Patrick Galvin R.I.P.

Is the feast day of Saint Anne
Pray for me
I am the madwoman of Cork.
In Castle street
I saw two goblins at my feet
I saw a horse without a head
Carrying the dead
To the graveyard
Near Turner’s Cross.I am the madwoman of Cork
No one talks to me.

When I walk in the rain
The children throw stones at me
Old men persecute me
And women close their doors.
When I die
Believe me
They’ll set me on fire.

I am the madwoman of Cork
I have no sense.

With an eagle in my brain
I can see a train
Crashing at the station
If I told people that
They’d choke me.
Then where would I be?

I am the madwoman of Cork
The people hate me

When Canon Murphy died
I wept on his grave
That was twenty-five years ago.
When I saw him just now
In Dunbar Street
He had clay in his teeth
He blest me.

I am the madwoman of Cork
The clergy pity me.

I see death
In the branches of a tree
Birth in the feathers of a bird.
To see a child with one eye
Or a woman buried in ice
Is the worst thing
And cannot be imagined.

I am the madwoman of Cork
My mind fills me.

I should like to be young
To dress up in silk
And have nine children
I’d like to have red lips
But I’m eighty years old.
I have nothing
But a small house with no windows.

I am the madwoman of Cork
Go away from me.

And if I die now
Don’t touch me.
I want to sail in a long boat
From here to Roche’s Point
And there I will anoint
The sea
With oil of alabaster.

I am the madwoman of Cork
And today
Is the feast day of Saint Anne.
Feed me. 

This was a man who laughed at poetry literary. He had his own personal way of expressing his poetry that came from his gut. He wasn’t interested in creating anthologies.  Well – they once looked down on Patrick Kavanagh. Language evolves all the time and a poet of this kind will hopefully be embraced in the future.
His childhood ended dramatically when he was sent to Daingean industrial school, noted for its abuse of young people in its care. This experience had a powerful influence on his earlier poetry which expresses the fear and brutality of that time. His wife spoke on RTE about the effects the Ryan Report had on him. He was that sick and couldn’t take any more of it, that he had to dispense with the whole thing.

‘All Day Long’ by Noel Monahan

Noel, a writer and poet from Cavan, has five poetry collections published by Salmon Poetry. He has written many plays including a recent adaptation of the Children of Lir. He broadcasts on radio including Sunday Miscellany, Lyric FM and many local stations. Noel’s poem ‘All Day Long” is a prescribed text for The New Leaving Certificate English Course 2011 and 2012.

All Day Long by Noel Monahan

Synopsis of Poem:

In this poem Noel Monahan, a teacher, talks about the boredom the children he teaches face every day. There is repetition of the words “All Day Long”, this defines the boredom they encounter in school, he talks of the difficulty teachers face in trying to keep the children engaged and on task,

“you never know, when some disappear, you never know where to find them”,

This suggests the children are in a world of their own and the teacher can’t reach them, intellectually or physically, because often the children mitch or bunk off school because they are not inspired or challenged enough.

He suggests the teacher does his/her best

“Teachers are Patient”, “See with their eyes, See with their Hearts”.

This suggests the teacher is understanding of the difficulties the students face they are “not easily tamed” and yet they are forced to sit in rows, which obviously is difficult for these children.

In the fifth stanza he talks of the time spent and repetitive task of accounting for these children morning and afternoon, all information is stored on file yet when these children go missing nobody knows where to find them.

The poet seems frustrated at the school system that seems to fail the untamed student, we do not encourage or inspire them, they do not attend school, legally we spend time accounting for their daily movements, yet when they need us we are not there for them.

Like father, like son-net: Dad’s poem on syllabus – National News –

I remember Noel Monahan having taught at St, Clare’s Secondary School, Ballyjmamesduff, Co Cavan. I can’t quite remember if he was involved with the brilliant musicals that were staged there every year by the students, or perhaps he was associated with the town’s annual Frolics show. What an achievement for him to get one of his poems on the Leaving Certificate curriculum.

