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Monica Sterling

Monica’s poetry on a lifetime of memories

MONICA Stirling, who lives in Mullagh, has had a book of poetry published, somewhat against her will. Musings and Memories contains more than 70 poems, all written by Monica, who has been encouraged by Kilmurry-Ibrickane Active Retirement Group chairperson, Helen McGrath, to publish her work.
“I’ve been writing for years but most of them were under the bed and scattered around the house. And a lot of them have gone out in the rubbish,” Monica laughed.
Musings and Memories is Monica’s first collection of poetry.
“The active retirement group have been after me for a couple of years to put them together in book form. I was reluctant but they decided they’d get on with it themselves. There are 70-plus poems in it. They have been up and down for few days, trying to fit them in,” the retired nurse explained.
Monica and her husband, Bill, lived in Zambia for many years. She spent a year there in 1964/1965, before working in Limerick Regional Hospital for a decade. The couple then emigrated to Zambia, for a longer spell, in 1976.
“We came back to Ireland in 1990,” Monica recalled. Surprisingly, Zambia features only fleetingly in her new book.
“Very little of it. I’ve mentioned it in passing and there’s one funny poem about a fisherman getting a fish hook in his toe but that’s about it. The poems are generally about the old times. The cutting of the turf and the hay, the old hay floats, killing the pig, the floor bag and the tea chest. There are some funny ones in and out between them,” she noted.
Although she didn’t commit to it, Monica didn’t completely rule out penning a few lines about Clohanatina, the townland in Mullagh where she lives. There seems to be a few views as to where the name derives from.
“There’s a dispute about that. Some people say it’s the rock of the fire because there was stepping stones, on the river, where people used to cross in the old days. Other people tell me there’s a field called the Cloughan Field. The ‘cloughan’ was an old mud hut, as far as I know. Whether the old hut is where the fire used to be lit at night to show them where the stepping stones were, I’m not too sure about that,” Monica said.
As for Musings and Memories, Monica owes a debt of gratitude to Helen McGrath.
“Helen has cajoled me into doing everything I didn’t want to do, including having my photograph in the book. She has an awful lot of work put into it herself and I couldn’t refuse her,” she smiled.
Proceeds from sale of the book of poetry will be donated to the West Clare Cancer Centre in Kilkee.

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