L to R: Philip McDonagh with Minister Micheál Martin, TD
INTRODUCING THE POET, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, T.D., spoke of his pleasure at being asked to launch the book.
"I always consider it a great gift to be able to write poetry in any form," he said, "and to write poetry of this quality in particular. Poetry can bring tranquility, peace, reflection; it can be a little oasis. And you'll be glad to know," he went on with a smile, "as I said to Philip on the way in, that I was reading his poetry during the Fianna Fáil Parliamentry Party forty minutes ago, and it was a wonderful contrast actually..." At which point the room exploded in laughter.
The Minister also spoke of the fact that much of McDonagh's new collection is inspired by his previous diplomatic postings, in India, in Rome in the Holy See and in Finland, and noted that the double role of poet/diplomat is one that is well understood in the Department of Foreign Affairs.
"You may also read into that that the Secretary General and myself, when we're considering postings ... take particular care to make sure that locations can become the inspiration point of great poetry. I take it that Colm McCarthy of An Bord Snip is not in the audience..." More laughter.
Recalling poet/diplomats such as Valentine Iremonger, he noting that the current Irish Ambassador in Prague, Richard Ryan, is also a poet. He also reminded his audience that the current President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, is a poet. "He specialises in haikus, a Japanese form of 3 lines and only 17 syllables... My life would be much neater if all ambassadors confined their reports to just 17 syllables," he quipped.
L to R: Dr Marie Bourke, Keeper and Head of Education at NGI, and Joseph Woods of Poetry Ireland
Among those present at the event, at which McDonagh read a number of poems from the book, were His Excellency Mikhail Timoshkin, Ambassador of Russia to Ireland; Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney and husband Brian Geoghegan; Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy and Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman; Dr. Thomas Kabdebo, translator and former Director of the Library at NUI, Maynooth; Joseph Woods of Poetry Ireland; David Cooney, Secretary General at the Department of Foreign Affairs; Sinéad MacAodha of Ireland Literature Exchange; teacher and poetry-advocate, Niall McMonagle; Panchali Mukherji, Calcutta-born contributor to the recent Dedalus anthology, Landing Places: Immigrant Poets in Ireland; Dedalus poets Gerard Smyth (also of The Irish Times) and Iggy McGovern; Paddy Doherty of the recently established Puffin Ireland imprint; regular Dedalus supporters Danny Rogers, Liam O'Reilly and Dardis Clarke, among others; and a significant number of the poet's family, friends and colleagues.
L to R: Panchali Mukherji, Danny Rogers, and Raffaela Tranchino (Dedalus Press)
Our thanks to Dr Marie Bourke, Keeper and Head of Education, and all at NGI for their welcome.
L to R: Philip McDonagh signs copies of The Song the Oriole Sang
All photographs © Pat Boran
AudioRoom Podcast No. 1To listen to Philip McDonagh reading at the launch of The Song the Oriole Sang, follow the link to download or subscribe to the new Dedalus Press AudioRoom podcast here. To subscribe using iTunes, selecte Application/iTunes from the drop-down menu option. Alternatively, visit the iTunes Music Store and search for AudioRoom: New Writing from Ireland or simply for 'Dedalus Press'.
Further information on The Song the Oriole Sang here