Mike Gallagher – Matt Mooney’s poetry is firmly rooted in place and time and values

MichaelMike Gallagher was born on Achill Island and worked in London for forty years before retiring to Kerry. His prose, poetry, haiku and songs have been published in Ireland and throughout Europe, America, Australia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Japan and Canada. His writing has been translated into Croatian, Japanese, Dutch, German and Chinese. He won the 2009 Samhlaiocht Slam, the 2010 Michael Hartnett Viva Voce competition, he was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award in 2011 and won the Desmond Ogrady International Poetry Contest in 2012. His poetry collection Stick on Stone was published by Revival Press in 2013.

Matt Mooney’s poetry is firmly rooted in place and time and values

By Mike Gallagher

Matt Mooney’s poetry is firmly rooted in place and time and values. No matter what his physical location – be it Australia, Cambodia or Brussels – his perspective remains
that of the countryman waiting for a lift in Listowel:

‘I hope’, he said of the weather
‘It stays now with the moon’;
In a flash it all came back to me –
Nights at home and stories told
And the new moon growing old.

Matt’s vision of present and future never strays far from comparisons with a simpler and, despite its deprivations, a more contented time.

Cover  of the Book OKI turn upside down my old tin can
To drain the drop that still remains,
And I am reminded of how it was
By the cool water from the spring,
Only to find so little is left behind –
Then I’d remember a penny mender,
That could be got in a country shop,
Would have stopped the leak of time.

Matt has a certainty born out of a deep faith. He came of age in the helter-skelter nineteen-sixties but, like most of his generation who stayed on in Ireland rather than emigrating,
he has clung on to the old certitudes.

I have a seat and I sit on it
In tune with nature freely
And it’s like praying silently,
Shaking off chains of thought
That imprison me unwillingly;
Now I can fly to where I will.

Matt Mooney is a fine traditional musician and it is no surprise that the old rhythms wander in and out of his poems.

In that road good music could be heard at times:
Father, mother, sons and daughter – the best of trad,
But the father’s favourite was Tosselli’s Serenade.

True, Mooney tries to stay manfully within Tosselli’s constraints:

So I find when I write each line
And parallel it with another one
I fret a lot about the way they run
And I keep a rein on every word,
Observing how they fall in place
And I drill and till them all at once,
Ploughing with my imagination.

But, try as he will the reins slip slack and we find the poems bouncing along to the exuberant rhythms of The Connaught Man’s Rambles or The Bucks of Oranmore. And why not – they are fine tunes and in Mooney’s constituency, they hold more sway than Bach or Brahms. Matt Mooney knows his audience; he knows that they will enjoy Earth to Earth.


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