IN LAOIS I FLY FREE
by Laura Murphy
This new artwork was awarded a Made in Laois (co-create) grant as part of the Creative Ireland Laois programme in 2021.
Inspired by the history, mythology and beauty of Laois, Portlaoise-based poet Laura Murphy has composed a powerful tribute to the county, ‘In Laois I Fly Free’ which was launched online on Wednesday 5thJanuary 2022. In collaboration with three Laois-based artists: cinematographer Terry Byrne; musician Dale McKay; and vocalist Roo Elizabeth, this video poem is set to a haunting soundscape and complemented by cinematic scenes of the local landscape.
Laura Murphy said:
“I’ve spent a lot of my life being reminded that the best things about Laois are either the prison or the road out of it. Like everywhere, Laois has its bad points, but there is also incredible beauty and magic about the place. Laois is synonymous with captivity, but when I was landlocked in Laois during lockdown I realised that freedom is a state of mind that can be experienced anywhere and in any circumstance.”
‘In Laois I Fly Free’ was filmed at the Rock of Dunamase, Slieve Bloom Mountains, Oughaval Woods and Portlaoise. The poem, soundscape and video work together to bring forth the golden threads of magic that run through Laois’s ancient past and present alike. An evocative and inspiring piece that is sure to stir the people of Laois and beyond.
Told from the perspective of an Laois native- Laura Murphy, the poem juxtaposes things that are grim and great about Laois. The viewer/listener is taken on a journey from the well-known ‘negative’ associations of Laois to the lesser known ‘positive’ aspects.
The poem opens with a representation of the perceived insignificance of the county followed by the stark revelation that Laois is both the place from which the British empire began and the place from which it began to fall.
The listener is taken to a time when the Slieve Blooms were the highest and oldest mountains in Europe. The poem goes deeper still into a time before time when the mythical hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill was born in Ballyfin and grew into one of Ireland’s greatest warriors in these very mountains.
Laura Murphy explained:
“Legend holds that Fionn Mac Cumhaill never died. He sleeps and will awake again at a time of
Ireland’s great need. Fionn’s archetypal energies of wisdom, purity, courage and truth are needed now more than ever. This poem is also an ode to the awakening of these qualities in our own hearts. And a reminder that Fionn was a proud Laois man.”
The poem takes us to the Rock of Dunamase where the poet explores how her connection to this place awakens something primal in her. A visceral reclamation of all that was lost through patriarchy, colonial and religious conquest happens, as we see the image of an unapologetic Sile-na-Gig replace a shamed biblical Eve. The energy of Dunamase sparks an ancient remembrance of the power of the feminine spirit and a re-establishment of a more reverent connection with nature.