Wednesday, December 26, 2012


[Copied from Wistorical, by Turtle Bunbury]


"The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's day was caught in the furze."

For most people in Ireland, the day after Christmas is St. Stephen's
Day, named for the ill-fated deacon of Jerusalem who was stoned to
death a year or so after the crucifixion of Christ.

For those of a British persuasion, the 26th December is Boxing Day,
named for an old English tradition of gifting presents to one's staff
and servants known as a "Christmas box".

But for many who live in old-world Ireland, it is '"Wren Day", so named
for the ancient tradition where young boys clad in masks and straw
suits would set off on a musical march through the parishes,
collecting money for charity, ideally with a luckless wren bird pinned
to the Wren leader's musical pole.*

So if the weather looks ripe, why not gather together a posse of
likely youngsters and set off on the rounds.

Or you could just listen to this recording of The Wren Song by an
iconic union of The Clancy Brothers and The Furey Brothers -

*Beara is certainly old-world Ireland because a large contingent of costumed musicians and singers made up of children and adults came to the door. They were celebrating the day to raise money for the Urhan playground at the Travara strand, and they were terrific!

Thursday, December 20, 2012



The winter solstice sunrise event at Newgrange will be streamed live from 8.45am (GMT) on Friday 21st December 2012

Best Solstice Wishes,

Michael Fox ( the Boyne Valley
Sue at Anam Cara on the Beara Peninsula

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


From the Poetry Project:

Starting on January 1st 2013, a different combination of poetry and art from Ireland is brought to you each Monday, and delivered free to your inbox.

Happy Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year

The Poetry Project has a gift for you--

To celebrate Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union, this exciting digital post can be sent to you until July 2013. Twenty-six poems and twenty–six video shorts will offer you a unique insight into the creativity of contemporary Ireland.

Ireland’s poets are famed around the world, and our contemporary artists are renowned for their creativity and vision. Each poem is a taste of the best of Irish poetry now, while the short videos (none are longer than three minutes) offer a parallel way of looking at things. Brought together, the results will intrigue you, move you, and maybe make you look at the world in a different way.

The Poetry Project was set up by the Kinsale Arts Festival in partnership with Poetry Ireland and the Royal Hibernian Academy. The poems were selected by Gerard Smyth, Poetry Editor of The Irish Times and Joseph Woods, Director of Poetry Ireland; and the video works were selected and commissioned by Gemma Tipton, from the Kinsale Arts Festival and Patrick T Murphy, Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

The entire project will be shown together in an unique premiere event at the Kinsale Arts Festival July 5th to 14th 2013

The Poetry Project has been supported by Culture Ireland

Sign up to receive your free poems and videos at

And celebrate a sense of Irish art and culture in 2013.

Please forward this email to anyone you know who may also love to receive a poem and video each week during the first six months of 2013.

With many thanks to all the artists, poets, galleries and publishers involved...

Saturday, December 8, 2012


"I'll Live 'Til I Die"; A Celebration of the Life and Songs of Delia Murphy
On Friday, 30 November, we were treated to a three-person tribute to Delia Murphy who was known as The Queen of Connemara and who was a pioneering figure in Irish folk music. The programme highlighted the pivotal role Delia played in the development of Irish folk songs, in particular the Irish ballad. Carmen Cullen,* who is Delia's niece, Márín O'Donovan,** and Gerry Anderson*** have performed this tribute throughout Ireland since 2009, and as this year is the 41st anniversary of Delia's death, they are making a special effort to bring back memories of her to people who remember her, as well as attracting new interest in her as a unique woman and artiste who brought the traditional Irish ballad back to popularity.

Delia Murphy is still remembered as a household name. She was Ireland's premier popular singer between 1930 and 1960. Recently, Phil Coulter described her as one of Ireland's most important singers of the last century. Delia recorded and performed extensively in Ireland and abroad. Some of her best known songs, still remembered today, are "The Spinning Wheel" and "If I were a Blackbird."

