Kildare Arts Service : Press Releases : Press Releases 2021

Poet Laureate announced for Naas as part of Poetry Town

Appointed poet to write poem honouring and reflecting Naas and its people

Poetry Ireland has today (17.08.21) announced the names of the Poet Laureates selected as part of the Poetry Town initiative, which will see more than a hundred poetry-related activities take place in 20 towns across the island of Ireland between 10th and 18th September 2021.

Naas, Co Kildare is among the Poetry Towns, and Poetry Ireland, in conjunction with Kildare County Council Arts Office, has appointed Mary O’Donnell as the Poet Laureate for the town.

Mary O’Donnell is a poet, short story writer and novelist, who lives near Straffan (further information below).

All Poet Laureates announced today are either from the respective local area or have strong connections with it, and have been commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.

As part of the week-long Poetry Town celebrations next month, each Poet Laureate will reveal and present their poem to the people of their Poetry Town at a series of flagship online events, one of which will be hosted in each town. Each event will also feature contributions from other local poets, artists and musicians. Further details about these events are available on the Poetry Town website.

Further activities will include a series of poetry events involving local poets; poetry workshops; public poetry displays, including ‘Poetry Underfoot’; and a range of physical activities called ‘Poems that Move You’, which will vary from town to town.  Local businesses, including cafés and chemists, will also be participating in the activities to celebrate their towns by distributing ‘pocket poems’ to customers. The full programme of activities for each town will be made available on the Poetry Town website during the last week of August.

Commenting, Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell said: “We are delighted we could secure such a strong cohort of Poet Laureates for this exciting new poetry initiative, which is characterised by collaboration and communal experiences. The aim of Poetry Town is to celebrate the vitality and strength of our towns and communities, and to shine a light on the wealth of creativity and talent that can be found in them. The diversity of this talent is reflected in the selection of Laureates, which includes both well-known visionary poets and new powerful voices.”

Mary O’Donnell added: “What a huge honour to be part of Poetry Ireland's Poetry Town all-island project and Laureate for Naas. Being commissioned to write for and about this ancient yet very buzzy modern county town is a responsibility. But this is what Laureates do, I tell myself, they rise up, get a feel for a time and a place and pull together the preciousness of that experience.

“I anticipate diversity, a spirit of exploration and some craic when meeting workshop participants, and look forward to working with Kildare's talented Arts Officer Lucina Russell.  I come to the task in a spirit of possibility, offering my gifts as a poet, but humbly. Go raibh maith agat, Nás-na-Rí, for the call to poetry!”

Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices. It is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

For further information, visit the Poetry Town website


About Mary O’Donnell

Mary O’Donnell is a poet, short-story writer, and novelist. She has published eight collections of poetry, including Unlegendary Heroes, Those April Fevers, and, most recently, Massacre of the Birds. Novels include The Light-MakersThe Elysium Testament, and Where They Lie.

She co-edited (with Manuela Palacios) the anthology of Galician Women’s poetry, To the Winds Our Sails. A collection of essays on O’Donnell’s work appeared during 2018: Giving Shape to the Moment: The Art of Mary O’Donnell, Poet, Novelist, Short-story Writer (Peter Lang), edited by Prof Elena Jaime de Pablos, with contributions from Spanish and Irish academics and writers. Since 2001 she has been a member of Ireland’s affiliation of artists, Aosdána.  


About Poetry Ireland

Poetry Ireland connects poetry and people, and is committed to achieving excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry throughout the island of Ireland. The non-profit organisation, established in 1978, combines its role as a promoter and supporter of poetry with advocacy for poets, advancing the art form through solid development goals.

It works to make poetry more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds across the island of Ireland, through live events, education and publications. Poetry Ireland is currently working with its partner, The Irish Heritage Trust, on a long-held ambition to establish the Poetry Ireland Centre, dedicated to celebrating, supporting and promoting poetry and poets.


The Poet Laureates appointed for each of the participating towns are:

  • Adare, Co Limerick: Edward O’Dwyer;
  • Athenry, Co Galway: Elaine Feeney;
  • Bailieborough, Co Cavan: Mairéad Donnellan;
  • Ballycastle, Co Antrim: Kate Newmann;
  • Bandon, Co Cork: Matthew Geden;
  • Belmullet, Co Mayo: Anne Walsh Donnelly;
  • Bray, Co Wicklow: Kayssie K.;
  • Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim: Vincent Woods;
  • Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary: Billy Fenton;
  • Cootehill, Co Cavan: Noel Monahan;
  • Dublin 1, Co Dublin: Rachael Hegarty;
  • Dungarvan, Co Waterford: Áine Uí Fhoghlú;
  • Dunshaughlin, Co Meath: Orla Fay;
  • Ennistymon, Co Clare: Grace Wells;
  • Listowel, Co Kerry: Dairena Ní Chinnéide;
  • Mountmellick, Co Laois: Arthur Broomfield;
  • Naas, Co Kildare: Mary O’Donnell;
  • Strokestown, Co Roscommon: Noelle Lynskey;
  • Tullamore, Co Offaly: Cormac Lally;
  • Wexford Town, Co Wexford: Sasha Terfous.

Short bios for all Poet Laureates are available on the Poetry Town website. The selection of each town’s Poet Laureate has been made by Poetry Ireland in conjunction with the Local Authority Arts Offices, and with contributions from county and local libraries. Considerations for selection were: a connection with the town and vicinity; a thematic resonance in the poet's work; a track record of publishing or performance; and – the final and key factor – ensuring a balance of diversity across the towns and country in relation to gender, age, ethnic background, and language.

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