Strandhill is privileged to the have the Sligo County Fleadh 2011 on this June weekend from Friday June 3rd until Sunday June 5th

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I don’t normally post things un-Strandhill related here – but this Sunday, 25th July from 1pm to 3pm – there will be a free show featuring

Death-Defying Trapeze, Back Cracking Contortion, Jaw Dropping Acrobatics, Fearless Aerial Feats, Giant Ball Juggling and Live Musical Mayhem…may all your days be circus days!

Yup – sounds like fun alright. All of this mayhem is for the launch of the free summer programme of weekend workshops for kids – all organised by The Model. Went to some of the things they did last Summer – and they were very good.

More details can be found here.



The closing date for applications for funding from the Sligo County Council Art Grants is 15th February.

The Sligo Arts eBulletin for February (download here) lists a range of ‘Calls for Applications’ for grants and bursary opportunities from the Sligo Arts Department, The Arts Council and others, that are relevant for individual artists as well as groups.

More info at www.sligoarts.ie.



Though born in Dublin, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats is most often associated with the West of Ireland, and specifically Sligo. Many of his poems refer to local landscapes and places – Lissadell, Benbulben, and Innisfree (Lough Gill) are immediately recognisable to even those briefly passing.

This early poem “Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland” is an early one from a collection entitled “In the Seven Woods” published in 1903 :

The old brown thorn-trees break in two high over Cummen strand,
Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;
Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies,
But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyes
Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The wind has bundled up the clouds high above Knocknarea,
And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say.
Angers that are like noisy clouds have set our hearts abeat;
But we have all bent low and low and kissed the quiet feet

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.
The yellow pool has overflowed high up on Clooth-na-Bare,
For the wet winds are blowing out of the clinging air;
Like heavy flooded waters our bodies and our blood;
But purer than a tall candle before the Holy Rood
Is Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

Cathleen Ni Houlihan of course is the heroine that has been repeatedly used through Irish literature to represent poor old Ireland. In this poem, a few obvious places on the peninsula are referenced – but where is “Clooth-na-Bare”?



This is the 100th anniversary of the Belfast poet Louis MacNiece; driving to Dublin early last sunday morning, I was listening to John Bowman and the recitation of the MacNiece poem Neutrality (37m 48 secs into the programme) – written in the late 1930’s, its specific reference to Knocknarea and Sligo and the Irish Free State during the Second World War.

The neutral island facing the Atlantic,
The neutral island in the heart of man,
Are bitterly soft reminders of the beginnings
That ended before the end began.

Look into your heart, you will find a county Sligo,
A Knocknarea with for navel a cairn of stones,
You find the shadow and sheen of a moleskin mountain
And a litter of chronicles and bones.

Look into your heart, you will find fermenting rivers,
Intricacies of gloom and glint,
You will find such ducats of dream and great
doubloons of ceremony
As nobody to-day would mint.

But then look eastward from your heart, there bulks
A continent, close, dark, as archetypal sin,
While to the west off your own shores the mackerel
Are fat on the flesh of your kin.

Here is some commentary and comments on the poem. It is Prayer Before Birth however that still sends shivers down me and probably countless other Leaving Cert students from the 1980’s.


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