Saturday 18 August 2018

West Wicklow Poetry Bus goes on the road

Johnny Carroll reads his King’s River poem on the banks of King’s River
Johnny Carroll reads his King’s River poem on the banks of King’s River

Myles Buchanan

The West Wicklow Poetry Bus departed Blessington Library recently with six poets from the PoulaPoetry group aboard along with a singer-songwriter and an audience of 20 or so curious locals.

PoulaPoetry is a group of amateur poets from west Wicklow set up in 2017 with a view to encouraging each other's writing and promote greater engagement with poetry in the area. Their monthly get-togethers take place in Blessington Library, with the assistance of executive librarian Margaret Birchall.

On this occasion they brought their audience with them on a tour of a number of places of interest in west Wicklow. The idea was that at each stop one or more of the poets introduced and read in situ a poem they had written about the surrounding landscape.

The first stop was the shore of Poulaphouca reservoir, specifically at the site of the old Burgage cemetery, looking out at where the townland of Ballinahown would have stood before the flooding of the valley. Local fiddle player, Líle Ní Chonchubhair, played a tune to welcome everyone and set the tone for the day of surprise and reflection. Four poets, Johnny Carroll, Bridget Malone, Paul O Connor, and Marian Murphy read their poems about the impact of the reservoir on the people who lived there.

There were further stops for readings and songs at Humphreystown House, the King's River, Dunlavin library, Russborough and Blessington itself. Carmel Larkin, read a poem about the tragedy of a British bomber plane crashing into Black Hill on the east side of the Lakes in 1941. And actor, Sheila Naughton read poems about Wicklow landscape by the likes of Synge, Yeats and Heaney, introduced by main organiser Paul O'Connor.

Killian McGreal of McGreals Pharmacy officially opened the display of poems that were read on the tour accompanied by photographs of the locations and the poets.

'I'm delighted to hear that people had fun and enjoyed the experience. It was a bit of a leap of faith,' said Mr O'Connor. 'If it helps to bring more poetry into more peoples' lives, then that's great. We hope to make it an annual event, definitely. Something quirky and unique that we can associate with the area, and add in to the mix of so many other community projects going on these days in west Wicklow, all aiming to enhance the area and encourage others to visit while bringing us closer as a community.'

The 'Surprised By Place' exhibition of the poems and accompanying photographs will be open to the public at Blessington Library until June 16. You can add your name to the passenger list for next year.

Wicklow People