Elizabeth's Painting used in the Bealtaine Second Anthology Cover

Elizabeth O'Carroll

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.

In 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.

 

 

The Stubble Field

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,

 

bramble train stitched thorns into

hands, trouser leg,

shin bones took on battle scars

from wet stubble scratch and stab.

 

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,

distant Mournes.

 

I see my father’s fields starkly realised on this

canvas stretch – hear harness

jingle – almost smell the sweat.

 

Elizabeth O’Carroll

 

 

Blue

 

I want to gather blue

cup it, gather it,

wrap 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

shadows blue forget-me-nots,

iris, ceanothus

bluebells, violets,

blue, blue, blue,

who said that blue was the colour

of despair,

I think not,

blue is miraculous.

 

Elizabeth O’Carroll