April 8th 2019

Poetry Day, 2nd May, Church Island, Lough Currane, Waterville. This year’s Poetry Gathering will be launched at a unique venue on National Poetry Day.

Poetry, Psalms, Sanctity, Salmon.

Poetry and medieval music on a monastic island!

That’s what’s on offer in South Kerry on National Poetry Day on Thursday, 2ndMay. Archaeologist and musician Billy MagFhloinn has crafted a replica of a medieval fidula (fiddle) which – uniquely in Ireland – is shown in a stone carving on Inis Uasal, or Church Island,a monastic settlement on Lough Currane in Waterville. The instrument will be played beside the carving in the remains of a 12thcentury church by Seán Garvey, who will also sing some medieval verses in his own inimitable style.

Poets Paddy Busheand Kathleen O’Shea, whose family own the island, will read poems featuring, among other things, saints and salmon.

There will also be an open mic session, so bring your poem!

The boat-trip will cost €5. Bring a packed lunch and rain gear. Embarkation at 12pm.

If the weather is not favourable, the readings will take place in St Michael’s Church of Ireland in Waterville at 2.00pm.

Booking and enquiries at 087 2931463.

February 13th 2019

We are gearing up for our poetry gathering in June; the workshops are now open for registration on the website - see list below.

The full programme will be up soon. In the meantime the following is a flavour of what is planned:

The 2019 Amergin Solstice Poetry Gathering: Éigse na Gréine, our second fsetival, will take place in Waterville, at the tip of the Iveragh peninsula. It will run from Thursday 20th June, when it will be opened by Poetry Ireland Director Maureen Kennelly, to Sunday 23rd June, when we will finish with a St. John’s Eve bonfire and Open Mic. Poetry in Irish, along with an Irish language and a bilingual workshop as well traditional music, will be a significant element in the festival.

We call it an Amergin festival because, according to the Leabhar Gabhála (Book of Invasions), as the Milesians landed here in Iveragh, Amergin put his right foot on the ground and recited his poem to claim the country for his Goidelic (i.e. Gaelic) people. We believe that the poem can be read today as an environmental manifesto, and the focus of this year’s festival will be environmental, which can be seen in our choice of poets. There are a number of places/monuments locally associated with the Leabhar Gabhála Milesian myth, and we will have a field trip to some of these. Professor John Careyof UCC, the acknowledged expert in this area, will speak about Amergin and how he is perceived. We will have a strong Galician input into the festival, as it is from Galicia that the Milesians travelled to Ireland. The Galician poet Martín Veiga, who directs Galician Studies in UCC, along with his translator poet Keith Payne and the musician ManoPanforreteirowill be performing.

In 2018 five Ireland Professors of Poetry (Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paula Meehan, Harry Clifton, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Michael Longley) agreed to write a poem in response to Amergin, poems which were read as part of the opening. These were published, with the original Amergin poem, as Unde Scribitur, in a special letterpress edition as well as an affordable digital edition. Both editions will be available for sale. Two of the Professors, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáinand Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, were unable to attend last year’s festival. They will read at this year’s opening session, along with the Russian poet Andrey Mashinyan, who has written – believe it or not – about Amergin in St. Petersburg. Nóirín Ní Riainwill sing, among other things, a musical setting by the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin of an Amergin-themed poem. The extraordinary guitarist Steve Cooneywill be the festival musician-in-residence, and readings will be enhanced by his interspersed contributions.


The festival is the brainchild of Jane Clare, and is possible only because of her generosity. Her husband Anthony Clare and herself had planned to retire to their house here, a plan that was thwarted by his untimely death. As it is in part a memorial to him, we have decided that mental wellbeing and poetry will be an integral aspect of the festival. We are delighted that Kay Redfield Jamison, the eminent American academic writer on the interface between literature and mental health, and the author of a recent and much acclaimed biography of Robert Lowell, will speak at our festival and also direct a three-day workshop. She will be joined by John O’Donoghue, who lives in Brighton and has Irish parentage, and whose prose and poetry also explore how writing and mental health interact.


Scotland and Ireland have had a long cultural and poetic connection. Poetry in Gaelic, English and Scots will be presented by poetsAonghas MacNeacailand Gerry Loose, poet and singer Gerda Stevensonas well as the legendary Scottish piper and singer Ailean Domhnullach/Allan MacDonald. As part of our environmental theme a trio of poets who live on the shores of Clew Bay, Seán Lysaght, Geraldine Mitchell andGer Reidy, will read from their work.


Ar Lorg Shomhairle, a film by Éanna de Buisand Paddy Bushethat explores the strong link between the poetry of Scottish poet Somhairle MacGill-Eain and the magical landscape of Skye, will be shown. Olivia O’Learywill speak on Poetry, Politics and the Planet. A workshop with NiallMacMonagle will help to demystify poetry for those who sometimes feel intimidated by it. Ireland’s foremost calligrapher, Timothy O’Neill will give a workshop that could help you make an artwork of your favourite poem. Bríd Ní Mhóráin, Thomas McCarthy, Gabriel Fitzmauriceand Moya Cannonwill read from their own work as well as giving workshops. And not to be missed are readings by Bernard O’Donoghue, Maura Dooley, Grace Wells, Seán Hewitt and the Slovakian poet Jan Gavura.

Holger Lőnze, now resident in Iveragh, has created a wonderful large-scale outdoor bronze piece based on the Amergin story. Our Milesian field-trip will begin here, with music and words.


  • Moya Cannon – Poetry and Ecology
  • Gabriel Fitzmaurice – Writing Traditional Poetry or Song (bi-lingual)
  • Kay Redfield Jamison – Creativity and Mental Wellness
  • Thomas Mc Carthy – Poetry - Let the Un-Digging Begin
  • Timothy O’Neill – Introduction to ‘Celtic’ Calligraphy
  • Niall MacMonagle – The Pleasure of Reading Poetry
  • Bríd Ní Mhóráin – Filíocht Ghaeilge
  • Mairtín Veiga - Translating Form

Further information on the workshops and registration details on -