As is to be expected, the Tullamore Rhymers Club took it in their stride – a double date of poetry inside a few short hours.
First up was a Mike Denver support slot where we opened the show by reading a poem each, to the enjoyment of the audience who were not expecting this feature as part of the gig. I read “Walking by Swans at Lough Sallagh” which suited the country music theme well enough!
The night was ably MC’d by Anthony Sullivan, who had arranged the gig, and we breached another bridgehead in the poetry world by fusing it with a seemingly very different genre. Anthony opened by reading the opening verse of Patrick Kavanaghs “On Raglan Road”, and proceeded then to explain how it started as a poem, and then was made into a song, and showed how songwriters, composers and poets are different siblings from the same family of the arts, before giving witty and complementary introductions to each reading artist.
In twenty minutes, it was all over, and the waiting and the wetting I got at Gaigue Cross in Ballinamuck was worth it. The bus service from Cavan to Longford heretofor ran by Wharton Travel has been stopped, so I was on Shanks Mare to reach Longford to catch a bus to Athlone to be in time for a connecting train to get me to Tullamore in time for the gigs, which I was anxious to do as I had given my word.
Far from being late, I ended up actually being early! And that in itself is a bit of a story!
I walked from the bottom of my lane to Gaigue Cross, thumbing a lift, with no luck which is unusual. While at Gaigue, the sky opened, and the wind grew chilly, so I said Id two choices, keep walking towards Drumlish, or give up and go to Ballinamuck and maybe get a taxi to Longford, a rather expensive option.
So I went in to the local pub, Dillons, and there got the most welcome bowl of soup and coffee Ive had in quite a while. When chatting with the locals, one offered a life to Mullingar as he was calling to see a friend in hospital. I was delighted, and managed to get the Sliabh Bloom Express for town from there! Now thats community spirit!
A quick change, and all was set. When in the Bridge House saw Simon Coveney conversing with who must be party folk, men dressed in suits. I wondered for a laugh to Anthony Sullivan was he down for our gig in the Tullamore Court!
Our reading at the Tullamore Court Hotel was followed by two brothers from Enniskillen, and then Marc Roberts and Sandy Kelly before the man himself took the stage. Mike Denver himself came up to us and congratulated us on the reading, as did Sandy Kelly, so it must have gone down OK.
After a celebratory drink with Anthony, we abandoned him to go to the second gig of the night “Scene of the Rhyme”, which was a gig of poetry and music akin to the “GlÃ³r” sessions that used to be ran in the International Bar by Stephen James Smith.
A brainchild of Cormac Lally, it unfortunately clashed with the Mike Denver gig, but a late start of “Scene of the Rhyme” allowed the Tullamore Rhymers Club appear at both! Oh, the pressures of Fame!!!
At this gig I read “St Bridgets Lament” and “Give to Me an Angry Sea“, to a crowd who were attentive to all the acts and appreciative of the offerings of culture put before them. David Mallaghan brought the house down with his pieces, and Richard Brennans recitation of every insult known to man “to insult everyone in the audience” as the final line went, brought a gret touch of irreverent humour to the proceedings.
There was a girl from New Orleans, whose poem to her hometown – with the line: “Home is where the heart is, though I dont have a home”, or words to that effect – was very moving, a girl from Dublin whose songs were akin to Sian Browne who used to play the International, local singer Eoin Martin, among others.”