The Arts Interview: Ron Carey

John Rainsford


John Rainsford

The Arts Interview: Ron Carey

Raised over a jeweller and watchmaker’s shop on Parnell Street, my grandfather, William Carey, owned it and was, also, in charge of the maintenance of Taits Clock.

My mum, Lily Noonan, was a ‘Soda Cake’ from Thomondgate and my Dad, Bill Carey, was from the inner city. When I was four, we moved to the, then, newly built housing estate of Ballynanty. I lived there until I was twenty, and then, moved to Dublin to work. I have two brothers, Greg and Liam, who live locally, however, today; I live in Dublin with my wife Cathy. We have four grown up children, Anna, Rachel, David and our eldest, Jane, who lives in Australia.

Patrick O’ Flynn was a wonderful, inspiring and influential teacher, at St. Munchin’s Primary School, on the Shelbourne Road.

I went on to Sexton St., CBS, but I left after taking my Intermediate Certificate, aged sixteen yea and went on to work for an Engineering firm in Shannon. A fine poet himself, my brother Greg, has always encouraged me to make the most of my writing abilities. He persuaded me that it was possible, at my age, to go on to university and to get a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, which I have just been awarded by the University of South Wales.

Writing poetry was something that I always took for granted.

Every summer, I would learn all the poems for the following year’s English class, off by heart, before we went back to school. My mother would, also, recite reams of verse as she went about her housekeeping. Indeed, I grew-up listening to ballads like ‘Drunken Thady and the Bishop’s Lady’ and other traditional poems and songs. When I tried my hand at it, I found that I had the knack, and in fact, it came to me quite naturally.

Writing is less of a challenge now, than it was, when I was a young man.

Then, it was harder to be objective, worrying about bills and school fees. Working all the hours that God sends does not leave you much time to do anything else. Now, however, I have more time to be with people, who love poetry as much as I do, and more time to reflect and to think about life. The challenge, now, is to write better poetry. With just a few lines, a poet can make sense of the world that we live in. A favourite line of poetry, like a prayer, can sustain and keep you going through all sorts of trouble. When a person wants to say something to lift the spirits, they recite a poem. In moments of sadness and joy, we find that a poem can express our real feelings.

A person is a poet at heart, first, and only then a poet who writes poetry.

We are all poets, in the sense that we can appreciate the poetry we see and the poetry we hear. You can’t encourage people to write if the spark is not there. Instead, you must find the spark and fan the flame. Taking the next step, of writing poetry, is something we hardly have any say in – it’s a need. I would love to work with people who really want to write, and I hope to set up my own course next year, to cater for ‘beginners’.

Only a very small percentage of writers can actually make a living at it.

Indeed, there is an even smaller percentage when it comes to poetry, although some poets just about manage it. You might be one of the lucky ones, but in any case, you eventually come to appreciate its wonderful but less tangible rewards. In this regard, self-publishing has become very popular, by giving the writer complete control over the end-product. I fully understand the attraction of instant access, but never considered E-publishing, for myself, (I’m far too old fashioned). For me, a book is something that you can feel, smell and borrow from a friend – even forget to return!

My debut poetry collection is called ‘Distance’.

The title refers to those distances which can exist within the same family; the distance we are from the people we came from; and the distance between different cultures. Some poems explore childhood and young adulthood in Limerick and as far away as Belize. Other poems deal with the adult themes of love, guilt, sadness, hope and yet celebrate the humanity in us all. The Limerick Writers’ Centre (LWC), which is at the heart of Limerick literary life, was a great help in having my book published under their imprint, ‘Revival Press’. The LWC does wonderful work in supporting and guiding local writers, and by keeping the tradition of poetry alive, in Limerick, through On the Nail at the Locke Bar, and The White House poetry 

Limerick is very much in the running to be European Capital of Culture (2020).

Although, over 200,000 visitors celebrated Limerick’s year as City of Culture, projects like the Craft Hub, the ILEN Boat Making Project, and FABLAB, have had a more lasting effect. It makes me proud to see how welcoming and vibrant the city looks every time I drive home. This is due mainly to the tremendous efforts being made by local volunteers and officials. Because of this, Limerick is now realising her commercial, educational, literary and sporting potential!

Ron Carey’s poetry collection, called ‘Distance’, will be launched by Catherine Phil MacCarthy on Sunday, November 22, at the Hunt Museum at 3pm, and by Jane Clarke, at the Writers’ Centre in Dublin, on Wednesday, November 25 at 6.30pm. You can, also, contact Dominic Taylor, Community Literature Officer of The Limerick Writers’ Centre on 087-2996409 or by email: