Leaning into Greyness

I decided that I’d do everything in my power to embrace ‘greyness’ this November as it’s a colour I’ve always disliked and associated with this eleventh month of the year, mugginess, flatness, boredom, downness and even depression.

I’ve spent the last week pretty much preoccupied by grey. It started with noticing the number of my kitcheny things that are grey ~ saucepans, whisks, cutlery, kettle. Then, there seemed to be grey cars everywhere, including mine, and it’s a symbol of freedom so I certainly don’t have any problem with that.

Lines of grey poetry came flashing into my mind and, much to my surprise, they all seemed to come from poems that I truly love, like W.B. Yeats’ When You Are Old, Patrick Kavanagh’s Stony Grey Soil, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot. Absolutely nothing there to complain about either.

So, I decided to tackle greyness in nature. Grey hair jumped into my mind with a serious leap but was softened very quickly when I remembered my father’s lovely silvery hair of his later years and how he brushed it with such care with his old-fashioned square hairbrush with no handle.

I’ve devoted a week now to trying to take photographs of greyness in nature. The other day, I made a beeline for Garrarus Beach when it seemed like the day had forgotten to wake up and there were big grey clouds hanging low. But, even these clouds refused to be dull and brought all sorts of shades with them.


Before I knew it, this is what opened up before me:

Garrarus Beach Awakening
Garrarus Beach Awakening

It was hard not to think of childhood days messing around with poster paints as I watched the grey turn to white and, later on and further along the coast, it was the magical connections between white, black and silvery grey that came to mind:

Silvery Sea at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford
Silvery Sea at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford

Yes, you’ve guessed, grey has lost its doom and gloom to me. It’s forced me to think of things like shades and contrasts. It seems that grey, like some people,  likes to play a background role and let other colours have the limelight.

Heartfelt Background
Heartfelt Background

I’d love to hear your thoughts about ‘grey’ and ‘greyness.’  







Saying ‘Goodbye’ with Poetry

Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

Everyone has their own way of saying ‘Goodbye’ and it should have come as no surprise to me that my mother would want to speak through poetry. After all, we tended to converse in poetry about practically everything from making shopping lists to the meaning of life.

After she died this day five years ago, our ‘big sister’ divulged that Mother had  asked for a specific  poem be read at her simple funeral service. It served, and continues to serve, as a truly powerful message to me, especially as I have the good fortune to live by the sea here in Co. Waterford.

I’m glad to say that the sun is beaming as I re-read the poem and that my swimming gear is waiting in the hall!


Crossing the Bar

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.





Poems to be Seen and Not Just Heard ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 331

Poetry has long been one of my passions but it was only when I began reading it to my father during the last months of his life that I fully realised the extent to which some poems are so beautifully and carefully crafted that they beg to be seen, and not just heard,  for the masterpieces that they are.

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s, The Lady of Shallotwas one of Dad’s favourites and the more I read it , the more I came to love the way in which Tennyson used length of line to add extra dimensions to his work. This stanza is a dream that always has me seeing fondly-held streams and  rivers at high water:

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

River Nore at Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny
River Nore at Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny

And what of E.E. Cummings and the way he uses spacing and parentheses to lend meaning and emphasis? The contrast between the lone i fear and the final line with words and characters cuddling as close, close can be:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

The Power of Poetry ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 253

Newtown Wood, Tramore, C. Waterford.
Newtown Wood, Tramore, C. Waterford.

Poetry is one of my burning passions in life and today marks the second anniversary of a Poetry Thread which I started on the Linkedin Group: TED, Ideas Worth Spreading.

The poetry thread is all about sharing published poems or lines of poetry which have special significance and it has woven a wonderful tapestry of connections all around the world.  People come and go; there are regulars and there are visitors but the Poetry Thread is an oasis of peace and catharsis.

One of the many things that draws me closer and closer to poetry is the extent to which it serves up helping after helping on every conceivable topic, thing, event, emotion …

I would go as far as to say that I live my life through poetry and even as I write this I find poems and  lines floating in and out of my head.  I’m sure poetry lovers will have thought of a few possibilities already like  W.B. Yeats’ The Lake Isle of Innisfree and Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott.

It gives me immense pleasure when newcomers to the Poetry Thread say that they see now how much poetry has to offer and that they feel the day isn’t complete unless they have read at least one poem.

Today, one poem by Seamus Heaney dominated my mind after seeing the berries on the rowan trees here in Newtown Wood in Tramore:


A rowan like a lipsticked girl.
Between the by-road and the main road
Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance
Stand off among the rushes.

There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.

(From Seamus Heaney: Opened Ground ~ Poems 1966-1996)

Spring in Romantic Tramore


This evening I realised that winter is over and that spring has finally sprung. I felt that tingle of excitement at the prospect of new beginnings when I caught a glimpse of springtime down the Prom  shortly before 6pm.  The beach had its spring glow –  that special sheen that one only seems to catch at this time of year.

Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who felt the change in the air. Out in Garrarus, a man was happily looking for treasures in among the rockpools; families were enjoying the mild air and dogs were bounding along the beach. All the while, there was the sound of birds chirping and the fields around Tramore will soon present us with that most wonderful sight, newborn lambs under their mothers’ watchful eyes.

With the arrival of spring, I can’t but think of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s line: In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.’ It is hard to think of a place that holds more for the romantic, than Tramore itself. I challenge anyone to find a ‘A Lover’s Walk’, which is as beautiful and historic as Lover’s Walk out by Newtown Wood. It’s hardly a coincidence that there is an abundance of wild gorse, which shows yellow all year, growing along ‘Lover’s Walk.’ Whenever I pass it, I think of how my late mother would always say:  ‘When the gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of season.’

Lover’s Walk, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Or what about Tramore’s , ‘Love Lane’, with its special proximity to the sea and to that den of romance, Tramore Tennis Club. And, come to think of it, Tramore has its very own historic Gallwey’s heart-shaped chocolates.

While there is a lovely predictability about spring, trees in bud, snowdrops, primroses in the hedgerows, daffodils, lengthening days, the comings and goings of St Patrick’s Day, it can be full of surprises and new beginnings.

Without doubt one of the most unexpected things to happen me in springtime was eleven years ago, when I brought my then five-year-old son down to Tramore GAA Club to see if hurling might appeal to him. I had no background whatever in hurling, having spent my formative years, immersed in tennis, in non-hurling counties like Westmeath, Monaghan and Louth. Little did I realise that day, back in spring 2001, that I would be entering a whole new world.

Tramore GAA Club welcomed us with open arms and there I discovered what can only be described as a dynamic hub of sport, camaraderie and community. Hurling certainly did take the young man’s fancy, and ten years on, I am still stunned by the extent to which hurling and Tramore’s, Michael Mac Craith Club, which has a history stretching way back to 1885, became so fundamental to our lives.

Tramore GAA Club

The stretch in the evenings will soon bring the sight of hard-fought matches down in the grounds at Riverstown, the echo of hurls clashing, team mates calling, coaches encouraging, half-time drinks, supporters cheering, that piercing sound of the referee’s whistle, the clatter of the metal studs as the spent teams – ours in the blue and white of Tramore, make their way to the dressing-rooms to either celebrate or console, but never losing sight of the bonds of friendship that are tightened with every match between both team mates and ‘opponents.’

A tough winter is behind us now. Tramore is already dressing up for spring and presenting us with so much to savour. I’m just wondering what surprises are in store, what new beginnings are ahead in this special town of ours that has such an abundance of human energy and natural beauty.

Galloping on Tramore Beach