Derry writer Liam Ó Comáin is back with another collection of poems, ‘Field of the Soul’, to set alongside his recently-published book ‘The Thoroughbred Racing Pigeon’.
“I’m making up for lost time!”, jokes the 70 year-old, who has plans to bring out yet another book shortly on “the need for a spiritual revolution”.
‘Field of the Soul’ is his second book of poetry, following on from the success of ‘To Paint In Words’, which he says was sold out within months and is now difficult to get.
The focus of the book is the valley of the river Roe, with a fond look back to his childhood in Limavady and its picturesque surrounds.
The English poet Terry Watkins says; “Through beautiful images and expressions Liam Ó Comáin gathers from his culture and expresses his homage to the beautiful valley of the River Roe and its people, delivering some wonderful verse pertaining to the valley’s community, history and promise.”
Liam, who now lives in Ballymagroarty, says he was born into a working-class family in Limavady. His father Willie Cummings had Coleraine connections, while his mother was originally Mary McGlinchey from County Derry, whose own mother was McGinley from Gortahork in north Donegal.
After working in England and then in Maydown in Derry, Liam studied as an adult at the University of Ulster and got an honours degree in psychology. He did some lecturing to nursing staff before becoming a full-time organiser with the republican movement in Derry and the North West. He later joined the IRSP and became national chairperson at one time, “again departing over policy”.
He adds, “As a republican completely opposed to Provo strategy, I have written a book of my involvement in the republican movement and hope to see it published soon.”
Liam says that “in my ex-republican years I was the first elected national chairperson of the Cursillo Movement in Ireland”.
He’s married to Shiela, nee Meenan, whose grandfather, a Derry City Councillor, gave his name to Meenan Square. They have four children. Shiela was one of the famous Little Gaelic Singers.
The title poem of Liam’s book, ‘Field of the Soul’, talks of ‘an overwhelming sense of being at home’ in that valley of the River Roe where Liam grew up -
Where, more than once,
I was elated
Strolling paths and glades
Aware of a reality
Beyond bird song,
Falling rain, a river’s flow [. . .]’
In the poems, there’s lots of local interest, from ‘The Gallop’ fair day to the Roe Mill and ‘the wee school/Beside Saint Canice’s’, and climbing up ‘The Mullagh’ to ‘view the whole scene/Of my own native birthplace’.
The opening poem in the collection is ‘They Are Of Me’ -
From the smithy of verse
I hammered out
The enclosed lines
They are a part of me
As much as my frame
My hazel eyes or my name
Yes they are but verse
But they are of me
‘Field of the Soul’ is available in local bookshops or online from Amazon, where there’s also a Kindle version.