Thursday 14 November 2019

Recalling childhood memories of Sligo

Jessica Farry

It's been almost 30 years since poet Michael Gorman last released a collection of his own poetry.

And last Saturday, as part of the Sligo Live Festival, he launched his newest collection 'Fifty Poems' at Hawk's Well Theatre.

The book was launched by his brother, RTE's Tommie Gorman.

Although Galway based now and for some time, the inspiration for a lot of the works within this collection come from his childhood in the Yeats County.

Michael told The Sligo Champion: "What I wrote about meant a lot to me. Con Houlihan of the Evening Press once quoted the Greek/Egyptian poet Cavafy: 'In these fields and streets where you grew up/ there you will always live and there you will die'. What he was saying was that as we grow older, we go back to the small fields and streets of our childhood.

"For Con, that was Castleisland. Most of these poems in the book are memories of mine between the age of 10 and 17, when I still lived in Sligo.

I worked a lot of summers in Colleary's Drapery Store in Grattan Street, I really got to know how a town works when I was there."

The first poem within this collection, 'The Rattle' centres around a heart attack with Michael suffered a number of years ago.

"All my life I held on to these memories and images in my head. It's all sort of explained in the first poem in my book 'The Rattle'. I had a heart attack some years ago and had to get four stents in.

"I felt I was running out of time and I wanted to have something like this. At the start of my book there's a dedication to my sister Paula who ran a resource centre. She is sadly dead now but she's not dead for me.

"I was nearly ashamed at her funeral, about how I didn't know all of the things that she did.

"I think she would have liked the book. She told me before that she liked some of the poems."

Michael's Sligo, or how he remembers it, is a lot different to the Sligo of 2019.

"Like a lot of places, Sligo has its own humour. That sense of Sligo is starting to emerge now. I'm a different generation but you see that in Mikel Murfi's work.

"Not in mine but there is a sense of Sligo evolving.

"My Sligo is in a bubble. It's not necessarily Sligo now. The past is as strong for me now as what's there now."

fifty poems is an amalgam of new and collected poems. It's published by Artisan House.

It also has a rather unique added element which acknowledgers Michael's singularly charismatic reading of his work, Michael has recorded readings of 25 of his poems and those are available for download or listening on

Fifty poems retails at €18 from bookshops nationwide and online from

Sligo Champion