Poems in English and Irish

By Earl Livings, Colin Ryan, Michael Doyle and David Harris

Sligo Twilight, Late Summer

This place, like my antipodean hometown,
boasts four seasons in one day, sometimes one hour.

Yet its gloaming holds sway, like a child
in a tantrum outside a milk bar—

a bowl of blueberry ice-cream for sky,
elderberry swirls for clouds,

and this moon, not seen for days,
a thin scoop of peach gelato.

For Ali

Coloured rags and trinkets
garland the seasons
of the tree omened
beside its holy well
or its river fountaining
down from heights
once blessed
by adventures and charms
of the Shining Ones.
Here the deepening unknown

above and under the world,
under the clinging mind,
radiates whispers and visions
each generation unravels
with threshold stories
of shaman, priest, scientist.

And here each offering
of those on bended knee,
or with arms embracing
sky, wood, rock,
garners hopes and thanks
for love, healing, deliverance,
or any other bright lesson the Land,
that mothering genius, grants,
as wind scruffs branches,
ruffles cloth, chimes baubles,
rainbow aureoles rippling above water.

You can read more poems by Melbourne poet, Earl Livings, in his collection  Libation (Ginninderra Press, 2018. And you can find out more about him at his website.  

tagann solas an gheimhridh
ar fiar
trí chraobhacha

Sa reilig

na mairbh á bhfógairt féin
ar na leaca

an t-aingeal cloiche
ag cuimhneamh ar shiséal a shnoite
ag cuimhneamh ar éirí
go buach
go néalta neimhe

In the cemetery

Now the winter light comes slantwise through branches. The dead announce themselves on the tombstones. The stone angel remembers the shaping chisel, thinks of rising triumphantly to the heavens.


Seo Cearnóg na Réabhlóide
a dúirt siad linn

inscríbhinní ar leachtaí
sa litriú nua

an deannach ag éirí le camghaoth
agus madra lom ar thóir a choda

agus bacach ina shuí
faoi scáth na caithréime


This is Revolution Square, they told us: inscriptions on monuments in the new spelling, the dust spiraling upwards, a lean dog hunting for dinner, and a beggar sitting under the shadow of triumph.

Melbourne-based Colin Ryan is a regular contributor to Tinteán‘s poetry section. Previous poetry by Colin has been published by Coiscéim the Dublin-based Irish-language publisher in the book Corraí na Nathrach (2016).


(For Father O’Donnell P.P Lavey. Count Derry.
His headline on the parish bulletin always said:
‘Ireland’s Premier Parish’.)

A twilight summer night
when all insects are asleep.
Our local parish priest Father O’D,
stands tall in our kitchen
to the right of the range
and I am on the left.
My sister Marie roars and laughs
at us –’The two delft dogs on guard.’
Then the summer football banter starts.
‘If not Derry what about Mayo for Sam?’
Two farmers sitting on the sofa still chat on
about how to save the summer hay.

Then, a moth or a drunken butterfly
buzzes high above our heads.
Folks grab caps –or a newspaper
and chase it around the room.
Even O’D got into the fray
He shouts, laughs and makes a swing.
This is a fly that can’t be caught. Then
–just as O’D moves in for the kill –
the dragonfly stumbles and lands right on
the Sacred Heart picture. Not just anywhere,
but smack dab on the red heart itself. Now
O’D retreats in reverence and respect.
Hushed silence fills the cozy kitchen.
Finally, I gently clasp the dragonfly’s wings
and release it at the backdoor to fly away.
Was it a lost soul of a relative
From long ago looking for our prayers?
We don’t know. But when I let it go
the gentle breeze blew on my face.
And answered that question.

Michael Boyle is based in St John’s, Newfoundland.

St Brigid’s Day

So this is the
Curragh of Kildare,
broad fields
Irish green,
horses, cattle.

St Brigid’s priory? No sign.
It was a while ago,
seventeen hundred years.
Today is Lá Fhéile Bríde.
We need her cross.
At pond’s edge, pick reeds,
remember… remember…
fold and weave
tie off and finish
Looks back centuries –
and beyond
to ancient Celts.
Through mists of time
ancient stories
ancient kings
sacred groves, spirits, fairies
Druids, magic.

Adelaide-based David Harris, a regular contributor to Tinteán, reminds us that it is spring in Australia and so a poem about St. Brigid is apt. We agree. Let’s all look forward too to seeing an Irish spring again.