Ireland’s Best Loved Poem

I rarely reblog, but happy to make an exception for this excellent post about RTE’ current project, Ireland’s Best Loved Poem.

Top of the Tent

At the weekend, RTE, the Irish national broadcaster announced the shortlist of 10 for their ‘Best Loved Poem of Ireland’ (of the last 100 years) competition. Members of the public nominated their ‘best loved’ poem online and a jury of Irish poetry aficionados cut the suggestions down to the final list shown below. You can now vote to influence the final choice of ‘A Poem for Ireland’ on the RTE Poetry website and the winner will be announced on Friday 13th March. It seems to be perfectly timed for the last weekend before St Patrick’s Day, but there’s something else about timing that bothers me slightly with regard to how ‘fair’ such a competition can possibly be.

The ‘last 100 years’ – mmm, if we count back that takes us to 1915. Well, there’s no poem from that year on the list – it starts the year after with W…

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On Valentine’s Day, five great love poems by Irish writers

A post about Seamus Heaney’s favourite love poem a couple of Valentine’s Days ago (before Heaney’s all too untimely passing) received a bit of interest at the time, and a steady flow of visitors to the blog ever since.

I forwarded the belief then that Irish writers might not be perfectly disposed to the art of the love poem, an art form which requires perhaps a loss of inhibition more straightforwardly associated with the English Romantics.

With the Irish writer (to risk accusations of grand generalisation) so much an outsider already – in themes or in actuality – would any have dared to write the line “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” except as a parody? Letting go of all inhibitions and declaring such undying love is to risk ridicule and excommunication from whatever small parish has not already disowned you.

But how naive and wrong could I have been? Irish poets do, of course, write love poems. They just do it in ways markedly different to summer’s days or red, red roses.

Continue reading “On Valentine’s Day, five great love poems by Irish writers”

For JK Rowling, read Shane Hegarty: children’s fantasy series could get €10m big screen deal

I wrote this blog first thing Sunday morning, and only getting back to edit/publish now, four and a half days later. Such is the way of things in the land of the one real job, the two young kids and the three hour daily commute.

Anyway, Shane Hegarty, the erstwhile Irish Times arts and culture journalist, is set for the big time if a report in last weekend’s Sunday Times is on the money.

And the report was certainly “on the money” in one way, with literary agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor quoted as saying the film rights for Hegarty’s much heralded Darkmouth series could run into “eight figures”.

The first instalment of Darkmouth was published last week. (Review by John Connolly, fellow Irish Times-ian turned big-time writer, in Hegarty’s alma mater here).

The hero of the book is Finn, and the book’s fantastic cover blurb is “He was born to save the world. Unfortunately”.

(Aside: I’m not sure whether the similarities with Irish mythology end at the name. Finn is a 12-year-old boy faced with saving his town from monsters salivating over the taste of human flesh. Finn McCool/Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Na Fianna got up to a lot of far-fetched and hair-raising stuff, but I’m pretty sure I would have heard this one before now.)

“Darkmouth is not Harry Potter,” Gunn O’Connor told the paper, but the level of interest surrounding the series would suggest that Hollywood believes it can plough a similar furrow. At this point, only the rights for the first film adaptation have been sold. Alcon Entertainment are the purchasers, with the film possibly going into production in 2016 and the finished product set to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Book 2 of Darkmouth is published by HarperCollins this summer, with 3 and 4 to follow over the next two years.

More info on Darkmouth from the HarperCollins website here.