PART ONE: Graignamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland is located on the River Barrow not far from Kilkenny City and is part of a small cluster of towns including Inistioge, County Kilkenny and Borris, County Carlow.
Bridget Langton, who runs a B&B in the town talked about its origin, founded by the Cistercian monks, Duiske Abbey which is a well preserved Abbey in the centre of the town and many other aspects of the area including the natural environment, visitor facilities, water sports on the River Barrow and other attractions in the area. She pointed out that town was affected by the heavy flooding which took its toll.
We will talk to Billy Hoare, a local poet who read from his poetry anthology with an intriguing tile ‘Down by the Devils Eyebrow’ in which describes many aspects of the area. The name derives from a rock outcrop along the river where traditionally in the past, the locals herded goats for their milk and they gathered at the rocky outcrop in the evenings. The outcrop got the name of ‘the Devil’s eyebrow because of its scale and appearance.
Billy explained the origins of St. Mullins not far from Graignamanagh and further down along the Barrow River. It also is a very attractive area and Joe Dunne said that he is very familiar with this centre, visits it with a group of which he is a part and that one of his friends is buried in the graveyard there. Billy read several of his poems which demonstrate a love of and deep appreciation of the area. He explained some of the names of places along the Barrow River.
John climbed Mount Brandon hill right beside Graignamanagh when he was there recently and picked fraughans. Billy pointed out that fraughan picking was a favourite pastime over the years.
PART TWO: In the second part of the program, we celebrated one of Ireland’s great poets Seamus Heaney, and the occasion of the opening of the commemorative Seamus Heaney centre at Ballaghy, which was officially opened the previous day 2nd October 2016.
Bellaghy (from Irish: Baile Eachaidh, meaning “Eachaidh’s Town”) is a village in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It lies North West of Lough Neagh and about 5 miles north east of Magherafelt. In the middle of the village lies the junction of three main roads leading to Magherafelt, Portglenone and Toome.
John referred to his importance as an Irish poet of national and international importance and playing some of his poems recited by Seamus himself, tracks from the CD ‘The Poet and the Piper’ which includes accompanying music played by the uileann piper Liam O’Flynn. Tracks played were ‘The given Note/Port na bPucai’, ‘The Yellow bittern’ (‘An Bonnnán Buí’).
John also played another version of this song by Johnny McEvoy from his CD ‘Johnny McEvoy Favourites ‘and pointed out that this bird now extinct is celebrated by many poets including Francis Ledwidge.
Also played was ‘St. Kevin and the Blackbird’ Joe Dunne gave his interpretation of what Seamus Heaney was portraying in this poem. St. Kevin lived in the famous monastic settlement of Glendalough, in Co. Wicklow.
John pointed out that his grandfather on his mother’s side whose surname was Steadman is buried in a grave right beside the round tower in Glendalough which gives the location a special significance for him.
The program finished with Christy Moore’s unique rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ from the Realworld CD ‘Lament’
Presenter: John Haughton
Panellist: Joe Dunne