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Poet Egan

Through Creative Ireland we are revisiting Edward (the Poet) Egan from the Meelaghans, near Geashill (who was writing poetry at the turn of the last century) through contemporary children’s poetry writing; republishing his work and commemorating him in the streetscape.

Over the past two years spoken word poet, John Cummins has worked with the children of Geashill National School, encouraging them to respond to their own place through the medium of poetry, following in Edward Egan’s footsteps.  The form and delivery however is more hip, hop and rap, but passed on to the children with gentle encouragement and patience so that even the most reticent soon join in. The mood lightens, relaxes, and the fun flows as John finds out who is ‘penthusiastic’, or who can ‘make it personal – autobiopic’.  During break a football is driven testingly at John.  His former career as a young apprentice at Arsenal and his current role as Poet in Residence at Bohemians F.C. dispel any lingering doubts about the ‘coolness’ of writing poetry.

There are no dissenters as John sets out some ‘poemwork’ to be done before the next workshop. The end result is a collection of well-crafted poems ready for performance and publication. They are read, first for their peers, then for families and eventually performed for the wider public during a Heritage Week presentation on Edward Egan’s life and work. A beautifully illustrated Broadsheet of the children’s poetry was published, as it would have been in Egan’s day and a copy given to every child in the school.

 

The Geashill Tidy Towns group also commissioned stone carver, Ciaran Byrne to carve a verse of Poet Egan’s poem about Geashill into a slab of Kilkenny limestone to be placed at the entrance to The Green – where Egan most likely stood as he took in the village.  This was carved in situ over the course of a week during the beautiful summer of 2018 and provided a unique opportunity for village residents, children from the nearby school and visitors to see a skilled stone carver practise his craft.  Ciaran chatted amiably with passers by describing his process, how he originates his designs, creates his unique calligraphic fonts and the traditional carving tools he uses. Yet all the while the tap, tap tapping of wooden mallet on steel chisel continues – for hour after hour after hour as his letters imperceptibly sink into stone.

In 2020 the project continues with Offaly History publishing a collection of 50 of Edward Egan’s poems with historical context notes.

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