A Poet's Rising

Art 2016

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The Irish Writers Centre is proud to have been part of Art 2016 with A Poet’s Rising on this year. It was funded by the Arts Council as part of ART: 2016, and sees six acclaimed Irish poets Theo Dorgan, Paul Muldoon, Thomas McCarthy, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Jessica Traynor bring some of the iconic people and places of 1916 to life with newly commissioned poems and original music from Colm Mac Con Iomaire. On 31 March, there was a live performance of A Poet's Rising as part of the 1916 centenary celebrations here at the Centre. We are delighted to tell you that the documentary A Poet's Rising was broadcast on national television, on 19 April on RTÉ 1. You can watch it back on the RTÉ player.

Each individual video will also be available for download during the week of the Rising from 24 April.

Download the full PDF programme of A Poet's Rising


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin - For James Connolly

Eilean Ni Chuilleanain

One of the great international leaders of the early 20th century labour movement, it was James Connolly above all who was responsible for the alignment between working class organisations and and the goal of irish independence.

 He believed it was the working class who could shake the foundations of the British empire, to the benefit of all the oppressed of the world. 

Born in Edinburgh in 1868, of Irish parents, Connolly came to Ireland at the invitation of a small socialist group. Here, he soon made his mark as a talented organiser, speaker and writer

It was almost certainly as a result of Connolly’s influence that the Proclamation was very careful to use language that included women and made it clear that if the Rebellion won, women in Ireland would have the vote.

 As a signatory and commander of the Dublin forces in the rebellion, General Maxwell and, indeed, leaders of the constitutional nationalist movement too, wanted Connolly out of the way. So even though British doctors had been struggling to save Connolly’s life as he lay in Dublin Castle with a shattered leg, on 12 May 1916 he was taken to Kilmainham Jail, strapped into a chair, and shot.

Born 1942 in Cork, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is an Emeritus Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, where she has taught since 1966. Her seventh collection of poetry, The Sun-Fish, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Griffin International Prize for poetry in 2010; The Boys of Bluehill is published this year by Gallery Press, and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize.


Paul Muldoon - Patrick Pearse: A Manifesto


Paul Muldoon

Páraic Mac Piarais, or Patrick Pearse, was one of the most committed organisers in Ireland’s cultural revival in the early twentieth century.

Pearse also devoted himself to poetry and drama, writing poems and plays to contemporary critical acclaim in both Irish and English.

 Considering that Pearse is perhaps the most well-known leader of the Easter Rising, it is surprising that as late as 1912, he was speaking on platforms in support of the constitutional nationalist movement.

But the following year Pearse was recruited to the Irish Republican Brotherhood. A founder member of the Volunteers, Pearse became director of military operations. He was effectively the spokesperson of the rebellion, not least because of his major role in composing the Proclamation, which he read outside the GPO on Easter Monday. Pearse was executed at Kilmainham Jail on 3 May 1916.

Pulitzer prize winning Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland's leading contemporary poets. Muldoon’s work is full of paradox: playful but serious, elusive but direct, innovative but traditional. He has taught at Princeton University since 1987 and currently occupies the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 chair in the Humanities.


  Jessica Traynor - A Demonstration

Jessica Traynor

Kathleen Lynn was one of Ireland’s great humanitarians; born in Mayo in 1874, she devoted her life to the care of the sick and for thirty-five years ran St Ultan’s hospital. Her connection to the Rising came about through her interest in women’s suffrage and her sympathy for Dublin’s workers, whom she supported in the great Lockout of 1913.

 Made Captain of the Citizen Army on Easter Monday, Kathleen had to climb over the high gates in front of City Hall to take up her post under Sean Connolly.

When City Hall was captured by the British Army, Kathleen Lynn might have escaped, as the officer who first encountered her thought she had been brought in to attend the wounded, but she proudly declared herself to belong to the Citizen Army.

 Held for eight days in Ship Street Barracks, Kathleen and her companions were starving, sleep-deprived and lice infested by the time they were marched to Richmond Barracks and then Kilmainham Jail.

Jessica Traynor was born 1984 and hails from Dublin. Her first collection, Liffey Swim published by Dedalus Press in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award. She works as Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre.


Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill - Íota an Bháis

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill

Ar 22 Aibreán 1875 a rugadh an Rathailleach. Bhí sé ar bhunaitheoirí Óglaigh na hÉireann agus ina chisteoir ar an eagraíocht sin díreach roimh an Éirí Amach. Bhí guth domhain ceoil aige agus chum sé roinnt amhrán náisiúnaíoch aitheanta mar ‘Thou Art Not Conquered Yet, Dear Land’. Ba mhaith an sás na buanna sin aige le spiorad na bhfear a ardú in Ard-Oifig an Phoist seachtain na Cásca.

Maidin Domhnach Cásca d’imigh an Rathailleach ina charr go Luimneach le hordú Mhic Néill ag cur a raibh beartaithe ag  na hÓglaigh ar ceal. Ar fhilleadh dó go luath Luan Cásca, fuair sé amach go raibh an t-éirí amach ag dul ar aghaidh. Dar leis, ba é a dhualgas ansin bheith páirteach ann agus chuaigh sé i gceann na gceannairí eile ag Plás Beresford.

Dé hAoine 28 Aibreán, thairg an Rathailleach dul i gceannas ar ruathar i treo Shráid Uí Mhórga le bealach éalaithe a fhágáil ag an ngarastún in Ard-Oifig an Phoist.

‘Bhí tormán ann ann a bhainfeadh na cluasa asat, agus pléascadh gloine agus réabadh adhmaid ag cur leis an ngleo. Sheas an Rathailleach nóiméad sa doras, ar tinneall, agus nuair a tháinig sos beag sa lámhach sméid sé go tapa orainne agus shéid faoi dhó ar an bhfeadóg aige. D’fhan sé cúpla soicind, agus siúd amach i lár na sráide leis i dtreo Shráid Anraoi. Ní raibh ach cúpla slat déanta aige nuair a bhuail piléar ón mbaracáid é agus thit sé ceann ar aghaidh.

Chorraigh sé ar ball agus le dícheall anama shrac leis go mall diachrach isteach i Lána Sackville mar ar shín sé amach den uair dheiridh. Tá leac chuimhneacháin an lae inniu díreach os cionn an spota ar éag sé.

 Tá Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill ar na filí is aithnidiúla dá bhfuil ag scríobh i nGaeilge sa lá inniu. Tá a cuid filíochta aistrithe go Béarla ag mórfhilí Éireannacha ar nós Seamus Heaney agus Paul Muldoon. Tá saothar léi aistrithe go hIodáilis, go Seapáinis agus go Tuircis.



Theo Dorgan - We Carried It To Here As Best We Could

Theo Dorgan

At about 3.30pm on Saturday 29 April, the operational commander of the British forces, Brigadier General W.H.M. Lowe, accepted the unconditional surrender of Pearse. The moment was captured by a picture that Lowe was careful to ensure circulated around the world.

 The meeting between Lowe and Pearse had been arranged by nurse (and Cumann na mBan member) Elizabeth O’Farrell, who had earlier braved the dangers of stepping out of cover in the vicinity of 16 Moore Street in order to approach the British forces. She subsequently took the surrender order around to various rebel strongholds. For this, General Lowe wrote a note on her behalf, stating that ‘Miss Elizabeth O’Farrell was of great assistance in voluntarily accompanying a staff officer to various rebel commandants and I trust that his may be taken into consideration at any future date.’ This note did not spare O’Farrell from being strip-searched and imprisoned.

 Theo Dorgan is a poet, novelist, prose writer, editor, essayist and translator. He has written libretti and documentary film scripts, and is a broadcaster on radio and television. His most recent collection of poems, NINE BRIGHT SHINERS was awarded the Irish Times Poetry Now Prize 2015.



Thomas McCarthy  - Garden of Remembrance

Thomas McCarthy

The Garden of Remembrance is dedicated ‘to all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom.’ It was opened in 1966 on the site created from the uppermost fifth of the Rotunda Gardens. It was in these gardens that the Volunteers were founded by Eoin MacNeill on 25 November 1913.

 The Garden was designed by Dáithí Hanly, winner of the public competition that was announced in 1946, although the project was not completed until the fiftieth anniversary of the Rising. Hanly later became Dublin city architect.

 The main focal point of the garden is a bronze statue of the Children of Lir by Oisín Kelly, which was added in 1971. This extraordinary vision of painful birth was controversial in its day, for drawing on legends considered to be pagan.

In May 2011, during her state visit to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in a gesture of reconcillation.

 Thomas McCarthy was born and raised at Cappoquin Co. Waterford in 1954. He has  has published a substantial body of poems as well as a collection of autobiographical essays and two novels. McCarthy is a poet primarily concerned with politics and family and he is regarded as one of the most important Irish poets of his generation.



Colm Mac Con Iomaire

Colm Mac Con IomaireIn a crowded field of outstanding Irish fiddle players and interpreters of traditional music, Colm Mac Con Iomaire is unique. After starting the band Kíla with school friends, Colm went on to found and play with The Frames, who celebrated 25 years together in 2015. Colm’s compositions have featured in both film and theatre. 'These are tunes that are effortlessly cinematic, conjuring images of weather-beaten coastlines and vast green expanses… a consistently beautiful and frequently incandescent collection' –  Irish Times (Album of the Week).  





Download the full PDF programme of A Poet's Rising

A Poet's Rising