Seán O Tuama one of the two chief poets of the Maigue Poets in Croom is to be honoured in Limerick, in the part of town he lived for the final six years of his life, Mungret Street once the hub of commercial life in the city. The Limerick Writers’ Centre will unveil a heritage plague honouring the poet at Milk Market House, Mungret Street on Friday 16th Aug at 6pm. The Mayor of Limerick City and County Cllr Michael Sheahan will officially unveil the plaque.
O Tuama, known as an Ghrinn - “Seán O Tuama of the Gaity” - was one of the two chief poets of the Maigue School of Poetry in Croom along with his friend Andrias MacRaith. Both men grew up together in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. O Tuama went on to become a publican, in Croom and in Mungret Street in Limerick. The following notice is said to have been over the door:
Should any of the stock of the noble Gael
A brother bard who is fond of good cheer
Be short of the price of a tankard of ale
He is welcome to O Tuama a thousand times here
It is recorded by local tradition that O Tuama moved to Mungret Street in Limerick City in 1769 where he opened a tavern (historians say it was at 67 Mungret Street at the entrance to what is now Sean Heuston Place). It is said locally that this is also where John Scanlan first laid eyes on Ellen Hanley, the ill-fated ‘colleen bawn’. Above the tavern swung the sign inviting all to partake of his hospitality, the only condition laid down was that they should prove themselves competent poets or verse makers. He died in 1775 in Limerick city and is buried in Croom, Co. Limerick.
The Limerick Writers’ Centre has been erecting heritage plaques over the past few years to honour poets and writers from, or with a strong association to, Limerick. The intention is to develop a Limerick Literary Trail for visitors and locals. So far they have unveiled 6 plaques: Frank McCourt; Kate O’Brien; Charles Dickens; Richard Harris; Robert Graves; Desmond O’Grady and now, number 7 to Maigue Poet Seán O Tuama.
The Limerick Writers’ Centre are delighted today to inaugurate this plaque to Seán O Tuama. This venue will now become a stop on our literary walking tour of the city. It will become part of an itinerary for visitors to Limerick who wish to walk in the footsteps of the writers who found inspiration here.
The strength of our literary heritage is a significant component of the cultural history of our city, Our walking tours will allow people to trace the footsteps and visit the inspirational haunts of our local writers, several of whom, and particularly Seán O Tuama, through his association with the Maigue Poets and the limerick verse, have made a major contribution to defining what our Limerick cultural tradition is all about.
In tandem with the unveiling of the plaque Dr Matthew Potter of Limerick Museum will launch the 3rd edition of his definitive book on the limerick verse The Curious Story of the Limerick. The book explores the both the history and mystique of the limerick from its origins in the mists of time to its modern day international reputation as a comic, and sometime bawdy, poetic form. It relates how Limerick is the only place in Ireland to give its name to a form of poetry or indeed any other literary form, but up to now the link between the two has never been properly established. Author Matthew Potter outlines why he wrote the book “One of the principal aim of the book is to create an awareness of the connection between the place and the poem so that Limerick can establish itself internationally as one of the few places that gave its name to a literary form. Think Shakespeare and Stratford, Joyce and Dublin, Burns and Scotland, Limerick and the limerick.” he said.
The Curious Story of the Limerick is published by The Limerick Writers’ Centre.
All are invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.