Tag Archives: grand canal

Patrick Kavanagh – A poet for everyman

Taking it easy, beside the canal

Taking it easy, beside the canal

One of the country’s favourite poets, Patrick Kavanagh, was born in Inniskeen, County Monaghan on 21 October 1904. He worked on his father’s farm and as a shoemaker, while he began writing poetry, and had his first work published in the Dundalk Democrat in 1928.
He submitted work to the Irish Statesman but it was initially rejected by the editor George (AE) Russell, a leader of the Irish Literary Revival, who encouraged him to continue writing. Kavanagh was inspired by this and walked to Dublin to meet Russell, who gave him books to read, and eventually published some of his work.
In 1938 Kavanagh’s novel The Green Fool, which was loosely based on his own life in the country and his aspiration in becoming a writer, brought him international recognition. A year later he settled in Dublin, and in 1942 wrote The Great Hunger that described the tough, day-to-day demands of rural life. This long poem which set out the everyday struggles of peasant life was as odds with those who espoused the noble, simple life, and it raised the hackles of the establishment. So much so that all copies of The Horizon magazine, in which it was published, were seized on orders of the Minister for Justice. The poem is considered by many to be his finest work and the NY Times Book Review said that it was ‘a great work’.

The Wellington - a popular spot

The Wellington – a popular spot

He lived at 62 Pembroke Road, liked to have a drink in The Waterloo  pub and referred to the neighbourhood as ‘Baggotonia’. Close by, is Raglan Road, which is the name of his most popular poem. It was later put to music, firstly, by the Dubliners, and since  by Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, Mark Knopfler, Billy Bragg, Roger Daltrey and many others. His Lines written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin are heartfelt and inspired his statue, one of the city’s favourites.
O commemorate me where there is water
canal water preferably, so stilly
greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
commemorate me thus beautifully.

The Grand Canal - 'stilly greeny'

The Grand Canal – ‘stilly greeny’

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A Grand Walk

Summer is finally in the air, and the other day I joined a group at The Barge Pub (Charlemont Street) for a most enjoyable walk along the Grand Canal. One of the many Dublin City Council inititives this ‘Let’s Walk & Talk’ tour took about ninety minutes and, thankfully, catered for all speeds. There were, of course, some folk who liked to walk quickly, but most of us took our time and chatted as we went.

Grand Canal - looking grand!

Grand Canal – looking grand!

There are a number of different walks to consider, and as someone who knows the area quite well, it was great to find out ‘new stuff’ from the volunteers, when we stopped along the way. A canal connecting Dublin to the Shannon was proposed as early as 1715, but building work only began in 1756. After a few false starts, and the unique difficulty of working in the Bog of Allen, the canal was completed in 1804. It is 82 miles (131 kms) long, has 43 locks and enters the Shannon in County Offaly.

We headed to Sundrive Road Park (now Ceannt Park – named in honour of the signatory to the 1916 Irish Proclamation), and past the house on Harold’s Cross Road where Robert Emmet was arrested after the failed rising in 1803. I never knew where the Crown Forces ‘got him’ and that he was hiding under the name ‘Hewitt’.

Back along the canal some small children laughed out loud when they tossed pieces of bread to the swans. I counted at least twenty elegant birds, and in the strong sunshine a few of my fellow walkers took photographs. They were postcard stuff.

Upstairs at The Barge a number of us went for a coffee and continued the ‘Let’s Talk’ theme. I must say it was a great way to spend a little time and, as the advertisement almost says ‘It’s good to walk…and talk.’

Swanning around...

Swanning around…

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