AN AFTERGLOW: A GALLERY OF CONNEMARA POEMS
Edited by Des Lally and Peter Fallon
With an Introduction by Thomas Kilroy
Limited Edition hardback with an original print by Donald Teskey €120.00 + P&P
Paperback without print €22.00 + P&P
2010: 40 years ago poet Peter Fallon established the wonderful Gallery Press. Wishing to mark this significant anniversary, Ballynahinch Castle and Occasional Press approached Peter with the idea of making a special book to honour the occasion and asked him if he would be willing to select from Gallery’s impressive archive an anthology of poems that had a particular connection with Connemara. He very generously agreed to take on the task and immediately appointed Des Lally as his co-editor. Together they harvested the rich and varied collection of brilliant works gathered into this celebratory 88 page book: 23 poets with 34 poems celebrating Connemara. Accompanied by 11 colour photographs of this remarkable landscape (including 4 gatefolds), this book leads us deep into the heart of a fascinating domain, offering memorable insights into a unique place and its people.
An Afterglow : A Gallery of Connemara Poems is published in a limited edition of 150 Hardback copies, which include Edited by Des Lally and Peter Fallon a signed original intaglio print by Donald Teskey RHA (editioned by Robert Russell) and in a Paperback edition (without print) of 500 copies.
For purchase please contact Brid O'Malley at Ballynahinch Castle
Scroll down for extracts.
from In the Night Garden
An Orchid in Connemara
In Barra de Bhaldraithe’s one rushy acre,
back from the road where he planted saplings
and close to the butter well at the very centre,
the magairlín meidhreach continues to prosper.
He does not know the name it has in books
but thinks it good the ancient name persists.
He calls it by the name got from his neighbour.
The magairlín meidhreach is ‘the happy bollocks’.
(The Fire Step, 2009)
Walking on Sunday
Walking on Sunday into Omey Island
When the tide had fallen slack,
I crossed a spit of wet ribbed sand
With a cold breeze at my back.
Two sheepdogs nosed me at a stile,
Boys chevied on the green,
A woman came out of a house to smile
And tell me she had seen
Men digging down at St Fechin’s church,
Buried in sand for centuries
Up to its pink stone gable top, a perch
For choughs and seapies.
I found a dimple scalloped from a dune,
A landing-slip for coracles,
Two graveyards –– one for women, one for men ––
Odorous of miracles:
And twelve parishioners probing a soft ﬂoor
To ﬁnd what solid shape there was
Under shell-drift; seeking window, door;
And measuring the house.
Blood was returning dimly to the face
Of the chancel they’d uncovered,
Granite skin that rain would kiss
Until the body ﬂowered.
I heard the spades clang with a shock
Fechin used plug and feather to split rock
And poised the stone to sing.
He tuned cacophony to make
Harmony in this choir:
The ocean gorged on it, he died of plague,
And hawks nested there.
(Collected Poems, 2000)
Black hookers at anchor
shining sea cattle;
rough trees for masts
rooted in salt water;
built, not for slaughter,
but for a life-giving trafﬁc.
Wide ribs of oak,
a human heart ﬁlled you
as you sailed out of Carna.
You came into Kilronan,
two sods went ﬂying,
you carried ﬁre to the islands,
lime to Connemara.
Hollow boats at the Claddagh,
hearts that beat in you
lie in granite-walled graveyards
from Leitirmullen to Barna,
ﬁnished with hardship,
the unloading of cargo,
the moody Atlantic
that entered the marrow,
and bright days off Ceann Boirne,
when wind struck the brown sails
and Ithaca was Carna.
The house next door but one to this one
never happened, and all connected with its
shadow life are shadows now and maybe
tremble in the grassblades growing where
the planked earthen ﬂoor would have lain
between two walls facing east and west,
the front to where morning light still spills
over the bony shoulder of Diamond Hill,
the back taking in a ﬂank of Tully Mountain
and the valley where the Atlantic evening
scatters its last handfuls. A half-built
shell of stone, it seems to stand as if
just broken from a dream, stunned,
its rags and tatters of raw stone
standing as a solitary gable, a single wall,
the big lintel-piece balanced almost on air,
the dead handyman having neatly slotted
stone to separate stone like the syntax
of a language that once trusted itself
and the sense it was making, left no gaps
of incoherence, nothing unsaid, knew
exactly how things ﬁtted, could tell
the perfect place for any solid shape that
could be gathered from the ﬁeld itself
into which it’s lapsing now, a few
stones at a time, but mostly — in time
as we measure it — standing up to cows,
rough winds, persistent rain.
the man who began building left it as is
when the family of the wife he’d intended
denied permission. So he left and went
to America, they say, though no one knows
what happened to the woman. What
could her eyes have done, I wonder,
when she passed this way in the wake
of two cows, or going to Mass on Sunday?
I can’t imagine the pause she’d make
on the far side of the sally bank, the drenched
fuchsia brushing her shawl, that gaping
half-made body looking blankly back at her,
and beyond it — through what would have been
their bedroom wall — the sheen of the lake
they’d have seen with some wonder
under a hundred lights. Somewhere
in Chicago or South Boston it may be
he tried a while to remember, or couldn’t
help the hard walls his hands had put up
falling across his sleep, and then nothing.
the house I live in is — under its
whitewashed mortared skin — the same as his,
although it folded round itself, was ﬁnished,
and the weather that enters is a play of light
through glass, only the safe sounds of rain
on the roof or wind in the chimney. But I love
what he left, blunt masterpiece as it is
of understatement, its tight-lipped simplicity
getting the point across in its own terms
and caring for nothing but the facts
of the matter, the exact balance between
how this gesture registers in the world
and how the hard thing that happened, happened.
(Selected and New Poems, 2000)