Creative Engagement 2014 Poetry workshops with poet Noel Monahan at St Patrick’s College, Cavan.
All poems written by students from 1st, 2nd and 5th year classes.  A selection of these poems with illustrations by 30 Art Class students under the guidance of artist Jackie O’Neill can be viewed in the College by appointment.



The door is bolted shut

There’s no way out

I long to get

To the other side

To reach that

Far off place

Inside my head.


Meanwhile I am stuck here

Waiting for a new poem

To walk across the page.


PETER WATSON, 5-2-2014.


We venture up the Mournes,

My family and I,

To conquer these ancient giants,

Sun beating down on our backs,

Our legs tire, muscles ache

As we rest beside the Great Mourne Wall.


“ ‘Twas built by prisoners a century ago”

My uncle says.

In my mind’s eye I see them

Trudging up the peaks

Each one carrying stones,

The rain pelting down on them

To increase the hardship

And I realise how easy we have it

These days.



MY ROOM        5-2-2014.

Lined with posters, photos and books

Memories haunt me.


My desk, my workplace

In perfect order,

Books to one side, stationary to the other.


My laptop in the centre


A corner for music

Where my trumpet lies

Sheets of music scattered round.


And finally my bed

Freshly made with new sheets.

A place to rest.


All this inside my bedroom

A place I call my own.


 GREAT-GRANDA               PETER WATSON 13-2-2014.

Memories of Pringles

And of football too

Inside now for Fanta

Backout for round two

Little else I remember

Apart from his face

Happy memories,

That none can replace.




FOR LACK OF A BETTER NAME            5-2-2014.

In like a lion

Out like a lamb

The sun creaking

Over the cranking tree line

Crisp underfoot

A beautiful frost

A secluded world

With me and my thoughts.


A kick of a ball

The unpredictable bounce

The crunch of my boots

As I run and pounce

A last gasp, tackle

Steam in the air

My exertions evident

The wetness of my hair.

And the bare trees smile

At the merciful wind

The goalposts slick with frost

As I strike a last gasp score.


David English                        5-2-2014.

The Daggan Fort

I clambered to the Daggan Fort

Sunlight seeps through leafy support.

Old settlements around here

Reach back two thousand years to a time of fear.


Blades slicing through skin

Weapons sharpened till thin.

The fort drained of its purity,

Souterrains to evade insecurity.


Back to the forest for a peaceful life

Parting from insanity, wielding sword and knife,

The desolate feel, interrupted by wind

Causing trees to shiver, each movement twinned.


Experiences lived from us to them

Daggan fort’s history has come to an end,

Yet the past sings through the leaves

Echoes climb the limbs of trees.


Tomás McPhillips


Two pheasants pecking … pecking …

One far                        One near

One worthwhile          The other

I can’t be sure.

Yet I would be glad of either

With this gun in my hand

One lucky shot           That’s all

To pick my pheasant trophy up.



LACK OF QUACK                  5-2-2014.

Behind Donal’s field lies

Fernan’s duck pond,

A free range for the —-

Who cannot seem to afford it.

This beautiful landscape

With the brown bog

Purple bushes, green rolling hills

Yet another place built for a purpose

That has no real purpose.




Packie Mac, legend of the long lonesome lane.

A man who has probably seen too much

But still manages to care.

Propped up in his armchair

Indulging in saorview’s documentaries

A step up from the black and white eight.


A man who could stack hay

Or use a hand plough and now left clipping

A section of the hedge.

He collects trinkets that connect

Him back to the old days.


Yes Packie Mac is fond of stout

And when the pension comes he goes

Down to Brady’s pub to

Remember what he had and

Forget what he’s left with.





Light crests the hill

Spills down the slope

Illuminating a green spread

Of grass waving in the wind.


Horses champ, savouring

A delicious taste,

Carefree , they look about,

Champ and look once more.


A stallion trots down

To the lake edge.

He senses something’s happening

Some danger lies ahead.


