Tag Archives: Irish Poetry

Mattie Lennon Irish Author- ON RAGLAN ROAD


By Mattie Lennon

“Only in you my song begins and ends.” So wrote Philip Sidney.

 When we are intrigued, uplifted or moved by a song how often do we know where it began?

  Most Irish love-songs were inspired by women. But who were these women? When you listened to Luke Kelly belting out “Raglan Road” or Brendan O Dowda’s rendition of the haunting “Gortnamona”did you wonder who the objects of the composition were?   Gerry Hanberry’s latest book “On Raglan Road – Great Irish Love Songs and the Women Who Inspired Them”   gives the story  of the unrequited love in Patrick Kavanagh’s life when the   Medicanl Student, Hilda Moriarty admired his talent but didn’t want any romantic involvement with the 40 year old poet.  This  inspired the poem   “Raglan Road”.  The book also tells  the stories behind of thirteen  other Irish love songs and in-dept biographical accounts of their authors..  We are told in great detail who the real “Galway Girl”,Nancy Spain” and “Grace” were.  Thin Lizzy’s  “Sarah”, Mick Hanly’s “Past the Point Of Rescue”  and  Johnny Duhan’s  “The Voyage” all have strong and beautiful  women behind them.  The devastating death of Percy’s Frenh’s first wife at a  young age prompted him, in his grief, to compose “Gortnamona”. Whatever about every good man having a woman behind him does every good song have a woman behind it?  

      GerryHanberry has published four collections of poetry to date and also a biography of the Wilde family,  “More Lives Than One – The Remarkable Wilde Family Through the Generations”  and four collections of poetry .   In 2000 he won the prestigious  Originals Short Story prize in Listowel Writers’ Week.     Having won the  Sunday Tribune/Hennessy Award in 2000 he went on to win the  Strokestown Prize 2003 and RTÉ’s Rattlebag Poetry Slam  also in 2003.  In the Summer of 2004 he  won the Brendan Kennelly*/Sunday Tribune Poetry Award  and he also  won the Galway City and Co. Council’s Poetry Award for National Poetry Day 2009 and  he has been shortlisted for many of Ireland’s top poetry prizes .  Apart from his writing he is acoustic guitarist and vocalist with the great Rock, Country, Blues band The Atlantic Rhythm Section.

   He has been invited to read and deliver workshops at many literature festivals and been broadcast on Lyric FM, Galway Bay FM, Newstalk, Midwest Radio, Cape Cod Radio in the US, Ireland’s RTÉ and in Australia.   He holds an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he teaches a Creative Writing course to undergraduates. He is also a teacher of English at St. Enda’s College, Salthill. He was a journalist during the 1980s and 1990s, writing a weekly column for the Galway Observer under the name “Joe Barry”. In addition he performs regularly as a singer-songwriter. He runs  creative writing and poetry appreciation workshops and delivers talks on his non-fiction works around them .  He is available to give a reading or talk, sing or play  and can be contacted at ;gerryhanberry@gmail.com

*P.S.  I hope Gerry doesn’t mind me using the following; In 2004 Brendan Kennelly wrote “ Raglan Lane “, a celebratory  “poemsong “ that gives Patrick Kavanagh a moment of happy fulfilment rather than a climax of disappointment.

                                               RAGLAN LANE.

In Raglan Lane, in the gentle rain, I saw dark love again,

Beyond belief, beyond all grief, I felt the ancient pain,

The joyful  thrust of holy lust, I stretched on heaven’s floor,

One moment burned what the years had learned and I was wild once more.

The years’ deep cries in her sad eyes became a source of light,

The heavy gloom  and sense of doom changed to pure delight,

And as we walked and talked we knew one thing for sure,

That love is blessed togetherness and loneliness is poor.

Then I grew rich with every touch, we loved the whole night long,

Her midnight hair bon the pillow there became an angel’s song,

Her happy skin, beyond all sin, was heaven opened wide,

But as the dawn came slyly on, I slept and she left my side.

Why  did she go? I’ll never know, nor will the gentle rain,

Her up and go was a cruel blow, and yet I felt no pain

For I had known her body and soul, in my own loving way,

So I lay and thanked the God of love at the dawning of the day.

Mattie Lennon  mattielennon@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers



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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers

Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- 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


Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers

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


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

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers

Glucksman Ireland House NYU- Poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice Reads His Work

Poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice reads his work

Thursday October 20th, 2011 7:00 PM

Glucksman Ireland House NYU

Poetry’s answer to John B. Keane, County Kerry-native Gabriel Fitzmaurice, a master of the sonnet, reads from his newly published collection, POEMS OF FAITH AND DOUBT, as well as selections from his over forty published works in English and Irish.

ireland.house@nyu.edu Glucksman Ireland House NYU Irish Studies Program

Organizer(s): Glucksman Ireland House NYU

Venue: Glucksman Ireland House NYU

Taken from the Irish Emigrant

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read