RTÉ – Poem for Ireland


Jane on ‘Quarantine’ by Eavan Boland

“Boland reminds us that behind the stories of great events, there are stories which are no less powerful and important just becasue they are private.”
Jane on ‘Quarantine’ by Eavan Boland

Elizabeth on ‘Filleadh ar an gCathair’ by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

“Always reminds me of the journey back to the city after spending a relaxing weekend at home in the countryside.”
Elizabeth on ‘Filleadh ar an gCathair’ by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

Mary on ‘Making Love Outside Aras an Uachtaráin’ by Paul Durcan

“Because I love Paul Durcan's poetry. Sin é!”
Mary on ‘Making Love Outside Aras an Uachtaráin’ by Paul Durcan

Eileen on ‘A Christmas Childhood’ by Patrick Kavanagh

“Patrick Kavanagh captures the ethereal essence of Christmas in this poem. Simply brilliant.”
Eileen on ‘A Christmas Childhood’ by Patrick Kavanagh

Martin on ‘Dublin’ by Louis MacNeice

“Unforgettable. A remarkable piece of work capturing the spirit of the city.”
Martin on ‘Dublin’ by Louis MacNeice

Edward on ‘Fill Arís’ by Seán Ó Ríordáin

“"Powerful poem about identity, love of place and language; the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht, its people and language. Beautiful."”
Edward on ‘Fill Arís’ by Seán Ó Ríordáin

Rosie on ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks’ by Paula Meehan

“A moving comment about an event that changed the Ireland of the day. I can still be brought to tears when I read and think about the tragedy in Granard.”
Rosie on ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks’ by Paula Meehan

Rachel on ‘When All The Others Were Away At Mass’ by Seamus Heaney

“Heaney says that when you lose a loved one, you should not remember their dying moments, but the good times you had with them.”
Rachel on ‘When All The Others Were Away At Mass’ by Seamus Heaney

Martin on ‘Easter 1916’ by W.B. Yeats

“This poem still sends chills up my back. It tells the story of the most important event in modern Irish history.”
Martin on ‘Easter 1916’ by W.B. Yeats

Jim on ‘A Disused Shed in Co Wexford’ by Derek Mahon

“This poem resonates with the many less attractive aspects of our past and provides us with a timely reminder of our duty to remember.”
Jim on ‘A Disused Shed in Co Wexford’ by Derek Mahon

Videos

And finally...A Poem For Ireland


Six months, hundreds of poems and thousands of nominations, comments and votes later, the people have chosen their Poem for Ireland. At a ceremony in the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street on Wednesday March 11th 2015, President Michael D. Higgins announced that the people's chosen RTÉ A Poem For Ireland is Seamus Heaney's ‘When all the others were away at Mass’ [from Clearances in memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984]:

You can see the full announcement, in a very special edition of The Works, tonight at 8.30 on RTÉ One.

We'd like to thank the thousands and thousands of you who nominated poems, organised events, shared the project on Facebook and Twitter, or gave us your insights into the poems on this website. And we'd also sincerely like to thank the many incredible people on our jury and behind the scenes in Poetry Ireland, An Post, the National Library of Ireland and RTÉ; the students from Poetry Aloud whose perfomances of the ten poems have captivated audiences across the globe; and many, many more, whose hard work enabled these ten very special poems to reach the widest possible audience.

This project was all about putting poetry firmly at the heart of the national conversation. Let's keep it there.

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Recent Comments

“The poem 'Dublin' is very deep and meaningful, as it describes the ups and downs of our beautiful yet monstrous capital. We see it as an eye-catching and desirable place to live in, with it's grandeur and beautiful buildings. But, with all admirable things, comes their bad qualities. Dublin is not all that it looks, as it has a veil of mystery that entrances the reader and shows us the deeper, darker side of the city, with it's dodgy deals and dirty alleys. The poem caught my eye with it's lovely yet dark imagery, making it my favourite.”

Jennifer Breen voted for Dublin

“It's Seamus Heaney's 'simplicity' that really pulls the biggest punch! Having read all the poems, with most I had to remind myself to remain focused! But when I read 'When all the others were away at Mass' it was the only one to evoke a tear and a memory that flooded me with a sense of love, loneliness for my own mother and then a warm feeling that this is Irish, this is Ireland, all be it in a time that is fading.”

Deirdre Halpin voted for ‘When all the others were away at Mass’

“Always loved this poem from my national school days, I was lucky to have a wonderful teacher that explained its meaning, she taught us to read into words, applaud and wonder at his expertise at getting his message across. It is a poem for Ireland, an Ireland that started changing following Easter 1916.”

Mary O'Brien voted for Easter 1916

“A Disused Shed in Co Wexford teaches us that the victims of history must not be forgotten.”

Grainne voted for A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford

“Making Love Outside Áras an Uachtaráin captures the sense of struggle in a changing Ireland - and each generation changes the country to some greater or lesser extent. While earlier changes become established, younger generations rebel against that establishment, being so open about making love in public, but particularly outside the president's official residence.”

Brendan Strong voted for Making Love Outside Áras an Uachtaráin

“This was the poem I selected to read nearly forty years ago for my ICA Branra at An Grianán. I achieved the award with a distinction. In a Dublin that has changed so much in those years, the words still ring so true and I still love the beauty of the verse, traditional poetry & yet so modern.”

Regina Brennan voted for Dublin

“Léiríonn sí scéal an oiread san dínn sa lá atá inniu ann ar shlí chomh snoite simplí glé. Bláthaíonn ár bhfréamhaithe ithiriúla dúchasacha fiú is sinn ag filleadh ar an gcathair seachas ar an tuath”

Shane Fitzgerald voted for Filleadh ar an gCathair

“Fill Arís - This highlights the importance of a sense of place and the richness and joy of the Irish language deep within us.”

Fiona voted for Fill Arís

“The Famine Story has become so suppressed, in the unspoken name of political expediency - and yet it lies under all our feet. It is our story - our past - and Quarantine helps, not only to remember but also to reclaim that story, that past. Quarantine, as chiseled out by Eavan Boland, bowls me over.”

Marie Barrett voted for Quarantine

“Although it was a tough choice, I feel this poem conveys greatly the conservative Irish society at the time. It very ingeniously contrasts the ecstatic times this statue has seen with the event it is viewing, also giving a constant reminder of the cycle of life, letting readers see life from quite an odd but refreshing perspective.”

Peter Nulty voted for The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks