Patrick Kavanagh Country, Co Monaghan
You’ve heard of Yeats Country. You know Joyce’s Dublin. Seamus Heaney is soon to get his own visitor centre in Bellaghy. So why, oh why, is the gorgeously intimate landscape of Patrick Kavanagh’s life and poetry so off-radar? Within a 13.5km walk, cycle or drive from the heritage centre in Inniskeen, you’ll find the poet’s grave (a modest wooden cross), the family homestead, Billy Brennan’s Barn and Inniskeen Road, where the bicycles went by in twos and threes on that eponymous July evening. Monaghan has its magic, all right –
The bicycles go by in twos and threes –
There’s a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn to-night,
And there’s the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone.
I have what every poet hates in spite
Of all the solemn talk of contemplation.
Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight
Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom, I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing