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It’s All A Game Of ‘Pitch & Toss’ – Thurles Poet Tom Ryan Reflects.

Pitch And Toss.
Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

Fired from the ramp of a cardboard match box
Two copper coins spun and twirled.
“Head or harp ?”
Like gold in the morning sun of a Sunday
Before Last Mass.
In the school in the Derheen Lane,
Or above on the Road of the Saints.
Young Sunday – suited speculators,
Their oily hair combed slickly back,
Like the guys in the Fifties James Dean movie,
Gazed at the spins of fortune,
On which their pence and tanners lay.
And maybe cinema matinee money too.
The stern faced teller,
The accounting man of the school,
Gathered the profits of the Sabbath early.
And who would argue the toss.

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


“Spring” by Thurles Poet Tom Ryan.

Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

Under the far and flickering stars,
On this bright and lovely night of Spring,
In that childrens’ place of memories,
By the river down the Mall.
Tell me it isn’t beautiful

That place where street lights magically
Trace their pale and orange shimmering shapes
On the ever-flowing river,
Serenading each life’s journey.
Tell me it isn’t beautiful

In secret silence swans
From out the mysterious mist of night,
Play with the lighted patterns on the water,
Buds on bare boughs breast the air,
On grassy banks crisp frost appears.
Oh, tell me it isn’t beautiful

And in those hours when magic fails,
And worldliness can faith assail,
I then envision swans of Spring
Solemn and splendid, hearkening
To the language of each living thing.
Oh,tell me it isn’t beautiful.


Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


‘The Crocus’ – By Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe.

Extract from the poem “The Crocus” by abolitionist, poet and author Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe.
[Best known for her novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” published 169 years ago this March 20th, 2021, selling 300,000 copies in just 3 months.]

The Crocus
In blue and yellow from its grave
Springs up the crocus fair,
And God shall raise those bright blue eyes,
Those sunny waves of hair.
Not for a fading summer’s morn,
Not for a fleeting hour,
But for an endless age of bliss,
Shall rise our heart’s dear flower.


Remember – Feast Of Saint Valentine Is Tomorrow.

Tomorrow of course is the Feast of Saint Valentine, celebrated annually on February 14th each year, as a minor Western Christian feast day.

The Feast of St. Valentine was first established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496, to be celebrated on February 14th in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome. St. Valentine of Rome was believed to be a temple priest, who was executed outside the Flaminian Gate, in Rome, [on the Piazza del Popolo, which was a place for public executions], by the anti-Christian Emperor Claudius II. His crime was helping Roman soldiers to marry when they were forbidden to by the Christian faith at the time. He was executed on that same day, February 14th, in AD 269.

Tradition claims that St. Valentine as a prisoner restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. It is believed he afterwards wrote to the jailer’s daughter a letter, which he signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.

Benedictine monks are believed to have spread the practise of honouring St. Valentine to England, France and Ireland.

True or not, woe betide any man who has forgotten to obtain at least some small gift token, in expression of their love, to those whom they hold ‘near and dear’, tomorrow.

While many would hold that the traditional Irish folk ballad, known by almost every Irish person, entitled “Spancil Hill(Spancilhill), is an authentic 19th-century Saint Valentine’s love letter, and indeed worthy of St. Valentine, the writer Michael Considine in his dream arrived in Spancilhill “on the 23rd of June, the day before the fair”, and not on February 14th.

The author of the poem Michael Considine (1850–73) was baptized on August 11th 1850, (Page No. 204, entry No. 6051, in the Roman Catholic Baptism register of the parish of Clooney, Bunratty Upper), and at an early age travelled on emigrant ship to the United States, and who in 1873, now longed to be back in his homeland, at ‘the Cross of Spancil Hill’, Co. Clare.

Like many others, initially he was escaping from a God forsaken Ireland, then crippled by the Great Potato Famine of 1845, having emigrated at the age of 20 years in search of a better life. He worked for a few years in Boston Massachusetts in the United States, before heading west to California in the hope of finding riches in the gold rush.
At the age of 23, he became ill and when he knew he was probably dying, he penned the poem “Spancilhill”, which later became a folk ballad. He posted his love poem to his young nephew in Ireland. Alas, Michael Considine died aged 23years, in 1873.

Spancil Hill Crossroads, named in the poem, exists in the townland of Castletown, Doora, Co. Clare in the barony of Bunratty Upper, County Clare. The word ‘spancil’ refers to the practice of “spancilling,” which was to use a short piece of rope or other stout material to tie an animal’s left fore-leg to its right hind leg, thereby preventing same from straying or wandering.

Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, Dublin, today houses some relics of St. Valentine.


“Christmas” By Tom Ryan


Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

It was still that night
Great things are born in stillness
And beginnings are of stillness born.
Nature held her breath in awe of a strange and beautiful thing.
Even then in other parts
The struggle of life and man raged,
And men wept and cowered in their dark thoughts .
But some dreamed
And a dream for eternity was born in Bethlehem.
Hope stole into the world
In a rustic stable,
And the light stole over the earth,
And dreamers saw it,
And it shone in their hearts.


Tom Ryan,“Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co Tipperary