Best Loved Poems: Favourite Poems from the South of Ireland is an anthology from the province of Munster, lovingly curated by Gabriel Fitzmaurice and illuminated by photography from John Reidy. This collection of poetry, comprising contemporary favourites, ninth-century poems, popular songs and ballads, some written in English and some translated from their original Irish, will delight the general reader and the poetry specialist alike.
The poetry in this book articulates the passions of Munster women and men, opening a window to the soul of Ireland. It sings of love and death, religion and spirituality, faith and doubt, of mothers, fathers and their children.
There are political poems, in particular “The Betrayal”, a passionate account by President Michael D. Higgins of the failure of the Irish state that grew out of the struggle for independence in the period 1916-1921. There are poems that embody and celebrate the spirit of Munster men and women throughout the ages, from the ninth-century ‘The Old Woman Beare’, translated lovingly from Irish by Brendan Kennelly, to Leanne O’Sullivan’s contemporary celebration of her grandmother’s life and death, ‘Last Rites’.
There are cursing poems, homages to the Irish language and to our native games of Gaelic football and hurling, as well as poems of poverty and emigration.
Poems from nationally and internationally acclaimed Munster poets, past and present, mingle happily on these pages with the work of beloved poets from the younger generation to create a moving, memorable and accessible collection that will engage the mind and stir the heart.
Includes contributions from President Michael D. Higgins, Brendan Kennelly, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paul Muldoon, Bernard O’Donoghue, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Michael Hartnett, John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon, John O’Donohue, Brian Merriman, Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill, Desmond O’Grady, Dáibhí Ó Bruadair.
Fun fact: Previous Taoiseach Enda Kenny gifted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a copy of this book on his official visit to Canada in May of 2017 (Source: Journal.ie)
About the Editor
Gabriel Fitzmaurice was born, in 1952, in the village of Moyvane, Co. Kerry where he still lives. For over thirty years he taught in the local primary school from which he retired as principal in 2007.
He is the author of more than fifty books, including collections of poetry in English and Irish as well as several collections of verse for children. He has translated extensively from Irish and has edited a number of anthologies of poetry in English and Irish. He has published two volumes of essays and collections of songs and ballads. Poems of his have been set to music and recorded by Brian Kennedy and performed by the RTÉ Cór na nÓg with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. He frequently broadcasts on radio and television on education and the arts.
He has been described as ‘the best contemporary, traditional, popular poet in English’ in Booklist (U.S), ‘a wonderful poet’ in the Guardian, ‘one of Ireland’s leading poets’ in Books Ireland, ‘Ireland’s favourite poet for children’ in Best Books! and ‘the Irish A. A. Milne’ by Declan Kiberd in the Sunday Tribune.
About the Photographer
John Reidy was born in Castle Island in 1953 and has been covering his native Co. Kerry as a newspaper photographer for the past three and a half decades. Athletes, elections, floods, fights, local and visiting politicians, heads of state, porter drinkers, pilgrims, pioneers, poets and potholes have all come into focus in the eyepiece of his cameras over the years. While John contributes a weekly column of news and photographs to a local newspaper he has recently developed an online news website, The Maine Valley Post.
John is married to Cathleen and they have a son, Micheál. Micheál and his wife Kathy live in Salthill in Galway and have given John and Cathleen two wonderful grandchildren, Cate and Seán.
Interviewed on Radio Kerry (2016)
Reviewed in Irish Examiner (2016)
Reviewed in The Kerryman (2016)
Reviewed in Limerick Leader (2017)
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Photographs by Liam Lyons