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‘Menu of Poems’ to Celebrate Poetry Day Ireland on Thursday 27 April 2023

‘Menu of Poems’ to Celebrate Poetry Day Ireland on Thursday 27 April

Poet Theo Dorgan selects ‘Menu of Poems’ for patients and staff of Irish hospitals for Poetry Day Ireland

‘Menu of Poems’ features ‘Unlegendary Heroes’ by Kildare poet Mary O’Donnell


To celebrate Poetry Day Ireland on Thursday 27 April 2023, a Menu of Poems will be distributed throughout Irish hospital wards, waiting rooms and other healthcare settings for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. The poetry was selected by Poet Theo Dorgan.

Menu of Poems takes the form of a short anthology of poetry distributed annually to healthcare users in a range of healthcare settings. Produced by Saolta Arts on behalf of Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland, supported by Poetry Ireland and HSE Health Promotion and Improvement, over 10,000 people in healthcare settings will receive the Menu on Poetry Day Ireland, including patients in Naas General Hospital, residents of St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athy and nursing homes and day services for older people across  County Kildare. 

The anthology includes Mary O’Malley’s poem The Hare, Pat Boran’s poem Hedge School as well as Kildare based poet Mary O’Donnell’s poem Unlegendary Heroes. The poets involved have also kindly recorded the poetry and it is available at  and the Menu is available to anyone working in a healthcare facility to print and distribute in their own locations. There is also a bonus available on the website Theo’s own poem The Promised Garden.  

Since its conception in 2008, Menu of Poems has been a positive development in the lives of both patients and those who work in healthcare settings across Ireland. The poetry is circulated on meal trays in hospitals and other healthcare settings with participating healthcare providers organising readings and workshops for Poetry Day Ireland.

Theo Dorgan, Poet and Editor of the 2023 Menu of Poems, said: “This is a marvellous venture and it's a pleasure and an honour to contribute to it. Now more than ever we need words that speak to us in the direct language of the heart. I chose these poems in the hope they will help steady the hearts of readers as they have steadied mine.

Liz Kelly, Director of Poetry Ireland, said: “Poetry Ireland is once again delighted to be involved with the Menu of Poems project in 2023.  Theo Dorgan has imaginatively selected powerful, thought-provoking poems that we are sure will bring great pleasure to all who read them.  Saolta Arts has done a tremendous job in producing and sharing this remarkable menu of poems.’’

Margaret Flannery, Arts Director at Saolta Arts, said: “Menu of Poems continues to grow its audience annually and I am delighted to work with my colleagues in Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland, the HSE and Poetry Ireland to realise this special project. With the recordings and download available online the poetry can be accessed all year round in all healthcare settings for everyone to enjoy across the country.”

Lucina Russell, Arts Officer, Kildare County Council commented that ‘the local authority has been involved with this thoughtful and considered project from the outset, but it has particular resonance this year, with the inclusion of a poem by Kildare based poet Mary O’Donnell.  I hope that the poems stimulate conversation and allow for reflection’.

The following hospitals and centres will participate in Menu of Poems 2023:

  • Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork;
  • Arts and Health Programme at Tallaght University Hospital;
  • Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary Community Health Organisation;
  • Community Healthcare West;
  • Cork Kerry Community Health Organisation;
  • Kildare County Council Arts and Health Programme;
  • MISA Creative Life at St James’s Hospital;
  • Naas General Hospital Arts Committee;
  • Saolta Arts and Saolta University Health Care Group incorporating:
  • University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital;
  • Mayo University Hospital;
  • Portiuncula University Hospital;
  • Roscommon University Hospital;
  • Sligo University Hospital; and
  • Letterkenny University Hospital.
  • St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network in Dublin;
  • St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin;
  • University Limerick Hospitals Group incorporating
  • University Hospital Limerick;
  • Limerick Maternity Hospital;
  • St. John’s Hospital;
  • Ennis Hospital;
  • Nenagh Hospital;
  • Croom Hospital;
  • Waterford Healing Arts at Waterford University Hospital and
  • West Cork Mental Health Services Arts and Health Programme


For more information on the Menu of Poems project and if your hospital or healthcare facility would like to take part email 

Downloadable version and recordings available at:

For information on Poetry Day Ireland visit

‘Menu of Poems’ to Celebrate Poetry Day Ireland on Thursday 27 April 2023

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