Beneath the sparkling water

Where the swans plunge their beaks

Lie bloated bodies

Pale hollow cheeks. 





Constant currents

All the watery paths

Where leaves

Float past the fields,

Float past the ruins

Of long abandoned houses.

And the eye of the sky

Looks down with rain and mist

On a boat as it drifts by.



Sketches and books

Fill the spaces.

A stringed instrument

Stands in the corner

Longing for someone

To play it.


MUSE                         PATRICK GAFFNEY

Unorganised, a jumbled mess

Charming, playful, never at rest.

Her beauty unseen, out of sight

Creative and kind, helpful, shy

But twisted and cruel

In the blink of an eye.





The sun is high in the sky

Green leaves fluttering

Birds fly past.

My friend suggested

That I should climb to the top

Branches, then hop

Down to a lower one.


I hop down and pick one

Unripe pear. It tastes so sour,

The flesh is gritty and tough.

I always regret the first bite.

It wasn’t like the cherry

My favourite dark red berry.

The cherry was ripe by July

Is it too much to ask the pear

To follow the cherry every year?




My granddad lives in Latvia,

Near a tiny lake

We used to swim there

But not any more.


Occasionally he forgets his glasses

Or his pale blue phone

But recently ha has been

As active as a stone.


He is very cheerful …

But only sometimes

When he laughs his face scrunches up

Like he had just ate a bunch of limes.

We have had much fun,

But he truly is exhausted,

More often than not

He was great while he lasted.




My bedroom is my palace,

A place just for me

With its old oak wardrobe

A bed so comfy

Feels like I’m floating on air.

My bedroom’s dimly lit

With moonlight

Creeping through the garden trees.



They gather for football

On warm summer evenings.

The sky is red as blood

Smoke rises from the barbecues

Smells of steak,


Juicy hamburgers

Invade the football pitch.

It’s hard to keep an eye on the ball

On warm summer evenings.




When my friends

Seem indignant with me

And when I feel as if I am

A nobody

There is a place!


A place where I am more than

A somebody

A place where I am respected

A place where I feel

I belong

A place where everyone cares

And looks out for me

A place called





I sit here thinking

How can I

Be known like all

The famous actors and stars


Should I change my braid

And make it as sleek as Ronaldo’s

Should I change my attitude

And be as whimsical as Mr. Bean

Should I change my attire

And make it as prancey as Michael Jackson



What am I talking about?

I don’t need to adjust who I am

What more superior can I be






I sat there looking through the window

Staring blankly at the oaks, ash, willow …

Wondering who or what might venture

Through the wood tonight.


From up here I can see everything

Up here all is clear and calm

Even the night sky is bright

The moon is full.

If only everything was as simple

As my little tree house

In the trees.




Same thing every week

Just a bit different every day

Walk to class … to class … to do …

The same thing every day


A test much the same, just in a

Different way

Expected to get A’s

Always a pest every day


Come home to do the same

The same thing you did all day


And it starts all over again

With a loud beep and a sharp shout

We go round and round every day.




Every morning she climbs the hill

To see her hens in their pen,

Collecting eggs, maybe two or three


One morning while collecting eggs,

Slam … Bang …

She hit the ground.

Nobody there just her faithful hens


Now with her stick

Can’t walk so

She can’t see her three faithful hens


And she longs for the day

When she will return to see

Her three hens again.




That clanging bell once again

And we wrestle for paper and pen

Computers stutter, students mutter

Just another day at school.


Cold eyes scan the room

We know the impending doom

When they decipher the little whispers

Just another day at school.


The lunch bell rings out at 12.30

Stampede of feet down the corridors

Eyes gape, mouths champ

Just another day at school.


The final bell sings and the halls fill

It’s one big special thrill,

Books sorted, rush for buses and cars

Another day ends at school.


GARRY O’ROURKE            5-2-2014.


Standing on top of a hill

Memories return

Stories told and untold

Of games past.


