Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene
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Pauline Frayne’s poem on J B Keane

July 22, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: creative writing, historical, participants, poem, poet, poetry

Pauline sent this poem in a comment to a piece by Mattie Lennon. So that it get the audience it deserves, I’m posting it in a page of its own.

A Farewell for John B Keane

It is four ten a.m.
on the morning after your funeral
and a litany of birds
broadcast a requiem of grace notes
over the mourning town
as I try to negotiate
a straight line
between the Square and Charles Street.

Finally finding the right angle to the corner
I meet your pensive gaze
from a photograph in Landys’ window
and understand
why you once barred me
for not drinking,
while Mary,who held the keys
said softly
‘Don’t worry , you’ll be alright tomorrow’

Pauline Fayne .
(from ‘I’m Fine Really
Stonebridge Publications 2005

The first time I went into J B Keane’s pub in Listowel in 2009

June 06, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, localinfo, novels, participants, preparations, storytelling

I wasn’t looking for drink, I was looking for company.

The woman from the Vodafone shop was sorting out a dongle for me. I had to wait, pass the time somewhere, and J B’s is only across the road.

This was mid afternoon on Wednesday 27 May.

Alone I went in, wondering what would be going on. From previous experience, I suspected there would be something up. I might even interrupt Billy Keane in song or story.

Pushing open the door, I looked round the pub, hardly anyone there. First thought was where to put myself so that I could watch & overhear conversations?

The man in the corner caught my eye. He wouldn’t let go of it. Insisted I sit down with his friends, Sean Devine & Paula Tormey. I know their names because I took out my book, said I’d outsourced my memory to it, and took notes.

[I did this all through Writers' Week.]

Bert Griffin pointed me to his friend Tony Guerin, who wasn’t in the pub. On the wall was a poster advertising a play written by him. He said Tony’s novel, Tomorrow is a lovely day, would be launched on Saturday @1300.

You’ll not meet a more engaging man this week…” (Bert’s words on Tony, I scribbled).

I can’t remember what I drank, so I guess it wasn’t a pint of Guinness.

They were good to me, those three. I found out the J B Keane anniversary mass was @ 1030 on Saturday. I thought of going to pay my respects, and because I’m a bit of an anthropologist.

For the first time, I met Mary Keane, John B’s widow, from Castleisland, came to Listowel 54 years ago, 1955. Took this photograph of Mary & Bert.

dsc02903

I met a couple who’d driven from Greystones, near Dublin, to be at a performance of Sive, and said it was worth every mile.

I found out Brendan Kennelly and Matt Munroe had both been London bus conductors, like me.

And then Bert invited me to his house for steak…

Amazing, astonishing, bloodyfantastic, hypermarvellous, superphenomenal, eh.

I had a short vigorous time with them in Bert’s house. I left Grace’s [my 3.9 year old treasure] car seat there when I drove them all back into Listowel in time for the opening ceremony. Grace’s seat is still there.

If there’s anyone driving from Listowel to Cork soon, please contact me, so I can ask you a small favour…

That’s meant to be a flavour of the life to be had in Listowel during Writers’ Week.


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This work by various authors is licensed under a Creative Commons License.