ICA news: Norah’s poetry book celebrates heroes of Easter 1916 rebellion

Speakers at the ICA 1916 Commemorative Celebrations.

A Wexford ICA member, who has just published her third book of poetry, wrote two poems especially for the Easter Rising 1916 commemoration and read them recently at An Grianán.

Norah Clifford Kelly, a former Montessori and adult ed teacher, created the poetry in tribute to the 1916 leaders.

“Five of the seven leaders were poets, so they should be remembered in poetry.”

A member of Gorey Guild since it reformed three years ago, Norah has been writing poetry for 10 years. “I don’t decide to write on a particular subject. I wait for the poems to come to me.”

The seed of inspiration for the two poems she read at the An Grianán Easter 1916 commemorative event — ‘Up for the Rising’ and ‘The Easter Lily’ — might well have been planted over 40 years ago.

“I worked in the Beggar’s Bush barracks and in the GPO when I first came to Dublin aged 17. Looking back now with wisdom, I feel I didn’t understand the significance of those two buildings.”

‘The Easter Lily’ includes the following lines: ‘The Easter Lily bowed her head/in mourning for the newly dead/the earth cocooned/embalmed/entombed/their memories… immortal wounds… The sky grew dark/the dawn closed in/the shooting dead at 6am/the eerie quiet/the dreadful din/the heavy thud/of life and limb’.

Norah links her poetry writing to an accident she had over a decade ago.

“I hit a patch of black ice, the car skidded and turned around a few times. I felt no shock but [instead] this beautiful energy cocooning me like an invisible air bag.”

A week later, closing her conservatory window, the tiny sound it made felt “like 1,000 volts of electricity shooting pain up my arm”.

She fell to the floor, paralysed, yet had a sense that all would be well.

Despite pleas from her husband and daughter, she didn’t attend a doctor until six weeks later. By then, her strength was returning and there were periods with no pain.

“He said it’s delayed shock and will be gone in six weeks — it wasn’t.” A second GP visit resulted in diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder brought on by the physical shock of the accident. Part of the healing process — it took four years — involved meditation, which she’d always enjoyed. “Out of the blue came this beautiful poetry in my meditation.”

Norah travels to ICA guilds to read her poems and stories (no charge apart from petrol expenses). Now she’s set to sell souvenir copies of her Easter Rising poems.

She donates 10% of proceeds from sale of her books/writings to Our Lady’s Hospital for Children, Crumlin.

Info, email: norahcliffordkelly@gmail.com. Visit www.norahcliffordkelly.com.


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