For the past ten years, I have been part of a poetry writers group called Bealtaine Writers. We have been meeting every month in the Irish Writers Centre. We have been in existence for the past almost twenty years,
a fine bunch of feisty poets. Many are published and some have in retirement acquired Masters in Creative Writing. All are active writers.
One such woman was Elizabeth O’Carroll who died after a very
short illness on Sunday, 10th September. She was perhaps the feistiest of all of us. She was organiser, promoter, convenor, supporter and all round manager of our group. This to the point of being the only one who had the information to keep in touch with
all of us.
She was an exquisite poet. Her word pictures of nature and her native Armagh were captivating. Not only that, she was a very fine painter and a superperb gardiner. We used one of her watercolours
for the cover of the Bealtaine Writers Anthology. She was tireless in keeping us active, looking out for our interests and minding us like a mother hen. I have personally felt nurtured and minded by her in all the time I was blessed to have known her
Because of her organising we have had well known poets come and give us workshops, have had a residency in Annamakerrig for the past five or six years and have been invited to be writers in residence to the National
Gallery and the Hugh Lane Gallery.
She was born in South Armagh, trained and worked as a teacher in the UK and came home and raised a delightful family in Dublin.
between she set up writing groups and classes across north Dublin.
We will miss her dearly.
I have included two of her poems from the Anthology as a tribute.
I hope you enjoy them and as always comments are most welcome. Enjoy.
After a painting by Basil Bradshaw viewed at exhibition of Ulster artists, it brought back strong memories of work in hay and cornfields in South Armagh
It stretches into infinity,
in metaphor for
hard work, sweat, pain,
yellow-grey stubble like that
on father’s chin and jowl grown
as he swung scythe to open up
a field for reaper, in
switch sizzle stroke and rasp,
train stitched thorns into
hands, trouser leg,
shin bones took on battle scars
from wet stubble scratch
Each day began with
doff of cap for hasty prayer
before shoulders, arms were
bent to swing scythe’s song,
a weather eye thrown
at Slieve Gullion’s peak,
I see my father’s
fields starkly realised on this
canvas stretch – hear harness
jingle – almost smell the sweat.
I want to gather blue
cup it, gather it,
it all around me
feel it, stroke it
in my hands, crush it
to my bones, melt stones with it.
gather each blossom
stem by stem – bathe me in blue, blue,
luscious, luxuriant, buoyant blue.
The April sky of navy blue
blue, blue, blue,
who said that blue was the colour
I think not,
blue is miraculous.