Every year my course department publishes an anthology. It is a really treasured part of the BIS course in UCC so I was looking forward to entering the anthology during my first year. Anyone in BIS can enter a media piece, whether it is a painting, poetry, story, photograph or song.
So when the opportunity came up to enter a piece I chose to write a poem about Sligo, my hometown. When I chose to study BIS in Cork, it meant moving to another county for most of the year. My dad's side of the family is from West Cork, so I had been to Cork before, but it was a bigger change than I think I ever expected. Thankfully I love Cork and I love my life in college, but I missed the Atlantic sea and the Garavogue in Sligo. My friends and I spend a lot of time walking up Knocknarea and Strandhill so I wanted to write a poem that would capture the scenery that I missed most about Sligo.
Fortunately, my poem was accepted into the anthology, but sadly due to Ireland's lockdown, the usual unveiling event had to be cancelled and instead we could view the anthology online. Nevertheless, the anthology turned out beautiful and I'm so happy with how my poem turned out.
For the anthology I also had my photo taken by a professional for the first time, which was funny! He could tell I didn't like my photo being taken, but was great at getting me to relax and smile!
Bold golden light, a day’s walk away, shines down on Coney’s sight, the liquid bay. A fleeting moment, a candle in the window, blurring with the flurry of snow.
Remember the last big frost? The photo; Our smiling faces, chubby cheeks, sliding down the icy dunes on a Tesco bag. Like all the others, no one can forget, the possibilities of a magical morning.
I like to imagine, Queen Maeve’s grave was more than mountain tomb, It’s a living breathing monolith. the energy of a goddess. A warrior queen who ruled all the Connacht. Her reign bearing down on all of us. Blue blood running down from Knocknarea.
We’re pilgrims, carrying stones up the mountain, to lay on our mother’s grave. Standing on centuries of a worn narrative, reaching my hand out upon the hilltop, I feel as though I am touching the woven fibres of the cloths of heaven.
So many have passed through here before me, I’m not sure how many will after me. The town of my childhood is lost, lost to immigration, empty wallets and closed factories. Now, the only way to survive is to leave. Turning your back on the Atlantic, the sea. We can only hope that one day our sails will carry us back, to the surf at Strandhill, Enniscrone, Mullaghmore, Rosses Point, Lissadell, Aughris, Easkey.
We forget that we were once a part of it all, each grain of sand on a dune, rocks covering a tomb, froth on the crest of a wave. The pull of the water is the sound of my deep heart's core.
Sligo is mountains, rivers, forests, seas and lakes all at once. The rain, relentless, drenching, blanketing us for weeks at a time, but gifting us with green. Trees reaching for the heavens, slick moss on every surface, sage, and jade, and fir surrounding us.
There is nothing like it. All the beauty of nature rushing towards your eyes. Lookout, out to Innisfree, where peace comes dropping slow. Now to Beezie’s where we only left sixty years ago.
I grew up under Ben Bulben’s watching eye, and crab fished on Lisadell shores. Ran under the oak and spruce in Slishwood, looked for fairy forts in Ransboro.
So, no matter how far away, my heart will always yearn for Sligo shores, the great yawning woods and the rushing rapids of Garavogue.