How did you first engage with poetry?
Poetry was just a part of growing up in Ireland. As a Roman Catholic, Irish farmer's daughter in rural Ireland, I could feel this generational shame at my Irishness.
We were told in school that before the 1920s our schools used to be hedge schools and teachers used to be considered rebels and that our language and identity was stripped from us and we had nothing but our minds and words to set us free.
We were told that all the 800 years of indentured servitude, famine of genocidal proportions, all the fighting, bloodshed, risings, civil war and bombs ended when Ireland used words….
John A Costello’s November 24th, 1948 Dáil speech on the Republic of Ireland Bill, available online from the Oireachtas archives. The Act came into force on Easter Monday. And in it Costello simply and formally declared Ireland a Republic and that we had left the British Commonwealth.
And that was it….the response was...yeah, ok.
In school we were told that the UK thought nothing of us, our culture, our language. And that, in their eyes, we were the punchline of Paddy Irishman jokes which were created as a tactic to discredit the Irish.
We were told the only way to gain back our potential was to grab an education, get a degree and use our talent to be a refutation. John A. Costello's speech bypassed bloodshed and finger pointing and said, thanks we are a Republic now and so long. Sling your hook.
I mean, wow….oh and I'm the decadent of a famous Irish Revolutionary and writer so...
Also, bedtime reading was poetry in place of stories or celebrating Irish poets in school; it has always been a way for the Irish to gain recognition and love on an international stage. I mean, the Irish are loved the world over and known for our wit with words.
My great-great-great grand uncle was Thomas Francis Meagher, the founder of the Irish flag, a writer and revolutionary - in one of his speeches he highlights Ireland's artistic talent and almost tries to convince the foreign listener that we should be considered as an asset and worthy of more due to this very artistic talent.
And finally, I wrote in my head for years but only started writing about 10 years ago. I wrote in every genre but always knew I'd arrive at my voice from an outsider perspective.
And that moment arrived during Ireland's first lockdown, I needed a creative outlet from my doomsday thinking and so wrote a poem. That started a journey into poetry, courses, workshops from the comfort of my home.