The Galway-based Western Writers’ Centre – Ionad Scríbhneoirí Chaitlín Maude – is eager to find out more about the poets of Co. Clare in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth centuries, as the Centre works towards a celebration event of these poets. The Centre’s director, a poet himself, Fred Johnston, who founded Galway’s annual Cúirt literature festival in 1986, is particularly interested in the regions spanning Sixmilebridge, West Clare, and up to the borders of Limerick.
“We know that these areas fostered a rich poetic tradition as Gaeilge throughout this period,” says Johnston, “but often the poets of the period are ignored in contemporary anthologies. Poets such as Séamus Ó Dála, a native of Inagh, Sean Ó Hairchinnigh of Kilkee, Tomás Ó hAllurain in Milltown Malbay – the list, when investigated, is lengthy.”
Most of these poets are labelled as being ‘minor’ poets, but that is not to suggest that their contribution to Irish poetry should be down-played or ignored, he suggests. “We need to know more about them and to celebrate them, perhaps not as a ‘school’ of poets as such, but for their work in its own right.”
The Centre is looking for anyone with a more concise knowledge of the work of these poets, who might be able to contribute to a planned weekend commemorating them, involving talks and readings. “I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. Is there someone who might comfortably deliver a paper on the poetic tradition around these poets?” The conference, which is aimed at a weekend, will be held in Co. Clare. The Western Writers’ Centre is also anxious to hear from potential sponsors of this event. Fred Johnston’s latest collection of poetry, ‘Alligator Days,’ will be published from Limerick’s Revival Poetry in November. Those interested in the conference should contact Fred Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 087.2178138