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March 2, 2016

I shall never forget my first glimpse of Ireland. As we came down through the clouds, there was the River Shannon below, snaking through a patchwork countryside in glorious greens.  Shortly afterwards, travelling by coach from Shannon Airport to Galway on the west coast, I delighted in a closer view, noting acres of bright yellow gorse and fields divided by drystone walls.

This was last Thursday, 26th February 2016.  Ireland would be going to the polls the following day, so there were posters out in the streets.  But it was a very different event, also on the Friday, that had brought Maureen and I to her homeland.

Crannóg is one of Ireland’s top literary magazines and Maureen’s poem ‘Sink, and the Great House’ would be in Issue 41, spring 2016. As with other contributors, she’d been invited to attend the launch at The Crane Bar, Galway, to read her piece.  Twice before she’d been published in Crannóg but sadly hadn’t been able to make it to the launch.  This time, our first together, she jolly well would!

And what a wonderful evening it was. The Crane Bar was packed out.  The readings, on a red stage beneath spotlights in an upstairs room, were amazing, really first rate, poetry and fiction.  And everyone was so friendly.  Maureen held the audience rapt and they loved her.  Such applause and so many appreciative comments.

Afterwards, downstairs, the bar three-deep, the hubbub deafening in the press of sociable, talented writers, we sat chatting to people, Maureen with a well-earned brandy and water, myself very proud of her, savouring my first ever genuine Irish Guinness.

Our two days in Galway were pure joy. Such a buzzing, friendly, cultured city with young people thronging the streets, many no doubt students at the National University of Ireland.  The Eyre Square Centre, where we paused for a cuppa in a reconstructed medieval street beneath high glass roof, against a stretch of ancient city wall with tower.  Information boards hung from the wall gave fascinating glimpses into Galway’s past.

The racing, raging River Corrib with white-crested waves. The Spanish Arch, and a certain nearby café/restaurant where we enjoyed steaming bowls of parsnip and ginger soup.  The Crane Bar too, of course!

Aye, it was grand. Such happy memories we brought away.  And our return to the Emerald Isle will not be long delayed.

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016


  1. Dear Paul,

    You brought me back to a place that we spent two weeks in, Ireland. Our friends lived in Howth overlooking the Irish Sea. They treated us to a 4 day trip to the West, which was gorgeous. We visited many historical sites. Bonratti Castle and of course Dirty Mary’s or Nellie’s.
    We also visited a castle in Dublin, and many pubs. I love pub food and the people were friendly as well.
    I know my country is huge but I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to visit your country England, (we have friends in Surry) and Maureen’s Ireland. I don’t know if I will ever get back there, but I will never forget that wonderful time in my life.

    Congratulations to Maureen, and when you go back please have a Guinness for me.
    Please tell Maureen that James Joyce is one of my favorite authors.

    Warm Regards,


    • Hi Pat,

      Maureen was taken on picnics to Howth as a little girl, and as a young woman enjoyed medieval banquets at Bonratti Castle. How lovely that her Ireland and my England hold such special memories for you. Wandering Galway hand-in-hand, enjoying the sights and the sheer vibrancy of the place, so youthful and friendly, we knew we were making happy memories too.

      Like you, Maureen loves James Joyce. I haven’t read him yet but now feel impelled to take ‘Dubliners’ from the shelf and make a start with his short stories.

      And you can be sure I’ll raise another jar or two of Guinness when next we’re in the Emerald Isle!

      Fond regards,


  2. Yes my darling Paul, it was a time of joy, and to share my beautiful Ireland and its people was and is so very special.

    All my love,

    Maureen xxx

    • Thank you, my precious Maureen. What a wonderful couple of days we had, a time of joy indeed! Ireland will sing in my heart forever now, as I know she sings in yours. Can’t wait for our return.

      Love always,

      Paul xxx

  3. Congratulations to Maureen for such a wonderful reading – well deserved. And to you both for being able to visit Maureen homeland, by the sounds of it Paul you’ve fallen in love with the place. Wonderful post!

    • Dear Mary, you are so right. Fallen in love with Ireland I certainly have, in a big way! Gosh, what a place for poetry and prose, for art and music too. You’d love it, I’m sure. And the canvasses you’d produce – oh boy, how good they would be!

      My very best,


  4. Helen permalink

    A really atmospheric piece Paul and I’m so glad you and Maureen had a wonderful time there. Maybe we’ll make it one day! Helen

    • Thanks, Helen. A week on now, we’re still buzzing, such an exciting, happy time we had. Although from Cork, Maureen danced in Galway in her ballet days. She was so in her element at the Crannóg launch and the air of bonhomie captivated me too. Maureen’s Ireland stirred my soul and I do hope the two of you will go some day. You’ll love it.

      Take care,


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