By Hillary Peters and Anh Pham
In the wee early hours of January 28, 2013 our class departed for the writer’s retreat Anam Cara. As soon as we arrived, Phillip told us it was a 7 kilometer hike to get to the house. It wasn’t. It was just down the road, but the humour was enough to keep us grounded in the strong winds that threatened to blow us all over.
After telling her inspiring story, she handed the floor over to her good friend Paddy O Conor from Cork City. Paddy was a school teacher for 27 years until he retired and decided there were other things to do in life. He currently works in promoting the arts in the post primary schools of the peninsula, and as a relationship counselor. He read to us several poems including “Morning in Beara,” and works from Leanne O’Sullivan and John O’Leary. Paddy was very passionate about poetry and gave us some of his theories as to why poetry is important in Ireland. Poetry links poets with music and song, it had a magical aura to it, and it played an important role in society.
One of the interesting stories he told us was about the Bard Schools. A prospective bard student would journey to the nearest Bard School after the autumn harvest. When the student arrived, they were given rules to follow in order to compose. On that first night and during the next day, they were sent to a dark room where they lay with a stone on their chest composing in their heads. After that, they were given writing materials to write down what they had composed. If it was up to scratch, they were allowed to continue in their schooling, if not, they repeated the process until they passed. It could take 6-7 years to complete Bard School.
Next on the agenda was for us to experience the relaxing, magical properties of poetry. Paddy read to us a form of poetry called a Triad. It is said the Triad is the oldest form of poetry in Ireland. It is a simple three line poem consisting of three things. The last line is supposed to be the powerful “driving home the point” line.
We will provide some examples:
Falling in Love
The feel of a burn on my tongue
Paddy read us the poem of Amergin Glúingel, a Milesian prince who sang an invocation calling upon the spirit of Ireland that has come to be known as The Song of Amergin. The theme of the song is “I see.” We were given the task of writing our own “I see” poems about Ireland. Here we have “forcefully acquired” a compilation of our classmates “I see” poems. Please enjoy their hard work and creativity.
I see crushing waves, emerald green, rolling hills, lush grass coating the hillsides dotted with wooly sheep.-Kathleen L.
I see no Seamuses, harps not shamrocks, tye-dye sheep.-Kelly
I see the crumbling huts and castles and think of a different age.-Hillary
I see sandy shores, friendly people, busy streets, high cliffs, sheep.-Anh
I see the moss-covered mountain rising before me, extending from the shore, its summit shrouded beyond the mist.-Robby
I see cities, treasure coves of Kit Kats and wafer chocolates, huge breakfasts, coffee and tea, dollar coins, euros, pounds, peat, sheep, hail, snow, rain, wind, preserving the traditional language, music, and the arts, sinks with two faucets hot and cold, fish and chips.-DeLeys
I see green: the green of the hillsides, the green of the patches of evergreen trees, the green stripe in the tricolor flag, the green of the Irish shamrock.-Victoria
I see sheep.-Kate
I see steep cliffs meeting the Irish Sea.-Alli
I see the pine trees pressed together, still more than my corn I’ve sifted through.-Holden
I see green hills and a beautiful sea, great food and beautiful people.-Deysi
I see the emerald blade wielded by the lamb, a fleet of ivory moss march atop the sodden limestone.-Desmond
I see frozen feet, hands, and ears but the land is gorgeous so the pain disappears.-Christina
I see dark mud and terrific green.-John
I see the mist hovering over the land hiding from view the many wonders that it holds.-Kathleen
I see the great fields of green with walls of stone.-Erin
I see the people proud of their country happy to host us. -Sam
I see culture.-Fabrizia
I see soft cold blankets of mist and rain, and whatever is in between.-Ann
I see vegetable soup and brown bread.-Nicole
We all see Ireland!