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Irish Poet John Montague

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  Saint Martin de Peille, Alpes-Maritimes, France – Saturday 2 June 2012

 

Some 100 guests, including Garech Browne, attended a special Mother’s Day celebration to honour Princess Grace of Monaco (1929-1982). Organised by the Mayor’s office in Peille, the simple and enchanting ceremony took place in the ‘Jardin Princesse Grace’ in Saint Martin de Peille, tucked away in the dramatic Alpine foothills high above Monaco. It was in the woods around the village that the Princess often gathered leaves for her dried flower collages. Mayor Stéphane Sainsaulieu made a short welcome speech recalling the former Grace Kelly’s role as a mother and her love for the country of her ancestors who left County Mayo in the late 19th century. Naturally, Irish song and poetry featured on the programme.

John Montague read his poem Windharp chosen for its perfect description of the very beauty that is the Island of Ireland. His wife – American novelist Elizabeth Wassell – looked on as the guests hung onto his every word… some slightly in awe that ‘un grand poète irlandais’ was amongst their midst. John Montague commented afterwards: 'This is exactly what a charming village feast should be, from poets to young musicians and dancers.' Francis O’Hara, a Limerick-born writer from Nice, read He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats. The village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin where Yeats died is just a few kilometres away on the coast. The poems and readers were selected by Judith Gantley, administrator of The Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco. Thomas Moore’s The Last Rose of Summer and We May Roam through this World were performed by Manon Jürgens (soprano) and Manon Grinda (harp) from the Académie Rainier III - Musique et Théâtre in Monaco.

Special thanks to Susan Kennedy and Sean Walsh of Lensmen Photographic Agency in Dublin who gave permission to use the image of Princess Grace (Dublin 1961) in the Programme.

 


WINDHARP (John Montague)

The sounds of Ireland,

that restless whispering

you never get away

from, seeping out of

low bushes and grass,

heatherbells and fern,

wrinkling bog pools,

scraping tree branches,

light hunting cloud,

sound hounding sight,

a hand ceaselessly

combing and stroking

the landscape, till

the valley gleams

like the pile upon

a mountain pony's coat.

 

HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN (William Butler Yeats)

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 

 

 

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