My mind drifts with the breeze

The fun has been taken

From the sport,

It’s all serious now,

Coaches mouthing instructions

Fans with high expectations

And here I am in the middle of the field

The hills shout

“ Can anyone find their way out?”.



O how I remember him,

Old bent back and fake hip,

Yet he never missed his walk.


I’d always spot his faint shadow,

On his daily morning stroll

Scuddling to town and back.


Always kind,

The door left half open,

For all to enter.


A small farm

At the end of the road,

A dozen chickens, an old cow.


I remember that dark day

The local priest sang his praises

But words never bring you back.


Yet his memory lingers on.




On misty moonlit midnights

When all asleep is dreaming

Claws firmly perched on an oak branch,

Famished, it watches for a midnight meal

It’s fiery eyes are beaming bulbs

It x-rays the drumlins in darkness bright

And in the distance; a grass blade

Those beady eyes transfix with death

In a radiant rainbow of white

It wistfully swoops at ease like the wind.

The poor creature has no hope, dumb to the event

Crushing claws, binding, squeezing, like tight interwoven ropes

For in the misty moonlit drumlins

Claws firmly perched on an oak branch,

Snow- white feathers stained in blood

It tears flesh to the bare bone,

And happily hoots its eerie tune.


ADAM MCENROE               5-2-2014


Through dense undergrowth I venture,

And stumble across my childhood

It’s wheel wedged in moss

The walls gnarled and etched

Death confirmed, yet the soul lingers

In creaks and waterways of the past,

Muffled whispers of workers,

Water frames grinding, never silent,

I hear the echoes of children,

  • Their souls at play.

Glade of twilight, twinkling stars

From the depths an outline appears

  • Horses stamp impatiently,

Men at work loading sweat and tears

Wives shouting orders.


Another night – work silenced

Children stop and scatter like swallows,

Horses stamp no more

Flowing soot rises no more.


Someone end this twilight game,

My pen’s without ink

And cannot sketch this waterwheel

The song of gushing water is drowning my dream.




DARKEST ROOM                  5-2-2014.

My room – just a room,

Holds a secret close to my heart

For abreast from my window

Lies a throne from where

My friend radiates.


My energy needs to open

Your chest of jewels:

Ruby red, sapphire blues, emerald green, canary yellow…

You light this room so dark

Till it is silent and safe.


Paintings come alive on the walls

Flames conjure images of deer and hounds,

With you my books burn to films,

My radio turns on the TV

My poetry melts into plays.


Flickering flames

Hide my hidden shadows

Of malevolent intent

Hunger for ash, hurt, burn, boil, murder …


These fiery flames:

My fore, my friend and secret



DARK DEPTHS                    ADAM MCENROE

Upon the shimmering sun

I journeyed along a moss cobbled path

Till I stumbled upon a solitary cottage

At the porch I met its master.


Swaying to and fro on a rocking chair,

Pipe in his mouth

Drowned in clouds of smoke.


And he rattled out tales, stories, songs too

My father powerful, my mother noble

My eyes rested on his books about:


Riches, diamonds, true-love ,race horses too

My mind confused

The locals smirked

Gambler my boy

He’d say to me

The rock that dragged him down

To these dark depths.


I shuffled my feet in nervous silence.

As the pearl white candle

Accentuated his deep etched skin

And these were the channels of regret.


For suns shatter like glass to stars

And I find myself upon a familiar threshold,

Looking in at this

Cold pale mannequin

Eyes closed, hands folded, dressed in his usual



The wrists confirmed Dr. Reilly

To my father

A fool, a simpleton, God will punish him, They’d say

They need not have known,


For I his last sacrament

His only friend

As he confessed to me

Truths from his hopeless heart.


And down a moss cobbled path

Lies a lonely cottage,

The rocking chair sways no more.





A poor pale blue

Black holds its iron valuables.


It is growing like an infant

Children dance, and then



A white crib holds the most sacred one.




 Immediate as a guillotine those

Dark words.

A shadow gobbled me up,

It rose like a miracle.


