Limerick poetry revival reaches cultural milestone

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Barney Sheehan, poetry compere, and Glen McLoughlin, proprietor, White House, get ready for week 500
A CULTURAL milestone will be reached next week as the White House poetry revival marks its 500th consecutive week.

A CULTURAL milestone will be reached next week as the White House poetry revival marks its 500th consecutive week.

A full day of events has been planned for next Wednesday, June 19 to mark the occasion, with compere Barney Sheehan ambitiously hoping up to 500 poets will take to the stage in the Glentworth Street pub.

Every Wednesday night since June 19, 2003, an open microphone session has been held in the White House, with a guest poet following from this.

Hundreds of people are expected in the pub next week to celebrate a decade of poetry. A party evening is to be held on the night, with Barney hoping to kick off proceedings earlier in the day.

He will also be making contact with the Guinness Book of Records to establish whether the White House can claim an achievement.

“When you consider that over the 500 nights we have had poetry in the White House, that we have had tourists from all over the world. Who in the name of almighty God would market poetry?” he asked.

Famous Limerick poet Desmond O’Grady kicked off proceedings in the pub ten years ago, and over the years, writers have come in from across the globe, including locations as far flung as Egypt and Australia.

There has also been a number of local poets seeing their name in print for the first time in the poetry collections published through the years.

Barney says he is “indescribably” proud to reach week 500.

He said: “We have achieved something for Limerick, and I am very proud of this. I have no doubt we could not have done this without the support of so many people.”

Barney paid tribute to the many poets who have performed and helped him organise the event down through the years.

“You can do nothing on your own: it has to be done with a group around you, and it is the regular poets in the White House who have helped us achieve this,” he said.

Asked why he thinks the poetry nights have been so successful, he added: “I think what we raised here in the White House was that there is a tremendous need for poetry. People want to go up to the microphone and read their poetry: they want to see themselves on stage, and they want the chance, without criticism, to read their poetry.”

He confirmed he will be making contact with the Guinness Book of Records, saying: “We have had 500 consecutive weekly nights of poetry, which has never been done by any other place in the world to my knowledge. I am going to try and establish a new record.”

And he has extended an invite to President Michael D Higgins to attend the 500th evening of prose.