Eleanor Hall, Poet – May 1997

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Generally, when I’m asked my name, I respond truthfully. However, there have been occasions when I have misled the enquirer with a false name, but usually I gleefully say ‘Eleanor Hall’. Sometimes, I get a distinct blank look, so I obligingly provide a bit more detail. If the person is local and because I’m my mother’s daughter, I usually start by asking a question first. ‘Do you know Pa Hall’? Quite a large number of people will go ‘Ah, sure yah, I know Pa well’. ‘I’m his daughter’. The remaining confused people are probably not from Athenry or the surrounding area, or have not lived there for long and probably don’t follow the Athenry hurlers.

I had lived away from Athenry for ten years. At one point in my misguided youth, I had a fanatical idea that I couldn’t live in Ireland, let alone Athenry. I went to college, where my summers were spent either in London or the States. Once I qualified, I grasped the opportunity to live in Switzerland for a year. Some people can live and thrive in a structured environment, where ‘Big Brother is watching you’ but I did not. I was once fined £10 for singing the ‘Fields of Athenry’ at 1am.

After twelve months of frustration (not because of my singing), I returned to the previously unappreciated green shores. I lived in Dublin for four years, then I got bitten by the Galway bug. I returned home to Athenry, last year, to the environment that provided me with a wealth of characters and stories for my poems.

When I write my poetry, I draw from all these experiences and people, but mostly from my mother, Nora, her understanding of people and, of course, her curiosity.

One of the first poems I ever wrote is based on my favourite poem ‘The Listener’ by Walter De La Mare. As a teenager, I would sit at night with the poetry book I had borrowed, albeit on a permanent basis, from my aunt. I read ‘The Listener’ each night, and imagined myself as part of the scene. This poem encapsulates those reflections:

Deserted

A beam falls through a shattered pane, and causes dust to fly,

mellow Moonlight once a friend, did now just pass here by.

For wrapped in nocturnal Summer’s warmth this house forever sleeps,

only spiders see who dwell for inside their souls they keep.

For no one ever answers, no human tones abound,

but once inside this stony place, music was known to sound.

A lone owl hoots from lofty top of blossom apple tree,

but no one hears his errie tones or his feathered wings do see.

“Wise old owl who knows all truth, do tell who left this place? “

But he too falls silent to leave an empty space.

None now use this tumbled wreck, but nettles green and tall,

perhaps this resembles Destiny and Death ’s sweet final call.

I wanted to write a poem that I could read when I was in bad form, one that would improve my humour but being a red head, ‘bad form’ can be difficult to improve. So, one night while I was in good form’ I wrote:

Things for Me

I want to write of bonnets frayed,

of luscious lands, of lovers lost,

of shady glades and autumn shades,

of whispered dreams, and winter’s frost.

I ’d like to sing of things gone hence,

of oyster shells, and stony wells,

of thicket fence and summer scents,

of dewy dawns and shepherds’ dells.

I ’d like to see a rushing shore,

a weepy willow, a feather pillow,

a copper cup of candy core,

a steady steer, and dancing duo.

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About this record

Written by Eleanor Hall

Published here 13 Feb 2023 and originally published May 1997

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