I am not at all miraculous

I melted into the black decorum


It reached out to me, with its


Multitudinous hands:

Some were cold – old – dire!

Some were intriguingly warmer.


Some of its faces stank of smoke

And alcohol

The thick-lidded eyes, crinkling


The crowed cords choked by



My mouth evoked the words it wanted

While sour tears passed my


I swiped them away like how one



Destroy something that was


In front of me were two heads

Affixed with petals: purple with

Beady orange irises.


Sleeping beneath them were shrubs

Their bodies rising in elegant

Defined knots.

They hoard memories within their


I am similar. I am comparable.

But I’m no plant!

Voices completed the mantra


I aided the chant, ambivalent about


The bible clutched between zealous


Seemed enormous to me.


Powerful. Black as an oil spill.

Blacker than a witch.


It tended to be the murderers in glass.




War has begun,

I leave my homework to listen

To the 6 o’clock news,

Horror and burning issues,

Shooting has once more

Invaded people’s hearts.

Only a few shall survive

Shocking scenes, dreadful war

An expedition awaits,

Soldiers desperately ready

Blind darkness, numerous soldiers will

Kill or be killed

Days pass, pass, pass …

But the bloody war continues

When will it end?

When it ends a great fear will lift

But what about the ruined lives

What about the ruined homes?




As the little girl

Looked out the window

She saw the first snowflakes

Fall one after another

Slowly at first but steadily

Falling and piling about

The window pane

Now the little girl

Looks out from a white frame.




There once was a fellow named Dan,

But Dan was not a man,

His wife found out,

And things went South

And now Dan is a nan.



THE SLENDER WOOD            5-2-2014.

July evening at the pitch

My friend and I crossed a ditch


Something’s turning in,

Dusk engulfs

Evening inferno

Of yellow embers glow,

Stars so small peep out


At the abandoned house.

An old organ slumbers

The floored ceiling turns over


At five to eleven,

The spiral staircase climbs

Into the dark of night

The stone walls breathe

A last breath.



His name is John

He walks along

Day by day

The maker of an fdk song.


With a bag on his back

Along the footpath

Whistling his tune

Killing stones with his wrath.


A pious boy; I think not

He pals around with his dreadlocks,

A waste of oxygen

He’s been called far worse


A boy with intelligence, one hundred and thirty

His surroundings and buddies, not so lucky

The jail cell compliments him

That thing he did, a monster’s work

It takes a monster to make a monster

Satan’s cell

He dwells in hell.




A night so tranquil

Quiet as a mouse

It came, creaked and crept

All the way to the top.


A flip-toe here and a flip-toe there

Is that a noise I hear?

Phew, said the mouse, where to next?

And he took, never thinking, never considering.


He froze, face like snow

He froze, hands a bright scarlet.

A night so tranquil

Quiet like a mouse.


But for this unfortunate

His innocence




THE STORM                       5-2-2014.

It drizzled, poured, lashed …

Torturing all caught outdoors

In Ballyhaise, ford of rapid waters.


Rubbish bins tossed, thrown

Street lamps flickered like Christmas lights

Babies cried, elders prayed


Go on then

Puff, Puff, Puff

Blow the house down if you can

I don’t give a damn!




Empty corridors echo

Echo through the night

Echoes of long forgotten teachers

Echoes of student-footsteps

Rushing past in the dead darkness

Of night.


Echoes everywhere

In the empty ink-wells

The few remaining empty desks

Doors locked and bolted

Echo silence throughout

The night.



INSIDE/OUTSIDE               5-2-2014.

The four corners of my bedroom

Have shadows hiding from the light,

The light of the moon

That shines while I sleep,

A light that shines on

My books strewn about the bedroom floor

Since the night before.


A winter’s night

Snow falls through the moonlight

Making the bare black branches





The wind whistled

The rain fell

Leaves left the trees

And flurried across the sky.


Birds refused to fly

A gust of wind

Rang the church bell

Frogs croaked hymns

Like prayers from hell.



OUTSIDE/ INSIDE                          5-2-2014.

