Robert Monteith Poetry Competition

Newtownmountkennedy  Tidy Towns is delighted to announce that the Robert Monteith poetry competition will run again in 2017, closing date May 11th.The theme this year is Transition. Change, the forces that motivate it and  those that don’t.

This theme is a continuation of the 1916 theme of last year.

We are looking at transition in villages towns and cities as migration inward and outward brings the biggest change in the ethnic make up of Ireland since the end of the Desmond Rebellion.

Its a very wide ranging topic that affects us all in positive and negative ways. Facilities, housing language, culture, age, education, inclusion etc all arise form this subject.

For a flavour of the competition please see winning entries from 2016 below and click on the audio clips to hear the recitals.

The winners are as follows: Michael Farry was winner, Padraig Nolan Second,  US entry Meghan O’Toole third. More details on this year’s competition to follow in due course, for all queries please contact; Huw O’Toole M: +353 (0) 87 804 1636 e- mail

Escape at Easter

 By Michael Farry

“Strayed . . . from the lands of Galboystown, a black-faced horny ewe and lamb. Any information regarding same will be thankfully received by the owner, Wm. J. Gavagan, Clonmellon, or by the R.I.C., Stirrupstown.” Meath Chronicle, 29 April 1916.


Sold into bondage, I feigned friendship

with the mocking native aristocracy,

fine-wooled, fat on Leinster’s humdrum grass.


Looking down their long clean noses

they knew nothing of our agility,

our cunning and the range of our palate.


Clonmellon was a foreign country,

its rich farms small provinces in the

great midland agricultural empire.


I longed for the rough pastures of the

Ox Mountains but resolutely waited

for the right moment to strike for freedom.


Knowing the Gavagans would be absent

all week – Fairyhouse and Spring Show –

I took my black-faced lamb and left


on Easter Monday. At first we moved

only by night but soon realized

that was unnecessary. No-one talked


of anything except the fuss in Dublin

so we could trot openly by daylight

without attracting undue attention.


Even the RIC, usually so vigilant

after straying stock, ignored us,

on edge, wondering which neighbour


was hiding a gun and which of those

who left for Dublin at Easter had gone

for horse racing or for revolution.


Yesterday we crossed the Shannon,

met stolen comrades in Roscommon,

persuaded them to leave and follow us.


By Friday we will see our low dark hills,

aim to reach the foothills by mid-night

and be safe, free, back home by Sunday.



 By Padraig Nolan


A new republic’s birth commands a price;

to scrub away the interlopers’ stain,

beyond the pale the big houses

went up in flames.


Householders slept uneasy, the threat

whatever GHQ required; word, deed,

bloodshed should the need arise

but first – this callous signal – homes on fire.


Now that’s all in the past, how soon

dust settles back on history’s face.

Apart from here and there a guilty ruin

we’re cherished now, assured within our place


with every house a big house to the man

perished in his sleeping bag,

the children in their tinder caravan.



 By Meghan O Toole

It is raining today.

The rhythm rolls soft on glass and rooftops

and drums like fingertips

impatient on airport armrests.



Shifting cloudscape

of my father’s home.

I remember damp soil in woods

where moss cloaks stones

and flecks my eyes, my father’s.

We are fed by a sleepless drizzle.


This is a place of revolution

like my own motherland,

my own red songs and rotten chains.

Perhaps I have some wisp

of this heavy conflict

in my lungs.


I breathe in my father’s air

and feel whole in a place

I do not belong to.

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