Blackbird in Dun Laoghaire – a poem by Joseph O’Connor

Blackbird in Dun Laoghaire was read by Joseph O’Connor at the funeral of his sister Sinéad O’Connor

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire
When I’m walking with my sons
Through the laneways
Called ‘The Metals’
By the train-tracks.

And he sings among the dandelions
And bottle-tops and stones,
Serenading purple ivy,
Weary tree-trunks.

And I have it in my head
That I can recognise his song,
Pick him out,
I mean distinct
From all his flock-mates.

Impossible, I know.
Heard one blackbird, heard them all.
But there are times
He whistles up a recollection.

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire –
And I’m suddenly a kid,
Asking where from here to Sandycove
My youngest sister hid.
I’m fourteen this Easter.
My job to mind her.
Good Friday on the pier –
And I suddenly can’t find her.

The sky like a bruise
By the lighthouse wall.
We were playing hide-and-seek.
Is she lost? Did she fall?
There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire
And the terror’s like a wave
Breaking hard on a hull,
And the peoples’ faces grave

As Yeats on a banknote.
Stern as the mansions
Of Killiney in the distance,
As the pier’s granite stanchions,
And Howth is a drowned child
Slumped in Dublin Bay,
And my heart is a drum
And the breakers gull-grey.

The baths. It starts raining.
The People’s Park.
And my tears and the terns,
And the dogs’ bitter bark.
There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire,
And I pray to him, then,
For God isn’t here,
In a sobbed Amen.

And she waves from the bandstand,
Her hair in damp strings,
And the blackbird arises
With a clatter of wings
From the shrubs by the teahouse,
Where old ladies dream
Of sailors and Kingstown
And Teddy’s ice-cream.

And we don’t say a word
But cling in the mizzle,
And the whistle of the bird
Getting lost in the drizzle.
Mercy weaves her nest
In the wildflowers and the leaves,
There are stranger things in heaven
Than a blackbird believes.

– Joseph O’Connor, 2010

Source: Blackbird in Dun Laoghaire – a poem by Joseph O’Connor

Listen to RTE audio of Joseph reciting his poem 

Kelly Macdonald reads “Extinction” by Jackie Kay

Kelly MacDonald

Extinction by Jackie Kay

We closed the borders, folks, we nailed it.

No trees, no plants, no immigrants.

No foreign nurses, no Doctors; we smashed it.

We took control of our affairs. No fresh air.

No birds, no bees, no HIV, no Poles, no pollen.

No pandas, no polar bears, no ice, no dice.

No rainforests, no foraging, no France.

No frogs, no golden toads, no Harlequins.

No Greens, no Brussels, no vegetarians, no lesbians.

No carbon curbed emissions, no Co2 questions.

No lions, no tigers, no bears. No BBC picked audience.

No loony lefties, please. No politically correct classes.

No classes. No Guardian readers. No readers.

No emus, no EUs, no Eco warriors, no Euros,

No rhinos, no zebras, no burnt bras, no elephants.

We shut it down! No immigrants, no immigrants.

No sniveling-recycling-global-warming nutters.

Little man, little woman, the world is a dangerous place.

Now, pour me a pint, dear. Get out of my fracking face.

Actors including James Franco, Ruth Wilson, Gabriel Byrne, Maxine Peake, Jeremy Irons, Kelly Macdonald and Michael Sheen read a series of 21 poems on the theme of climate change, curated by UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Blakefest goes online with unique celebration of visionary poet

Bognor’s Blakefest 2020 launches online on Saturday, November 28 for William Blake’s 263rd birthday, involving more than a hundred artists.

You can peruse galleries, watch a poetry film, listen to original music and much more, says organiser Rachel Searle.

This year’s material will remain online permanently at

“You will find myriad wonders inspired by the art and poetry of William Blake. We are a creative community united by visionary differences celebrating the poet’s voice in every human being.

“It became quite apparent that, relatively early on in 2020, in our eighth year of operating, we would not be able to hold a normal annual event this year so we have improvised to meet this challenge.

“Funded by Let’s Create, Arts Council England, we have commissioned and organised several lockdown projects which are housed on the website, along with a large archive containing hundreds of photographs of performances and artwork spanning years from 2014-2019, which will only grow as time progresses. In total over 100 artists and performers have been involved with this year’s BlakeFest.

“The visionary poet William Blake lived in Felpham from 1800-03, the only time he lived outside London, where he wrote, among many other things, the words which would become the lyrics to Jerusalem, England’s unofficial National Anthem. Blake, voted 38th in the BBC’s Greatest Britons poll, was largely unrecognised in his lifetime yet knowledge of his genius and his influence has expanded through generations of musicians, poets and artists and is ingrained in our culture here and internationally.

“BlakeFest came about to celebrate the time Blake lived locally and also in an attempt to help ensure that Blake’s Cottage was preserved for the future. Our goal was to enrich our community, encourage and present the spirit of creativity and provide entertainment through exhibitions and performances.
Continue reading

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!”


By: Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.