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Brendan’s Story On A Christmas Childhood

I’ve loved every minute of this journey and the shortlist is represented by two my literary heroes, namely and understandably Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh. I struggled initially to drawn down with certainty my favourite Seamus Heaney poem and while ‘While All The Others Were Away At Mass’ can draw a tear in what is a stunningly visual and auditory experience, I’d say the same of ‘Digging’ or ‘A Kite for Michael and Christopher’. Heaney is a hero of mine and I didn’t want to choose or vote without explanation. My choice of ‘A Christmas Childhood’ is made for a number of reasons. Like Heaney’s poetry, I would struggle to choose from Patrick Kavanagh’s beautifully sensual and visual poetry, whether it’s ‘In Memory of my Mother’, ‘Iniskeen Road’ or ‘Kerr’s Ass’. ‘A Christmas Childhood’ resonates with me so much. I can see the scene of the darkest winter dawn and it is the closest I can get to my own farming upbringing and childhood in 1980’s County Mayo. I first encountered the poem just before my childhood was lost and my life changed forever at 14. So it’s a throwback to the final carefree school days of my life, the beauty this poem conjured then and conjures to this day. I’m fortunate to have recordings of both Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh reading their own poetry so when I read them now I hear the beautiful but very different dulcet, musical, Ulster tones reading back to me. A great list. A beautiful list. ‘The Company of Horses’ by Peter Fallon deserves a mention too.

Submitted by Brendan