Our Lives Out Loud.

I was in Barnardo’s, Rathmines charity shop just recently and picked up an amazing – personally authographed to ‘Marian’ book ‘Our Lives Out Loud’ by two extraordinary activists, Ann Louise Gilligan & Katherine Zappone. I had read about them in the media and made comments at butterfliesandwheels,org over the years about their plight for justice & equality, in a land that is highly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church, where little chance of achieving success would prove very difficult.
So, other than that I was not cognisant of the powerful educational work they were doing behind the scenes in one of the most sprawling backyards of Dublin, called West Tallaght, where poor working-class people, who in the 60’s were shoved out of the inner city into the nearby Dublin mountains, with hardly any infrastructures in place at all.

For some time now we have dreamed of founding an educational centre. At the beginning of the summer we came upon the Shanty, an old cedar house in Brittas, Co, Dublin. At the back of the house is a four-car garage that we hope to convert into the this house.

Our long-term goal is to form a community of people who are committed to the work of the centre.  We hope that both the communal and educational setting will promote freedom from sexism, classism, and any kind of social inequality.

We understand this to be a spiritual as well as educational venture. We want to have a table that is open to all – for food, drink, compassion, merriment, visioning, story-telling and decision making. This is our dream.

We had found our homeplace. (p.88 ch.5)

Wow – this is a real surprise photo of Edna O’Brien & Katherine Zappone at the launch of ‘Our Lives Out Loud’.

Thank you Marian, whoever you are, as your authographed book has now gone to a good home. I shall very soon be going in search of another authograph from Edna O’Brien, if she so happens to appear at her own seven day play of The Country Girls at the Gaiety Theatre.

 40 Years of Change Irish Times article and video footage are very interesting.

Unfortunately for K’AL change is not going to happen fast enough, according to the latest Statement regarding their Supreme Court case.

I love the ‘O’ and ‘L’ alliteration and the ‘Out’ and ‘Loud’ imagery word, they speak volumes.

‘Does God Hate “Magdalen Laundry” Women?’

Magdalen Laundries were institutions from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries ostensibly for “fallen women”, a term used to imply sexual promiscuity. Laundries for these girls and women (and others believed to be of poor moral character, such as prostitutes) operated throughout Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States for much of the 19th and well into the 20th century. The first asylum in Ireland opened on Leeson Street in Dublin in 1765, founded by the Protestant Lady Arabella Denny.

Girls from Goldenbridge industrial *school* upon reaching the age of 16, who were deemed by the religious to be difficult, were oftentimes sent to Magdalen Laundriies. For example, Valerie, who grew up with me, would have gone to the one in Sean McDermott St. See video. I visited her there when I was a teenager. Valerie would have been highly experienced at laundry work, as she would have served her time as a child in a GB Magdalen laundry, not to mention having slaved throughout her whole childhood incarceration period in the scullery, where she was expert at slicing bread on a slicer, that one sees in a butcher’s shop, and potato peeling for a whole institution of children (150); scrubbing a large dining-room, lavatories, yards’, recreation (w(rec)k) hall; polishing on bended knees, dormitories, producing a required daily quota of rosary beads and minding children… the list goes on ad infinitum.

So… going to work in a Magdalen laundry at 16 was just an extension of her life in the industrial *school*. She was hardened to the cruelty of life. Lads and lassies, in general, from working class areas of Dublin would have gone to work at 13 and 14 years old, so… 16, would have been considered rather old to start work, excepting those of course, in Goldenbridge who took on adult work responsibilities from the age of 6 years and onwards.

Valerie never even got an opportunity to become a ‘fallen woman’, but to the nuns she would have been classed as one, by association, because of her own mother – whom the latter never knew – who had been a mother herself at 14 years old.

