The magnificent Healthy Living Centre building in Belcoo was the venue for this year’s Macnean Hedge School on July 15.

As usual, the event had three parts – poetry, a tea break and prose. The school closed as usual with a sunset reading of An Bonnán Buí at the Cathalbuí Stone on the shores of Lough MacNean outside Blacklion.

The event commemorates the local Gaelic Poet, Cathalbui MacGhiolla Ghunna, who lived around 1700, would have attended a Hedge School, and had been a contemporary of William of Orange.

This event has been ongoing at Lough Macnean since 1998 – first as The CathalBui Summer School, then as the Cathalbui Festival, and now, the past four years, the event has returned to the education theme as the MacNean Hedge School.

This year’s attendance included locals and some from as far away as Boho, with others joining virtually from around the world via Zoom online meetings, viewing from all across Ireland, through to other places including Liverpool, San Francisco and India, mostly entrants in the annual Poetry Competition, which is free.

The Patrick Harte (Pomeroy) Poetry prizes are awarded to the winners, with Martin Ferguson announcing them.

‘Razor Clam’ by Christian Warren, London, claimed first place, followed in second place by John D. Kelly, from Newtownbutler, with ‘Fontanelle’, with third place shared by ‘The Crocodile Bag’ by Frank Farrelly, Waterford, and ‘Oiche Seaca’ by Laoighseach NíChoistealbha.

Impartial Reporter: John Kelly, from Newtownbutler, who came second in the poetry competition.John Kelly, from Newtownbutler, who came second in the poetry competition.

After an enjoyable break with tea and biscuits, Dr. McGourty delivered his lecture on the James Joyce book, ‘Finnegans Wake’.

He explained how its first three paragraphs held the themes that were repeated throughout the whole work – The Fall, The Wake and The Rise.

The notion of recurrence is heavily represented throughout by the river theme – the river flows to the sea, water evaporates and falls as rain to begin the cycle again.

In The Wake Joyce, completes his stated mission – to create the uncreated conscience of his race – that is, the human race.

He continued, with Europe and the whole world currently facing the turmoil of war and cultural doubt (perhaps as always), maybe Joyce’s Wake can deliver the salvation that European and world peoples badly need, just as Irish monks did in the Dark Ages when they rescued Europe from savagery and barbarism.

He emphasised how important it was to read and hear The Wake at the same time; to this end, all in attendance would be given a copy of Finnegans Wake and a set of Horgan’s recordings to fill the coming winter evenings.

Dr. McGourty thanked all who had listened to him and indicated the setting up of a Wake reading group. Anybody interested should email: