A Trail Of Thought….Book Launch

Book Launch To Celebrate Letterfrack Poetry Trail 

In October 2014, as part of the thirtieth birthday celebrations of Conamara Sea Week, President Michael D. Higgins launched the Letterfrack Poetry Trail. Earlier that year, nine poets were commissioned to write a poem celebrating the importance of place. Some poems are general in nature, and some are site-specific and deal with the troubled history of Letterfrack.

The poems are displayed on plaques designed by Sven Habermann of Conservation Letterfrack. The words are laser-engraved on wood mounted on original roof slates from the Industrial School. Three poems are located in Connemara National Park, three in the Connemara West Centre, and three in the village of Letterfrack, thus linking all three sites.

Since its launch, The Letterfrack Poetry Trail has seen thousands of visitors descend on the trail that includes poems by President Michael D. Higgins, Paula Meehan, Louis de Paor, Mary O’Malley, Joan McBreen, Eva Bourke, Theo Dorgan, Rita Ann Higgins, Moya Cannon and Michael Gorman.

On June 4th, during Bog Week in Connemara ( May 28th – June 5th ), there will be a launch of the Letterfrack Poetry Trail book with an accompanying CD.

The specially commissioned poems are centred on ‘Theme of Place’, the brutal story attached to the Letterfrack Poetry Trail is evident throughout, Paula Meehan , Ireland Professor of Poetry wrote; ‘on an unmarked grave we knelt and wept…his broken back, his small hands empty’.

Another poet who answered the call was Louis de Paor , who wrote a poem for the trail about the relation between father and son.

The trail also runs through the current furniture-design campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The industrial school was run by the Christian Brothers from 1887 to 1974.The legacy of that hurt is a theme on the poetry trail.

In the latter end of 1974, a positive transformation began to occur when a local group of community activists made a decision to purchase the former Industrial School buildings and encouraged the State to take on the farm and Diamond Mountain lands for a national park. This visionary group had formed a local development company known as Connemara West plc and with widespread community support set about transforming the former school and undertaking numerous other projects.

Letterfrack is now a vibrant village with a resident population of just over one hundred. It has over 500 people in education at all levels – a crèche, primary school, Youth Reach, and GMIT Letterfrack, an internationally recognised centre for excellence in furniture design and technology.

Leo Hallissey founder of the trail and creative director of the Conamara Cultural Institute said; ‘The notion of walking on a trail is age old, this walk is unique and a period for reflection’’.

In 2015, Conamara Environmental Education & Cultural Centre (CEECC) invited President Michael D. Higgins to contribute a poem for the trail. He generously gave ‘The Prophets are Weeping’, the first poem he had written since taking office four years previously.

Leo Hallissey of CEECC commented; ‘We are engaged in a journey of restoration, moving from a period of darkness and cruelty to a place of kindness, creativity, and welcome. To quote from President Michael D. Higgins’s poem, ‘a shared space of love and care, above all for the stranger’.

The accompanying CD will feature music by composed by Conor Keane with 40 young musicians from all over Connemara and their music teachers, Marie Walsh, Mary Bergin, Yvonne Kane,
Liz Kane and Micheál Ó Cuaig.

There is also a mesmerising song called ‘Johnny Seoighe’ sung by 16-year-old Séamus Ó Flatharta.

The Letterfrack Poetry Trail book and CD is published by Artisan House and will be available in leading bookshops and on the website www.artisanhouse.ie .

For additional information visit www.culturalconnemara.com

 

For additional information about Conamara Bog Week please contact Pamela Finn @ Think PR – 091 79 25 26 OR 087 9004145 – email; pam@thinkpr.ie