There was a girl who had left Goldenbridge and who soon afterwards became pregnant. When she came back to visit, it could have been a sister, she was paraded in front of a classroom of girls, and shown what would happen them if they dared allow men to meddle with them before marriage. She was employed as a pure guinea pig. The audcity of the religious to mortify a girl in this despicable fashion. But then again objectification of girls was the norm. Luckily for the pregnant girl, that she had the choice to flee across the water to England. A heathen land – which the nuns had endlessly driven home to us, that would be responsible for us losing the faith. The faith was everything. Had the girl been pregnant a few years earlier, her fate, undoubtedly would have been the Magdalen laundry. As the religious still had official responsibility for inmates until they reached the ripe old age of eighteen. At that age, anyway, a lot of them would have been married, or thinking about it, in order to create a home for themselves, and have some kind of security for the first time in their young lives. There were no other options, as they had no educational skills to guide them on to more independent futures. The world does not look too kindly on the uneducated.

The Magdalene Story:
“Ireland has suffered a great many tragedies in her long history. There are those we hear of every day — the “Troubles,” the great Famine — Irish sorrows and issues we are all familiar with. But hidden beneath the surface, lies a tragedy just as great, just as terrible and just as unimaginable. And it is only just beginning to break through to the light of truth.”

Marita Conlon-McKenna’s “Magdalen” is an unputdownable novel. I could so easily identify with the characters in the book.

Justice for Magdalenes:
“Justice for Magdalenes is comprised of survivors, the family members of survivors, long-time activists in human rights and adoption reform, academics, researchers, archivists and representatives from the political community. An Ad Hoc Oireachtas Committee was formed in 2009 to work with JFM’s committee and advisory, led by Mr. Tom Kitt T.D. (retired, now JFM advisory committee); Michael Kennedy T.D. and Kathleen Lynch T.D.’

Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom’s “Does God Hate Women” book review by Sally Quinn of The Washington Post:

“Long before Jesus’s time, Eve was the temptress, Adam the unwilling dupe. Mary had to be a virgin. Joseph did not.”

We should be recovering our Magdalen history, not burying it.

‘Child of Our Times’ by Eavan Boland

Child Of Our Time

Yesterday I knew no lullaby

But you have taught me overnight to order
This song, which takes from your final cry
Its tune, from your unreasoned end its reason;
Its rhythm from the discord of your murder,
Its motive from the fact you cannot listen.

We who should have known how to instruct
With rhymes for your waking, rhythms for your sleep
Names for the animals you took to bed,
Tales to distract, legends to protect,
Later an idiom for you to keep
And living, learn, must learn from you, dead.

To make our broken images rebuild
Themselves around your limbs, your broken
Image, find for your sake whose life our idle
Talk has cost, a new language. Child
Of our time, our times have robbed your cradle.
Sleep in a world your final sleep has woken.

This poem was written by Eavan Boland ‘to commemorate a baby killed in the Dublin bombing’. In fact, two baby sisters, Jacqueline and Anne Marie O’Brien were killed as well as Baby Doherty. It’s some sort of an indictment at least, for the group – Justice for the Forgotten, that a poem has been written by an eminent Irish poet, in memory of the children who tragically died in the Dublin & Monaghan bombings. I worked for a short time in Fennessy’s shop at the weekends, right opposite where one of the bombings took place in Nth. Earl St. However – it would have been prior to the bombing. I was in London at the time it occurred, and have memories of Ireland being a very frightening country to live in, because of the troubles. Irish people also got a rough time in Britain, and some had to quickly pick up on the London accent in order to disguise themselves. Invariably, some couldn’t disguise their Irish looks, and stood out a mile, and were to the fore for taunting. For example, I remember accidentally skipping a queue at Big Mac’s beside Westminster Cathedral, as I was engrossed in conversation with some people who had attended a big charismatic meeting at the conference centre. I was told to go back to where I came from, that, the Irish were nothing but ‘trouble makers’. Mind you, the person had in all probability a lot to fear, seeing that there were always bomb-scares at nearby Victoria train station. So she had to get rid of the tension, by scapegoating any innocent Irish person who had inadvertently vexed her. I remember reminding her that Ireland and Britain were once all glued together and that it was the ice-age that had separated them from one another. So what the blazes was she talking about?

