Friday 24 January 2020

Sinéad's Olive Tree impresses judges in poetry awards

Around Wexford town

Éamonn Meehan of Trócaire, Sinéad O’Reilly, and Maureen Kennelly of Poetry Ireland
Éamonn Meehan of Trócaire, Sinéad O’Reilly, and Maureen Kennelly of Poetry Ireland

Anna Hayes

A first year student at the Loreto Secondary School won one of the top prizes at this year's Trócaire/Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition.

Sinéad O'Reilly (13), from Spawell Road, was the outright winner of the Post-Primary Junior category with her poem 'The Olive Tree'. This is her second year to feature in the awards, as her poem 'Foreboding' won a runner-up prizes last year.

A self-confessed bibliophile, she says she looks forward to putting pen to paper whenever inspiration strikes. Remarking that she'd like to see more Wexford children take part in the event, she said that poetry didn't require any expertise.

'It doesn't need to rhyme or have a particular structure. There are no rules.'

The competition has been running for seven years as a collaboration between Trócaire and Poetry Ireland. Its primary aim is to use "the arts to raise awareness about the leading global issues. The theme for this year's event was 'Until Love Conquers Fear'. The awards ceremony took place in the National Library of Ireland.

Sinéad's poem, 'The Olive Tree', was singled out by Éamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trócaire, for its strong symbolism and the power of its message. Having just returned from Palestine he said that the olive tree has huge significance, both economically and emotionally, to those living there under such trying conditions.

He explained that thousands of olive trees have been cut down to make way for illegal settlements but a number of farmers and their families had responded by starting the Olive Tree Campaign, which involved planting olive trees on land under threat of takeover.


The Olive Tree

by Sinéad O'Reilly

He gazes out the window

Through shattered glass,

The tree of his childhood

Jagged and broken.

He remembers picking olives with his father

In the warm evening sun.


A distant boom jolts him back to reality.

This town is a ghost town.


Grey shadows slink silently through the rubble,

One eye on the ground, the other on the sky.

A broken people

In this town wrecked by war.


One day this will end.

A new tree will grow

And he will pick olives again.

Wexford People

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