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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

It's August!

Alas! how dismal is my tale,
I lost my watch in Doneraile.
My Dublin watch, my chain and seal,
Pilfer'd at once in Doneraile.
My Fire and Brimstone never fail
To fall in show'rs on Doneraile.
My all the leading Fiends assail
The thieving Town of Doneraile.
As light'ning's flash across the vale,
So down to Hell with Doneraile.
May Beef or Mutton, Lamb or Veal,
Be never found in Doneraile,

Lines written, exactly 200 years ago, by a travelling rhymester called Patrick O‟Kelly. Of course it was all a mistake. The good people of Doneraile didn‟t steal his watch. It was lost or mislaid and he got it back. And fair play to him he wrote the following stanza;

"Hurrah! how joyous is my tale
I found my watch in Doneraile
My Dublin watch, my chain and seal
Returned to me in Doneraile.."

Doneraile Literary and Arts Festival 2012 runs from July 30th to August 05th. Following the highly successful inaugural festival last year the committee have decided to expand the festival to include a week of workshops. This year‟s festival has attracted the cream of Irish literary and artistic talent with a variety of existing and new authors covering such topics as general fiction, autobiographies, literary fiction, history and much more. Workshops are divided into artistic and literary fields. There is also a Children's Day featuring guest readings by children's authors and a puppet theatre in the magnificent Pleasure Gardens of Doneraile Park. The town will come alive in the evenings with numerous plays, impromptu poetry and song in the pubs of Doneraile as well as music concerts. I did MC at their open mic sessions last year and they looked after me very well and presented me with a beautiful painting by local artist Karen O'Shea. I mustn‟t have made a total eejit of myself because I‟m invited back this year. So, by the time you read this I should be ensconced in the “Rebel County.”

I even made a feeble effort to compose a bit of a rhyme for them:

Come Harvest Moon or Autumn gale
It's show time now in Doneraile.
Now you, like Raftery, heist your sail,
If you can write, hit Doneraile.
If you want to sing or tell your tale
The place for you is Doneraile.
If your partner's left and you're a male
No better place than Doneraile.
If you're interned or locked in jail
Break out and head for Doneraile,
If on remand then try get bail
And meet your friends in Doneraile.
The Philistines can whinge and wail;
They have no place in Doneraile.
Of the action here you must avail
At this culture-fest in Doneraile.
Not wind or rain or driving hail
Will keep the scribes from Doneraile.
And farmer/poets will leave their kale
To reap the fruits of Doneralie.
To Chareleville they'll go by rail
And head with glee to Doneraile.
If your inspiration has gone frail
Rejuvenate in Doneraile.
If your Muse has gone and your talent stale
'Twill be revived in Doneraile.
I watched as Gandal fanned his tail
When he heard mentioned “Doneraile.”
His boss then smartly hit the trail
With Failte Isteach, for Doneraile.

And I know they won‟t steal my watch!!

Speaking of Literary Festivals, Larry Burke, from Minnesota, a stalwart, for many years, of Listowel Writers‟ Week passed away last week. He was buried, at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, on Monday. (The mayor of St Paul's declared Friday 27th July “Lar Burke Day.” When I passed the sad news on to Billy Keane, writer and all-round entertainer he paid a laconic moving tribute to Larry. He said, "He was the nicest man that ever came to Writers' Week." Last December the Irish Music and Dance Association honored him as their 2011 Honoree. He loved his Irish heritage, as an actor with the Na Fiana Players, and a fiction writer.

Fort Snelling Cemetery, looking Southeast

As an accomplished actor (among other things) Larry made the part of Captain Boyle his own, playing it like a true Dub. Sean O'Casey would be proud of him. And when he recited The Stolen Child by W. B. Yeats, there wouldn‟t be a dry eye in the house. And as I write I know in that great open mic session in the sky Angels have left down their harps to listen to that Minnesota voice reciting:

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Roses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

God rest you Larry.

Larry Burke at John B. Keane's statue

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