Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School, Cloughjordan, Sept. 20-24, 2023

‘And now the poet heart is calling too’

from The Golden Joy

Thomas MacDonagh

Gail McConnell is from Belfast. Her debut poetry book, The Sun is Open (Penned in the Margins, 2021), about her father’s murder by the IRA, won The John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Award and The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize.


The first Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School takes place from 20-24 September 2023 in the Thomas MacDonagh Museum in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary and aims to be one of the highlights of the Museum’s 10th anniversary programme. Advance tickets are on sale now.

Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School, Cloughjordan, Sept. 20-24, 2023

Martin Doyle is Books Editor of The Irish Times and author of Dirty Linen: The Troubles in My Home Place (Merrion Press, October 2023).

The Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School offers a unique opportunity to learn about one of Cloughjordan’s finest, the poet-patriot Thomas MacDonagh, as part of a fascinating poetry inspired programme of creative writing workshops, inspirational talks, interactive discussions, and poetry readings. The Museum is grateful to Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Creative Ireland, Tipperary County Council and UCD’s Poetry as Commemoration for their support.

Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School, Cloughjordan, Sept. 20-24, 2023

Thomas McCarthy. A former Editor of Poetry Ireland Review and The Cork Review, his latest book, Memory, Poetry and the Party: Journals 1974-2014, is published by The Gallery Press, Ireland.

Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School is curated by poet and writer Eleanor Hooker, the winner of the Michael Hartnett Award 2022. The programme, featuring distinguished academics and researchers, will address how their own research and writing offers an imaginative way to deepen our understanding of the past and explore a challenging period of Irish history in an open and inclusive way. The speakers will read from and discuss their own work. They will explore the impact of the arts in the shaping of our Nation; the concept of ethical remembrance; and the consideration of poetry as commemoration with reference to their own and MacDonagh’s poetry.

Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School, Cloughjordan, Sept. 20-24, 2023

Margaret Kelleher is Professor and Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at University College Dublin.

In a lodge inside a gate

Live in a state and live apart,

Till the little distant date

When your fate will bid you start.


            from Grange House Lodge

                        Thomas MacDonagh


Poetry as Commemoration Workshop

We are delighted that, with the support of Poetry Ireland, we are collaborating with the UCD Poetry as Commemoration Project to host two Creative Writing Workshops for adults on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st September 11am-1pm in the Thomas MacDonagh Museum. Facilitated by award-winning poet Thomas McCarthy, participants will write poems using items from the Museum Collection that relate to the War of Independence and Civil War as creative prompts. Places are strictly limited, so early booking is essential.


Culture Night

Culture Night 2023 forms part of the Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School programme. The Museum is hosting an informal Poetry Slam on Friday 22nd September from 7-10pm with spoken word readings by the community and guests, of poems by Thomas MacDonagh and others.  We are honoured to welcome special guest Stephen Sexton, Belfast-based author of If All the World and Love Were Young and Cheryl’s Destinies, to read a new commemorative commission ‘The Head of a Man’.


Keynote – ‘Creativity and Friendship’ 

We are honoured that Margaret Kelleher. Professor and Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at University College Dublin, will give the keynote address entitled ‘Creativity and Friendship’, to open the first Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School on Saturday 23rd September at 11am. Professor Kelleher, currently writing a biography of Mary and Padraic Colum, will explore the cultural milieu in which MacDonagh and his compatriots lived and worked.


Ethical Remembrance

We are excited to welcome to Cloughjordan Professor Linda Connolly, Director of the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and Martin Doyle, Books Editor Irish Times, to talk about the concept of Ethical Remembrance on Saturday 23rd  September at 2pm. They will read from their work and discuss how ethical remembrance has informed their own writing and our understanding of the past in the Decade of Centenaries. As well as moderating this panel, Dr. Lucy Collins,  Associate Professor of Modern Poetry, UCD School of English, Drama & Film will contribute to the discussion.


Poetry as Commemoration

The Poetry as Commemoration session which follows at 4pm, features Internationally acclaimed poets Stephen Sexton,  Gail McConnell and Eleanor Hooker, who will each give a reading followed by a conversation on ethical remembrance in the Decade of Centenaries. This session will be moderated by poet and writer Nessa O’Mahony.


Poetry on Scohaboy Bog

For the weekend finale, we will decamp to Scohaboy Bog NHA one of Ireland’s largest remaining raised bogs and a popular community amenity. While experiencing the restored peatland from the comfort and safety of the raised viewing platform, the group will share informal readings of Thomas MacDonagh’s poems.


I heard a music sweet to-day

A simple olden tune,

And thought of yellow leaves of May,

And bursting buds of June,

Or dewdrops sparkling on a spray

Until the thirst of noon.


            from I Heard A Music Sweet To-day

                        Thomas MacDonagh


Ticketing – Advance Purchase Tickets for Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School events are available from 11th August


The Thomas MacDonagh Hedge School is for everyone, and community support will be central to its success. We look forward to a few days of sharing our common appreciation of history and poetry.


Thomas MacDonagh Museum has received funding for the Hedge School as part of the Creative Ireland programme with support from Tipperary County Council.


We have also received funding from Tipperary County Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media as part of the Tipperary Decade of Centenaries programme.


We are also supported by Poetry as Commemoration, an initiative of the Irish Poetry Reading Archive at UCD, supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

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