

Unless they thought some Leprechaun

Had left behind his crock,

They’d know no buried treasure lay

Around Or Near The Rock.

 

The action that those Gardai took

Might puzzle you or me

But their Sergeant came from Kerry

Where all murderers go free.

I hear they pushed him sideways

To a station in Cool-lock

To reward him for the part he played

In The Hiding On The Rock.

 © Mattie Lennon 1970

mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- THE NOBBER HARE (Air: The Hills of Granemor)

THE NOBBER HARE

by  Mattie Lennon

(Air; The Hills of Granemore)

With my hounds I have hunted this island all o’er,

Together we culled rabbit, stag and wild boer.

But of all the great quarries there was none to compare

With that beast above Navan; the giant Nobber hare.

All the creatures in Ireland of legend and myth,

Were trailing behind him in height, length and width.

The great Irish Elk would look up in despair

If confronted in combat by the giant Nobber hare.

Cucullen, in Ulster, his camán he did wield.

The goal was in Derry and Athlone centre-field.

The game he abandoned on the plains of Kildare,

When his sliother was eaten by the giant Nobber hare.

Sean Boylan a potion made up for his team

And the next day in Croker they played like a dream.

But the referee favoured the Dubs (‘twas unfair)

Until he was threatened with the giant Nobber hare.

Then a Northside sharp-shooter came into the frame;

From a forty mile distance he took careful aim.

And now, if you’re out after dark, just beware

For the ghost is abroad of the giant Nobber hare.

© Mattie Lennon 2007

Mattie Lennon-  mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Poet/Songwriter- The DVD SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS, Will Be Broadcast

SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS, the DVD, will be broadcast at 7.00 PM (Irish time) every evening , for a week, from Sunday 23rd December, 2012.  online at http://www.anlar.tv,

Mattie Lennon <mattielennon@gmail.com>;

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Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- THE HIDEOUT ON THE ROCK (Air: The Oul Alarm Clock), An Irish Ballad

THE HIDEOUT ON THE ROCK

By Mattie Lennon

(Air: The Oul Alarm Clock)

It happened up in Blessington,
In November sixty-nine.
Justice wasn’t evident
And the day was far from fine.
The Gardai got contrary
And they gave to me the knock
In their effort for to camouflage
The Hideout On The Rock.

I was told “We’re going to charge you
With the burning of a rick”
By Nash and Tighe and Sullivan
And Paddy Browne, the prick.
If the facts had been before me
I’d have got an awful shock;
Had I known ’twas all a cover-up
For The Hideout On The Rock.

Then on a day in early Spring
(But Winter mists hung down)
A daring raid was carried out
In Rathdrum’s lonely town.
The Gardai combed the district
And kept vigil round the clock.
To ensure the culprits’ safe return
To the Hideout On The Rock.

The next landmark in the story
Is Dublin’s Arran Quay;
A zealous guard was there shot dead
On a sunny April day.
To search West-Wicklow homesteads
The Gardai soon did flock,
But somehow or other chanced to miss
The Hideout On The Rock.

When the boys from Dublin Castle came
They saw it was too late,
But still a mounted “sub-Machine”
Stood focused on the gate.
The ‘spied the dump of weapons
When they forced the master lock.
Maurice Sullivan needed brown corduroys
At The Hideout On The Rock.

The Blessington patrol-car
Brought out spades to delve the lands.
There was talk of hidden money
And of Gardai’s blistered hands.
Unless they thought some Leprechaun
Had left behind his crock,
They’d know no buried treasure lay
Around Or Near The Rock.

The action that those Gardai took
Might puzzle you or me
But their Sergeant came from Kerry
Where all murderers go free.
I hear they pushed him sideways
To a station in Coolock
To reward him for the part he played
In The Hiding On The Rock.

Mattie Lennon

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Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- “ . . .the Hill” About Lee Dunne

“ . . .the Hill” About Lee Dunne

by Mattie Lennon

It was 1965. I hid a book in the cow-house, in Kylebeg, between readings. Why am I telling you this? The book was Lee Dunne’s, Goodbye to the Hill a publication which would be deemed to corrupt the teenagers of Ireland. A year earlier Dunne, former resident of Mount Pleasant Buildings in Dublin, and now London cabbie had sat down , “ . . . with the idea of writing a short story about a fourteen-year-old-kid who rides his bicycle down this hill six days a week for three years, vowing in his own way ; ‘ Someday real soon, I’m going to say goodbye to this place’ .”
Goodbye to the Hill was a bestseller in England and the USA selling more than a million copies worldwide but banned in Ireland. It was made into a Hollywood film Paddy in 1970 which was also banned in Ireland. (It was granted a 12A certification in 2006.)
Lee Dunne didn’t rest on his laurels. He adapted Goodbye to the Hill as a stage play and it went on to break all records and became Ireland’s longest running play. Like John B. Keane before him Dunne was rejected by the Abbey. The national Theatre turned down Goodbye to the Hill because they “didn’t think it stageable.”
During the plays epic run in the Regency, in Dublin, (from September 1989 to December 1992) one journalist wrote, “Many of the audience have never been to a play before or, if they have been, it was this one. During the interval, we all talk to each other. It’s not like the Peacock or the Gate where people at the bar are commentating on the interpretation or the interaction. At the Regency, we’re here to enjoy ourselves. Which is why you hear the occasional bottle being knocked over as someone makes his or her way out in the middle of the show for a natural break.”
One unkind critic who criticised Goodbye to the Hill for its “scatological pursuit of laughter” showed his agreement about the certain continued success of the play by grudgingly writing, “ . . . certainly it seemed at times that the only way to end its run might be to get a heavy stick and beat it to death.” George Moore hit the nail on the head when he said, “The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand.”
Lee Dunne could see the reason for his sidelining by the established intelligentsia, “Of course they didn’t like me, I never joined clubs; I never played the games. If you look at the artistic structure in this country, it is people who went to university together who are on the same boards, people that don’t even rock the boat with a statement that’s one degree starboard of port.”
However Dunne’s genius was noted by many commentators. In his, meticulously researched, Writing Ireland’s Working Class, Dublin after O’ Casey, Michael Pierse compares the messenger- boy from Mount-Pleasant Buildings with great writers of Ireland and beyond. Pierce puts the man who brought “working- class Dublin into the nation’s living rooms” up there with Brendan Behan, James Plunkett, and John Osborne and gives a nod to Lee’s similarity to Daniel Defoe and to Dickens in his insight into slum life where poverty and frustration had people “screaming at each other like wild animals.”
Dunne’s, insight into socio-economic deprivation, the effects of TB and slum-dwelling on those exposed to it, is laconically summed up by Pierce when he refers to, “echoes of another Dubliner, Robert Tressell” author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
Goodbye to the Hill is of course largely autobiographical. We learn in Lee’s autobiographical work No Time for Innocence (which he later did as a one-man show) that the character Paddy Maguire’s relationship with Clare Kearney, a woman in her forties, was based on the author’s experience which he describes as, “ A metaphor for exploitation and the taboo of child abuse.”

Keats said, of poetry, that unless it comes “as naturally as leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” Lee Dunne would agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Writing always came easy to him. In all of his twenty novels, screenplays, radio-dramas, one-man shows and articles the words just flowed. The characters took on a life of their own. As a child going to the pictures in the Stella in Rathmines he copped on pretty quickly that what was happening on the screen had been written by somebody. He wasn’t slow to tell the family and anyone else who would listen that he was going to be a writer. The result? He was branded a “nutcase.”
Mount Pleasant Buildings, where it all started, are no more; demolished and replaced with Swan Grove. Perhaps the old buildings had, if not charm, character (whatever that is.)
Lee Dunne has described it as, “a scab, a sort of dry sore on the face of Dublin, and to this day I believe that it was just that, a custom-built slum — of cold-water flats, situated on Dublin’s south side.It was a concrete and iron-bars place, like a prison unit that, to my young mind, was barely fit for people to exist in, but deemed more than good enough by the powers that were in a position to dump the poor anywhere they liked, without one among us being able to do a thing about it.” I lived in Ranelagh in the 70s in the dying days of “the Buildings” and it would be hard to disagree but as that other great Irish writer Maurice Walsh said,“A place acquires an entity of its own, an entity that is the essence of all the life and thoughts and griefs and joys that have gone before.” Despite the hardship and defeatism is the much travelled, cosmopolitan, Lee Dunne’s heart still there, at 162 where he was born on Fridayb 21st December i934? As the Greek poet Cadaly wrote: “No matter where you wander all over the world, in the fields and streets where you grow up, there you will live and there you will die.”
George Bernard Shaw who was born less than a mile from Lee Dunne’s birthplace said, “The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.” And Goodbye to the Hill is not fenced in by time or geographical boundaries. Just as John B. Keane’s rustic characters served as a universal blackboard to illustrate the foibles of human nature to an off-Broadway audience, so a rural Irish audience would have no difficulty recognising “Harry Redmonds” and “Paddy Maguires” in their own community. Any drama group, amateur or professional, in any part of the world, wouldn’t go far wrong by staging Goodbye to the Hill.
The author (who is still pounding the keyboard at 78 years of age) can be contacted at leeleedunne@eircom.net
His website is; http://www.leedunne.com

