29 May 2022

Gerry McLaughlin's Poetry Collection Launch

Gerry McLaughlin's Poetry Collection Launch

Gerry McLaughlin

“The Breed Of Me” is a first poetry collection from Donegal/Fermanagh journalist Gerry McLaughlin and it will be launched in Rockfield Community Hall, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal on the site of his former Primary School this Friday, April 29 at 7.30pm.

It will be launched by two old hurling friends of Gerry's, ex Galway captain Joe Connolly and a fiery poet from Connemara called Sean O’Coistealbha while another Galway hurling friend Conor Hayes is also a special guest.
There are over 60 poems in the collection and many of them are tributes to those who have passed on, to Gerry's family, friends, neighbours and figures in the GAA who made a big impression on him growing up on the Donegal/Fermanagh border in the 1960s and 1970s and in his playing career which did not end until he was 45 in 2003 when he lined out for Naomh Eoin hurlers in Sligo.

“The poems are rooted in history, a subject I loved in UCG, and are about ordinary real people who had an extraordinary effect on me.
“The GAA has always been a huge part of my life and I got that from my father and played hurling for Fermanagh for 22 years from 1975-19997, for UCG, for Liam Mellows, Galway, for Aodh Ruadh, Ballyshannon, for Erne Gaels, Belleek, for St Paul’s, Belfast, for Commercials, Dublin, for Melvin Gaels Leitrim and finally for Naomh Eoin Sligo as well as minor football and handball for Fermanagh.
“I am including one called “Song Of the Hurler” which just came to me one bright May evening, an anthem to all my hurling heroes.
“But most of all, many of these poems are in memory of people who deserve to be remembered, my heroes of home-my eternal legends who should never be forgotten and may their songs always be sung under mellow moons,” he says.

Gerry adds: “The Song Of The Hurler” is for all the hurlers I played with in UCG, Fermanagh, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Antrim and Galway. I played in an All-Ireland JHC final in 1977, a NHL Div Three final in 2003, Ulster finals in 1986, 87, 90 and 97 and lost them all and hated losing but I loved playing the greatest field game in the world and made some great friends and will never forget that comeback in the 1984 county final against Donagh when we truly “walked like kings in our own townland and sang rebel songs deep into the dawn”.

Song of the hurler

I am the smack of a sliotar on a green field of May
When the beating heart of a hurler knows
That his aim is true, and his love is near
And his hurl is a wand of Heaven under an Irish sky
I am the smash of the ash for the blue and gold
Of those bounding boys of Sliabh na mBan
The giants of Tipperary who bent the knee to no man
I am the cool clean strike of Eddie Keher
For the black and amber and the Rose of Mooncoin
I am the granite in the ‘guth’ of the great Joe Connolly
When the West awoke in 1980 and the moon danced on Claddagh
And the world was only as wide as a woman in maroon
I am the voice of Joe McDonagh who sang the song of songs
The greatest anthem of the dispossessed
I am the smiling face of Anthony Daly when the Banner scraped the sky
And looked the stars in the eye and told Biddy Early...goodbye!
I am the roar of the crowd when Christy Ring was carried shoulder high
By those giants of Wexford who held a hero in their hands.
I am Nicky Rackard the most brilliant of those brawny boys of Wexford
I am Mick Mackey, a gladiator in Limerick green who went through defences like a German tank on tour.
I am the darting D J Carey, black magic wrists, veins of ice
A shimmering Shakespeare of ash-sorcery of summer
I am Terence “Sambo” McNaughton - the eternal warrior of the Glens
Who was never afraid to go in where timber tests the soul.
I am every man who followed Cu Chulainn
And played the game of the Gael - the game of the gods
With flashing scimitars of ash on sweltering Sundays in Thurles Town
Home of the great Jimmy Doyle who died with very little
Apart from a photograph of his hero Christy Ring next to his heart
I am every hurler who won a county championship.
For the pride of his village and the glint in the eye of his girl
I am the follower of the great Matt Hughes our own local hurling hero
I am Gerry McLaughlin who held a hurl for almost 30 years
And played in six different counties - sometimes under strange names
When I was young and thought I was grand
And will never forget 1984 when we hurled like heroes
And won THAT centenary county title for our tiny town on the Banks of the Erne
And we walked like kings in our own townlands
And we sang rebel songs deep into the dawn.
For the song of the hurler is forever strong and forever young.

The collection will be on sale locally for €10.

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