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Patricia Moriarty, the UL Arts Officer at the old postbox in Mountshannon. Photograph by John Kelly

A little bit of poetry in the post for 1,000 Clare homes

ONE THOUSAND homes in East Clare received a Poetry Day surprise on Thursday (April 29), courtesy of Scariff Post Office and University of Limerick (UL) Arts Officer, Patricia Moriarty.
Across the county boundary, a further 1,000 homes will have what Patricia described as “a side serving of poetry,” with their deliveries from meals on wheels services in Limerick.
“Every year, Poetry Ireland produces Pocket Poems, where poets create work that’s printed on postcards,” Patricia explained.
“Last year, because of the pandemic, they didn’t do the print run, but I had the mad idea during lockdown to ask Scariff Post Office to deliver 500 postcards to those cocooning if I could get 500 printed.
“I left the destination of the cards up to the delivery staff, because they know the people on their route. One of the poems was about a woman breast-feeding at night and the postman delivered it to a young mother locally.
“I got a lovely text from her saying how the card had really helped her to feel more connected during the lockdown.
“Ordinarily, the UL Arts Office would be involved in all kinds of projects with students and staff, as well as outreach to with wider local community,” said Patricia.
“During the lockdowns, so many people were isolated at home and having to cocoon was very difficult and a real issue.
“Receiving the Pocket Poems really seemed to mean a lot to people during that time.”
Buoyed up by the response in 2020, for this year’s initiative Patricia approached a number of students on the Creative Writing MA programme at UL.
“Five students took part and we’ve combined their work with literature from Poetry Ireland, who devised this year’s theme – New Directions, Maps and Journeys,” Patricia said.
“This time around, we’re calling ‘Pocket Poems Posted, 2,000 Homes, 2,000 Poems’.
“One thousand poems are for delivery in East Clare and the other 1,000 through meals and wheels organisations in Limerick,” she added.
“The whole idea is to bring poetry into communities and in times past, sharing poems would have been something people did routinely. Irish people have such a love of literature.
“All of the poems are on the Poetry Day Ireland theme for 2021 and I think that will really strike a chord with people.
“In addition to the postcards, I’ll be putting some posters up in windows in Mountshannon and Whitegate so that people will be able to get to see them.”
Patricia, a Dublin native, but Mountshannon resident for the last 20 years also paid tribute to the enthusiasm and support of Scariff Post Office.
“They have been so helpful and supportive and I’m conscious that those who deliver the post know those who have been cocooning. It also highlights the role that rural post offices play in reaching out to the community.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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