Noel Monahan – Commemoration Ballinamuck, 1798

Monahan LE P&W 1 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Nov-Dec 2023

Commemoration Ballinamuck, 1798 , poem by Noel Monahan.

This poem deals with the historical topic of The French & Irish defeat at Ballinamuck, 1798. September 2023 was the 225th. anniversary of the battle. It will be in my next collection due for publication in 2024.

Ballinamuck, 1798

It all happened in the long ago,
Weeks before we dug the potatoes.
There were rumours of liberation everywhere:
The French Are On Their Way.
Today we are left to remember
Ballinamuck and the ghosts of ’98.
We recall the chaos of it all,
Clash of metal ringing out, soldiers shouting,
Cavalry charging,
The wounded shoving moss into their wounds
The dead and the dying
Abandoned in bog holes.
Can you hear the hills shout their goodbyes?
Let the familiar place names ring in your ears:
Kiltycreevagh, Shanmullagh Hill,
Fearglass Lough, Dromgort,
Pain still endures here
These fields continue to spark our memory,
Our hearts are filled with mixed emotions:
Love, fear, sadness, anger …
Trees wail with the sorrow of rain,
Blackberries bleed on thorns.
Slow breath, last breath of the hanged and drowned
Bubble of bog water coming up from below
Underworld of prayers in Irish,
Old women gather round:
Sé do bheatha, a Mhuire,
Atá lán de ghrásta …
Yet there is solace here.
Our heroes live on: The Gunner Magee,
General George Blake, Brave Robin Gill of Fardromin …
Continues to connect with us
To inspire us.
It’s a place to be creative,
A place drifting in and out
Of the rhymes and rhythms of fields,
A hare’s corner
To endure
The withering winds of winter.

© Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan is a native of Granard, Co. Longford, now living in Cavan. He has published seven collections of poetry with Salmon Poetry. An eight collection, Celui Qui Porte Un Veau, a selection of French translations of his work was published in France by Alidades, in 2014. A selection of Italian translations of his poetry was published in Milan by Guanda in November 2015:  “Tra Una Vita E L’Altra”. His poetry was prescribed text for the Leaving Certificate English, 2011- 2012. His play: “ Broken Cups” won the  RTE P.J. O’Connor award in 2001 and Chalk Dust, a long poem of his, was adapted for stage and directed by Padraic McIntyre, Ramor Theatre, 2019.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Noel had to reinvent his poetry readings and he produced a selection of Short Films: “Isolation & Creativity” , “Still Life”, “Tolle Lege” and  A Poetry Day Ireland Reading for Cavan Library,2021. Recently, he edited “Chasing Shadows”, a miscellany of poetry for Creative Ireland.

His ninth poetry collection, “Journey Upstream” will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2024.

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