L-R: Aoife O’Connell (Arts Office), Liz Kelly (Poetry Ireland), Evelyn Flanagan (UCD Library), Cllr. Francis Foley (Mayor of Limerick City & County), David McLoghlin (poet), Mike Mac Domhnaill (poet). Poetry as Commemoration Poetry Jukebox in the Peoples Park, Limerick. Picture; Keith Wiseman

New Poetry Jukebox Commemorates Irish History in The People’s Park

The People’s Park in Limerick City is now home to a new Poetry Jukebox as part of Poetry as Commemoration, an initiative led by UCD Library with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023.

For a period of twelve weeks the Poetry Jukebox allows members of the public to listen to up to twenty poems commemorating the centenaries of the War of Independence and the Civil War. With a turn of a handle and a press of a button, visitors can enjoy a selection of works from some of the most talented poets on the island of Ireland. Poems can also be accessed via QR code.

10 poets commissioned to write new poems as part of Poetry as Commemoration

The first ten poems featured were commissioned by UCD Library in partnership with Poetry Ireland and Arts Council Northern Ireland. Poets were invited to select an item from an archive related to the revolutionary period and write a poem in English or Irish inspired by that item. The resulting poems include works by Paul Muldoon, Martina Evans, Seán Hewitt, Victoria Kennefick, Stephen Sexton, Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Padraig Regan, Aifric Mac Aodha, Nithy Kasa, and Bebe Ashley.

Poets David McLoghlin & Mike Mac Domhnaill Picture; Keith Wiseman

The next ten poems were selected following an open call to the poetry community in association with Quotidian – Word on the Street earlier this year and feature reflections on the individual lived experience of those living through the War of Independence and Civil War. Family stories and neglected narratives feature in contributions by Julie Morrissy, Ian Duhig, Eoghan Totten, David McLoghlin, Ann-Marie Foster, Karen J. McDonnell, Brian Kirk, Angela Graham, Karl O’Hanlon, and Newcastle West poet Mike MacDomhnaill.

Poetry as Commemoration fosters creative engagement between writers and the material history of the War of Independence & Civil War to deepen our collective understanding of this complex period in Irish history. Visiting the installation,  Mayor Frances Foley commended UCD Library on this “imaginative and inclusive approach to engaging the public in the Decade of Centenaries. I encourage the citizens of Limerick to come and listen to the variety of voices represented in this commemorative installation.

Head of Special Collections at UCD Library, Evelyn Flanagan, thanked Limerick City & County Council for their support stating:

“Bringing poetry to the public is a core objective of Poetry as Commemoration and we are delighted that the Poetry Jukebox is now in the People’s Park. The people of Limerick have fully embraced Poetry as Commemoration with groups of all ages taking part in writing workshops at Limerick Museum and in various schools in association with Poetry Ireland. I look forward to preserving their poems in UCD Special Collections for future generations.”

Children listening to commemorative poems in The People’s Park, Limerick

Limerick Arts Officer, Dr. Pippa Little, welcomed the new installation with the following words:

“The Decade of Centenaries Programme has provided a unique opportunity for us to reflect on our nation’s history and to celebrate the people and events that have shaped our country. The Poetry Jukebox in the People’s Park, Limerick is a wonderful example of how art can help us to connect with our past and to imagine a brighter future. Through the power of poetry, we can explore the complex emotions and experiences of those who came before us, and gain a deeper appreciation of the struggles and triumphs that have made Ireland the vibrant and diverse nation it is today. People of all ages have been engaging with the Poetry Jukebox, bringing poetry to the People’s Park and their daily lives.”

Visiting the installation on Tuesday, Director of Poetry Ireland, Liz Kelly, said: “for Poetry as Commemoration and Poetry Ireland, it is always a pleasure to see a Poetry Jukebox installed in a public space, bringing poetry to life for everyone who stops by and takes a moment to listen. It’s a particular delight to see this one in the People’s Park which is much-loved in the neighbourhood and city”.

UCD Special Collections welcomes submissions to the Poetry as Commemoration archive where they will be preserved. Please send a signed handwritten copy of your own commemorative poem to UCD Special Collections or email it to poetryascommemoration@ucd.ie.

You can listen to the poems featured in this curation here.

  1. ‘Ossuary’ by Seán Hewitt
  2. ‘Poppies In A Field Of Shamrocks’ by Nithy Kasa
  3. ‘The Belfast Pogrom: Some Observations’ by Paul Muldoon
  4. ‘Hogan, Grianghrafadóir’ by Aifric Mac Aodha & transl. by David Wheatley
  5. ‘Blood pulled my Shoe Off: The Birth of the Freestate in the Words of Máire Comerford’ by Martina Evans
  6. ‘Wound’ by Chiamaka Enyi Amadi
  7. ‘The Head of a Man’ by Stephen Sexton
  8. ‘Special Topics in Commemoration Studies: The Kerry Archives’ by Victoria Kennefick
  9. ‘The Lookout’ by Bebe Ashley
  10. ‘This Video Has No Sound’ by Padraig Regan
  11. ‘Faithful Comrade and Life Long Friend’ by Julie Morrissy
  12. ‘Telescope’ by Eoghan Totten
  13. ‘Without Fuss or Splutter’ by Ann-Marie Foster
  14. ‘Uncle Maurice’ by Ian Duhig
  15. ‘The Irish Civil War, Co. Tipperary, Summer 1922’ by Angela Graham
  16. ‘Bloody Sunday, 21st of November 1920, Croke Park’ by David McLoghlin
  17. ‘Cogadh na gCarad ó Bhéal mo mháthar’ by Mike MacDomhnaill
  18. ‘Eliza’ by Karl O’Hanlon
  19. ‘Yew’ by Karen J. McDonnell
  20. ‘Kingdom’ by Brian Kirk