An enjoyable morning with new and old friends was had by all during the Saturday morning event, held in Sankofa Espai Intercultural. Chris Dove opened with a few words of welcome, and Dermot Hurley was the first reader on stage. His choices were “Blackberry Picking’ and ‘Scaffolding’, short poems featuring some of Heaney’s typical themes of nature, childhood, memory and relationships. These themes were continued in Grania Flanagan’s choices, ‘Death of a Naturalist’ and ‘While the Others were away at Mass’. Gavin Reid, VICA’s resident English lit teacher, then followed, regaling the crowd with some anecdotes of his own before reading ‘The Barn’ and ‘Digging’, both of which poems can be seen to follow the thematic line from the others. Chris Dove then took a darker turn, reading an extract from ‘Beowulf’ and another extract from ‘Station Island’, with themes of violence added to the mix. When the floor was opened to guests, Seán from Co. Derry, a close neighbour to Heaney’s homeplace, read ‘Whatever you say, say nothing’, a poem in which he said he could see the northern persona, and again referenced the Troubles Heaney lived through and documented. This theme of the Troubles, portrayed through the people who lived them, was continued in Dermot’s next reading, ‘Casualty’, and Gavin’s ‘Two Lorries’. To finish off the programme, Chris Dove sidestepped completely, to ‘The Given Note’ – an origin tale for the ethereal ‘Port na bPúcaí’, which he went on to perform on the whistle.
As always we thank Pep at Sankofa for hosting us for this event, and thanks to all who came.