Over 365 poems, over 365 readers, but 365 days with one poet. The poet of course is Yeats and the venue was Hargadon’s on O’Connell Street.
Brainchild of Joe Grogan and a number of others who frequent Hargadon’s, the daily readings were a ritual that author, journalist and broadcaster Kieran Devaney was to the forefront of, organising readers and poems in the place he refers to as ‘the office’.
“It was Joe Grogan’s idea. A few of us wanted to mark the occasion of Yeats’ 150 birthday so we said why not do a poem a day for the whole year?” Kieran said.
Despite being heavily involved in the running of the daily readings, Kieran believes it was a team effort.
“It wasn’t just me. Joe asked a few people to help out like the bar staff here, Eileen Monaghan, Morgan who took over from Joe, Annie
West as well was a great help and kindly provided illustrations for where the readers read from,” Kieran said.
Some of the more notable readers included movie star Joanna Lumley, Táiniste Joan Bruton, politician Eamon Gilmore, writer Theo Dorgan, playwright Malcolm Hamilton, government minister Brendan Howlin and many more.
However, the readers were more diverse than just those in the public eye.
“We had everyone, from people walking around Tesco, to the bar staff, to poets laureate of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We also had artists like John Beehan the sculptor and Kevin Barry the writer so there was no shortage of volunteers,” Kieran commented.
The delivery was not always in just the spoken form. Some readers decided to act out the poem or sing it according to what poem they chose.
“We had people singing them, acting them and we had one guy who did the ‘Song of Wandering Aengus’ who brought a trout he had bought in Tesco! We had poems read in French, Japanese and Chinese so there was a real mix,” Kieran said.
On the final Day of the Yeats’ readings, it was fitting that Damien Brennan, a Yeats’ connoisseur who regularly hosts Yeats themed dinners, read on the final day.
And all of it was documented in the Yeats Diary.