Elizabeth's Painting used in the Bealtaine Second Anthology Cover

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

 

Comments

Niall

15.10.2017 19:46

Lovely to read your poem again about Mum. Thanks Peter

Finbarr

29.09.2017 13:03

Beautiful poem about her Peter, captures her well, and beautifully delivered last Friday, I read it daily.

Clíodhna

28.09.2017 19:22

What a wonderful tribute to Elizabeth Peter!

Anne Gilleran

28.09.2017 16:40

She sounds like a wonderful person and I can understand the sense of loss. But she has touched your lives and so in that way lives on. Her poems are exquisite

Tom Dredge

20.09.2017 17:25

Her word pictures indeed, how true. Yes it's a lovely tribute to a unique spirit and I think the poems are so apt. Well done. Hope to see some of you tomorrow.

Dereck Sergison

19.09.2017 22:23

Hi Peter,
I am sorry to hear of the passing of your friend. I love the Blue Poem as blue is my favourite colour and her poem clearly shows the lovely spirit of your dear friend.

Clíodhna

19.09.2017 20:36

Love the Blue poem!

Brid Brophy

19.09.2017 17:54

Peter what lovely words. You have completely nailed it there. I still can't believe that Eliza will not be part of our group anymore but I'd say she will hover around us in spirit. See you on soon

Latest comments

25.11 | 22:15

Grief is experience through the mundane. Simple but powerful. The accompanying image really compliments the poem.

07.11 | 11:14

Hi Peter,

A great observation! Social media can be a scary place... I also need to reduce my time there

Hugs,

John.x

06.11 | 16:24

A great one, Peter, in the context you describe. I don't read social media myself, I doubt my equilibrium could stand it. 'The balance of his mind disturbed' yes, I think it would be.

06.11 | 15:59

Yes, gossip is a weapon of mass destruction.

In my business as well as personal life I have zero tolerance.

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And What About . . .

 

I have neglected this for far too long, and now it is time again. But what to write about, what poem to share? The world is packed with catastrophic possibilities. Such choices: dementia/genocide colluder or extreme narcissism in the White House; a hung parliament in the UK; the reunification of the USSR with a tyrannical megalomaniac at its head; the eradication of a race by a genocidal government in Gaza; the African continent reduced to bankruptcy and regression to male tribalism; in Ireland, even with an appalling electoral turnout the routing of the far right and Sinn Féin may offer some comfort except we face another FF/FG fiasco. Mother Nature rumbles on its rampage, raging against the human species’ abject destruction of the planet’s habitat. What the . . .

Being facetious right now is my only defence against absolute despair. So read, comment, pass it on, and send feedback.

City Walking and Cycling take 680,000

cars per day off the road

Irish Time Heading


More and more folk, cycling and walking, may 

keep gases from greenhouses further at bay


This newspaper heading illustrates vividly

thousands of cyclists and walkers assiduously 


stopping some cars on their journey

pushing them aside - making drivers quite surly


Mountains of metal - like scrapyards of sculpture

keep bicycle lanes quite safe - at this juncture


The new revolution is well underway

don’t get behind wheels - hear what they say:


Cars and their fumes play a very big part 

the smell is quite phew don’t mention cow farts


Wear out your shoe leather walking

greet travellers with smiles while you’re talking


Force councils to make better spaces

to go out and about roaming those places


where vitamin D, and oxygen from trees

fill our lungs and our brains so we see


how to save us and this magical planet

except for some vicious old tyrants goddammit 


Peter Clarke, 18th March 2024

Haydée Otero