Author of three collections published by Doire Press, in 2016 - 2018 Susan's poems have appeared, among elsewhere, in: The Cafe Review, Oregan, USA - Gather In, in a Special Irish Edition; Bosom Pals,Ed Marie Cadden (Doire Press, 2017) an anthology entirely in aid of Breast Cancer Research in the National UniveristyHospital, Galway and When They've Grown Another Me in Poetry Ireland Review, Dec 2018. January 2018 has seen her poems Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Competition.

She has been an invited reader of her poems at local readings in Galway, Cork and Dublin and at festivals, including the Belfast Book Festival, Cuirt International Festival of Literature and Clifden Arts Festival. Her poems have been read on radio.

Susan completed her degree in social science and qualified as a professional social worker in Trinity College, Dublin 1975. She was a psychotherapist, trainer, facilitator and occasional consultant to organisations for over thirty years until her retirement in 2012. Drawing together her writing with her earlier skills she has written interviews and facilitated conversations mediated by poetry. She continues to work on a manuscript relating the story of starting out in poetry and a mid-life move West along with occasional other creative non-fiction pieces.

Her workshop Having a New Conversation: About Dreaming was listed on the The Cuirt International Festival of Literature Programme (2015) and she facilitates similar workshops on a variety of themes, discussed through the medium of poetry, regularly and occasionally in local community settings.

While a founding editor of Skylight 47 Susan interviewed: then Ireland Professor of Poetry, Harry Clifton; Kay Ryan, former US Poet Laureate invited to Ireland by Dromineer Literature Festival and Dani Gill who talks about curating The Cuirt International Literature Festival. Her most recent interview, of Maeve O'Sullivan, appears in The Honest Ulsterman February, 2018.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Meitheal Politics for the Second Millennium?

The innate spirit of generosity and reciprocity that has made up rural life in Ireland is coming to the fore to balance the cut and thrust of adversarial politics. 


Farmers compete at market but they co-operate to get there.

     Civil war politics may be moving on at last as we celebrate the hundred year anniversary of the 1916 Rising that also gave rise to the circumstances of their formation. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the two major Irish political parties founded from each side of that divide, will not go into Government together to make the only possible cohesive majority in the Irish Dail. It appears they will, however, support each other in ensuring a working government can be formed. The Irish Dail is coming together in a Meitheal.  It seems that Micheal Martin, the leader of Fianna Fail, will support Fine Gael’s outgoing Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to be the first Fine Gael leader to return for a second go at the role (even if he steps down mid-term as he has long proposed) and lead a minority government made up of his own members of the parliament and a number of independent parliamentarians, Irish T.D.s.
     The Members of the Dail are working hard in committee at putting together a framework for a new way of working in a parliament that will be much more collaborative and in tune with the spirit of the Meitheal that forms an instrinsic part of the  fabric of Irish history, society and psyche.  The farmers came together in community Meitheals to bring the harvests in or to assist in barn or shed building and similar ventures. A new structure for the Dail aims to allow and support responsible participation by all members of the House, and enable them to contribute more through debate and committees to government. The innate spirit of generosity and reciprocity that has made up rural life in Ireland is coming to the fore to balance the cut and thrust of adversarial politics. It won’t make the adversarial nature of politics go away and it should not. But it has the potential to contribute a long needed balance and so allow for a much better use of all the members of the Dail by putting their resources at the day to day service of best possible government.

     If you haven’t watched Borgen it’s time to get out the box set. This television series on the forming and re-forming of minority governments in Denmark has become part of the national conversation in Ireland, mostly thrown in by politicians, in the last week. I had thought I was one of a small minority of people watching it here.  Now it turns out the politicians have been quietly viewing all along - or maybe they’ve only just begun. The cynics scoff at the notion of a new politics. However, as one member of the panel on the Late Debate said on radio last night, it may have been Eamon Ryan of the Green Party who made a great contribution to the discussion on constructive oppposition, ‘Why can’t we change our mind-set from that entrenched Irish way of doing things and do what the Scandinavians and others are doing? We might even find we can do it better.’

     It is part of the wisdom of Fianna Fail, as well as their only real option at the moment, that they will not go into government with Fine Gael. To do so would be a step too far - with historical rivalries wagging the tail of the dog. This will hopefully be a much more desirable first step that will bring about experiences in working together – already well begun in recent  Dail Committees, including the Banking Enquiry into what happened on the eve of the Bail Out - and do more to fade out the rivalries of civil war politics than any forced co-operation in a hot-house Cabinet would do.

      We are a creative people. We can do this. It is a time of unprecedented creative endeavour in Irish Politics. The electorate have forced the change continually promised but not delivered. Research indicates that human beings are happiest when they are rising to a manageable challenge and bringing a solution to fruition as Mihally Csikszentmihaly describes in his book Flow –the Psychology of Optimal Experience. This is a good time for Irish politics and the journalists having to catch up as they are coached by those participating in discussions to change the discourse. ‘Well if you don’t mind, I don’t think that’s the language we should be using. It is more appropriate just now to talk in terms of partnership.’

     There’s some floundering going on but that has got to be good language to be moving towards at the start of a new millennium. There couldn’t be a better memorial to the leaders who produced a Proclamation to initiate an Irish State than to change the language of politics to suit the times we live in now and to shift from a conflict consciousness to the resurrection of the imagination of the Meitheal. Farmers compete at market but they co-operate to get there.  

     Yes, it is a time for rural Ireland to contribute its best while they hold a good hand of cards. It is argued the rural vote ensured the last government didn’t return. That thought helps to focus the minds of those elected on putting together a new kind of government and making sure they don’t return too soon to ask the electorate to vote again. They might not be forgiven for that. We tend to like Meitheals.

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