Irish Poetry Reading Archive logoIn partnership with Poetry Ireland, the Irish Poetry Reading Archive has commissioned ten poets to write a poem in English or Irish on topics, themes and events inspired by primary source materials held in archives across the island relating to the War of Independence and Civil War.

The ten commissioned poems have been published as a limited fine press edition entitled Grief’s Broken Brow and recordings of the work are available through the Irish Poetry Reading Archive (IPRA) YouTube Channel. The poems are available to the public via the Virtual Poetry Wall. Audio recordings of the poems were made available through touring Poetry Jukeboxes throughout 2022 & 2023.

In February 2022, IPRA and Poetry Ireland brought together a committee to select the commissioned poets, ensuring diversity and representation from across the island.

Selection Committee

                  • Dr. Lucy Collins, UCD School of English, Drama & Film.
                  • Paul McVeigh, Writer.
                  • Dr. Julie Morrissy, Writer & Academic.
                  • Niamh O’Donnell, Former Director of Poetry Ireland.
                  • Kimberly Reyes, Writer.

We asked poets to draw on materials held in local archives to inspire poetry that deepens our collective understanding of the past and explores a challenging period of history on this island.

Writers were encouraged to respond creatively to material history in a manner that not only reflects events of the past but engages with imagined futures too.

hands on typewriterCommissioned Poets

  • Aifric Mac Aodha
  • Chiamaka Enyi Amadi
  • Bebe Ashley
  • Martina Evans
  • Seán Hewitt
  • Paul Muldoon
  • Nithy Kasa
  • Victoria Kennefick
  • Padraig Regan
  • Stephen Sexton

Read more about the poets on the Commissioned Poets page!

On the announcement of the new commissions, Minister Catherine Martin commented:

“Poetry as Commemoration’ is one of the flagship initiatives under the Creative Imagination Strand of the Decade of Centenaries Programme. I welcome the enthusiasm and ambition of the Irish Poetry Reading Archive UCD and Poetry Ireland, who have really embraced this project.

The ten poems commissioned as part of this project will be a meaningful and lasting legacy for the Decade of Centenaries Programme. I hope that the medium of poetry will offer a safe space to encourage the examination and exploration of the difficult and still distressing events and themes related to the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War. The use of our rich primary sources from both our national and local archives grounds the poetry in factual accuracy and authenticity. I would like to express my gratitude to the 10 poets announced today for bringing their creativity, imagination and insights to this project. We look forward to their finished works in due course.”

Fine Print Edition

A fine print edition containing the ten commissioned poems was launched on 22 November 2023.

Grief’s Broken Brow is a limited-edition fine press book created by Jamie Murphy at The Salvage Press, with a suite of original artwork by James Earley. The title is taken from Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi’s poem ‘Wound’ and it features commemorative poems by Bebe Ashley, Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Martina Evans, Seán Hewitt, Nithy Kasa, Victoria Kennefick, Aifric Mac Aodha, Paul Muldoon, Padraig Regan, and Stephen Sexton. Each poem was inspired by a particular archival item or artefact and the artwork was inspired by Earley’s own family history as ecclesiastical decorators. UCD’s Dr Lucy Collins has written an introduction to the collection while Commandant Daniel Ayiotis, Director of The Military Archives, provided an afterword.

100 copies of the book have been produced and presented to county library services across the island and other significant repositories as a legacy object from the Decade of Centenaries. Each copy is typeset and printed by hand using metal and wooden types from the 1920s, and each artwork includes 5 plates for the different coloured layers of the image. The cover paper, made by artist Louise Gaffney, is printed by hand using Japanese suminagashi technique like marbling. Each book is housed within an embossed slipcase echoing the form of the artwork inside. A video on the making of the book, by Ror Conaty, can be viewed here

Diversity & Inclusion statement

We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion for all. In line with UCD’s EDI policy and Poetry Ireland’s Partnership & Funding Requirements, every effort will be made to ensure that women, members of the LGBTI+ community, working class poets, poets belonging to minority ethnic/ religious groups, or poets with disabilities are being fairly and equitably represented.