Wednesday 11 December 2019

Paul Durcan channels from a convent's cloisters

Paul Durcan
Paul Durcan

Madeleine Keane

Paul Durcan received The Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards last Thursday night. In an amusing and moving short address the poet was in characteristically subversive and playful form.

He ended with a poem dedicated to his mother. It took the form of a letter home from the convent. It had his his glamorous audience convulsed with laughter.

This is what he said:

'i genuinely have no idea whose idea this was or how it could have come about - I certainly don't deserve it, but thank you. And thank you to the small independent book shops all over Ireland who try to sell poetry. Writing poetry is a strange way to spend your life... but first and last and forever, thanks to my greatest supporter - my mother, my late mother Sheila McBride, and here are a few lines for her...

Sister Agnes Writes to her Beloved Mother

Dear Mother, thank you for the egg cosy

Sister Alberta from near Clonakilty said it was the nicest, positively the nicest egg cosy she had ever seen.

Here the big news is that Reverend Mother is pregnant.

The whole convent is simply delighted.

We don't know who the lucky father is but we have a shrewd idea who it might be.

Do you remember that retreat director I wrote to you about?

The lovely old Jesuit with the rosy nose?

We think it was he, so shy and retiring, just the type.

Father PJ Pegasus, SJ.

Of course, it's all hush hush.

Nobody is supposed to know anything in case the bishop, that young hypocrite, might get to hear about it.

When her time comes Reverend Mother officially will go away on retreat.

And the cherub will be reared in another convent.

But considering the general decline in vocations,

We are all pleased as pea shooters that God has blessed the Order of the Little Tree with another new sapling -

All of our own making and of Jesuit pedigree too.

Nevertheless, not a word.

Myself I am crocheting a cradle shawl.

Hope you are doing your novenas,

Love, Aggie.

Sunday Independent

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