Tullamore Rhymers’ Club took to the road when they headed to Banagher for the annual ‘ Readings From The Pallet ‘ poetry evening.
The event, which celebrated its 19th ( -ish! Official ‘ records ‘ and memories vary somewhat! ) birthday this year, was, as always, held in Corrigan’s Corner House in the Shannon-side town. Proving ever more true with each passing year, the ‘ Pallet ‘ remains one of Offaly’s lesser known literary gems, providing as it does not only a stage for poets of all backgrounds and styles, but as importantly, it never fails to draw in an appreciate, supportive and respectful audience keen to hear what the poets have to say.
And in that regard this year was no different. With the evening emceed and opened, as tradition has come to dictate, by the good George Smith, a man who is himself a huge part of ‘ Pallet ‘ history, the night touched on almost every emotion that could reach or dwell within the human heart. And all the while, as the poet’s each took their turns to step upon the ancient pallet, more altar to the written word than merely a stage, and bravely bared their souls thereon beneath the spotlight’s glow, the hush of those below remained unbroken, save for the occasional, almost whispered words of praise and encouragement.
For the Tullamore Rhymers’ Club, the trip to Corrigan’s has become a poetic pilgrimage as each year reaches the bridge between summer and autumn. Two members, Banagher native and former overall winner of the ‘ Readings From The Pallet ‘ , Thomas Carty, and Lusmagh man Anthony Sullivan, have been regular visitors for many’s a year. In 2011 they were joined by fellow poet and clubman, Ken Hume, from Tullamore. Ken’s first visit, coming soon after the publication of his first collection, ‘ Snowstorm Of Doubt And Grace ‘, a joint effort with his mother, Catriona, ended with him taking home the award for ‘ Best Visiting Poet ‘.
This year the Rhymers’ Club were represented by a five man contingent. Joining the ‘ Pallet ‘ veterans Carty and Sullivan were, once again, Ken Hume, and two first-timers ; Clara’s own Seamus Kirwan, and young William Rimes, better known to all as Willie! While poor Willie was sadly beset by a sore throat which kept him from performing, there was no holding back the rest of Tullamore’s Rhymers! And by the night’s end the journey had become more than just another exceptional experience of wordly wonder for all who had taken part and been present.
For the Rhymers’ Club, it was a night when they made their own small little piece of ‘ Pallet ‘ history as Seamus Kirwan become the second member of the club to be honoured as overall winner of the ‘ Readings From The Pallet. ‘ Seamus, whose first collection of poetry, essays and reflections, the very aptly titled ‘ Ravings Of A Mad Irishman ‘ is published next month, was declared joint overall winner with Tom ‘ Chick ‘ Cleary, a son of Banagher, although thirty plus years since adopted by the Netherlands.
Reasons to celebrate for the Rhymers’ didn’t end there, however, as Ken Hume was also singled out for the, ‘ Most Inspiring Poem ‘, on the night, a sensitively crafted and touching ode to his father.
Speaking after the event, Thomas Carty praised his fellow clubmen on their achievements. ” Anyone who enjoyed hearing Shay’s ( Seamus ) work tonight will love his book which is coming out next month. He has a unique way with words and a turn of phrase that’s almost classical in many ways, but is also very much his own. He deserves tonight’s recognition and coming from the ‘ Pallet ‘ judges, it’s something to treasure, as Corrigan’s on ‘ Pallet ‘ night is always a listening room. “
Continuing, Mr. Carty added, ” Myself, Tony and Wille are also thrilled that Ken picked up another award here tonight. Ever since the publication of his first collection last year, Ken’s writing has been maturing and developing into a style that’s very markedly his and his alone. What he writes has started to carry his ‘ writer’s dna ‘ , if you like. And not just from time to time, but almost every time, and I think tonight is further proof of that. “
Anthony Sullivan took the opportunity to praise Corrigan’s Bar and all the organisers of, and participants in, the event. ” Great credit is due to people like George, Sean, Father Brian and Dave, who put so much into making the ‘ Pallet ‘ the kind of special evening it always is. It’s always an honour to come here and have the chance to read before such a respectful and knowing audience. There’s no airs and graces, nor should there be. That’s all too often the problem with poetry. But the ‘ Pallet ‘ does it right, keeps it simple and that’s why it’s lasted so long and works so well. Long may it continue and roll on 2013. We can’t wait to come back! “
* Tullamore Rhymers’ Club will mark National Poetry Day on October 4th with a morning of poetry reading and discussion with some students from the Sacred Heart in Tullamore Library. The Rhymers’ are also expected to take part in an evening event at the same venue. More details will be available closer to the date.
Seamus Kirwan’s first collection of poetry, ‘ Ravings Of A Mad Irishman ‘ will be launched on October 19th in Tullamore. Thomas Carty is planning to release his next collection early in the summer of 2013, while Anthony Sullivan hopes to publish his third collection in the autumn of next year.
Before then, however, the Tullamore Rhymers’ Club plan to publish the first in a series of chapbooks entitled, ‘ Under The Fading Lamp ‘, before Christmas.In Photo ( Back row, left to right ), Seamus Kirwan, Anthony Sullivan, ( Front row, left to right ) Ken Hume, Thomas Carty. Missing from photo; Willie Rimes.