I was in Enniskillen on the day before the bombing, and at exactly the same time it went off to boot. I had gone there shopping with Mrs. McGinn, a Corkonian (and her young son, Kieran) who was married to a Cavan farmer. We resided in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. So I can fully empathise with the chaps being interviewed by TG3, a decade after the atrocities. The poem,  as per usual is on the Leaving Cert English curriculum. So young students today will never forget their country’s cruel past, as they open their poetry books.

‘The Country Girls’ by Edna O’Brien, Revisited.

I got saturated on Monday evening (after spending a couple of hours on a bus in the flash-floods traffic en-route from Donnybrook to the city-centre.) It happened when I jumped off the 46A bus, nearby St. Stephen’s Green, and fled (like lightning) through the torrential rain in Grafton St. By all accounts –

Dublin had never seen the likes of it since only God knows when – if ever. I was shaking in my ‘sensible’ shoes and dripping like mad, from head to toe, by the time I arrived at the Gaiety Theatre. I even risked sheltering in shop door-ways, for fear of missing the ticket-office deadline.

Upon arrival there, I was greeted with a darkened theatre and thought that a show was on inside. Alas – to my chagrin, after making enquires at the nearest newsagent, when I discovered not a stir within the foyer, It turned out that the actors’ and staff have a free day, every Monday. I was crestfallen.

After strolling down the top of George’s St. in the aftermath to get the 16 bus to Rathgar, opposite The Dragon, I had to wait for one whole hour before it finally arrived. By that time I was nearly turning blue from the effects of the perfectly dripping wet clothing combined with the cold weather. I was that wet that I didn’t even dare sit down on a seat. I kept wringing out the end of my skirt/fleece jacket on the watery bus.

The bus was greeted with serious floods in Harold Cross, but the young bus-driver assured us that he would steer us through them safely. Motorists’ had to abandon their vehicles. Some bus passengers, despite the positive warnings from the driver were very anxious and stood up in preparation for the worst. We were all relieved when the bus hovered through the floods in a safe manner by a competent driver.

I was elated when I was in the position to discard all the wet clothes and hug a hot-water bottle real tightly.

I shall always remember the night of the flash-foods and my endeavour to obtain a ticket to one of Ireland’s most famous Irish writers’ Edna O’Brien play. I will recount this story to her – is she so happens to attend the play of which she is also producer.

I actually encountered her one time at the IFI Centre, which was a favourite haunt of English Heather and mine (when we took a break there to have tea and sample its specialty – home-made whole potato in their skins – chips . I saw the very tall elegantly dressed writer – albeit only from a distance.

Great image up above! The board-walk backdrop reminds me of a photo that my Aunt Ethel sent me, a long time ago, from Vancouver, Canada. It was taken at a time when her son was studying at the local university.

Oh… I nearly forgot to say, that – at long last – I’ve got a matinee ticket for the play, which will be only showing for one week. It’s selling tremendously well at the box-office, so the assistant tells me. Am really looking forward to seeing the play. To think how ludicrous it was of the Roman Catholic Church, who banned the novel -for what now appears to be harmless stuff. The church had such power in the past, that it drove its writers (and those who were industrial schools such as Goldenbridge) out of Ireland.

