Fr Michael had a talent for poetry

November 14th, 2018 10:10 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Fr Michael finished his final collection of poems just before he passed away.

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WHEN West Cork’s Fr Michael McCarthy passed away earlier this year, he left behind a final collection of poetry that was appropriately called The Bright Room.

Fr Michael McCarthy, a native of Rerahanagh, Drimoleague, completed the works – published by Smith|Doorstop – just months before he died, on July 10th.

The poems in the collection have been described as being ‘alert with self-knowledge and social comment’ and are considered to be a fitting testament to Fr McCarthy, both as a poet and a man.

The priest’s first collection of poems Birds’ Nests and Other Poems won the Patrick Kavanagh Award. His second At the Races was chosen as the overall winner of the 2008 Book & Pamphlet Competition.

His third The Healing Station was – most impressively of all – chosen by Hilary Mantel as a Book of the Year in The Guardian.

Fr McCarthy served as a priest in North Yorkshire for two decades until his death, but the book features works that reflect on his childhood in rural West Cork, too.

Shortly before his death, Fr McCarthy told The Catholic News: ‘I come from a story-telling tradition. Public entertainment arrived late in rural Ireland. By the time the radio came on the scene I was already approaching my teens.

‘I fancied myself as a teller of tales.’

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