Liam Clancy attributed the success of Irish ballads today to Delia’s concerts, recordings, and radio broadcasts as well as acknowledged her as the first lady of Irish popular song.

The evening was a great success, and funds were raised for this year's charity, Pieta House Cork in aid of suicide prevention.

*Carmen Cullen: Head of English in a large Dublin second-level school for more than twenty years Carmen is now a fulltime writer. She has published four collections of poetry and her book Class Acts, plays and workshop material for schools is currently on the Applied Leaving Cert’ course. She completed her MA in Creative Writing in Trinity College in 2008 Her novel Two Sisters Singing from which her reading for the show takes place was published by The Book Republic, Maverick House, was launched in The Mermaid Theatre Bray on 13th. June 2012.

**Márín O'Donovan: A professional actress and belonging to a famous theatrical family, Maureen trained with her father's company, the late Frank O'Donovan (Batty Brennan in The Riordan's. Márín has played in theatres al over Ireland and has sung professionally with many of the Big Bands such as The Niall Kearns Dance Orchestra. She has appeared in countless films, Becoming Jane and H for Jacinta, to mention two and many TV productions and is filming at the moment with TG4 on an Unsolved Murders series. Her latest role was opposite Sean Penn in his new film, This Must Be the Place.

***Gerry Anderson: Gerry is a music teacher, song writer and composer. He is also guitarist for the Irish Italian group, Oltre Mara. The band was born to play pieces of traditional music from southern Italy and keep in touch with and be sensitive to, Irish cultural elements. "Oltremara's" target is to make Mediterranean's musical and folk patrimony known abroad and create a cultural fusion
with both Irish and other's dance and musical traditions. The possibility of cultural
exchange is integral to Oltre Mara’s vision and is the back bone to every musical and
dance performance. The members have met in Ireland by chance and all of them come
from different musical and dance backgrounds.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Some of the prizewinners at Troubadour Prize Night are(l to r) Gillian Laker, Helen Overell, Gerrie Fellows, Caroline Smith, Richard Douglas Pennant (Cegin Productions), Anne-Marie Fyfe, Bernard O’Donoghue (judge, center back), Betty Thomson, Nicky Arscott, Jane Draycott (judge), Judy Sutherland, Vanessa Gebbie (third from right), Judy Brown and Paul Stephenson.

Vanessa, a writer-in-residence and a leader of short fiction workshops at Anam Cara, has been awarded the Troubadour International Poetry Prize for 2012, which is Sponsored by Cegin Productions in England.

The following prizewinning poems were chosen by judges Jane Draycott and Bernard O’Donoghue (who has given readings of his own poetry at Anam Cara) who read along with winning poets at the annual prizegiving event at the Troubadour on Monday 3rd December 2012:

First Prize, £2500: "Immensi Tremor Oceani", Vanessa Gebbie, East Sussex
Second Prize, £500: "The Teenage Existential", Paul Stephenson, London
Third Prize, £250: "Explaining the Plot of ‘Blade Runner’ to My Mother Who Has Alzheimer’s": C.J. Allen, Nottinghamshire

Vanessa wrote her winning poem in tribute and memory of John O'Leary, R.I.P. (see the video of John reading his poem at during one of her residency at Anam Cara. Vanessa and John had become great friends and often shared their work. He was to Vanessa, as he was to many, an inspiration and mentor of our creative gifts.

Immensi Tremor Oceani
(In memory of John O’Leary)

They say it takes a wave
three days, travelling east,
Newfoundland to Allihies.
They say a wave is the child
of the wind, a perturbation
of water’s equilibrium.
They say a wave marches
on its stomach.
They say a wave is home to
Mother Carey’s chickens — Mater
Cara — who shelter in the lee,
dancing on the water’s surface,
never to return to land once
they have mastered the art of flight.
Vanessa Gebbie