Achill: The Island is a beautiful collection of poems and poetry that capture the soul of the island off the coast of Mayo. The poems are written by the award-winning poet John F. Deane, born on Achill Island and founder of Poetry Ireland and of the journals The Poetry Ireland Review and The Dedalus Press. The stunning acrylic paintings that accompany are by John Behan, celebrated painter and sculptor. Among the many beautiful images in Achill: The Island there lies a beautiful gem for Christmas. The painting of ‘Nativity in Bunnacurry, Achill’ is accompanied by the poem ‘Townland’ which is below, capturing the humanity of the Nativity scene.
Bethlehem: the village, and the townland,
crowded and expectant
like a fair day in Bunnacurry; in our dark cowhouse
there were snuffling sounds
and the warm, rich reek of cattle.
Bethlehem: Joseph and Mary standing,
wide eyes fixed on one another,
the whimper of a boy-child in between; brown earth outside
was frumped and sodden
under the slow breathing of mist. A harsh half-moon
shivered on the frosted road
down to the Bunnacurry church, and we, children,
bundled ourselves tight
in winter coats, our breathing forming angel-shapes
on the biting air. It was just a birth; one
out of millions that had come before, of millions
that would come after; this one birth
neither a beginning, nor an ending; a turning-point
merely, though shading all that went before, all
after, tossing the rags and peelings of time into the uncertain
texture of eternity. Bethlehem: stars
above the caverned escarpment. Crib and candle-light
in Bunnacurry chapel, where we knelt
awed by festival, by the silence surrounding, by the animals.
If you would like to get your own copy of Achill: The Island to experience the beauty of these poems and images you can click here.