Red House Legends: Woodford to Waterford, A Life’s Journey in Verse, by poet and retired teacher Martin McShea, was launched at WHAT on 28 November.
The collection, which also features original illustrations by artist Zoe Patel, was launched by Dr Elizabeth Abernethy, Consultant Nephrologist, at University Hospital Waterford. The capacity audience was treated to a number of thoughtful and entertaining presentations by guest speakers which included Dr Celine Healy from Maynooth University, Brenda Ronan, Clinical Nurse Manager of the Renal Dialysis Unit at University Hospital Waterford, artist Philip Cullen and Martin McShea himself. Red House Legends is available to purchase from Waterford Healing Arts Trust and The Book Centre, Waterford, cost €10.00.
Martin McShea is an inspiration. Turning adversity into opportunity, he has reached deep into his poetic soul and produced a beautiful collection to bring the reader on a journey of profound riches, from East London to Mosul, from his beloved Clapton and West Ham football clubs to the Basilica at Lourdes and from Shakespearean times to the present day.
Known locally in Waterford as one of nature’s gentlemen, this UK native is fondly remembered by his former students, including well-known former Ireland international footballer and Manager of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, Chris Hughton: “When we reflect on our school days, some teachers stand out in our memories. Martin was one such teacher… He was dedicated and had a great memory for names. Because of his love of sport and especially football, he had a big effect on me in my early and impressionable days, and was a big influence on my sporting future”.
The title Red House Legends comes from the name of the venue in East London where supporters of Martin’s beloved Clapton Football Club gather on match days. Football features strongly in the collection, along with poems with historical, religious and international themes. Speaking about the process of writing, Martin McShea says that it has led him to achieve a greater understanding of himself, adding “it helps me to be a better communicator, improves my ability to recall important information and enhances my creativity. Decasyllabic poetry – a form of poetry containing ten syllables per line – is my preferred style. I find that the discipline of structure, interestingly, allows for greater fluency of expression”.
Announcing details of the launch, Claire Meaney, Acting Arts Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT), said “We are very pleased to celebrate the launch of Martin McShea’s collection of poetry Red House Legends: Woodford to Waterford, A Life’s Journey in Verse. Martin has demonstrated considerable skill, abundant talent and quiet determination in completing this beautiful anthology. We’re very proud that it has come about through our arts programme in the dialysis unit of University Hospital Waterford, which involves artists working in the unit, engaging patients in creating art. The programme is funded by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund and is supported by the staff members on the unit who are keen to provide positive, creative and diversional activities for their patients. Martin was supported through the process of putting this collection together by artist Philip Cullen. We are very excited for Martin and wish him every success”.
Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation. Established in 1993, WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and other healthcare settings. WHAT has been running an arts programme in the renal dialysis unit of UHW since 2007, supported by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund. WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity. WHAT also supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie