Isn’t it soft the skin is on you

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by Eoin Moynihan, Longford


Isn’t it soft the skin is on you.

Aren’t those hands of yours so clean.

Has your back never bent to ponder

upon wheelbarrow or heavy beam?


Have your eyes been ensnared by some beauty?

It may be; your hand lent purpose to a plume.

Is it poetry that unsettles you,

seduced by some lingering full moon?


Be that as it may,

Life will hold sway

And it’s bother, you will not flee.

For it be neither soft hands nor a soft heart

that set us free.


Sonnet – Fairy Mischiefs

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by Áine Leddy, New York


The cows were dry again this morn 

Those fairy mischiefs doing their worst

With guilt and shame I was torn

My whole clan would feel the thirst

The spancel should have been installed

Before I closed my eyes to sleep

But I had milking churns to scald

And left gap open to fairy leap

I will do better I decided

In the duel with the little man

My efforts would not be derided

No more empty milking can

So move along you little louse

No more free milk around this house


Áine based her poem on the folklore “Fairies sometimes milk cows. To prevent this tie a hair spancel in the cow gap.”

A Proverb Set Right

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by G. Slamon, Brixton, U.K.


A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

A wise proverb tells us of blackbird and thrush

Though if truth be told I don’t quite understand

Why two birds in the bush equal one in the hand

For a bird in the hand it will tremble and quake

And out of its terror no song will it make

While the birds in the bush they will twitter and trill

And alive with their freedom will seldom stand still

But hither and thither and upwards and down

They will flutter and flitter and frolic and clown

And light up the hedgerows and colourful songs

While the caught bird in silence and stiffness it longs

So open your hands wide and let the bird fly

And find its way back to its place in the sky

And with it your spirit will soar with delight

And rejoice in the freedom of a proverb set right

The Old People Believed

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by Attracta Fahy, Galway


The Old People Believed

to cut the horns off a black snail, would rid you

of earache.

In the sixties folklore didn’t appeal to my palate.


Slugs taken from their natural habitat gave me

creeps, my skin crawled, stomach gagged, as boys

dared me to play with slimy creatures, worse


than any ache I couldn’t decide if I felt sympathy,

or disgust. Live, and let live became the motto

I used for divinity. This betrayed what my brothers


deemed to be brave. No fear of climbing trees, chasing

through graveyards at midnight, tying scarfs to headstones

just to prove – I wasn’t afraid.


I imagined the snail bleeding to death, his family cursing,

dooming me to a terrible fate, scared of not having peace,

I never complained of earache again.


I liked sugar, mindful not to eat much as I’d wished,

it caused worms. Imagining slithery organisms

inside my stomach was nauseating, the cure even worse,


to sit with a bowl of oatmeal, mother spinning charms

over your head, inviting these white squirmy, maggots

out of your mouth. I stopped eating sugar.


Rubbing a snail, it’s smear all over my finger to be rid

of a wart didn’t entreat me either. I was a martyr!

With five brothers– it wouldn’t look good to let down


your guard, scream. Being a girl, weakness enough.

I hid a glass coke bottle in the haggard – ‘keep it secret,’

my mother suggested, creating new folklore to relieve


the stress. My wart disappeared.

‘We don’t need to kill I explained,’ already enough

on our farm, lambs, pigs, chickens–


‘It’s normal, survival,’ my father explained,

‘but, it must be humane, that or starve.’

Only humans were safe, and I wasn’t so sure, still,


we had confessions. That’s how it was in the old days,

a cure for everything except fear, and remorse.

Repentance, or plenary indulgence didn’t remedy


for me. Earaches, and warts, were tolerable, guilt,

empathy for all life, can be an infliction.


Attracta’s poem is based on cures in the folklore collection:

cure for EARACHE: Get a black snail, cut off both horns with one cut instant cure.

cure for WARTS: Get a black snail without looking for it, rub it on warts three times, then hang on a white-thorn bush. As snail withers warts will disappear.


The ‘Good People’

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by M Ni B., Longford



Down from their secret haunt they come, A-trooping down the hill,

green jackets, red caps, white owl feather

–  proud and bold they step together


The yellow moon doth guide them, as implishly they leap

their wizened crinkled faces, as old as rivers deep.


At midnight  ’round the red hot coal, they toast their tiny feet,

sipping clean Spring  water, they  search for loosened teeth.

They frown on itchy noses, a bed that’s facing West,

a web they love to weave around, the  Stranger or the  Guest.


Theý’re still around,  those little folk, who are both wild and free,

don’t lend an egg or spill the salt,

for certain they will point and say

”these humans are at fault”


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after Flann O’Brien

by Anonymous, Longford


When your heart feels very strange and your leg it will not rest,

And you are feeling a trifle frisky,

There’s a piece of advice that you must remember best:



The upset tum and the fevered brow are very frightful travails,

But a remedy that will work briskly:

A generous sup of flat 7-up will cure what ails, but



Itches descend and they truly offend without reason,

So commit to your memory this key:

A hale and a hearty cure no matter what the season:




A Spark on the Candle means a Letter

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by Deirdre Orme
Do you know about Granard’s greatest love story – that of local lady Kitty Kiernan & her fiancée Michael Collins, General of the Free State Army.
Many letters were exchanged between Michael & Kitty documenting not only their love story but also the social & political happenings of the time.
At Knights and Conquests heritage center in Granard they have dedicated an exhibition room to this great story.

