BACK HOME Author Art Ó Súilleabháin.
Family, lakes and nature are some of the themes of a new collection of poems being released by Corr na Móna native Art Ó Súilleabháin.
Ó Súilleabháin, who has authored books for adults and children as Gaeilge and in English, began working on ‘Mayflies in the Heather’ while based in Washington DC.
Now retired in his native Corr na Móna having lived in Boston, Washington DC and Carnacon during his life, the west of Ireland always held a special place in his heart.
Having spent a year in the American capital lecturing Irish at the Catholic University of America as a Fulbright Scholar, his love of the west of Ireland was rekindled while living in the concrete metropolis.
“It gave me an appreciation that I had, but I didn’t realise I had, for the west of Ireland,” Ó Súilleabháin told The Mayo News.
“While I was there, I would leave the university at 5 o’clock in the evening and the only place you could go and sit was in Starbucks, and I’d sit and write about the west of Ireland,” he added.
“The memories were quite vivid, of doing things as a child, of doings things that my Dad had done. These were more vivid when you were living in the concrete of Washington, maybe because I missed them and longed for them.”
The book addresses themes from Ó’Súilleabháin’s childhood growing up in the wilds of Corr na Móna.
The title, ‘Mayflies in the Heather’, is a reference to his school days where the headmaster would send the children out to gather mayflies, who would nest in the heather when there was no wind.
Other poems recall his father’s pastime of constructing wooden fishing boats, a trade that has since largely fallen by the wayside.
‘Black Love’ tells the tale of how his maternal grandmother from Cornwall had to conceal her Church of England heritage to marry his Catholic grandfather.
“It would appeal to anybody who likes nature, understands carpentry, understands fishing, who has a boat, who loves to get out in the fresh air,” said Ó Súilleabháin.
“We’re blessed in the west of Ireland to have so many beautiful freshwater lakes close by, such as the Mask, Conn and Carra. It would appeal to anybody who loves walking by the shores, who loves nature, who loves fishing. It’s nature at its best in the West.”
Ó Súilleabháin has had a number of the poems published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Chair of Poetry Anthology and by Daedalus Press.
He is a former principal of Burriscarra National School in Carnacon and is known for his work in Mayo schools while he was ICT Advisor and Director of Mayo Education Centre.
‘Mayflies In The Heather’ is available from Castle Bookshop in Castlebar, Martin Murphy’s Newsagent in Ballinrobe, Revival Press Limerick, other local outlets and from Art Ó Súilleabháin himself. The launch of the book will take place via Zoom on Friday March 12.