Author Archives: Doug Cumming

Saint Seamus the Poet

His face seems to be in every little corner of Ireland now, like a martyred saint. There in the Armagh County Museum, among the local paintings on exhibit, “The Poet” is clearly him, Seamus Heaney. I see other versions of that face appearing “like a slit-eyed potato” as he said of own countenance – on […]

The Plantation history question

In the cathedral-like Guildhall civic center at the heart of Derry-Londonderry, an exhibit on the history of the city invites visitors to scribble questions or opinions on pieces of paper at the main displays. This seems a genuine effort at inviting dialog, at prompting a community forum, a discussion. The written comments mostly seemed to […]

Briefed by the Belfast BBC

The BBC Broadcast House in Belfast welcomed us like family. It was not at all the bunker I complained about in an earlier post as being today’s position of most news organizations – and this, in a city that was full of bunker defenses not long ago. It’s an old building, with “The British Broadcasting […]

The Crows Can Hear the Falconer

They say there’s magic here in the Emerald Isle, something in the way the Gulf Stream and far-north latitude mix. Or maybe it’s the way the politics of grievance mixes with an ancient instinct for utterance. The first literature of any race is always symbols, incantations, poetry. (Realism comes last, ultimately expressed in nonfiction storytelling.) […]

A story too good to check out

I remember reading the appalling story last month in the Roanoke (Va.) Times before leaving for Ireland: Nuns at an Irish orphanage during some three decades of the mid-20th century had discarded about 800 dead babies and children in unmarked graves on the convent grounds, some in a septic tank. Yuck. The news story was […]

For Iggy McGovern: A Sonnet

You cannot fool a fool; a con game’s lost In translation. Likewise, to render these Sonnets of yours into some torn, gong-tossed Free verse would leave acres of vacancies: The way you cast each poem inside the head Of that great polymath, or of each kith And kin, distinct, original, well said, Yet each turn […]

Doug’s journalism class

Sorry for the late notice, and not being able to get this on the schedule tab. I’ll email it too. Let’s meet at the Writers Center at 10 a.m. If we have another room with the technology (or can just use my laptop), I’d like to have each of us show a multimedia news feature […]

The Isle of Poets

Libby and I enjoyed a privileged easygoing tour of a few inner sanctums of Trinity College (founded 1592 with the mission of opposing Irish popery), guided by a physics professor emeritus with a key, a Catholic gent from the north coast of Ulster named Ignatius McGovern. Iggy had an office adjoining the only Irishman to win […]

‘Mind Your Manners’

British troops were garrisoned on the hill just beyond the greensward Mall in Armagh as early as the 1740s. Around 1820, soldiers of this permanent encampment decided to build their own Anglican church, since the cathedral on the opposite hill was too crowded – and perhaps a little too high-church and snooty for these rough […]

Of Parades and Tweets

I have been trying for days to get in touch with some high-profile BBC correspondents in Belfast. I understand they’re busy with the crackling controversies gathering heat around the impending July 12 Orangemen marches. This traditional celebration of King William III’s victory over the Irish (read: Catholic) rebels at the Battle of the Boyne in […]