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Voices at the World's Edge: Irish Poets on Skellig Michael

Published by Dedalus Press

ISBN: 9781906614355

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Skellig Michael (in Irish, Sceilig Mhichíl, or Michael’s rock) is the larger of the two Skellig islands, situated some 12 km off the coast of south-west Kerry. St. Fionan’s monastery stood there for some 700 years after its foundation in the 6th century, a climb of 670 steps and almost 230 metres above sea level, and one of the earliest of such settlements in Ireland. In 1996 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite its proximity to the mainland, however, Skellig Michael remains virtually unknown, and yet its stark beauty holds a fascination for many. For Voices at the World’s Edge, Dublin-born poet Paddy Bushe, long since living within sight of the Skelligs, invited some of Ireland’s best-known poets to travel with him to Skellig Michael, to spend the night among bee-hive huts, puffins and gannets, and to write of their experience at what was once the edge of the world.

Contributors include John F. Deane, Theo Dorgan, Kerry Hardie, Biddy Jenkinson, Seán Lysaght, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Bernard O’Donoghue, Cathal Ó Searcaigh and Macdara Woods. Marie Heaney provides an introduction to this extraordinary anthology of poetry and prose that is part travel writing, part meditative day-book; part natural history, part response to the history of faith on this sea-encircled rock. World-famous photographer John Minihan, so often to be found among writers, records both his own and his companions’ journeys.

Paddy Bushe was born in Dublin in 1948. In 2008 Dedalus published To Ring in Silence: New and Selected Poems, which draws on all of his earlier collections and includes the author’s own translations of his own and a number of classic Irish lyrics. Described in The Irish Times as “a significant and necessary voice in Irish poetry”, he is the recipient of the Oireachtas prize for poetry and the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award, both in 2006. He lives in Co. Kerry.
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