A WALK, A READ AND A WISH.

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First Published in The Inishowen Independent March 2013

The weather is not exactly encouraging me to keep up my morning walk lately but once I’ve talked myself into my coat and walking boots, and pull the front door after me the weather becomes irrelevant. Besides, I have something else to entice me since the Free Wee Libraries popped up in Swan Park and surrounding areas, my love for reading with a dollop of curiosity on the side.

The little libraries are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and hard to pass by.  It’s always interesting to see the different books left in the wee library I’m challenging myself to read different types of books at the moment so what better way than to find a random book on my morning walk and share one of my own. So I was vexed to learn that the harsh weather had no mercy on a couple of the wee libraries that now need a little make over.

The Free Wee Library in Inishowen is the brain child of Geraldine Timlin, award winning artist and lifelong book lover.Geraldine learned about the simple concept that has gained momentum in different parts of America and Europe and wanted to share it with the community. Her love for books and culture compelled her to establish free book nooks in our corner of the world to cultivate community and boost literacy in the great outdoors. These itty-bitty libraries bring readers to books and books to readers making reading accessible and fun!

Five of these tiny wooden libraries, built by volunteers and placed along County Donegal’s coast, are the start of something new to promote literacy for adults and children. The brilliant book-sharing scheme runs on an honesty policy … Take a book. Return a book. A tiny but mighty community builder. How charming is that?

Obviously, Geraldine cannot do enough to share her love of books and the urgent need for a growth in literacy. It’s no secret; we live in a digital age. Our reliance on computers and smart phones has changed the way we interact with the world. Yet a little wooden box full of books has captured the imagination of young and old alike and is creating a sense of community and also a desire to be part of something positive.

The tiny libraries are monitored by volunteers and each library will change its collection several times a month. Geraldine’s wish is that it continues to grow and develop with people who value literacy and community. It’s certainly a great way to declutter your shelves and recycle books!

In late March FWL is organising a poetry competition for children and adults, in Irish and English. The winner will have their poem distributed throughout the Free Wee Libraries. The FWL project has been highly successful to date and plans are under way to expand the project throughout Inishowen. Geraldine is happy to hear from anyone who can donate books, particularly children’s books or help in volunteering in any way to keep the Free Wee Library project inspiring people to read and to share a love for walking and reading in the great outdoors! I hope the Free Wee Libraries that got battered by the storm are up and running again soon and open 365 days a year. It’s hard to beat a walk and a read in the many beautiful spots in Inishowen.

For further details contact freeweelibrary@gmail.com Follow at Free Wee Library Project on Facebook.

Details on the Free Wee Libraries Poetry Competition to follow…

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING THE POET AND THE POETRY OF SEAMUS HEANEY.

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Seamus Heaney has died. The news reader made his announcement across the airwaves causing me to stall the car at a junction in Derry. The driver to the left of me looked like he was flapping a wasp away. Gripping the key I started the car again. Chugging off to the right I gestured an apology to the agitated driver who obviously wasn’t listening to the news. If he had of been, and even if he never read a poem in his life, he would have at least recognised the name and learnt of the untimely death of one of Ireland’s finest poets. My stalling was an overreaction surly, but the sheer familiarity of Heaney’s name left me feeling as though a close friend of mine had died.

I have the school curriculum to thank for introducing me to Heaney’s work and his simple rural upbringing that resonated so vibrantly with my own as I dilly dallied home from school through quiet country lanes picking blackberries and peering over hedgerows separating me from cows and freshly ploughed fields. For long enough Digging gave me a deep appreciation of my own father’s passion for working the land and farm routines.  Somehow I took his words to heart. 

Is that why I started reciting Mid-Term Break at the kitchen sink while preparing for dinner around the time the Nobel Laureate poet was being buried in his beloved Derry soil? The last line stuck in my throat as it had done before, over and over, when I was sixteen.

Little Missy wanted to know why I was sad so I told her about the poet, Seamus Heaney, who had a brother called Christopher. “Just like me?” she said. “Just like you,” I smiled back. “But why are your eyes wet Mummy?” she said as she leaned in to help me pick out a few potatoes for peeling. “Because he wrote a poem once about losing his brother and today they are together again.” “But that’s a happy story.” she said. “So it is,” I said, “…and did you know he also wrote a poem about peeling spuds with his mother?” Missy lifted an eyebrow, her eyes full of suspicion. “He did! I’ll find it for you later,” I said turning on the tap and reaching for a knife. She laughed then and ran out to the garden as tears ran down my face remembering Clearances, the poem Heaney wrote in memory of his mother and the gaping emptiness that it had conveyed.

I stood for a moment watching Missy join her other brother on the trampoline and marvelled all over again at Heaney’s ability to pluck a moment of time out of his world or the world of northern politics, or the underworld and record it in such an organic state that it would be relived and felt and understood again and again, time after time.

Those thoughts and reflections he dug with his pen will never die and a name like Seamus Heaney will never die either. Perhaps it was a natural reaction for me to be taken by surprise at the moment I learnt of his death because, as Paul Muldoon said at Heaney’s funeral, “he had the ability to sweep us all up in his arms,” and so a friend in kind did die but the poet Seamus Heaney and all his works will forever live on in the hearts and minds of men and women all over the world but for now the world is feeling his lost aptly described in Heaney’s own words…

The door was open and the house was dark

Wherefore I called his name, although I knew

The answer this time would be silence.

Seamus Heaney 1939-2013 RIP

Thread lightly as I weave my dreams

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Every dream is as precious as a child's drawing in the sand. Mindfully, it is created with great deliberation and care, taking shape in an area of our minds where we don't want anyone to thread or trample on our plan or our drawing. We want it to become part of out reality. We want it to come alive and stay alive as long as we can protect it, as long as nature allows. Sometimes the dream does come true. Sometimes it fades. Sometimes the turning tide erodes our best efforts, wiping the slate clean but it always invites us to start again, to dream a new dream no matter how many times the tide turns. That's were nature differs from a human footprint. A footprint leaves a mark, a smudge, an imprint that can crush a carefully woven dream. Dreams are delicate. Ring fence your dreams and in your mind's eye put up a sign No Trespassing. I shall conclude this post with the thought-provoking words of Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats that defines how delicate and precious our dreams are to each and every one of us and as illusive as the sands of time.

Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats.

Integrity

when it causes your heart to bleed

when you know it’s not what you need

drag yourself like a wounded soldier

to lick the wounds that left you colder.

Seek sanctuary in some safe place

where salty tears will caress your face

pull your integrity around you tight

hold on to your sanity with all your might

Ava

To my Godchild Ava

Welcome to the world little Ava

Thanks to a friend called Love

Who wrapped you up and kept you safe

While travelling from above

I see you have brought along with you

Joy and Happiness

Thanks to you they are our friends too

For that we are truly blessed

May Joy take you by the hand

And explore with you all your days

May you find Peace along the way

To play with Happiness

And if on life’s journey you get lost

And find you are all alone

Be still and know my darling child

Love will bring you home

© Aileen McGee

Love and Blessings always Ava

From your Godmother

Ava Rois Francesca McGee-Mitchell is being christened today, the 27th November 2011. I have the sweet privilege and honour of standing for Ava and becoming her Godmother. It is truly a blessing to be a special part of a child’s life.

May I be guided and supported by her little angels to help her along the way. May we all be guided, so we can light the way for little feet, and grow healthy thoughts in minds of wonder and awe. May we nurture that wonder. May it ignite our own wonder to see the world again, all shiny again, like a new toy.

Light a little candle, whisper a silent prayer, send out a loving intention to all those that love and care for children everywhere. May their hearts be full and overflowing to enable them to fill up all the little tiny hearts with love, love and love. Blessing to you and yours Aox

 

Remembering Granny

Today is All Souls’ Day. Christians have prayed for the dead since the earliest day of Christianity. Early liturgies and inscriptions on catacomb walls attest to the practice of praying for the departed, a custom that is borrowed from Judaism.

During the seventh century Monks decided to offer the mass on the day after Pentecost for their deceased community members. By the 13th century, the November 2 feast had appeared on the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. Customs associated with All Souls’ Day vary from culture to culture. In Ireland, families visit the graves of relatives.

Today I revisited a poem I had written To My Grandmother, published in a book of poetry in 1995. My grandmother died on the 18th November 1995.Today, I would like to share the memory of my grandmother with you.

TO MY GRANDMOTHER

Like echoing whispers in still night air

You steal softly through my thought

Waking up the warmth of you

When Sunday evening tea was a novelty

in your home – our hotel

Long before we heard of sea or sand.

Now when I come, discarded are the glasses

And the Irish News – bought to read the deaths.

We chat freely about then and now

Delicate stresses upon your brow

Reminiscing the old, surmising the new

Traditions you speak of are now but few

Yes! Many things have changed but you

Know I love your independent self

May I have half your will, your inner strength,

Your tenderness that beats at every pulse.

Like a locket’s precious contents about the neck

I wear you about my heart