Poetry Town

Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices with the aim of making poetry the beating heart of community life. It runs from the 10th to the 18th September and this year we are delighted that Carrick on Shannon is one of 20 Poetry Towns across the island of Ireland selected to take part.

In addition to the events below –  for which you can now book –  there are workshops ongoing with school and community groups with Gerry Boland, Mary Branley, Róisín Kelly and Stephen Murphy, and around the town you may come across  ‘Poetry Underfoot‘ –  a Rain Paint installation at the quay wall in front of the Old Barrell Store which features a line of poetry from the new work written for Poetry Town by Carrick on Shannon’s poet laureate Vincent Woods; ‘The Poetry of Languages’ which sees the windows of Carrick Library and NCBI adorned with quotes of poetry in numerous languages chosen by the Leitrim International Community Group; and at participating Cafes and Chemists, patrons can pick up a postcard poem provided by Poetry Ireland to enjoy as you have your coffee or await a prescription.

Poetry Promenade with Rhona Trench
Friday 10th and Saturday 11th September at 12 noon and 6pm.

Take a leisurely tour of Carrick on Shannon with a poetic twist! Rhona Trench leads a tour of the town’s historical landmarks with readings of well known and lesser known poems at every stop. Rhona lectures in Writing & Literature and Performing Arts at I.T. Sligo and is Programme Chair of the Masters in Creative Practice and the BA in Performing Arts. She holds a PhD in Contemporary Irish Theatre from Queen’s University Belfast and more recently an MA in Creative Writing in 2017. She has published two monographs, an edited collection of essays, and has published widely in the field of Irish theatre. She is an emerging playwright and short story writer. 

Book Here Maximum 6 people per tour. Tour lasts 1 hour approx.

Pieces of Poetry

Sunday 12th to Friday 17th September at 7pm each evening,

Presented in conjunction with the Carrick on Shannon library, ‘Pieces of Poetry’ is a platform to introduce you to three different poets and the joy of listening to the poet’s voice. We are delighted to present readings by Seamus O’Rourke, Ciarán O’Rourke and Mary Guckian. Seamus O’Rourke is an award-winning writer, poet, director, and actor from Carrigallen. Ciarán O’Rourke is an Irish poet with connections to Rossinver.  He has published a collection of poetry, and has won many prizes including the Westport and the Fish Poetry prizes. Mary Guckian who is a native of Kiltoghert, was awarded the Leitrim Guardian Literacy Award and has many collections of poetry published. Their different writings are influenced by their rural and urban upbringings. On one hand featuring portrayals of emotion steeped in country rhythms and seasonal rituals about ordinary people, as well as delving into the art of history, remembered lives and contemporary conflicts for illumination and insight. These poets will share with you a small selection of their work over six consecutive evenings.

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Word Corner Café with performance by Mary Branley and GreenBird.

Tuesday 14th September from 6.30pm to 8pm.

We are delighted to host a Poetry Town session of The Word Corner Cafe.  The Word Corner Cafe is an informal free monthly meeting for all poets, writers, readers and beat poets to share their own poetry, prose, or the works of their favourite writers.  All attendees of the Word Corner Cafe have equal opportunity to read, or listen and everyone is invited to bring a poem to share.  For this special Poetry Town edition of the Word Corner Cafe, we also welcome a performance of poetry by Mary Branley set to an accompaniment of music by GreenBird.  Branley will read pieces from her third collection, A Pinch of Snow in A Black Velvet Glove, Lepus Print.  'GreenBird', the duo of Cliodhna Quinlan and Mark Murphy, will accompany Mary with their signature melodies that occupy a contemporary space in the folk genre.

This event is open to members of The Word Corner Cafe.  New members are always welcome and you can join Word Corner by emailing: Attendance to this special event is strictly limited and spaces will be allocated in order of application.

'Poet's Circle' Workshop with Mary Branley

Wednesday 15th September from 6.30pm - 8pm.

Poetry Town (Carrick on Shannon) and the Carrick Library are delighted to invite poets of all experience to bring an original poem to share in this workshop hosted by Mary Branley. This will be a wonderful opportunity for participants to learn how to provide inspiring feedback on poetry. This workshop will be presented online via Zoom. A link will be emailed to participants. Mary Branley is a Sligo born poet, author, and musician. She has published two collections of poetry, and is included in numerous anthologies, including Windharp 2015. She recorded a CD Let a new Song Pour in 2019. Her third collection A Pinch Of Snow in a Black Velvet Glove, Lepus Print is being launched at the Hawkswell theatre Sligo on Sept 12th.

Book Here

Poet Laureate Premiere

Friday 17th September 2021 at 8pm.

St. George's Heritage Centre, Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 V068

We are delighted to invite you on Culture Night to the beautiful surroundings of St. George's Heritage Centre, Carrick on Shannon for an evening of poetry and music where Leitrim's 2021 Poet Laureate Vincent Woods will premiere a new poem that he has been commissioned to write by Poetry Ireland for this year's Poetry Town programme that honours and reflects Carrick on Shannon and its people. Alongside the first public reading of this work, we will also have poetry written and read by Leitrim's own Stephen Murphy and Róisín Kelly as well as music and song by the wonderful Ailie Blunnie. For those who are unable to join us in person, the event will be filmed and available to watch afterwards on the Leitrim County Council Arts Office Youtube channel.

Though living in Dublin for a number of years, writer and broadcaster Vincent Woods is Leitrim to the core, with strong and evocative memories of Carrick-on-Shannon gathered over the years. “I saw my first films in the old Gaiety Cinema in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim’s capital town, part of which stretches into – or out of – Roscommon. The market yard was a ruin then, as was the old courthouse that is now the Dock Arts Centre. I remember weddings in the County Hotel and the Bush, great nights dancing and carousing at carnivals and the regatta, Calypso hitting sweet notes in the music pubs – and early poems printed in The Leitrim Observer. Now the challenge to make a poem: I’ll delve at it.”

Stephen Murphy’s work is often said ‘to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. Videos of his poetry have amassed millions of views online, and though he has performed to crowds in the tens of thousands on several occasions, he draws his inspiration from the time and space afforded to think from living a quiet life with his family in rural Ireland. To date, three albums of his poetry have been released, and his first full-length poetry collection, From the Sea Hound, was published in Spring 2019.

Róisín Kelly’s first full-length collection of poetry, Mercy, was published by Bloodaxe Books in March 2020. It followed the publication of her 2016 chapbook, Rapture, by Southword Editions. She won the FISH Poetry Prize in 2017 and in 2020 was awarded a Literature Bursary Award by the Arts Council of Ireland in order to write her second collection of poetry. ‘Róisín Kelly hauls the mythological up into the contemporary world in this fiercely tender collection. Love and loss are laid bare again and again under constellations new and old, in skies above Greece, Portugal, America, France, and Ireland. Kelly’s intelligence and wisdom ignite each of these poems, whether funeral pyre or beacon in the dark light. Mercy burns with ruthless beauty.’ —Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives.

Ailie Blunnie is a musician and songwriter from Carrick on Shannon. Her songs have a stillness and beauty that carry echoes of the landscapes of her childhood, and a vibrancy and vigour that lend freshness to the modern folk genre in which she works. Her début album, West to the Evening Sun, was released in 2017. Róisín Dwyer of Hot Press described the album as ‘One of the finest Irish albums of the year’ while Alan Corr of RTÉ Entertainment said the ‘songs sound like they were spirited up from the landscape of her home in North-West Ireland’.

Book Here (Tickets for this event can only be booked in pods of 4 or 6.)

Poems That Move You with Stephen Murphy

Saturday 18th September at 3pm.

Not every poetry reading has the poet looking down to a seated audience of attentive, fawning (or sometimes yawning) listeners – or certainly not in the case of Stephen Murphy.  For Poetry Town in Carrick on Shannon join poet Stephen Murphy as he takes you on a sprightly poetic journey around the town – a Slí na Slainte for the soul! Stephen Murphy lives and works in North Leitrim, having recently returned from travelling. He’s happiest out in the countryside and can’t for the life of himself figure out why people like living in cities. He’s a fan of all animals, especially dogs and people.

Book Here Max 6 participants. Tour lasts 1 hour approx.

Tickets to all events are free but strictly limited and must be booked in advance through Eventbrite. Bookings open on 30th August.


Iron Mountain Literature Festival


TO THE MOUNTAIN: Words and Music live in Carrick-on-Shannon

Town Park, Carrick on Shannon

Thursday September 9th  

​'To The Mountain’ is a special evening of words, poems, memories, music and song in Carrick-on-Shannon Town Park on Thursday 9th September featuring the premiere performance of new work specially commissioned for this year’s Iron Mountain Literature Festival. This special live event features artists Patrick McCabe, Alice Lyons, Seamus O Rourke, Ailie Blunnie, Michael Harding, Róisín Kelly and Stephen Murphy. 

Ailie Blunnie is a musician and songwriter from Carrick-on-Shannon, with a songwriting style that pushes the boundaries both sonically and lyrically.  Her debut album West to the Evening Sun, was released in 2017. She will present the premiere live performance of a new song for this event. Michael Harding is a playwright, novelist and Irish Times columnist. His most recent book is Chest Pain: A man, a stent and a camper van. Michael lives in Timpaun, near Drumshanbo. Róisín Kelly is a striking new voice in poetry. Her first collection, Mercy, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2020. Róisín grew up in Leitrim and now lives in Cork. Alice Lyons is a poet and novelist, notable for her incorporation of the visual into poetry. Her novel Oona was published by the Lilliput Press in 2020. Patrick McCabe is a novelist and author of many works including Breakfast on Pluto and The Butcher Boy. Pat lives in Carrick-on-Shannon. Stephen Murphy is a celebrated performance poet whose work has a significant online following. His first full collection From the Sea Hound was published in 2019. Stephen lives in Drumkeeran. Seamus O’Rourke is a playwright, actor and writer from Carrigallen. His memoir Standing in Gaps was published in 2020. Seamus will play the part of the father, S. B.O’Donnell, in a new production of Philadelphia Here I Come at Cork Opera House in October. The event will be introduced by writer Vincent Woods, Poetry Ireland’s Laureate for Carrick-on-Shannon and Director of the Iron Mountain Festival.

The Iron Mountain Literature Festival and Leitrim County Council are offering this as a free ticketed event as a gift to the town, through support by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media under the Local Live Performance Programming Scheme 2021.  This scheme aims to support the work of local artists and professional cultural practitioners and bring live performance back to appreciative audiences around the country.

Be the first to hear the premiere performance of brand new writing by this wonderful selection of local artists, but make sure you book early as tickets are very limited and the event is likely to book out quickly.  Start time 7pm on Thursday 9th September in in Carrick on Shannon Town Park (beside the Rowing Club).  

Advance booking is essential through the link below.

​Book Now

For further information please go to

Arising from the John McGahern seminar which ran from 2007 for eight years, the Iron Mountain Literature Festival was established in 2016, reframed in a wider context involving writers, artists and thinkers from many perspectives. The festival draws much of its motivation from the works and legacy of John McGahern, an approach which has allowed for a wide-ranging literary event combining panels, talks, readings and field trips which look to ideas central to and arising from an exploration of place, home and identity.


  • EU Sturctural Fund
  • European Union