Mythic River

After seven years campaigning the Republic of Ireland legislated a ban on fracking the land in 2017, in the only private member’s bill  to ever pass in the Dáil.  Just over the border, the company vanquished at the eleventh hour from doing a test drill is trying it on all over again. Lack of planning permission was the obstacle last time and now they are making moves to gain those permissions. All within five miles of the border with the Republic of Ireland. The country with a fracking ban down river from where they want to frack. Because they want to drill within miles of the source of the River Shannon, the longest river on this island, the one that runs right down the country, meandering inland and then emptying herself into the Atlantic Ocean in Limerick. The impact is particularly potentially catastrophic since Ireland’s economy is mostly agriculture and tourism. Put hundreds of fracking drill pads across southwest Fermanagh and you destroy not just local lives and livelihoods. You impinge upon a geopark, an area that UNESCO reckons should be recognised and conserved because it is part of the world’s heritage.  We keep its heritage – both natural and built – not just for ourselves but for everyone. And so we are resolved to continue doing so.


Shannon

A river runs through us all

crossing borders underground, in secret,

stealthily raising Her watery head

over The Pot’s lip.

She streams quietly over that parapet,

slips down the rocky slopes.

Breathing easier, she eddies and flows

around Lough Allen, stretching out, 

flexing her new muscle, 

swimming across the Midlands,

stroke upon stroke to meet

the Atlantic Ocean.

What story do we tell ourselves?

How Síonnan reversed

all the Elders’s spells?

The old magic had its strength

before the stench of guilt,

its shiny shaming,

greed grabbing for me and mine, 

absconding before any blame

could be laid, or blood shed.

That, too, is a river.

Just as long.

Poison still circulates

because its the law of flow.

The more dilute, 

the more it lays waste.

What happens upriver

will never stay there.

That’s not just a story.

It’s how a river’s nature goes.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Don’t Frack With The Fairies

It has been ten years since we were first alerted to the fact that this pristine area of the world, a large part of which has the UNESCO recognition for its unique international significance for its natural, as well as built, heritage was under threat from fracking. A good chunk of the what geologists call the Lough Allen Basin lies within the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. It is an international, cross-border venture. As was the initial campaign to prevent drilling in Fermanagh, in Boho back in 2014. At the eleventh hour it was discovered no planning application had ever been made on the quarry drill site. Mark Durkin, the Northern Ireland Secretary of the Environment, ordered that drilling was not possible.

In the meantime, in the Republic of Ireland, activists put through the first ever private member’s bill to ban fracking in the Republic. Just last week the Republic of Ireland was the second nation in the world to declare a Climate Emergency. Much research concludes that the fracking process is catastrophic to the environment. Not only that. Our natural gas isn’t even that good quality.

This week Fermanagh’s newspaper The Impartial Reporter, announced that Tamboran, the corporation vanquished five years ago, has begun the planning application process to frack 600 square kilometers of southwest Fermanagh.https://www.impartialreporter.com/news/17631493.fracking-licence-to-cover-over-600-square-kilometers-of-fermanagh/

This application covers miles of boundary with the Republic. If the whole Brexit worry over the border wasn’t enough, now we have to worry about genocide by enviromentocide. This move feels provocative to me, coming at this time while the Brexit negotiations grind on and the wrangle about how to handle the contentious boundary.

But be in no doubt. Fracking has a well-documented adverse effect on public health, and a negative impact on agriculture and tourism. That’s the backbone of our economy for the many and it will be destroyed. Fracking is another 1% move on destroying people in the name of profit for the very, very few.

But what was miraculous in the campaign against the frackers five years ago, is that it united the population and cut across the sectarian divide. Because everyone here loves the land. And the land herself was under attack. It is again.

So poetry practice meets agitprop today. The new poetry form I found is, appropriately, an Irish one, the treochair. It is made up of tercets, or three line stanza of 3-7-7 syllables. The first and third lines are meant to rhyme and alliteration is strongly encouraged.

Whether you are a fairy agnostic or not, be in no doubt that they helped us upset the Tamboran plan last time. We are allies in this fight.

Don't Frack With the Fairies

Fermanagh
Don't frack with the fairies!
It's a toxic formula.

Forsooth! Frack
at your peril. Don't let loose
cracking egomaniacs.

Believe you me,
Tamboran will have no luck
tampering with those tinies.

Just listen!
It's just never healthy
to snort, give out derision.

Not so wee
The Good Folk. Or the Auld Ones.
Call them as they may be.

Whatever
your position on fairies
this is a doomed endeavour.

Fermanagh
The planet needs patching up.
Join the Fairy Fianna!

Mother Earth
Needs all of us as allies
protecting purity's worth.

Frack fairies?
The truth? Their revenge will mean
apocolyspe, catastrophe.

Not just for
us, or you, or family.
Fracking is forevermore.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Housewarming

It’s chilly this morning and I burrowed down under the duvet. I was glad I put on the brightest duvet cover yesterday with the red bed spread. You need a bright splash in your decor when winter finally sets in and its rainy, chilly and grey. It reminded me of a little outing my husband and I took one January when we needed to get out from under cabin fever. We drove across the border to Fermanagh and took the road up from Belcoo’s Holy Well towards Boho (which is pronounced Bow that rhymes with Sew, not to rhyme with Soho!)  There we happened upon Margaret Gallagher’s thatched cottage. She was in residence and invited us in to have a look around in a family homeplace that has not changed that much in 200 years. She was busy making her morning fadge, or soda bread, over the open fire. She lives her heritage, not just interprets it for visitors.

The hearth with its chain and creel

Fadge made on an open fire
The Irish Dresser and its delph
The creel and chain cooking arrangement over the open hearth
The cottage is not electrified. Winter light at midday

Memory is said to be the parent of poetry. That winter time jaunt a few years ago came to mind this morning as I set about poetry practice. The weather is very dull, with a hard rain.  I had learned something from Margaret. When a climate can be dismal keep your interiors cheery.  Today’s poetry practice celebrates Margaret Gallagher’s recipe for housewarming.



Margaret Gallagher's Housewarming

Dawn came without its usual
fire. The east’s staying schtum today.
It promises a permanent dirge,
a milky murkiness upon
our earth. But across the lintel
door within a house all dressed up
in primary reds and yellows,
the blue delph stacked in the dresser.
 
Even without the creel and chain
or hearth to cheer, it cheers through rain.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018