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Remember The Birds

Louise C. Callaghan

ISBN: 1 903392 51 9

Page Count: 72

Publication Date: Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cover Artwork: Bridget Flannery

About this Book

'Early Waking' and 'Evening' frame a collection which explores family and friends, birth and death. In Louise C. Callaghan's second collection, the poems speak of her own life and go beyond that, inviting the reader in. There is a beautifully simple and familiar symmetry here: the opening poem celebrates early morning, a hooded-crow, a girl reading, and in the final poem, 'Evening', robins swoop, swallows curve and seagulls are rose-coloured in evening light in the Island. At the heart of this volume is Callaghan's heartbreak at her granddaughter's illness and death. Both in the prelude, 'Called to See the Newborn',

Her dark head is crowned
in a tangle of wires...

and in the five poems in 'Ways of Mourning' Callaghan's lyric voice is both aural and visual. In word-choice, cadence and line-break there is no sense of straining for effect. The poems speak to each other and confirm an individual voice. In 'Secret' she writes of poetry as 'the urge to understand'. These delicate and at times deceptively fragile poems in 'Remember the Birds' focus on life, life and death. Here we find both confirmation and affirmation.

Niall MacMonagle

Author Biography

Louise C. Callaghan was born in 1948 and grew up in County Dublin. Her first poetry collection, The Puzzle-Heart, was published by Salmon in 1999. She compiled and edited Forgotten Light: An Anthology of Memory Poems (A & A Farmar, 2003). Her poetry, which is widely anthologised in Ireland and England, is included in the Field Day Anthology: Vols IV & V. A play, Find The Lady, based loosely on the life of Kate O'Brien, was signaled by the Abbey Theatre Company.

Read a sample from this book

Early Waking

The garden is quiet for July, silent
but for a sole hooded-crow that taps
along the roof-gutters, in search
of worms or ivory-coloured grubs.
And again the muffled cry of a magpie.

Behind glass, early sun shone hot,
the girl curled in her nightclothes,
in the window-seat, reading a book,
withdrawn from the world by curtains.

She must judge each of the stories,
if the macabre twist is true or false.

from Secret

the urge to understand,
be personal too,

tell you something
you might never

otherwise hear...

a few words

spark, flare
in the dark

and the whole truth
come out.

from Foal

A chestnut mare

alone in the meadow,
when you turned once more

no time, no hour

the foal unfolding
from the long ago grass.


This is a big-hearted, soft-spoken volume, gently steering itself towards reconciliation with loss.

Ailbhe Darcy, The Stinging Fly, Spring 2006 issue

A strong second collection, the book showcases Callaghan's accomplished use of language. Of the sequence, Ways of Mourning he says: she has created a memorial with these poems, one that should please her as much as it should touch her readers... Remember the Birds is cathedral-esque in its aspirations...

Val Nolan, Poetry Ireland Review, Summer, issue 86

At times touching, humorous, at others fragile and heartbreaking: Callaghan's lyrical poems seem deceptively easy, but reveal a subtle underscurrent of continued questioning of the world around us.

L. Meagher, Cara Magazine, Winter 2006

T.E.Hulme wrote that images in verse are not mere decoration, but the very essence of intuitive language.

The Irish Times

Macdara Woods, who launched the collection, also remarked on the edge of humour, the understatement, luminously brilliant observation, and the intellectual honesty... of this selflessly generous book.

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