‘Ar-Lan-Y- Môr’ ‘On the Sea Shore’ by Catrin O’Neill

I really like this Welsh folk song by Catrin O’Neill (of Irish extraction):

…[w]ho grew up by the sea in Southern Snowdonia, surrounded by a wealth of traditional Welsh music and culture. Her Grandmother or Nain, was one of the first to introduce her to the magic of folk songs, often sung in the kitchen beside the warm Aga with a cup of tea in hand…

As I was viewing here my first thought was that the sandy beach reminded me so much of Curracloe, my most favourite beach in Co Wexford – incidentally, which was used in the filming of Saving Private Ryan. (I was there one day during that time in 1998. It was a good experience, though not all people were happy with the idea for environmental reasons. It was all clouded over.) I then came across the following:

Music video for ‘Ar-Lan-Y-Mor’ from Catrin O’Neill’s critically acclaimed album Nain’s Kitchen on IMMG Sparkling Wine Records. Filmed in Wales and Ireland. Produced and directed by John Perkins.

My first introduction to the Welsh language (and guitar for that matter) was, when I resided at St. Louise’s hostel for girls in Medway St. London, SWI, during the early seventies. There was a Welsh girl called Jane Roberts in our folk group, who spoke and sang in Welsh. She taught us lots of Welsh traditional songs. I also shared with the group Gaelic (As Gaeilge) songs. Our group was also very capable of singing in Latin, French, German, Spanish, Italian and of course, English. I soaked up the cosmopolitan atmosphere. We even sung a traditional Jewish song.

There are sounds in Welsh that the Latin alphabet doesn’t have, so they use things called digraphs – like ll (the hardest one for English speakers) or ch (easier).

When you can say this you have passed the first hurdle:


Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Katherine Jenkins has a new CD out. I purchased it a while ago. It has a lot of Irish songs on it. One can hear snippet of Carrickfergus  – a most beautiful haunting song,

Sadly though, the song depicts the demon drink, which has always been an affliction in Irish society and on those emigrants who pine for Erin’s shores. I witnessed many Irish ex-patriots drowning their (homesickness) sorrows in pubs all over Britain.

Sure – the last scene in ‘Juno and the Paycock’ by Sean O’ Casey sees Mr. Boyle and Jockser falling all over themselves. as they try to enter the tenement flat, that has been stripped of furniture, due to the cursed drink, and debts that accrued because of the latter, as well as other lack of foresightedness.

I could listen to the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Mackem’s rendition of Carrickfergus over and over again.They put so much soul into every word and the music, almost as if they were actually in Carrickfergus, as opposed to on stage. I was amused at the guitar strapped to the back of his báinín jumper. The concertina movements is so in unison with the emotion, for one moment it reminded me of the the natives from the Gaeltacht, who make rhythmic hand movements.

I wish I was in Carrickfergus

Only for nights in Ballygrand
I would swim over the deepest ocean
Only for nights in Ballygrand
But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over
And neither have I the wings to fly
If I could find me a handy boatman
To ferry me over my love and I
My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy time there spent so long ago
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on now like the melting snow
So I’ll spend my days in this endless roving
Soft is the grass and shore my bed is free
But to be home now in carrickfergus
On the long road down to the salty sea

And in Kilkenny it is reported
On marble stone there as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her
But I’ll sing no more now till I get a drink
For I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober
The handsome rover from town to town
Ah but I am sick now my days are numbered
Come all me young men and lay me down
Come all me young men and lay me down

The War of Two Kings:

William of Orange himself landed at Carrickfergus on June 14, 1690, bringing with him an army made up largely of foreign mercenaries. His force included the Dutch Blue Guards, two regiments of French Huguenots, some English and Scots, and contingents of Danish, Prussian, Finnish, and Swiss mercenaries totaling about 35,000 men. There is no record that William’s general in Ulster, Schomberg, recruited many Irish volunteers. But the Catholic force available to oppose the English king was inferior in every way. James had wasted his best Irish regiments in England and France. He did manage to assemble 7,000 French infantry, Antrim’s regiment, led by Alasdair MacDonnell, 3rd Earl of Antrim and “Neas” MacDonell, 9th Lord of Glengarry, some regular Irish cavalry, some untrained Irish infantry and dragoons, altogether about 21,000 men, including a significant number of both Scottish and Irish MacDonald Jacobites.