Mattie Lennon

mattielemmon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- “YELL VOTE FOR ME ” A Mini Play

“YELL VOTE FOR ME ”
By
by Mattie Lennon

Set; A cottage door set in a whitewashed wall with a small window on either side is facing the road .
A nearby telephone pole, to the right, has an election poster attached with a picture of a young handsome man and the caption “Number One for Barton.” Tim, an elderly pipe-smoking man wearing a battered hat is leaning over a half-door, looking towards the poster and talking to himself. He has all the hallmarks of a small farmer and has a habit of spitting mid-sentence.

TIM; I told them in 1937 ‘ vote for the constitution and you vote for your own downfall’. But would they listen? No. Too many of them knew too bloody much. Ah yes,
“ . . . The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government . . “ Sovereign right me arse. What right have we now? Sovereign or otherwise. Oh, they may wipe their arse with article33 now. “There shall be a Comptroller and Auditor General to control on behalf of the State all disbursements and to audit all accounts of moneys administered by or under authority of the Oireachtas.” And then , “ . . every citizen without distinction of sex who has reached the age of twenty-one years, and who is not placed under disability or incapacity by this Constitution or by law, shall be eligible for membership of Dail Eireann.” Aye , “eligible”. No wonder we have the shower o’ gobshites that we have above in Leinster House. The lord have mercy on the old people. I remember before the foundation of the State. . .

An overweight middle-aged man approaches the door from the right, Tim’s “blind-side”, He is carrying a number of leaflets and and is wearing a rosette bearing the words; “Vote for Jimmy Miley.”

POLITICAN; Good morning to you Tim. It’s younger you’re getting. How are you getting on?

TIM; (Turning round but showing no signs of embarrassment) Ah, I’m middlen’ Jimmy.

POLITICAN; Isn’t it after been rough old weather. . and. . . . isn’t the cost of living terrible?

TIM; I suppose we can’t do much about either of them.

POLITICAN; Well, a change of government would do something about the living cost.

TIM; An’ what about the divil ye know?

POLITICAN; We had some quare promises made here over the years. Do you remember O ‘Reilly the Labour fellow? When everybody in Kylebeg had to carry water uphill in galvanised buckets he spent his whole career promising to get a well sunk and a pump for them.

TIM; The well always dried up after the election.

POLITICAN; Every one of his after-Mass meetings would finish with the punchline, “An’ the Kylebegs will have their water.”

TIM; That was well put . . .in one way. But sure no one can do anything for anyone now unless they’re told to do it beyant in Europe

POLITICAN; I’m after getting the pension for old Johnny Doyle.

TIM; Isn’t Johnny over 66?

POLITICAN ; No matter what age he is nobody got the pension for him before.

TIM; I suppose it’s better late . . .

POLITICAN; (Cutting him off)If I’m elected I’ll look after the people of Kylebeg. Wasn’t all belonging to me reared in it. I know you’ll give me your number one Tim but do you honestly think I’ll be elected.

TIM; Of course you will; ye’ll walk it.

POLITICAN; Do you think so?

TIM; I do. Sure didn’t you say that it was the poor that elected you the last time . . an’ isn’t there twice as many of us now.
(Curtain.)

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