Mountmellick looks forward by looking back- A fond ponder on its 2021 status as Poetry Town.
What better way to celebrate Poetry Day Ireland than with a poetry reading and music inspired by this year’s theme ‘Written in the Stars’.
Mountmellick made it a poetry-filled afternoon, each poem and song a star shining, a reminder of the power of language to move, uplift and inspire us. There is a power and a comfort in poetry, and this power was never felt more strongly than during the recent pandemic when we sought solace and hope in poetry to get us through the difficult days.
In July of 2021, Poetry Ireland announced details of Poetry Town, a new all-island initiative, which saw more than a hundred free poetry-related activities taking place in 20 towns across the island of Ireland between the 10th and 18th of September. Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell described the programme as follows: “Poetry Town is to celebrate the many vibrant towns and communities across Ireland, through poetry, collaboration and communal experiences”. Mountmellick was one of those 20 towns selected as Poetry Town.
During that week, the concept lit a spark and fanned a flame. Mountmellick’s poets, both with profiles as writers and without, stepped up and had their voices heard, and Dr Arthur Broomfield was named Town Poet Laureate.
The week culminated with Culture Night, when a creative partnership, 9 months in the planning, devised a celebration of the heritage of textiles in Mountmellick. The Mountmellick Embroidery and Heritage Museum, together with Yarnbombing Mountmellick plotted an evening which was to be a feast for eye and ear. Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions prevented the live version of events from being open to the public. However, the creative group pivoted, producing a wonderful video which is available to view here: https://youtu.be/ybuioCqC1hE
The two textile groups unveiled newly-created pieces, accompanied by songs and spoken word from local artists and writers. As a nod to the loss of the textile industry, Mountmellick photographer Kevin Byrne unveiled 6 photographs from a collection of precious shots he took on the day The Textiles Factory closed its doors in 2004. They poignantly reflect the industrial decline in Mountmellick. All tangible pieces are on permanent display in the museum.
Fast forward to Thursday, April 28th, which was “Poetry Day Ireland”.
The team from Culture Night Mountmellick, 2021 used this auspicious day for their event (entitled “Cinniúint”), that was somewhat of a trinity: a commemorative booklet of Culture Night was unveiled (a digital version of which will soon be available on www.mountmellickdevelopment.com), Dr Arthur Broomfield’s poem entitled The Spirit of Mountmellick Speaks went on permanent display, and the audience was treated to music and verse from Arthur Broomfield, Ann Egan, Stephen Comerford, Collette Dunne, & Declan Furlong, together with local singer-songwriter Adam Culleton. Contributors on the day were Nina Horan, MC, Muireann Ní Chonaill, Arts Officer and Conor Bergin, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council.
A large attendance showed up for the afternoon including two of the newly arrived Ukrainian residents to the town; Tatiana Petrovets and Trina Vivhristenko. The Chairman of Laois County Council, Conor Bergin welcomed them.
Following refreshments, attendees were treated to a free tour of Mountmellick Embroidery and Heritage Museum by Chairperson, Ann Dowling. This was an afternoon of light and lore. The legacy of Poetry Town was recalled, while the sense of destiny and hope for the future was inspired.
The organisers would like to thank the team at the Hare’s Corner, Paddy Buggy of The Webmill, and everyone who came. They also want to acknowledge the support of Laois County Council Arts Office and Poetry Ireland.