The visuals and harp playing and singing by Orla Fallon are brilliant. Great synchronisation of voice and harp.

‘Juno and the Paycock’ by Seán O’Casey


In September, as part of the 2011 Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival the Abbey Theatre in a co-production with the English National Theatre will present  Juno and the Paycock by Seán O’Casey. Directed by Howard Davies and designed by Irish designer Bob Crowley this production will star Sinéad Cusack and Ciarán Hinds. After its run on the Abbey stage, it will transfer to the English National Theatre. Juno and the Paycock is set during the Irish Civil War of the 1920’s. In this, the second part of O’Casey’s great Dublin Trilogy, the ambitions of a tenement family are set against the political and social events which conspire to keep them in their place. A very human tragedy of ambition, folly and loss.

I am looking forward to the matinee tomorrow (Wed).

Update: I went to the matinee show this afternoon (Wed). I really enjoyed it, and so too did the audience. It lived up to all my expectations.

The stage was laid out just like the typical tenement Victorian house that one stills sees on Parnell Sq. and all around Dublin. I loved the wooden floors and the fancy chaise longue and round mahogany table cover with a blood red tablecloth. And what appeared like balloon back Victorian chairs and one open Victorian armchair were so befitting the large ceilinged ornate walls. (I have a penchant for old furniture and old houses. Most of my Goldenbridge counterparts abhor big houses because of having bad childhood memories growing up in two of them.) I love wide open indoor spaces. There was also a stove and two bedrooms off to the right of stage. I give the stage settings the thumbs-up. The first image will show one exactly what the house looked like at the very end, as it was laid bare by the bailiffs. I don’t want to give the story away, but it was not a very pleasant for Mr. Boyle and his fair-weather friend, Jockser, having to arrive back to an empty house.

I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s* library remastered DVD 1930 film about a year ago. I also saw the stage play in London in the late seventies or early eighties.

*I attended Alfred Hitchcock’s funeral at Westminster Cathedral, London. I got John Mills autograph. Ingrid Bergman told me to gooooo—–awaaaaay after I approached her for autograph. Sadly – she died six months later.


LAUNDRY at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is not a play. It’s an experience.

You walk through the old building on Sean McDermott Street…

…greeted by girls there, talking to them, looking into rooms, catching glimpses of lives, fragments of conversations and being part of the different stories – all true stories too – that are on display for you.

I was alerted to Laundry via ShameOfIreland at twitter.

Performing The Story Of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries (Part 1) You may Like to Comment?

I was visibly shaken on reading Ann Brien’s chilling account of the Laundry experience. She delivered it in such a vivid manner that it projected strongly in me the fear she felt at the time, as well as the experiences of Valerie, an ex-Goldenbridge inmate, which immediately came to the fore. As I had visited Valerie at the laundry as a teenager.

For a moment nothing happens. The three of us exchange relaxed quizzical glances, the last time we would make eye contact for the duration of the performance. Suddenly the small grid in the hall door is pulled open from where a pair of angry eyes peer out, flitting backwards and forwards across our faces. Then comes the sound of bolts being roughly dragged open. Once inside, the three of us are immediately separated.

The first woman is ushered into the tiny annex to the left of the first small hallway (see top image). The other lady to the opposite annex. A steel bucket half full of disinfectant is thrust into my hands and I’m told to remain where I am. From this moment onwards I’m completely drawn into the nightmarish scenario, reality and performance periodically blurring into one. I am genuinely scared, I had not expected this. Screams from the left annex make me jump sky high and through the door’s top plate glass pane I can see the outlines of two people struggling with each other. One voice male, the other female. Surely the woman who has just entered isn’t been attacked? I’m frozen to the spot but then reality checks in and tells me this is part of the storyline….for a while anyway.