Sounds of hammers outside

Clanging against iron

Mix with the purr of my mother

Churning in the kitchen.

Birds on the wall

The curtains drawn,

I spot a fawn running across the lawn.



THE CROSS WITH NO NAME                 5-2-2014.

This is an odd crossroads

Far in Cordalae.

In Winter, Summer, Autumn, Spring,

It always looks the same.


Same twigs broken up

Like bits of sand

From the coming and going

Of cars on the crossroads without a name.


A perfect view of the landscape

That runs down to the lake

That ripples and swirls in the wind

Alongside the crossroads with no name.



THE BRIDGE                        5-2-2012.

Sky blue,

Brick red,

Watery green

Its frame holds

Worlds together

North and South.


BED                                        5-2-2014.

As soon as I lie

Flat on its back

I know nothing

Can hurt me.

In some strange way

The bed knows that




He grapes hay bedding

For the sheep

With one good hand

The other hangs limply by his side.


He watches his cattle graze

Under a half moon

With one good eye

The other has no colour

In a black and white world.


He hobbles on crutches

Back to his house

One good leg

The other painful

And if you half- believe this

You’ll half-believe anything.



THE KITCHEN TABLE                   5-2-2014.

There’s nothing like a dinner

With family and friends

But if it’s not my favourite

It makes me cringe instead.


I love the kitchen table,

The tablecloth is slick

And if the placemats are tattered.

So what! That makes it home.


And the wind and the rain outside

Make the inside look better,

Makes it feel like home.



Granddad died when I was four

He was crippled and could hardly walk,

Yet he never let it get him down

He seldom complained, if ever.


I can’t imagine what it’s like

I really really can’t

Yet on both sides of my family

Arthritis hits home and there’s more …

Heart complaint, even the squints


We have all been beleaguered by

Inflammation of the joints

Poor, poor us! even Geraldine and Rose!

But they’ll never suffer as much as poor granddad did.




Staring into wide open space


Pen between my lips, fingers, on the table

Back to my lips and fingers …

My thoughts everywhere

Climbing mountains, surfing waves,

Thoughts of happiness, sadness

Hospital beds, the lotto numbers: 3   8   34

Memories of family and friends,

Of times past: visiting Aunt Kitty…

I think of cities full of buses, trucks and vans

Of narrow twisty roads through bog-lands.


I look and see if the page is full

My thoughts continue, I look again

At last the page is full

My daydream’s over.


GRANNIE                              DANIEL WATSON 

She’s in the kitchen baking scones,

In the lounge telling jokes,

In the garden planting flowers

As if twenty one years old.


Memories live on, I remember

When her grey hair started to show,

The laughter in her deep blue eyes,

Smiles gently as she cares for me.


A civil servant,

Her heart was always at home

With children, grandchildren …

Lovingly listening and laughing.


Grannie is always there,

A shoulder to lean on,

A teacher to depend on,

A friend to trust.




A crowd gathers

For a bashing brawl

Both boys in opposite corners

Both standing tall.


Silence descends

Whispers flit from

One to one

A shout from the look-out

“Headmaster’s coming”.


Panic runs rife

As the crowd scatters

In all directions, the headmaster

Left in the ring alone.


WAR               LUKE BUCKLEY 

War cut

The treads of our society

War slashed

Away at family ties

War takes lives of millions

And all because of one person

With short black hair

And the temper of a swan

And now he’s gone.


Now war is over

Or is it?

Perhaps it has

Only just begun

We can’t stop war

But we can try

T o prevent it.


HOOLIGAN               SEAN TRAYNOR     11-2-2014.

 He walked this stadium cold

With drunken brawls left untold,

Cussing the ref for every mistake.

He is totally brash,

Even more than his cash.


His wife has plenty to fear,

When he goes out for a beer.

The lights flash

And the police bash

His head upon the bonnet.


By day he is openly scorned,

But at night you better be warned.

If you don’t want a bash

Then stay out of his patch

As London is his throne.


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