Cutting the Yarrow

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by Tom Carty, Galway


A Halloween Game

Eleven pieces cut, a sixpence as forfeit
The ten others under pillow kept
Those who on it to silence sworn
Until the morning after which they had slept

Should they speak before the mornings dawn
And they to the floor their blanket they had tossed
They broke the Yarrow pledge…
Their challenge and their sixpence was lost.

Oh, so many cared for their comfort that night
And other such tricks to get them to speak
So simple pleasures in a time now past
When folk their fun did seek!!!

Should the sleeper their whisht manage to hold
Who they dreamed of that night would be their spouse it was said
How many men dreamed of a comely cailin on such night
Who dreamed herself of another dashing blade, not them, instead!


Tom’s poem ties in with the North Longford Lore of a game played on Halloween. It involved cutting the yarrow and reciting this verse, that night you would dream of your future spouse!

In Cáit’s collection, there are several references to the Yarrow including the verse “Good morrow, good morrow, my pretty fair yarrow! I pray before this time to-morrow You will tell who my true love shall be. The clothes that he wears, and the name that he bears, And the day that he’ll come to wed me”

Tom publishes poetry, some based on folklore on 


The old broom knows the dark corner best

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by Mike Gallagher, Mayo & Kerry


Achill Aiteanns

The Aiteanns on Achill inhabit wastelands,

rough pastures, heaths and rocky places;

cling to sea cliffs, hillsides and the verges

of bogs; with fellow native, humankind, they

lean into salt laden winds, scratch their way up

hard-fought, steeple slopes, jealously shield

the clois, the haggard, the stripes, even

the stones; are wary of interlopers,

knotweed, rhododendron, giant cabbages

and other invasive sorts; have shared,

down centuries, the harsh infertility of

this fallow isle, pulling together its loose,

measly topsoil and enriching it with

nitrogen-bearing root nodes. On hot

Summer days, it wafts the Achill air with

coconut scent, rends the Achill air with

pops of exploding seed pods; blue-green

branchlets hug the Achill earth, snuggle it

in a canopy of rigid, furrowed thorns.


It is, as ever, a lop-sided alliance, this bargain

between man and nature – one taking, one giving:

Thatch for the widow’s cot; beaten to pulp ‘tween

mallet and stone, a bran for sheep or stock;

coppiced and pollarded and scythed, each acre

a winters feed for six hungry horses, ’twas said;

the young shoots, forage once for piebalds along

the long acre; its leaves add colour and flavour

to Irish whiskey, make wine and tea, as well.

Its besoms once Saula houses swept; foundations

for bog roads in Shraheens, too; a chimney brush

with sugawns pulled, down and up, up and down;

sprinkled sprigs kept mouse and vole at bay

from bobbed-up shoots, and seeds, soaked, rampant

fleas repelled; ash of whin, when mixed with lard

made soap that soon did dirt discard; furze blossom dye

did Easter eggs adorn and young shoots greened ribbed sock

and pretty petticoat; gorse wood was grand for kitchen tools

and garden gnomes – non-toxic and would not rot;

precious bearts from tramcock butts dried on its August

bush; scarce pollen for bees it yields through Spring; dense

cover for Warbler, Stonechat and Whinchat, too, except

the Wren which it betrays so easily on each Saint

Stephens Day; in the Achill of my youth, protection

for Sandybanks rabbits, before we went genteel

and swapped burrows for golf holes; dinner for the

Double-striped Pug moth, but refuge for diner Robin, too –

Nature’s sword, as ever, double-edged; in olden days,

a purgative; a cure for scarlet fever, jaundice, all ailments

of the spleen and nasty kidney stones; release from

horse’s worms, besides, (only half the dose for man, one would

suppose); shelter belts on sodded walls, stock-proof but, sadly,

not sheep-proof (is anything?); a barrier to mystical forces –

scatter petals at window or door to keep the fairies out; a sprig

kept under thatch or over rafter would surely bring you luck; place

a plant in the dung heap during May to multiply the crop; a garland

around the churn would ward off the evil eye and cattle chased

through aiteann would never, ever die.  And as you stagger

homeward, a spray behind your lapel would halt the certain stumble.

A twig in the feeding stall will foil sterility,

A sprig in the brides bouquet will ensure fertility,

(no mention of the groom or his ability!); and

kissing is always out, when blossoms are not about!


Cameras, smart phones all around, Dooniver, Dookinella,

Achill Sound, Ballinasally, Cloisríd, Keel, Cloughmore,

Bunacurry, Cashel, Keem, The Shore; Kildownet, Pollagh,

Dooagh, Dugort,  Croghan, Minaun, old Slievemore,

take landscape photos, catch all the action,

snap scarlet fuchsia and yellow aiteann,

sharp, cutting and lacerating,

like its Island hosts,

thorny, prickly, quick to flare,

glow warm beyond compare.

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