Poet PJ Kennedy with the PJ Drummond Cup at his home in Quivvy, Belturbet.

Poet lifts recitation prize

‘Buried Unknownst’ was published in PJ Kennedy’s book of poetry, ‘Shadows on our Doorstep’

PJ Kennedy lifted the prestigious ‘PJ Drummond Recitation Competition Cup’ for his recitation of ‘Buried Unknownst’ at the Allingham Festival in Ballyshannon earlier this month.

‘Buried Unknownst’ was written in 2005 and later published in PJ Kennedy’s book of poetry, ‘Shadows on our Doorstep’.

“My poem, ‘Buried Unknownst’, honours the memory of the unbaptised infants who were not allowed a burial in consecrated ground,” explains the Belturbet poet and writer.

The Allingham Festival, which has been running since the 1970’s, honours the late William Allingham, the 19th century poet best known for his most famous poem - still taught to schoolchildren today - ‘The Fairies’.

Guests at this year’s festival included Carrigallen’s Séamus O’Rourke, and actor Stephen Rea.

Allingham, who was born on the Mall in Ballyshannon spent time in Boarding School in Killeshandra before later becoming an editor at Fraser’s Magazine in London.

The perpetual cup is in memory of a man who was a great aficionado of William Allingham’s poetry – and was presented to Mr Kennedy by Niamh Lawless, granddaughter of PJ Drummond, at Ballyshannon’s Abbey Arts Theatre.

I started at a crowd of stones

in the corner of a hilly field.

Like children away from home

the stones seemed put about,

some grouped, some alone,

some leaned, some low with the damp.

All were dressed in moss

with a trim of grass.

The ones in the ring of rushes, like a set dance.

Brown heads at the back, noisy.

Black heads jostled at the far side.

The blonde near the buachalán buí.

The stone with the crown of fossils,

I saw his curly hair.

Brothers holding hands,

they were the eldest and the youngest,

so the neighbours said.

Twins shared their scarcities,

a granny said, "There’s nothing to be ashamed of."

They were laid out in silk

the size of handkerchief.

The lone stone, shy,

minded the child that came unknownst.

Unknown stones with dimples

that could hold a thimbleful of tears.

Wisps of cocksfoot grass shelter them all,

a bandage of briar’s against the hill

keeps livestock away.