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Aine MacAodha     Contributor -- Ireland


Aine MacAodha is a writer from Omagh in N. Ireland.
She has been published in many magazines, including Oasis Press,
Poetry Now, Forward Press, New Belfast Arts, and recently on

Her most recent publications can be viewed on,
June’s edition of, and Red Pulp Underground.

(She has three grown up children and practices Crystal healing) 


 Beagmore stone circle alignment, about 4,000years old

Reprinted from a prior edition:

         The John Hewitt International Summer School  2008                        


  The John Hewitt International Summer School (now in its 21st year) began  on Monday 28th of July 2008, for five days up until Friday 1st of August.  The arena for the school was the market place theatre in Armagh.  Armagh (Emain Macha), named after the Goddess Macha, was the royal seat of Ulster 700 BD – 500AD. It was mentioned many times in ancient legends and myths of Ireland, along with Tara, for its links to St. Patrick, Navan Fort, and its public library (the oldest in the North of Ireland founded in 1771 by archbishop Richard Robinson).  


The theme for this year’s Hewitt school was, ‘Let there be no walls,’ an inspired idea taken for one of Hewitt’s poems, ‘Freehold.’ A fantastic theme which ran through all the lectures, and one that I will certainly take home with me and ponder upon. It reminded me of a poem I had written some years ago titled, ‘walls within walls,’ that I never sent out as a submission; but will now search for and work on again...

Among his poetry collections are, Rhyming Weavers (1974) and Freehold and other poems (1986). 

“At a time when parts of our society still feel the need for walls, other barriers have collapsed, making migration one of the most significant changes which we are experiencing. This makes us part of a new Europe, which can be dated from the fall of the Wall, but the writing on the wall of Fortress Europe often says ‘Keep Out’. Elsewhere, walls, real and figurative, are built as quickly as they are challenged. Hewitt’s openness to ideas and influences and his belief that we should always leave ourselves open to the news of liberty provides us with the opportunity in this year’s Summer School to consider walls, barriers and boundaries of all kinds’


I was delighted to receive the bursary from its director Tony Kennedy, who kept the events running smoothly. Beginning on Monday there was a talk with Clair Willis, professor of Irish Literature at Queen Mary’s University of London: ‘The best are leaving.’ Around 65,000 workers went to England before the war, leaving the rural parts empty. She read from her most recent highly acclaimed book, That Neutral Island.  

                  Clair Willis

Following the Clair Willis, talk we heard a talk by ‘The Speckled People’ author, Hugo Hamilton, who is German-Irish descent. In his memoir he tells of a lost language, and what it means to be Irish having this dual identity.

The five-day event had something for everyone… whether it was creative writing with poet Ruth Carr, The Salmon Poets, Daragh Carvill, an Armagh-born playwright, who with the help of local actors, unfolded the Book of Armagh through poetry and prose… our creative addictions were met. 

  One of the favorites of my stay, and there were many, was Belfast-born visual artist Rita Duffy. Her collection, ‘Place of the Mind,’ was as a link to the landscape of her mind with image instillations such as Crumlin Road and Watchtowers, among others. I enjoyed her talk very much on how she got the ideas for her work; she explained in a way that I understood, she spoke my language so to speak and made me pay attention. I have much more respect now for artists like herself, and will make an effort to visit exhibitions when and where I can.  

                         Lisa Appignanes, author of The Memory Man

One of the hi-lights of my stay was firstly hearing Poet and Nobel Prize for literature Seamus Heaney talk in the main auditorium, where he read from his collections, Death of A Naturalist (1966) and District and Circle (2006). He also read his favourite Hewitt poems, beginning with 'The King's Horses'.

              Aine MacAodha and Seamus Heaney


 Seamus Heaney was born in April 1939, the eldest  of a family of nine children. His father owned and worked a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland. A very down-to-earth poet, he talked candidly of his youth growing up in Bellaghy. Afterwards he signed over 400 autographs, some on books bought at the Alibris book stand in the foyer, other books people had brought along that were quite a few years old. Nevertheless, he signed the copies and smiled for the photographs. I was delighted to get mine signed by the man himself. It was and will be a memory I will treasure.  

  Secondly, another great moment was hearing the US poet, and former poet laureate, Billy Collins. Having not have heard of him before; I came away wanting to get to know his work, for he was witty with such titles for poems as “Taking off Emily Dickenson’s Clothes” and “Poker Face.” Of Scots/Irish identity, he made comment on his verbal exposure to the mass litanies (which I could also relate too), and someone asked what made him want to be a poet and his reply was, ‘ (I) wanted to look like Edgar Allan Poe’. I will certainly be getting to know his works.

    Billy Collins 

I would also like to mention a great talk by biographical author WJ McCormack, who was professor of Literary History at Goldsmith College in London and is now working on a biography of John Hewitt. I enjoyed the  ‘A game of Two Halves’ discussion by Dr Maurice Hayes, who works on conflict research and reflected on what has been achieved to date in the North of Ireland and what still has to be achieved.

The John Hewitt School for me was a great opportunity to hear talks and points of view of various artists and writers and their works, all together under one roof. I came away with the newly acquired knowledge of such writers as John Hewitt, Billy Collins, Joan Newman, Imtiaz Dharker, artist Rita Duffy, and Polish writer, Lisa Appignanes. Overall the Hewitt International School was open and welcoming, with a varied programme of events to suit all tastes.



all photo and article copyrights belong to Aine MacAodha
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